Several months elapsed between the appointment of the President's Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Services and its first meeting, a formal session with the President at the White House on 12 January 1949. Actually, certain advantages accrued from the delay, for postponing the meetings until after the President's reelection enabled the committee to face the services with assurance of continued support from the administration. Renewed presidential backing was probably necessary, considering the services' deliberations on race policy during this half-year hiatus. Their reactions to the order, logical outgrowths of postwar policies and practices, demonstrated how their perceived self-interests might subvert the President's intentions. The events of this six-month period also began to show the relative importance of the order and the parochial interests of the services as factors in the integration of the armed forces.
Considering the substantial changes it promised, the President's order provoked surprisingly little public opposition. Its publication coincided with the convening of the special session of a Congress smarting under Truman's "do nothing" label. In this charged political atmosphere, the anti-administration majority in Congress quietly sidestepped the President's 27 July call for civil rights legislation. To do otherwise would only have added to the political profits already garnered by Truman in some important voting areas. For the same reason congressional opponents avoided all mention of Executive Order 9981 although the widely expected defeat of Truman and the consequent end to this executive sally into civil rights might have contributed to the silence. Besides, segregationists could do little in an immediate legislative way to counteract the presidential command. Congress had already passed the Selective Service Act and Defense Appropriations Act, the most suitable vehicles for amendments aimed at modifying the impact of the integration order. National elections and the advent of a new Congress precluded any other significant moves in this direction until later in the next year.
Yet if it was ignored in Congress, the order was nevertheless a clear signal to the friends of integration and brought with it a tremendous surge of hope to the black community. Publishing the order made Harry Truman the "darling of the Negroes," Roy Wilkins said later. Nor did the coincidence of its publication to the election, he added, bother a group that was becoming increasingly pragmatic about the reasons for social reform.1 Both the declaredly Democratic Chicago Defender and Republican-oriented Pittsburgh Courier were aware of the implications of the order. The Defender ran an editorial on 7 August under the heading "Mr. Truman Makes History." The "National Grapevine" column of Charlie Cherokee in the same issue promised its readers a blow-by-blow description of the events surrounding the President's action. An interview in the same issue with Col. Richard L. Jones, black commander of the 178th Regimental Combat Team (Illinois), emphasized the beneficial effects of the proposed integration, and in the next issue, 14 August, the editor broadened the discussion with an editorial entitled "What About Prejudice?"2 The Courier, for its part, questioned the President's sincerity because he had not explicitly called for an end to segregation. At the same time it contrasted the futility of civil disobedience with the efficiency of such an order on the services, and while maintaining its support for the candidacy of Governor Dewey the paper revealed a strong enthusiasm for President Truman's civil rights program.3
These affirmations of support for Executive Order 9981 in the major black newspapers fitted in neatly with the administration's political strategy. Nor was the Democratic National Committee averse to using the order to win black votes. For example it ran a half-page advertisement in the Defender under the heading "By His Deeds Shall Ye Know Him."4 At the same time, not wishing to antagonize the opponents of integration further, the administration made no special effort to publicize the order in the metropolitan press. Consequently when the order was mentioned at all, it was usually carried without comment, and the few columnists who treated the subject did so with some caution. Arthur Krock's "Reform Attempts Aid Southern Extremists" in the New York Times, for example, lauded the President's civil rights initiatives but warned that any attempt to force social integration would only strengthen demagogues at the expense of moderate politicians.5
If the President's wooing of the black voter was good election politics,
his executive order was also a successful practical response to the threat
of civil disobedience and the failure of the Secretary of Defense to strive
actively for racial equality throughout the services. Declaring the President's
action a substantial gain, A. Philip Randolph canceled the call for a boycott
of the draft, leaving only a small number of diehards to continue the now
insignificant effort. The black leaders who had participated in Secretary
Forrestal's National Defense Conference gave the President their full support,
and Donald S. Dawson, administrative assistant to the President, was able
to assure Truman that the black press, now completely behind the committee
on equal treatment and opportunity, had abandoned its vigorous campaign
against the Army's racial policy.6
Ironically, the most celebrated pronouncement on segregation at the moment of the Truman order came not from publicists or politicians but from the Army's new Chief of Staff, General Omar N. Bradley.7 Speaking to a group of instructors at Fort Knox, Kentucky, and unaware of the President's order and the presence of the press, Bradley declared that the Army would have to retain segregation as long as it was the national pattern. 8 This statement prompted questions at the President's next news conference, letters to the editor, and debate in the press.9 Bradley later explained that he had supported the Army's segregation policy because he was against making the Army an instrument of social change in areas of the country which still rejected integration.10 His comment, as amplified and broadcast by military analyst Hanson W. Baldwin, summarized the Army's position at the time of the Truman order. "It is extremely dangerous nonsense," Baldwin declared, "to try to make the Army other than one thing—a fighting machine." By emphasizing that the Army could not afford to differ greatly in customs, traditions, and prejudices from the general population, Baldwin explained, Bradley was only underscoring a major characteristic of any large organization of conscripts. Most import, Baldwin pointed out, the Chief of Staff considered an inflexible order for the immediate integration of all troops one of the surest ways to break down the morale of the Army and destroy its efficiency.11
But such arguments were under attack by the very civil rights groups
the President was trying to court. "Are we to understand that the President's
promise to end discrimination," one critic asked,
was made for some other purpose than to end discrimination in its worst form—segregation? General Bradley's statement, subsequent to the President's orders, would seem to indicate that the President either did not mean what he said or his orders were not being obeyed. We should like to point out that General Bradley's reported observation . . . was decidedly wide of the mark. Segregation is the legal pattern of only a few of our most backward states.... In view of the trends in law and social practice, it is high time that the Defense forces were not used as brakes on progress toward genuine democracy. 12
General Bradley apologized to the President for any confusion caused
by his statement, and Truman publicly sloughed off the affair, but not
before he stated to the press that his order specifically directed the
integration of the armed forces.l3 It was
obvious that the situation had developed into a standoff. Some of the President's
most outspoken supporters would not let him forget his integration order,
and the Army, as represented by its Chief of Staff, failed to realize that
events were rapidly moving beyond the point where segregation could be
considered a workable policy for an agency of the United States government.
The President's order heralded a series of attacks on the Army's race policy. As further evidence of the powerful pressures for change, several state governors now challenged segregation in the National Guard. Generally the race policy of the reserve components echoed that of the Regular Army, in part because it seemed logical that state units, subject to federal service, conform to federal standards of performance and organization. Accordingly, in the wake of the publication of the Gillem Board Report, the Army's Director of Personnel and Administration recommended to the Committee on National Guard Policy14 that it amend its regulation on the employment of black troops to conform more closely with the new policy. Specifically, General Paul asked the committee to spell out the prohibition against integration of white and black troops below battalion level, warning that federal recognition would be denied any state unit organized in violation of this order. 15
Agreeing to comply with General Paul's request, the National Guard Committee went a step further and recommended that individual states be permitted to make their own decisions on the wisdom and utility of organizing separate black units.l6 The Army staff rejected this proposal, however, on the grounds that it gave too much discretionary power to the state guard authorities.17 Interestingly enough in view of later developments, neither the committee nor the staff disputed the War Department's right to withhold federal recognition in racial matters, and both displayed little concern for the principle of states' rights. Their attitude was important, for while the prohibition against integration sat well in some circles, it drew severe criticism in others. Unlike the Regular Army, the National Guard and the Army Reserve were composed of units deeply rooted in the local community, each reflecting the parochial attitudes of its members and its section. This truth was forcefully pointed out to the Army staff in 1946 when it tried to reactivate the 313th Infantry and designate it as a black unit in the 79th Division (Pennsylvania). Former members of the old white 313th, now prominent citizens, expressed their "very strong sentiments" on the matter, and the Army had to beat a hasty retreat. In the future, the staff decided, either black reserve units would be given the name and history of inactive black units or new units would be constituted. 18
On the other hand, in 1947 citizen groups sprang up in Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, and California to agitate among their state adjutants general for liberalization of the National Guard's racial policy. As early as February 1947 Governor James L. McConnaughy had publicly deplored segregation of Negroes in his own Connecticut National Guard. Adopting the states' rights stance more commonly associated with defenders of racial discrimination, Governor McConnaughy argued that by requiring segregation the War Department ran contrary to the wishes of individual states. Marcus Ray, the secretary's adviser on race, predicted that integration in the reserve components would continue to be a "point of increasing pressure." As he pointed out to Assistant Secretary Petersen, the Army had always supported segregation in its southern installations on the grounds that it had to conform with local mores. How then could it refuse to conform with the local statutes and customs of some northern states without appearing inconsistent? He recommended the Army amend its race policy to permit reserve components in states which wished it to integrate at a level consistent with "local community attitudes. " 19
The Army staff would have nothing to do with Ray's suggestion. Instead, both the Director of Personnel and Administration and the Director of Organization and Training supported a new resolution by the National Guard Policy Committee that left the number of black units and the question of their integration with white units above the company level up to the states involved. Integration at the company level was prohibited, and such integrated companies would be denied federal recognition. The committee's resolution was adopted by the Secretary of War in May 1947.20
But the fight was not over yet. In 1947 New Jersey adopted a new constitution that specifically prohibited segregation in the state militia. By extension no New Jersey National Guard unit could receive federal recognition. In February 1948 Governor McConnaughy brought Connecticut back into the fray, this time taking the matter up with the White House. A month later Governor Luther W. Youngdahl appealed to the Secretary of Defense on behalf of Negroes in the Minnesota National Guard. Secretary of the Army Royall quickly reappraised the situation and excepted New Jersey from the Army's segregation rule. Secretary Symington followed suit by excepting the New Jersey Air National Guard.21 Royall also let the governors of Connecticut and Minnesota know that he would be inclined to make similar concessions to any state which by legislative action, prohibited its governor from conforming to the federal requirements. At that time Connecticut and Minnesota had no such legislation, but Royall nevertheless agreed to refer their requests to his Committee on National Guard Policy. 22
MP's HITCH A RIDE ON ARMY TANKS, AUGSBURG, GERMANY, 1949 [Photograph not included.]
