Proposed order to General Douglas MacArthur to be signed by the president, April 11, 1951
President Harry S. Truman, furious at General Douglas MacArthur’s public criticism of U.S. foreign policy, relieved the general of his command. As commander in chief of the armed forces, Truman believed he could fire MacArthur, but the action stirred public opinion against him, threatening a constitutional crisis. Members of Congress received an outpouring of messages from constituents protesting Truman’s action.
Harry S. Truman Library and Museum
Congress Investigates General MacArthur’s Dismissal
In 1950 President Harry S. Truman appointed war hero General Douglas MacArthur as supreme commander of United Nations (UN) forces in Korea. When the conflict between UN-backed South Korea and Chinese-supported North Korea reached a stalemate, MacArthur publicly challenged the president’s strategy to end the war through diplomacy. Truman fired MacArthur, but popular support for MacArthur prompted a Senate investigation of the Korean conflict and the Far East. The investigation confirmed Truman’s authority over MacArthur but reemphasized congressional war powers.
In 1951 Congress investigated whether President Harry S. Truman acted within his powers when he fired General Douglas MacArthur––and concluded that he did.