General MacArthur Win or Die

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Red text on a white background around a blue and white photograph of General MacArthur

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The Mark of Quality and an illustration of a duck, union bug

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This button was likely worn by supporters of General MacArthur's bids for the presidency in 1944 and 1948. Douglas MacArthur was a career military man, rising to the rank of five-star general officer, the second-highest possible rank in the United States Army. MacArthur graduated at the top of his United States Military Academy at West Point class in 1903, became the Army's youngest major general in 1925, and then Chief of Staff of the United States Army in 1930. General MacArthur retired in 1937 to become the Military Advisor to the Commonwealth Government of the Philippines, but was recalled to active duty in 1941 to defend the Japanese invasion of the Philippines, for which he was awarded the Medal of Honor. 

MacArthur and his staff escaped to Australia from the province of Bataan in March of 1942, and famously said to General Richard Sutherland, "It was close; but that's the way it is in war. You win or lose, live or die — and the difference is just an eyelash." In 1944, some members of the Republican Party supported nominating General MacArthur for President, but as he was actively leading forces, he could not campaign for the nomination. MacArthur's supporters entered his name in the Wisconsin primary election, where he did win three delegates. At the convention, New York Governor Thomas E. Dewey easily won the party's nomination. 

General MacArthur officially accepted Japan's surrender in September 1945, and was effectively the interim leader of the country until 1948, overseeing its reconstruction. He ran again for the Republican Party's nomination for President in 1948, and was again defeated by Thomas Dewey. MacArthur was relieved of his command by President Harry S. Truman in 1951, after MacArthur communicated with Congress about his plans to further escalate the Korean War. The majority of the public did not agree with the decision, and Truman's approval ratings fell. MacArthur advised Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, before he passed away in 1964. 

Catalog ID PO0595