Here the secretary did no more than comply with the National Defense Act which required that all National Guard policy matters be formulated in the committee. Privately, Royall admitted that he did not feel bound to accept a committee recommendation and would be inclined to recognize any state prohibition against segregation. But he made a careful distinction between constitutional or legislative action and executive action in the states. A governor's decision to integrate, he pointed out, would not be recognized by the Army because such an action was subject to speedy reversal by the governor's successor and could cause serious confusion in the guard.23 The majority of the National Guard Committee, supported by the Director of Organization and Training, recommended that the secretary make no exceptions to the segregation policy. The Director of Personnel and Administration, on the other hand, joined with the committee's minority in recommending that Royall's action in the New Jersey case be used as a precedent.24 Commenting independently, General Bradley warned Royall that integrating individual Negroes in the National Guard would, from a military point of view, "create problems which may have serious consequences in case of national mobilization of those units." 25
Here the matter would stand for some time, the Army's segregation policy intact, but an informal allowance made for excepting individual states from prohibitions against integration below the company level. Yet the publicity and criticism attendant upon these decisions might well have given the traditionalists pause. While Secretary Royall, and on occasion his superior, Secretary of Defense Forrestal, reiterated the Army's willingness to accommodate certain states,26 civil rights groups were gaining allies for another proposition. The American Veterans Committee had advanced the idea that to forbid integration at the platoon level was a retreat from World War II practice, and to accept the excuse that segregation was in the interest of national defense was to tolerate a "travesty on words."27 Hearings were conducted in Congress in 1949 and 1951 on bills H.R. 1403 and H.R. 1389 to prohibit segregation in the National Guard. Royall's interpretation of the National Defense Act did not satisfy advocates of a thoroughly integrated guard, for it was clear that not many states were likely to petition for permission to integrate. At the same time the exceptions to the segregation rule promised an incompatible situation between the segregated active forces and the incompletely integrated reserve organization.
Royall's ruling, while perhaps a short-term gain for traditionalists,
was significant because it established a precedent that would be used by
integrationists in later years. The price for defending the Army's segregation
policy, guard officials discovered, was the surrender of their long-cherished
claim of state autonomy. The committee's recommendation on the matter of
applying the Gillem Board policy to the guard was inflexible, leaving no
room for separate decisions by officials of the several states. Maj. Gen.
Jim Dan Hill of the Wisconsin National Guard recognized this danger. Along
with a minority of his colleagues he maintained that the decision on segregation
"will have to be solved at the state level."28
The committee majority argued the contrary, agreeing with Brig. Gen. Alexander
G. Paxton of Mississippi that the National Defense Act of 1945 prohibited
the sort of exception made in the New Jersey case. General Paxton called
for a uniform policy for all guard units:
National Security is an obligation of all the states, and its necessity in time of emergency transcends all local issues. Federal recognition of the National Guard units of the several States is extended for the purpose of affording these units a Federal status under the National Defense Act. The issue in question is purely one of compliance with Federal Law. 29
Here was tacit recognition of federal supremacy over the National Guard. In supporting the right of the Secretary of the Army to dictate racial policy to state guards in 1948, the National Guard Committee adopted a position that would haunt it when the question of integrating the guard came up again in the early 1960's.
Despite the publicity given to General Bradley's comments at Fort Knox, it was the Secretary of the Army, not the Chief of Staff, who led the fight against change in the Army's racial practices. As the debate over these practices warmed in the administration and the national press, Kenneth C. Royall emerged as the principal spokesman against further integration and the principal target of the civil rights forces. Royall's sincere interest in the welfare of black soldiers, albeit highly paternalistic, was not in question. His trouble with civil rights officials stemmed from the fact that he alone in the Truman administration still clung publicly to the belief that segregation was not in itself discrimination, a belief shared by many of his fellow citizens. Royall was convinced that the separate but equal provisions of the Army's Gillem Board policy were right in as much as they did provide equal treatment and opportunity for the black minority. His opinion was reinforced by the continual assurances of his military subordinates that in open competition with white soldiers few Negroes would ever achieve a proportionate share of promotions and better occupations. And when his subordinates added to this sentiment the notion that integration would disrupt the Army and endanger its efficiency, they quickly persuaded the already sympathetic Royall that segregation was not only correct but imperative.30 The secretary might easily have agreed with General Paul, who told an assembly of Army commanders that aside from some needed improvement in the employment of black specialists "there isn't a single complaint anyone can make in our use of the Negro."31
Secure in his belief that segregation was right and necessary, Royall confidently awaited the judgment of the recently appointed President's committee. He was convinced that any fair judge could draw but one conclusion: under the provisions of Circular 124, Negroes had already achieved equal treatment and opportunity in the Army. His job, therefore, was relatively simple. He had to defend Army policy against outside attack and make sure it was applied uniformly throughout the service. His stand marked one of the last attempts by a major federal official to support a racially separate but equal system before the principle was finally struck down by the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education.
SECRETARY ROYALL REVIEWS MILITARY POLICE. Yokohama, Japan, 1949. [Photograph not included.]
Royall readily conceded that it was proper and necessary for Negroes to insist on integration, but, echoing a long-cherished Army belief, he adamantly opposed using the Army to support or oppose any social cause. The Army, he contended, must follow the nation, not lead it, in social matters. The Army must not experiment. When, "without prejudice to the National Defense," the Army could reduce segregation to the platoon level it would do so, but all such steps should be taken one at a time. And 1948, he told the conference of black leaders in April of that year, was not the time.32
Convinced of the rightness of the Army's policy, Secretary Royall was understandably agitated by the unfavorable publicity directed at him and his department. The publicity, he was convinced, resulted from discrimination on the part of "the Negro and liberal press" against the Army's policy in favor of the Navy and Air Force. He was particularly incensed at the way the junior services had escaped the "rap"—his word—on racial matters. He ascribed it in large part, he told the Secretary of Defense in September 1948, to the "unfortunate" National Defense Conference, the gathering of black spokesmen held under Forrestal's auspices the previous spring.33 The specific object of Royall's indignation was Lester Granger's final report on the work of the National Defense Conference. That report emphasized the conferees' rebuttal to Royall's defense of segregation on the grounds of military expediency and past experience with black soldiers. The Army has assumed a position, Granger claimed, that was unjustified by its own experience. Overlooking evidence to the contrary, Granger added that the Army position was at variance with the experience of the other services. His parting shot was aimed at the heart of the Army's argument: "It is as unwise as it is unsound to cite the resistance of military leadership against basic changes in policy as sufficient cause for delaying immediate and effective action."34
Adding to Royall's discomfort, Forrestal released the report on 8 September, and his letter of appreciation to Granger and the conferees assured them he would send their report to the President's committee. The New York Times promptly picked up Granger's reference to opposition among military leaders.35 Royall tried to counter this attack. Since neither the President nor the Secretary of Defense had disapproved the Army's racial policy nor suggested any modifications, Royall told Forrestal he wanted him to go on record as approving the Army position. This course would doubtless be more palatable to Forrestal, Royall suggested, than having Royall announce that Forrestal had given tacit approval to the Army's policy.36
Forrestal quickly scotched this maneuver. It was true, he told Royall, that the Army's policy had not been disapproved. But neither had the Army's policy or that of the Navy or Air Force yet been reviewed by the Secretary of Defense. The President's committee would probably make such a review an early order of business. Meanwhile, the Army's race policy would continue in effect until it was altered either by Forrestal's office or by action from some other source.37
Even as Secretary Royall tried to defend the Army from the attacks of the press, the service's policy was challenged from another quarter. The blunt fact was that with the reinstitution of selective service in 1948 the Army was receiving more black recruits—especially those in the lower mental categories—than a segregated system could easily absorb. The high percentage of black soldiers so proudly publicized by Royall at the National Defense Conference was in fact a source of anxiety for Army planners. The staff particularly resented the different standards adopted by the other services to determine the acceptability of selectees. The Navy and Air Force, pleading their need for skilled workers and dependence on volunteer enlistments, imposed a higher minimum achievement score for admission than the Army, which, largely dependent upon the draft for its manpower, was required to accept men with lower scores. Thousands of Negroes, less skilled and with little education, were therefore eligible for service in the Army although they were excluded from the Navy and Air Force. Given such circumstances, it was probably inevitable that differences in racial policies would precipitate an interservice conflict. The Army claimed the difference in enlistment standards was discriminatory and contrary to the provisions of the draft law which required the Secretary of Defense to set enlistment standards. In April 1948 Secretary Royall demanded that Forrestal impose the same mental standards on all the services. He wanted inductees allocated to the services according to their physical and mental abilities and Negroes apportioned among them.
The other services countered that there were not enough well-educated people of draft age to justify raising the Army's mental standards to the Navy and Air Force levels, but neither service wanted to lower its own entrance standards to match the level necessity had imposed on the Army. The Air Force eventually agreed to enlist Negroes at a 10 percent ratio to whites, but the Navy held out for higher standards and no allocation by race. It contended that setting the same standards for all services would improve the quality of the Army's black enlistees only imperceptibly while it would do great damage to the Navy. The Navy admitted that the other services should help the Army, but not "up to the point of unnecessarily reducing their own effectiveness.... The modern Navy cannot operate its ships and aircraft with personnel of G.C.T. 70."38 General Bradley cut to the point: if the Navy carried the day it would receive substantially fewer Negroes than the other two services and a larger portion of the best qualified.39 Secretary Forrestal first referred the interservice controversy to the Munitions Board in May 1948 and later that summer to a special interservice committee. After both groups failed to reach an agreement,40 Forrestal decided not to force a parity in mental standards upon the services. On 12 October he explained to the secretaries that parity could be imposed only during time of full mobilization, and since conditions in the period between October 1948 and June 1949 could not be considered comparable to those of full mobilization, parity was impossible. He promised, however, to study the qualitative needs of each service. Meanwhile, he had found no evidence that any service was discriminating in the selection of enlistees and settled for a warning that any serious discrimination by any two of the services would place "an intolerable burden" on the third.41
Convinced that Forrestal had made the wrong decision, the Army staff was nevertheless obliged to concern itself with the percentage of Negroes it would have to accept under the new selective service law. Although by November 1948 the Army's black strength had dropped to 9.83 percent of the total, its proportion of Negroes was still large when compared with the Navy's 4.3 percent, the Marine Corps' 1.79 percent, and the Air Force's 6 percent. Projecting these figures against the possible mobilization of five million men (assuming each service increased in proportion to its current strength and absorbed the same percentage of a black population remaining at 12 percent of the whole), the Army calculated that its low entrance requirements would give it a black strength of 21 percent. In the event of a mobilization equaling or surpassing that of World War II, the minimum test score of seventy would probably be lowered, and thus the Army would shoulder an even greater burden of poorly educated men, a burden that in the Army's view should be shared by all the services.42
No matter how the Army tried to justify segregation or argue against the position of the Navy and Air Force, the integrationists continued to gain ground. Royall, in opposition, adopted a new tactic in the wake of the Truman order. He would have the Army experiment with integration, perhaps proving that it would not work on a large scale, certainly buying time for Circular 124 and frustrating the rising demand for change. He had expressed willingness to experiment with an integrated Army unit when Lester Granger made the suggestion through Forrestal in February 1948, but nothing came of it.43 In September he returned to the idea, asking the Army staff to plan for the formation of an integrated unit about the size of a regimental combat team, along with an engineer battalion and the station complement of a post large enough to accommodate these troops. Black enlisted men were to form 10 percent of the troop basis and be used in all types of positions. Black officers, used in the same ratio as black officers in the whole Army, were to command mixed troops. General Bradley reported the staff had studied the idea and concluded that such units "did not prove anything on the subject." Royall, however, dismissed the staff's objection and reiterated his order to plan an experiment at a large installation and in a permanent unit.44
Despite the staff's obvious reluctance, Maj. Gen. Harold R. Bull, the new Director of Organization and Training, made an intensive study of the alternatives. He produced a plan that was in turn further refined by a group of senior officers including the Deputy Chief of Staff for Administration and the Chief of Information.45 These officers decided that "if the Secretary of the Army so orders," the Army could activate an experimental unit in the 3d Infantry Division at Camp Campbell, Kentucky. The troops, 10 percent of them black, would be drawn from all parts of the country and include ten black officers, none above the rank of major. The unit would be carefully monitored by the Army staff, and its commander would report on problems encountered after a year's trial.
SPRING FORMAL DANCE, FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, MARYLAND, 1952 [Photograph not included.]
It was obvious that Forrestal wanted to avoid publicizing the project. He had his assistants, Marx Leva and John Ohly, discuss the proposal with the Secretary of the Army to impress on him the need for secrecy until all arrangements were completed. More important, he hoped to turn Royall's experiment back on the Army itself, using it to gain a foothold for integration in the largest service. Leva and Ohly suggested to Royall that instead of activating a special unit he select a Regular Army regiment—Leva recommended one from the 82d Airborne Division to which a number of black combat units were already attached—as the nucleus of the experiment. With an eye to the forthcoming White House investigation, Leva added that, while the details would be left to the Army, integration of the unit, to be put into effect "as soon as possible," should be total.46
The plan for a large-scale integrated unit progressed little beyond this point but it was significant if only because it marked the first time since the Revolution that the Army had seriously considered using a large number of black soldiers in a totally integrated unit. The situation was not without its note of irony, for the purpose of the plan was not to abolish the racial discrimination that critics were constantly laying at the Army's doorstep. In fact, Army leaders seriously dedicated to the separate but equal principle, were convinced the Gillem Board policy had already eliminated discrimination. Nor was the plan designed to carry out the President's order or prompted by the Secretary of Defense. Rather, it was pushed by Secretary Royall as a means of defending the Army against the anticipated demands of the President's committee.
The plan died because, while the Army staff studied organizations and counted bodies, Royall expanded his proposal for an integrated unit to include elements of the whole national defense establishment. Several motives have been suggested for his move. By ensnaring the Navy and Air Force in the experiment, he might impress on all concerned the problems he considered certain to arise if any service attempted the integration of a large number of Negroes. An experiment involving the whole department might also divert the White House from trying to integrate the Army immediately. Besides, the scheme had an escape clause. If the Navy and Air Force refused to cooperate, and Royall thought it likely they would, given the shortage of skilled black recruits, the Army could then legitimately cancel its offer to experiment with integration and let the whole problem dissipate in a lengthy interservice argument.47
Royall formally proposed a defense-wide experiment in integration to Forrestal on 2 December. He was not oblivious to the impression his vacillation on the subject had produced and went to some lengths to explain why he had opposed such experiments in the past. Although he had been thinking about such an experiment for some time, he told Forrestal, he had publicly rejected the idea at the National Defense Conference and during the Senate hearings on the draft law because of the tense international situation and the small size of the Army at that time. His interest in the experiment revived as the size of the Army increased and similar suggestions were made by both black leaders and southern politicians, but again he had hesitated, this time because of the national elections. He was now prepared to go ahead, but only if similar action were taken by the other services.
The experimental units, he advised Forrestal, should contain both combat and service elements of considerable size, and he went on to specify their composition in some detail. The Navy and Marine Corps should include at least one shore station "where the social problems for individuals and their families will approximate those confronting the Army." To insure the experiment's usefulness, he wanted Negroes employed in all positions, including supervisory ones, for which they qualified, and he urged that attention be paid to "the problem of social relations in off-duty hours." He was candid about the plan's weaknesses. The tight to transfer out of the experimental unit might confine the experiment to white and black troops who wanted it to succeed; hence any conclusions drawn might be challenged as invalid since men could not be given the right to exercise similar options in time of war. Therefore, if the experiment succeeded, it would have to be followed by another in which no voluntary options were granted. The experiment might also bring pressure from groups outside the Army, and if it failed "for any reason" the armed services would be accused of sabotage, no matter how sincere their effort. Curiously, he admitted that the plan was not favored by his military advisers. The Army staff, he noted in what must have surprised anyone familiar with the staff's consistent defense of segregation, thought the best way to eliminate segregation was to reduce gradually the size of segregated units and extend integration in schools, hospitals, and special units. Nevertheless, Royall recommended that the National Military Establishment as a whole, not the Army separately, go forward with the experiment and that it start early in 1949.48
The other services had no intention of going forward with such an experiment. The Air Force objected, as Secretary Symington explained, because the experiment would be inconclusive; too many artificial features were involved, especially having units composed of volunteers. Arbitrary quotas violated the principle of equal opportunity, he charged, and the experiment would be unfair to Negroes because the proportion of Negroes able to compete with whites was less than 1 to 10. Symington also warned against the public relations aspect of the scheme, which was of "minimal military significance but of major significance in the current public controversy on purely racial issues." The Air Force could conduct the experiment without difficulty, he conceded, for there were enough trained black technicians to man 10 percent of the positions and give a creditable performance, but these men were representative neither of the general black population of the Air Force nor of Negroes coming into the service during wartime.
Symington predicted that Negroes would suffer no matter how the experiment came out—success would be attributed to the special conditions involved; failure would reflect unjustly on the Negro's capabilities. The Air Force, therefore, preferred to refrain from participation in the experiment. Symington added that he was considering a study prepared by the Air staff over the past six months that would insure equality of treatment and increased opportunities for Negroes in the Air Force, and he expected to offer proposals to Forrestal in the immediate future.49
The Navy also wanted no part of the Royall experiment. Its acting secretary, John Nicholas Brown, believed that the gradual indoctrination of the naval establishment was producing the desired nondiscriminatory practices "on a sound and permanent basis without concomitant problems of morale and discipline." To adopt Royall's proposal, on the other hand, would "unnecessarily risk losing all that has been accomplished in the solution of the efficient utilization of Negro personnel to the limit of their ability."50 Brown did not spell out the risk, but a Navy spokesman on Forrestal's staff was not so reticent. "Mutiny cannot be dismissed from consideration," Capt. Herbert D. Riley warned, if the Navy were forced to integrate its officers' wardrooms, staterooms, and clubs. Such integration ran considerably in advance of the Navy's current and carefully controlled integration of the enlisted general service and would, like the proposal to place Negroes in command of white officers and men, Captain Riley predicted, have such dire results as wholesale resignations and retirements. 51
SECRETARY FORRESTAL, accompanied by General Huebner, inspects the 427th Army Band and the 7777th EUCOM Honor Guard, Heidelberg, Germany, November 1948. [Photograph not included.]
The decisive opposition of the Navy . and Air Force convinced Forrestal that interservice integration was unworkable. In short, the Navy and Air Force had progressed in their own estimation to the point where, despite shortcomings in their racial policies rivaling the Army's, they had little to fear from the coming White House investigation. The Army could show no similar forward motion. Despite Royall's claim that he and the Army staff favored eventual integration of black soldiers through progressive reduction in the size of the Army's segregated black units, the facts indicated otherwise. For example, while Secretary of Defense Forrestal was touring Germany in late 1948 he noted in his diary of Lt. Gen. Clarence R. Huebner, now the commander of Europe: "Huebner's experience with colored troops is excellent.... He is ready to proceed with the implementation of the President's directive about nonsegregation down to the platoon level, and proposes to initiate this in the three cavalry regiments and the AA battalion up north, but does not want to do it if it is premature."52
Huebner's concern with prematurity was understandable, for the possibility of using black soldiers in the constabulary had been a lively topic in the Army for some time. Marcus Ray had proposed it in his December 1946 report to the Secretary of War, but it was quickly rejected by the Army staff. The staff had approved Huebner's decision in July 1948 to attach a black engineer construction battalion and a transportation truck company, a total of 925 men, to the constabulary. The Director of Organization and Training, however, continued to make a careful distinction between attached units and "organic assignment," adding that "the Department of the Army does not favor the organic assignment of Negro units to the Constabulary at this time."53
But by November 1948 Huebner wished to go considerably further. As he later put it, he had no need for a black infantry regiment, but since the constabulary, composed for the most part of cavalry units, lacked foot soldiers, he wanted to integrate a black infantry battalion, in platoon-size units, in each cavalry regiment.54 The staff turned down his request. Arguing that the inclusion of organic black units in the constabulary "might be detrimental to the proper execution of its mission," and quoting the provision of Circular 124 limiting integration to the company level, the staff's organization experts concluded that the use of black units in the European theater below company size "would undoubtedly prove embarrassing to the Department of the Army . . . in the Zone of the Interior in view of the announced Department of the Army policy." General Bull, Director of Organization and Training, informed Huebner he might use black units in composite groupings only at the company level, including his constabulary forces, "if such is desired by you," but it was "not presently contemplated that integration of Negro units on the platoon level will be approved as Department of the Army policy."55 Huebner later recalled that the constabulary was his outfit, to be run his way, and "Bradley and Collins always let me do what I had to."56 Still, when black infantrymen joined the constabulary in late 1948, they came in three battalion-size units "attached" for training and tactical control.57
The Truman order had no immediate effect on the Army's racial policy. The concession to state governors regarding integration of their National Guard units was beside the point, and Royall's limited offer to set up an experimental integrated unit in the Regular Army was more image than substance. Accurately summarizing the situation in March 1949, The Adjutant General informed Army commanders that although it was "strategically unwise" to republish War Department Circular 124 while the President's committee was meeting, the policies contained in that document, which was about to expire, would continue in effect until further notice. 58
The Navy Department also saw no reason to alter its postwar racial policy because of the Truman order. As Acting Secretary of Navy Brown explained to the Secretary of Defense in December 1948, whites in his service had come to accept the fact that blacks must take their rightful place in the Navy and Marine Corps. This acceptance, in turn, had led to "very satisfactory progress" in the integration of the department's black personnel without producing problems of morale and discipline or a lowering of esprit de corps. 59
Brown had ample statistics at hand to demonstrate that at least in the Navy this nondiscrimination policy was progressive. Whereas at the end of the World War II demobilization only 6 percent of the Navy's Negroes served in the general service, some two years later 38 percent were so assigned. These men and women generally worked and lived under total integration, and the men served on many of the Navy's combat ships. The Bureau of Naval Personnel predicted in early 1949 that before the end of the year at least half of all black sailors would be assigned to the general service.60 In contrast to the Army's policy of separate but equal service for its black troops, the Navy's postwar racial policy was technically correct and essentially in compliance with the President's order. Yet progress was very limited and in fact in the two years under its postwar nondiscrimination policy, the Navy's performance was only marginally different from that of the other services. The number of Negroes in the Navy in December 1948, the same month Brown was extolling its nondiscrimination policy, totaled some 17,000 men, 4.5 percent of its strength and about half the Army's proportion. This percentage had remained fairly constant since World War II and masked a dramatic drop in the number of black men in uniform as the Navy demobilized. Thus while the percentage of the Navy's black sailors assigned to the integrated general service rose from 6 to 38, the number of Negroes in the general service dropped from 9,900 in 1946 to some 6,000 in 1948. Looked at another way, the 38 percent figure of blacks in the general service meant that 62 percent of all Negroes in the Navy, 10,871 men in December 1948, still served in the separate Steward's Branch.61 In contrast to the Army and Air Force, the Navy's Negroes were, with only the rarest exception, enlisted men. The number of black officers in December 1948 was four; the WAVES could count only six black women in its 2,130 total. Clearly, the oft repeated rationale for these statistics—Negroes favored the Army because they were not a seafaring people—could not explain them away.62
A substantial increase in the number of Negroes would have absolved the Navy from some of the stigma of racial discrimination it endured in the late 1940's. Since the size of the Steward's Branch was limited by regulation and budget, any increase in black enlistment would immediately raise the number of Negroes serving in the integrated general service. Increased enlistments would also widen the choice of assignments, creating new opportunities for promotion to higher grades. But even this obvious and basic response to the Truman order was not forthcoming. The Navy continued to exclude many potential black volunteers on the grounds that it needed to maintain stricter mental and physical standards to secure men capable of running a modern technically complex Navy. True, regular and reserve officers were periodically sent to black colleges to discuss naval careers with the students, but as one official, speaking of the reserves, confessed to the Fahy Committee in April 1949, "We aren't doing anything special to procure Negro officers or Negro enlisted men."63
At best, recruiting more Negroes for the general service would only partly fulfill the Navy's obligation to conform to the Truman order. It would still leave untouched the Steward's Branch, which for years had kept alive the impression that the Navy valued minority groups only as servants. The Bureau of Naval Personnel had closed the branch to first enlistments and provided for the transfer of eligible stewards to the general service, but black stewards were only transferring at the rate of seven men per month, hardly enough to alter the racial composition of the branch. In the six months following September 1948 the branch's black strength dropped by 910 men, but because the total strength of the branch also dropped, the percentage of black stewards remained constant.64 What was needed was an infusion of whites, but this remedy, like an increase of black officers, would require a fundamental change in the racial attitudes of Navy leaders. No such change was evident in the Navy's postwar racial policy. While solemnly proclaiming its belief in the principle of nondiscrimination, the service had continued to sanction practices that limited integration and equal opportunity to a degree consistent with its racial tradition and manpower needs. Curiously, the Navy managed to avoid strong criticism from the civil rights groups throughout the postwar period, and the Truman order notwithstanding, it was therefore in a strong position to resist precipitous change in its racial practices.
Unlike the Navy, the Marine Corps did not enjoy so secure a position. Its policy of keeping black marines strictly segregated was becoming untenable in the face of its shrinking size, and by the time President Truman issued his order the corps was finding it necessary to make some adjustments. Basic training, for example, was integrated in the cause of military efficiency. With fewer than twenty new black recruits a month, the corps was finding it too expensive and inefficient to maintain a separate recruit training program, and on 1 July 1949 the commandant, General Clifton B. Cates, ordered that Negroes be trained with the rest of the recruits at Parris Island, but in separate platoons.65 Even this system proved too costly, however, because black recruits were forced to wait for training until their numbers built up to platoon size. Given the length of the training cycle, the camp commander had to reserve three training platoons for the few black recruits. Maj. Gen. Alfred H. Noble, the commander, repeatedly complained of the waste of instructors, time, and facilities and the "otherwise generally undesirable" features of separate black training platoons. He pointed out to the commandant that black students had been successfully assimilated into personnel administration and drill instructor schools without friction or incident, and reservist training and local intramural sports had already peacefully introduced integration to the base. Noble wanted to integrate black recruits as they arrived, absorbing them in the white training platoons then being processed. He also wanted to use selected black noncommissioned officers as instructors.66
The commandant approved the integration of recruit training on 22 September,
and Noble quietly began assigning recruits without regard to color.67
Integration of black noncommissioned officer platoon leaders followed,
along with integration of the noncommissioned officers' club and other
facilities. Noble later recalled the circumstance of the first significant
instance of integration in the history of the Marine Corps:
This innovation not only produced no unfavorable reaction among the Marines, but also it had no unfavorable reaction among the civilian citizens of South Carolina in the vicinity. Of course I consulted the civilian leaders first and told them what I was going to do and got their advice and promises of help to try to stop any adverse criticisms of it. It seemed like integration was due to take place sooner or later anyway in this country, certainly in the Armed Forces, and I thought that it should take place in the Armed Forces first. 68
GENERAL CATES [Photograph not included.]
Since manpower restrictions also made the organization of administratively separate black units hard to justify, the postwar reduction in the number of black marines eventually led to the formation of a number of racially composite units. Where once separate black companies were the norm, by 1949 the corps had organized most of its black marines into separate platoons and assigned them as parts of larger white units. In March 1949 Secretary of the Navy Sullivan reported that with the minor exception of several black depot companies, the largest black units in the Marine Corps were platoons of forty-three men, "and they are integrated with other platoons of whites."69
The cutback in the size and kinds of black units and the integration of recruit training removed the need for the separate camp at Montford Point, home base for black marines since the beginning of World War II. The camp's last two organizations, a provisional company and a headquarters company, were inactivated on 31 July and 9 September, respectively, thus ending an era in the history of Negroes in the Marine Corps.70
Composite grouping of small black units usually provided for separate assignment and segregated facilities. As late as February 1949, the commandant made clear he had no intention of allowing the corps to drift into a de facto integration policy. When, for example, it came to his attention that some commanders were restricting appointment of qualified black marines to specialist schools on the grounds that their commands lacked billets for black specialists, the commandant reiterated the principle that assignment to specialty training was to be made without regard to race. At the same time he emphasized that this policy was not to be construed as an endorsement of the use of black specialists in white units. General Cates specifically stipulated that where no billets in their specialty or a related one were available for black specialists in black units, his headquarters was to be informed. The implication of this order was obvious to the Division of Plans and Policies. "This is an important one " a division official commented, "it involves finding billets for Negro specialists even if we have to create a unit to do it.''71 It was also obvious that when the Under Secretary of the Navy, Dan A. Kimball, reported to the Personnel Policy Board in May that "Negro Marines, including Stewards, are assigned to other [white] Marine Corps units in accord with their specialty," he was speaking of rare exceptions to the general rule. 72
Cates seemed determined to ignore the military inefficiency attendant on such elaborate attempts to insure the continued isolation of black marines. The defense establishment, he was convinced, "could not be an agency for experimentation in civil liberty without detriment to its ability to maintain the efficiency and the high state of readiness so essential to national defense." Having thus tied military efficiency to segregation, Cates explained to the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Air that the efficiency of a unit was a command responsibility, and so long as that responsibility rested with the commander, he must be authorized to make such assignments as he deemed necessary. It followed then, that segregation was a national, not a military, problem, and any attempt to change national policy through the armed forces was, in the commandant's words, "a dangerous path to pursue inasmuch as it affects the ability of the National Military Establishment to fulfill its mission." Integration must first be accepted as a national custom, he concluded, "before it could be adopted in the armed forces."73 Nor was General Cates ambiguous on Marine Corps policy when it was questioned by civil rights leaders. Individual marines, he told the commander of a black depot company in a case involving opportunities available to reenlisting black marines, would be employed in the future as in the past "to serve the best interests of the Corps under existing circumstances."74
Actually, Cates was only forcibly expressing a cardinal tenet common to all the military services: the civil rights of the individual must be subordinated to the mission of the service. What might appear to a civil rights activist to be a callous and prejudiced response to a legitimate social complaint was more likely an expression of the commandant's overriding concern for his military mission. Still it was difficult to explain such elaborate precautions in a corps where Negroes numbered less than 2 percent of the total strength.75 How could the integration of 1,500 men throughout the worldwide units of the corps disrupt its mission, civil rights spokesmen might well ask, especially given the evidence to the contrary in the Navy? In view of the President's order, how could the corps justify the proliferation of very small black units that severely restricted the spread of occupational opportunities for Negroes?
1ST MARINE DIVISION DRILL TEAM ON EXHIBITION at San Diego's Balboa Stadium, 1949. [Photograph not included.]
The corps ignored these questions during the summer of 1949, concentrating instead on the problem of finding racially separate assignments for its 1,000 Negroes in the general service. As the number of marines continued to drop, the Division of Plans and Policies was forced to justify the existence of black units by a series of reorganizations and redistributions. When, for example, the reorganization of the Fleet Marine Force caused the inactivation of two black depot units, the division designated a 108-man truck company as a black unit to take up the slack. At the same time the division found yet another "suitable" occupation for black marines by laying down a policy that all security detachments at inactive naval facilities were to be manned by Negroes. It also decided to assign small black units to the service battalions of the Marine divisions, maintaining that such assignments would not run counter to the commandant's policy of restricting Negroes to noncombat organizations.76
The Marine Corps, in short, had no intention of relaxing its policy of separating the races. The timing of the integration of recruit training and the breakup of some large black units perhaps suggested a general concession to the Truman order, but these administrative changes were actually made in response to the manpower restrictions of the Truman defense budget. In fact, the position of black marines in small black units became even more isolated in the months following the Truman order as the Division of Plans and Policies began devising racially separate assignments Like the stewards before them, the security guards at closed naval installations and ammunition depots found themselves in assignments increasingly viewed as "colored" jobs. That the number of Negroes in the Marine Corps was so small aided and abetted these arrangements, which promised to continue despite the presidential order until some dramatic need for change arose.
Of all the services, the Air Force was in the best position to respond promptly to President Truman's call for equal treatment and opportunity. For some time a group of Air staff officers had been engaged in devising a new approach to the use of black manpower. Indeed their study, much of which antedated the Truman order, represented the solution of the Air Force's manpower experts to a pressing problem in military efficiency. More important than the executive order or demands of civil rights advocates, the criticism of segregation by these experts in uniform led the Air Force to accept the need for limited integration.
But there was to be no easy road to integration for the service. Considerable resistance was yet to be overcome, both in the Air staff and among senior commanders. As Secretary Zuckert later put it, while there was sentiment for integration among a few of the highest officers, "you didn't have to scratch far to run into opposition."77 The Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel, General Edwards, reported to Secretary Symington that he had found solid opposition to any proposed policy of integration in the service. 78 Normally such resistance would have killed the study group's proposals. In the Army, for example, opposition supported by Secretary Royall had blocked change. In the Air Force, the opposition received no such support. Indeed, Secretary Symington proved to be the catalyst that the Army had lacked. He was the Air Force's margin of difference, transforming the study group's proposal from a staffing paper into a program for substantial change in racial policy.
In Symington the Air Force had a secretary who was not only a tough-minded businessman demanding efficiency but a progressive politician with a humanitarian interest in providing equal opportunity for Negroes. "With Symington," Eugene Zuckert has pointed out, "it was principle first, efficiency second."79 Symington himself later explained the source of his humanitarian interest. "What determined me many years ago was a quotation from Bernard Shaw in Myrdal's book, American Dilemma, which went something like this—'First the American white man makes the negro clean his shoes, then criticizes him for being a bootblack.' All Americans should have their chance. And both my grandfathers were in the Confederate Army."80 Symington had successfully combined efficiency and humanitarianism before. As president of the Emerson Electric Manufacturing Company of St. Louis, he had racially integrated a major industry carrying out vital war work in a border state, thereby increasing productivity. When he became secretary, Symington was immediately involved in the Air Force's race problems; he wanted to know, for instance, why only nine black applicants had passed the qualifying examination for the current cadet program.81 When President Truman issued his executive order, Symington was ready to move. In his own words, "when Mr. Truman as Commander-in-Chief issued an order to integrate the Air Force, I asked him if he was serious. He said he was. Accordingly we did just that. I turned the actual operations of the job over to my Assistant Secretary Eugene Zuckert.... It all worked out routinely 82
To call "routine" the fundamental change that took place in Air Force manpower practices stretches the definition of the word. The integration program required many months of intensive study and planning, and many more months to carry out. Yet if integration under Symington was slow, it was also inevitable. Zuckert reported that Symington gave him about eight reasons for integration, the last "because I said do it."83 Symington's tough attitude, along with the presidential order, considerably eased the burden of those in the Air Force who were expected to abandon a tradition inherited from their Army days. The secretary's diplomatic skill also softened opposition in other quarters. Symington, a master at congressional relations, smoothed the way on Capitol Hill by successfully reassuring some southern leaders, in particular Congressman Carl Vinson of Georgia, that integration had to come, but that it would come quietly and in a way least calculated to provoke its congressional opponents.84
Symington assigned general responsibility for equal opportunity matters to his assistant secretary for management, Eugene Zuckert, but the task of formulating the specific plan fell to General Edwards. To avoid conflict with some of his colleagues, Edwards resorted to the unorthodox means of ignoring the usual staff coordination. He sent his proposals directly to the Chief of Staff and then on to the secretary for approval without reference to other staff agencies, one of which, the Office of the Vice Chief of Staff, General Muir S. Fairchild, was the focal point of staff opposition. 85
On the basis of evidence submitted by his long-standing study group, General Edwards concluded that current Air Force policy for the use of black manpower was "wasteful, deleterious to military effectiveness and lacking in wartime application." The policy of the Navy was superior, he told the Chief of Staff and the secretary, with respect to military effectiveness, economy, and morale, especially when the needs of full mobilization were considered. The Air Force would profit by adopting a policy similar to that of the Navy, and he proposed a program, to be "vigorously implemented and monitored," that would inactivate the all-black fighter wing and transfer qualified black servicemen from that wing as well as from all the major commands to white units. One exception would be that those black specialists, whose work was essential to the continued operation of their units, would stay in their black units. Some black units would be retained to provide for individuals ineligible for transfer to white units or for discharge.
SECRETARY SYMINGTON [Photograph not included.]
The new program would abolish the 10 percent quota and develop recruiting methods to enable the Air Force to secure only the "best qualified" enlistees of both races. Men chronically ineligible for advancement, both black and white, would be eliminated. If too many Negroes enlisted despite these measures, Edwards explained that an "administratively determined ceiling of Negro intake" could be established, but the Air Force had no intention of establishing a minimum for black enlistees. As the Director of Personnel Planning put it, a racial floor was just as much a quota as a racial ceiling and had the same effect of denying opportunity to some while providing special consideration for others.86
The manpower experts had decided that the social complications of such a policy would be negligible—"more imaginary than real." Edwards referred to the Navy s experience with limited integration, which, he judged, had relieved rather than multiplied social tensions between the races. Nevertheless he and his staff proposed "as a conservative but progressive step" toward the integration of living quarters that the Air Force arrange for separate sleeping quarters for blacks and whites. The so-called "barracks problem" was the principal point of discussion within the Air staff, Edwards admitted, and "perhaps the most critical point of the entire policy." He predicted that the trend toward more privacy in barracks, especially the separate cubicles provided in construction plans for new barracks, would help solve whatever problems might arise.87
While the Chief of Staff, General Vandenberg, initialed the program without comment, Assistant Secretary Zuckert was enthusiastic. As Zuckert explained to Symington, the program was predicated on free competition for all Air Force jobs, and he believed that it would also eliminate social discrimination by giving black officers and men all the privileges of Air Force social facilities Although he admitted that in the matter of living arrangements the plan "only goes part way," he too was confident that time and changes in barracks construction would eliminate any problems.88
Symington was already familiar with most of Edwards's conclusions, for a summary had been sent him by the Assistant Vice Chief of Staff on 22 December "for background."89 When he received Zuckert's comments he acted quickly. The next day he let the Secretary of Defense know what the Air Force was doing. "We propose," he told Forrestal, "to adopt a policy of integration." But he qualified that statement along the lines suggested by the Air staff: "Although there will still be units manned entirely by Negroes, all Negroes will not necessarily be assigned to these units. Qualified Negro personnel will be assigned to any duties in any Air Force activity strictly on the basis of the qualifications of the individual and the needs of the Air Force."90 Symington tied the new program to military efficiency, explaining to Forrestal that efficient use of black servicemen was one of the essentials of economic and effective air power. In this vein he summarized the program and listed what he considered its advantages for the Air Force.
The proposal forwarded to the Secretary of Defense in January 1949 committed the Air Force to a limited integration policy frankly imitative of the Navy's. A major improvement over the Air Force's current practices, the plan still fell considerably short of the long-range goals enunciated in the Gillem Board Report, to say nothing of the implications of the President's equal opportunity order. Although it is impossible to say exactly why Symington decided to settle for less than full integration, there are several explanations worth considering.
In the first place the program sent to Forrestal may well not have reflected the exact views of the Air Force secretary, nor conveyed all that his principal manpower assistant intended. Actually, the concern expressed by Air Force officials for military efficiency and by civil rights leaders for equal opportunity always centered specifically on the problems of the black tactical air unit and related specialist billets at Lockbourne Air Force Base. In fact, the need to solve the pressing administrative problems of Colonel Davis's command provoked the Air staff study that eventually evolved into the integration program. The program itself focused on this command and provided for the integrated assignment of its members throughout the Air Force. Other black enlisted men, certainly those serving as laborers in the F Squadrons, scattered worldwide, did not pose a comparable manpower problem. They were ignored on the theory that abolition of the quota, along with the application of more stringent recruitment procedures, would in time rid the services of its unskilled and unneeded men.
It can be argued that the purpose of the limited integration proposal was not so much to devise a new policy as to minimize the impact of change on congressional opponents. Edwards certainly hoped that his plan would placate senior commanders and staff officers who opposed integration or feared the social upheaval they assumed would follow the abolition of all black units. This explanation would account for the cautious approach to racial mixing in the proposal, the elaborate administrative safeguards against social confrontation, and the promised reduction in the number of black airmen. Some of those pressing for the new program certainly considered the retention of segregated units a stopgap measure designed to prevent a too precipitous reorganization of the service. As Lt. Col. Jack Marr, a member of Edwards's staff and author of the staff's integration study, explained to the Fahy Committee, "we are trying to do our best not to tear the Air Force all apart and try to reorganize it overnight.''91 Marr predicted that as those eligible for reassignment were transferred out of black units, the units themselves, bereft of essential personnel, would become inoperative and disappear one by one.
In the end it must be admitted that race relations possess an inner dynamic and it is impossible to relate the integration of the Air Force to any isolated decision by a secretary or proposal by a group from his military staff. The decision to integrate was the result of several disparate forces—the political interests of the administration, the manpower needs of the Air Force, the aspirations of its black minority, and perhaps more than all the rest, the acceptance by its airmen of a different social system. Together, these factors would make successive steps to full integration impossible to resist. Integration, then, was an evolutionary process, and Symington's acceptance of a limited integration plan was only one step in a continuing process that stretched from the Air staff's study of black manpower in 1948 to the disappearance of the last black unit two years later.
1Columbia University Oral Hist Interv with Wilkins.
2Chicago Defender, August 7 and August 14, 1948.
3Pittsburgh Courier, August 7, August 28, and September 25, 1948.
4Chicago Defender, August 21 1948.
5New York Times, September 12, 1948.
6Memo, Donald Dawson for President, 9 Sep 48, Nash Collection, Truman Library; Memo, SecDef for Clark Clifford, 2 Aug 48, and Ltr, Sayard Rustin of the campaign to Resist Military Segregation to James v. Forrestal, 20 Aug 48; both in D54-1-14, SecDef files. It should be noted that Dawson's claim that the black press universally supported the executive order has not been accepted by all commentators; see McCoy and Ruetten, Quest and Response, p. 130.
7Bradley succeeded Eisenhower as Chief of Staff on 7 February 1948.
8Washington Post, July 28, 1948; Atlanta Constitution, July 28, 1948.
9News Conference, 29 Jul 48, Public Papers of the Presidents: Harry S. Truman, 1948, p. 165; New York Times, July 30, 1948; Chicago Defender, August 7, 1948; Pittsburgh Courier, August 21, 1948; Washington Post, August 23, 1948.
10Interv, Nichols with Bradley.
11Hanson Baldwin, "Segregation in the Army," New York Times, August 8, 1948.
12Ltr, A. A. Heist, Dir, American Civil Liberties Union, South California Branch, to Forrestal, 7 Sep 48, D54-1-4, SecDef files.
13Ltrs, Bradley to President
Truman, 30 Jul 48, and Truman to Bradley, 4 Aug 48, CSUSA 291.2 (4 Aug
48). See also Ltr, SA to President, 29 Jul 48, OSA 291.2 (Negroes) (7-29-48).
14As provided in various laws since 1920, most notably in Section V of the amendments to the National Defense Act, members of the General Staff's Committee on National Guard Policy and Committee on Reserve Policy were the principal advisers to the Secretary of War on reserve component matters. All questions regarding these organizations were referred to the committees, which usually met in combined session as the Committee on National Guard and Reserve Policy. The combined committee was composed of twenty-one officers, seven each from the Regular Army, the guard, and the reserves. When the business under consideration was restricted exclusively to one of the reserve components, the representatives of the other would absent themselves, the remaining members, along with the Regular Army members, reconstituting themselves as the Committee on National Guard Policy or the Committee on Reserve Policy. These groups, familiarly known as the " Section V Committees, " wielded considerable power in the development of the postwar program for the reserves.
15Memo, Chief, Classification and Personnel Actions Br, P&A, for Brig Gen Ira Swift, Chief, Liaison, Planning and Policy Coordination Gp, P&A, 8 Apr 47, sub: Resolution Regarding Employment of Negro Troops in the National Guard; Memo, Dir, P&A, for Dir, Intel, 9 Apt 47, same sub; both in WDGPA 291.2 (3 Apt 47).
16DF, WDGS Cmte on National Guard Policy, to Chief, NGB, 20 May 47, sub: Integration of Negro Troops; idem to Dir, P&A, and Dir, O&T, same date and sub. See also Ltr, Maj Gen Kenneth F. Cramer, CG 43d Inf Div (Conn. NG) to Col Russell Y. Moore, OCofS, 17 Mar 47. All in Office file, Army Reserve Forces Policy Cmte.
17Memo, Dir, O&T, for WDGS Cmte on National Guard Policy, 23 fun 47, sub: Integration of Negro Troops, WDGOT 291.2.
18Memo, Exec for Reserve and ROTC Affairs, O&T, for Dir, O&T, 22 Jul 46; O&T Memo for Red, 12 Aug 46, both in WDGOT 291.2
19Memo, Ray for Petersen, 2 Apr 47, sub: Integration of Negro Personnel in the Reserve Components, ASW 291.2.
20Memo, D/O&T for ASW, 17 Apr 47, sub: Integration of Negro Personnel in the Reserve Components, WDGOT 291.2; Memo, D/P&A thru D/O&T for ASW, 10 Apr 47, same sub, WDGPA 291.2; OF, D/P&A to CofS, 20 May 47, sub: Integration of Negro Troops, CSUSA 291.2 Negroes.
21Ltr, Kenneth Royall to Alfred Driscoll, 7 Feb 48; Ltr, W. Stuart Symington to Driscoll, 17 Mar 48; copies of both in CMH.
22Ltrs, SA to Luther Youngdahl and James C. Shannon, 20 May 48, both in OSA 291.2 Negroes (5-28-48); Memos, CofSA for Dir, O&T, 2 Jan and 9 Mar 48, sub: Utilization of Negroes in the National Guard, CSUSA 291.2. Shannon succeeded McConnaughy as governor of Connecticut in March 1948.
23Remarks by Kenneth Royall in the Committee of Four, 9 Mar 48, OSD Historical Office files.
24P&A Summary Sheet, 7 Jul 48, sub: Utilization of Negro Manpower in the National Guard, WDGPA 291.2; O&T Summary Sheet, 8 Apr 48, same sub. See also Memo, Col William Abendroth, Exec, Cmte on NG and Reserve Policy, for CofSA, 30 Jun 48, sub: Utilization of Negro Manpower in the National Guard of the United States, Office file, Army Reserve Forces Policy Cmte. Thirteen of the seventeen committee members concurred with the staff study without reservation; the remaining four concurred with the proviso that states prohibiting segregation be granted the right to integrate.
25Memo, CofSA for SA, 7Jul 48, CSUSA291.2 Negroes (1Jul48).
26See Ltrs, James Forrestal to A. A. Heist, Dir, American Civil Liberties Union, 13 Sep 48, and Augustus F. Hawkins, 22 Sep 48; both in DS4-1-2, SecDef files; DF, Dir, P&A, to CofSA, 2 Nov 49, sub: Executive Order to Permit Integration of Negroes Into Minnesota National Guard, CSUSA 291.2 Negroes (2 Nov 49).
27Ltr, J. Steward McClendon, Secy, Minneapolis Chapter, Am Vets Cmte, to SecDef [sic] Royall, 28 May 48, CSUSA 291.2 Negroes (28 May 48).
28Ltr, Maj Gen Jim Dan Hill, Wisconsin National Guard, to Secy, WD Advisory Cmte, 24 Jun 48; see also Ltr, Brig Gen Harry Evans, Maryland National Guard, to Col William Abendroth, Exec, Cmte on NG and Reserve Policy, 22 Jun 48, Office file, Army Reserve Forces Policy Cmte.
29Ltr, Brig Gen A. G. Paxton, Mississippi National Guard, to Col William Abendroth, 13 May 1948, Office file, Army Reserve Forces Policy Cmte.
30Ltr, Marx Leva to author, 24 May 70, CMH files; see also Testimony of Royall at National Defense Conference on Negro Affairs, 26 Apr 48, copy in CMH.
31General Paul's Remarks at Army Commanders Conference, 30 Mar-2 Apt 48, p. 30, CSUSA 337.
32See Testimony of Royall at National Defense Conference on Negro Affairs, 26 Apr 48, pp. 24-26.
33Memo, SA for SecDef, 22 Sep 48, Copy in CD30-1-2, SecDef files.
34Ltr, Granger and Conferees to Forrestal, 26 Aug 48, D54-1-3 SecDef files.
35NME Press Release, 8 Sep 48; New York Tinges, September 9 1948; Memo, Leva for Forrestal, 30 Aug 48; Lit, Forrestal to Granger, 30 Aug 48. Last two in D54-1-3, SecDef files.
36Memo, SA for SecDef, 22 Sep 48, Copy in CD30-1-2, SecDef files.
37Memo (unsigned), Forrestal for Royall, 22 Sep 48. The answer was prepared by Leva and used by Forrestal as the basis for his conversation with Royall. see Memos, Leva for Forrestal, undated, and 30 Sep 48, both in CD30-1-2, SecDef files.
38Memo, SecNav for SecDef 27 May 48, sub Liaison with the Selective Service System and Determination Of Parity Standards, P14-6; Memo, Actg SecNav for SecDef, 17 Aug 48; sub Items in Disagreement Between the Services as Listed in SecDef's Memo Of 15 Jul 48, P 14-4, both in GenRecsNav. The quotation is from an inclosure to the latter memo.
39CofSA, Rpt of War Council Min. 3 Aug 48, copy in OSD Historical Office files.
40For a detailed analysis of the various service arguments and positions, see Office of the Secretary of Defense, "Proposed Findings and Decisions on Questions of Parity of Mental Standards. Allocation Of Inductees According to Physical and Mental Capabilities and Allocation of Negroes" (Noble Report), 29 Oct 48, copy in SecDef files.
41Memo, SecDef for,SA et al., 12 Oct 48, with attached Summary of Supplement, copy in CMH.
42DF, Dir, P&A, to CofS, 24 Jan 49, sub: Experimental Unit, GSPGA 291.2 (24 Jan 49).
43Memo, SecDef for President, 29 Feb 48, Secretary's File (PSF), Truman Library.
44Memo, CofS for Dir, O&T, 11 Oct 48, CSUSA 291.2 Negroes (11 Oct 48).
45Lt Col D. M. Oden, Asst Secy. CS, Memo for Red, 4 Nov 48, sub: Organization of an Experimental Unit, CSUSA 291.2 (Negroes) (11 Oct 48).
46Memo, Marx Leva for SA, 22 Nov 48; see also idem for Ohly, 16 Nov 48; both in CD 30-1-2, SecDef files.
47 Interv, author with James C. Evans, 1 Jul 70; Ltr, E. W. Kenworthy, Exec Secy, Presidential committee, to Lee Nichols, 28 Jul 53; both in CMH files.
48Memo, SA for SecDef, 2 Dec 48, CD 30-1-2, SecDef files.
49Memo, SecAF for SecDef, 22 Dec 48, CD 30-1-2, SecDef files.
50Memo, Actg SecNav for SecDef, 28 Dec 48, CD 30-1-2, SecDef files.
51Memo, Capt H. D. Riley, USN, OSD, for SecDef, 6 Dec 48, sub: Comment on the Secretary of the Army's Proposal Concerning Experimental Non-Segregated Units in the Armed Forces, CD 30-1-2, SecDef files.
52Millis, ForrestaIDiaries, p. 528.
53DF, Dir, O&T, to DCofS, 14 Jul 48, sub Report of visit by Negro Publishers and Editors to the European Theater, CSGOT 291.2 (14 May 48); Memo for Rcd, attached to Memo, Dir, P&A, for DCofS, 21 Jul 48, same sub, CSGPA 291.2 (14 May 48) . see also Geis Monograph, pp. 88-89.
54Interv, author with Huebner.
55Ltr, Dir, O&T, to CG, EUCOM, 13 Dec 48, sub Integration Of Negro units on the Platoon Level Within the Constabulary EUCOM, CSGOT 291.21 (24 Nov 48); DF, Dir, O&T, to CofS, 9 Dec 48, same sub, CSUSA 291.2 (24 Nov 48).
56Interv, author with Huebner.
57Geis Monograph, p. 90. For the reaction of a constabulary brigade commander to the attachment of black infantrymen, see Bruce C. Clarke, "Early Integration," Armor (Nov-Dec 1978) :29.
58Ltr, TAG to Distribution, 23 Mar 49, sub: Utilization of Negro Manpower, AGAO 291.2.
59Memo, Actg SecNav for SecDef et al., 28 Dec 48, sub: The Secretary of the Army's Confidential Memorandum of 2 December . . ., copy in SecAF files.
60Testimony of Stickney Before the President's Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Services, 25 Apr 49, pp. 19-20. See also, Memo, Actg SecNav for SecDef et al., 28 Dec 48, sub: The Secretary of the Army's Confidential Memorandum of 2 December ....
61Lt Cmdr G. E. Minor, BuPers,
Memo for File, 10 Mar 49, sub: Information for Lt. Nelson-Press Section
Pers 251, BuPersRecs. Separate is probably a better term for describing the Steward's Branch, since the branch was never completely segregated. On 31 March 1949, for example, the racial and ethnic breakdown of the branch was as follows:
62This dubious assertion on the seagoing interests of races had been most recently expressed by the Chief of Naval Personnel before a meeting of the President's Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Services; see Testimony of Fechteler, 13 Jan 49, pp. 107-08
63Testimony of Capt J. H. Schultz, Asst Chief of Naval Personnel for Naval Reserve, Before President's Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Services, 26 Apr 49, afternoon session, p. 19.
64Memo, Head, Pers Accounting and Statistical Control Sec. BuPers, for Dir, Fiscal Div (Pers 83), 14 Dec 48, sub: Statistics on Steward Group Personnel in Navy; Memo, W. C. Kincaid, BuPers Fiscal Div. for Cmdr Smith, BuPers, 6 May 48, sub: Negroes, USN—Transferring From Commissary or Steward Branch to General Service; BuPers, "Steward Group Personnel by Race, " 24 May 49. All in Pers 25, BuPersRecs.
65Memo, CMC for CG, MB, Cp LeJeune, N.C., 23 Aug 48, sub: Recruit Training Load at Montford Point Camp, MC 1035238; idem for CG, MCRD, 26 May 49, MC 1091093; Memo, Dir of Recruiting for Off in Charge, Recruit Divs, 13 Jun 49, sub: Enlistment of Negro Personnel. All in Hist Div. HQMC. Unless otherwise noted all documents cited in this section are located in this office.
66Memo, CG, MCRD, Parris Island, for CMC, 15 Sep 49, sub: Negro Recruits, ser. 08355.
67This limited integration program was announced by the Secretary of the Navy on 22 December 1949, see Memo, Under SecNav for Chmn, PPB, 22 Dec 49, PPB files.
68USMC Oral History Interview with Noble, 20-23 May 68.
69Testimony of the Secretary of the Navy Before President's Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Services, 28 Mar 49, afternoon session, p. 15.
700n the closing of Montford Point, see Interv, Blumenson with Sgt Max Rousseau, Admin Chief, G-l Div. USMC (former member of the Montford Point Camp headquarters), 21 Feb 66, CMH files.
71Memo, CMC for CG, FMF, Pacific, 11 Feb 49, with attached Handwritten Note, Div of Plans and Policies to Asst CMC, 11 Feb 49.
72Memo, Under SecNav for Chmn, PPs, 2 May 49, PPs 291.2.
73Memo, CMC for Asst SecNav for Air, 17 Mar 49, sub Proposed Directive for the Armed Forces for the Period 1 July 1949 to I July 1950, AO-1, MC files.
74Idem for CO, Second Depot Co, Service Cmd, FMF, 2 May 49, sub: Employment of Negroes in the Marine Corps, MCI008783, MC files.
75On 30 June 1949 the Marine
Corps had 1, 504 Negroes on active duty, 1 .9 percent of the total if the
one year enlistees were included or 2.08 percent if the one-year enlistees
were excluded. see Office of the Civilian Aide, OSD, Negro Strength
Summary, 18 Jul 49, Copy in CMH. For purposes of comparison, the following
gives the percentage of Negroes in the Navy and the Marine corps for earlier
|Dec 43 ......................................||
|Dec 44 ......................................||
|Dec 45 ......................................||
|Dec 47 .......................................||
|Feb 48 .......................................||
76Memo, Dir, Div of Plans and Policies, for CMC, 28 Jul 49, sub: Re-assignment of Negro Marines to Existing Units (DP&P Study 88-49), MC files.
77Notes on Telecon, author with Zuckert, 28 Apr 70 CMH files.
78Memo, DCofS/P&A, USAF, for SecAF, 29 Apr 48 sub: Conference With Group of Prominent Negroes, Negro Affairs, 1948, SecAF files.
79Telecon, author with Zuckert.
80Ltr, Symington to David K. Niles, 28 Jan 50, SecAF files.
81Memo, SecAF for Zuckert, 5 Jan 48; Penciled Note, signed "Stu," attached to Memo, ASecAF for Symington, 20 Jan 48. All in SecAF files.
82Ltr, W. Stuart Symington to author, 6 May 70, CMH files.
83Telecon, author with Zuckert.
84Ibid.; see also USAF Oral Hist Interv with Zuckert.
85For discussion of the close-held nature of the USAF integration plan, see USAF Oral Hist Intervs with Davis and Marr; see also Ltrs, Mart to author, 19 Jun and 28 Jul 70.
86Memo, Dir, Personnel Planning USAF, for the Fahy Cmte, 15 Jan 49, sub: Air Force Policies Regarding Negro Personnel, SecAF files.
87Summary Sheet DCS/P, USAF, for CS, USAF, and SecAF, 29 Dec 48, sub: Air Force Policies on Negro Personnel, SecAF files.
88Memo, ASecAF for Symington, 5 Jan 49, SecAF files.
89Memo, Maj Gen William F. McKee for Symington, 22 Dec 48, sub: Mr. Royall's Negro Experiment, SecAF files.
90Memo, SecAF for Forrestal, 6 Jan 49, Negro Affairs, 1949, SecAF files.
91Testimony of Lt Col Jack
F. Marr Before President's Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity
in the Armed Services, 13 Jan 49, afternoon session, p. 46.