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No. 107 "The Story Of An Honest Man: What happened to Major General Johnson Hagood when, at the request of a Congressional Committee, he dared to speak the truth as he saw it," March 2, 1936. American Liberty League. 400dpi TIFF G4 page images Digital Library Services, University of Kentucky Libraries Lexington, Kentucky Am_Lib_Leag_107 These pages may freely searched and displayed. Permission must be received for subsequent distribution in print or electronically. No. 107 "The Story Of An Honest Man: What happened to Major General Johnson Hagood when, at the request of a Congressional Committee, he dared to speak the truth as he saw it," March 2, 1936. American Liberty League. American Liberty League. Washington, D.C. 1936. This electronic text file was created by Optical Character Recognition (OCR). No corrections have been made to the OCR-ed text and no editing has been done to the content of the original document. Encoding has been done through an automated process using the recommendations for Level 1 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines. Digital page images are linked to the text file. AN INVITATION TO JOIN THE AMERICAN LIBERTY LEAGUE We extend to every American citizen who believes in the fundamental principles which gave birth to the Constitution of the United States an invitation to become a member of the American Liberty League. You may indicate your acceptance of this invitation by filling in the necessary information as to your name and address on the enrollment blank below and mailing it to American Liberty League, National Press Building, Washington, D. C, There are no fees or dues. If you are willing and able to give monetary help for the League's support your contribution will be appreciated, as our activities are supported entirely by the voluntary gifts of our members. ENROLLMENT BLANK Date_ I favor the principles and purposes of the American Liberty League and request that I be enrolled f regular \ i 'contributing j member. Signature . Name (Mr. Mrs. Miss) County â€¢As a contributing member I desire to give $_ to help support the activities of the League: Cash here- THE STORY OF AN HONEST MAN â˜… â˜… â˜… What happened to Major General Johnson Hagood when, at the request of a Congressional Committee, he dared to speak the truth as he saw it A General there was, named Hagood, Who stated the truth as he should, But, because oj the truth, He was banished, forsooth; So, telling the truth doesn't pay good. AMERICAN LIBERTY LEAGUE l^aticmal Headquarters NATIONAL PRESS BUILDING WASHINGTON, D. C. (107) Document No. 107 March, 1936 Foreword THE ROOSEVELT Administration's disciplinary action against Maj. Gen. Johnson Hagood has raised the constitutional issue of free speech in a dramatic manner. The incident has demonstrated, apparently, that a citizen may not speak the truth as he sees it not even at the request of a Congressional Committee without exposing himself to official retaliation if his views are uncomplimentary to those presently in power. Aside from the obvious infringement upon the rights of the individual this is in effect an infringement upon the prerogatives of the Congress itself, since the result of such a policy is to deny to the legislative branch the benefit of receiving honest advice from public servants concerning matters peculiarly within their knowledge. GENERAL HAGOOD appeared before a Congressional Committee at the Committee's request. He was told by the Chief of Staff that he was free to express his views without restriction. In so doing he said some uncomplimentary things about a pet Administration experiment things which many persons undoubtedly believe to be true. But true or not, he had a right to express his views. His testimony was published and almost immediately he was deprived of his command. Apparently his distinguished military career is ended. These facts must be emphasized: 1. Any attempt to convince the public that the disciplinary action against General Hagood was taken without knowledge of President Roosevelt is an insult to the common sense of the American people and a slander upon the intelligence of high officials of the War Department. 2. Any pretense that General Hagood was disciplined because he commented upon non-military subjects and not because of the substance of his testimony is refuted by the War Department itself. When the Department made public the memorandum of the Chief of Staff to the Secretary of War recommending action against General Hagood it also made public a separate statement by Major General Malin Craig the Chief of Staff commending WPA expenditures 3 which General Hagood had criticized. That is to say, in the Administration view it is proper for General Craig, publicly and without questioning by a Congressional Committee, to comment favorably upon a New Deal experiment, while at the same time it is improper for General Hagood to comment unfavorably upon the same subject even when requested by a Committee of Congress to express his opinions freely. The factual record of the Hagood case which follows is presented by the American Liberty League for the information of the American people and it will be disseminated as widely as League resources may permit. The Story of an Honest Man â˜… MAJOR GEN. HAGOOD appeared before the Subcommittee of the House Committee on Appropriations on December 17 and made a statement presenting the Army housing program for the Eighth Corps Area. He had come from Texas at the call of the committee and prefaced his remarks with this statement: "I have been told by the Chief of Staff that i am perfectly free to express any opinions or answer any questions that may be asked by this committee, but i would like to have it understood that i am not here in the capacity of an advocate. i am not here to urge appropriations. I am only here as a witness, to answer questions as to the needs of my command." The General recited the efforts of the Army to improve its housing conditions after the World War. He said the War Department received about one hundred million dollars from the Public Works Administration in 1931 and that about eleven million dollars was allotted to the Eighth Army Corps. The money was used for the rebuilding of three forts in Texas and Oklahoma. INTRODUCING the subject of relief funds, General Hagood said that some of the $4,800-000,000 appropriated for relief in April, 1935, went to Army posts but that so far as the Eighth Corps Area was concerned "it went into cheap labor projects where the man-cost per year was less than $900." He characterized this system of using the funds as wasteful and inadequate. After stating that $38,000,000 had been allotted to the Eighth Army Corps, he said further: "In my opinion, if all the useless work and all the fancy trimmings were cut out and if the Government bought good material, and hired competent labor, as has been its practice in past years, from five to ten million dollars might be lopped off this total. i am perfectly certain that by the intelligent use of soldier labor, and other similar methods, i could do a great deal of the repair work at anywhere from a half to a fourth of the present estimates, and i have had a lot of experience along those lines." Departing from the economic problems of Army housing the General made a vigorous plea for more humane treatment of the soldiers and their families. "We hear a great deal about re- moving slums out of cities," he said, "trying to encourage people to build their own homes, and to improve the living conditions generally among the people." He said that since the war he had seen soldiers and civilian employees of the Army living under conditions worse than those suffered by Belgian refugees. "I have seen," he declared, "families of soldiers and civilian employees living in abandoned wartime buildings without running water or toilets. In one case, at Omaha, Neb., as late as 1929, there were 16 families with only one bathhouse and toilet among them." The witness asserted there were colored soldiers living in Arizona in lodgings comparable to the little tin houses seen on the dump heaps in the outskirts of large cities. He told of boys and girls of non-commissioned officers who are born and reared under living conditions worse than those of colored tenements in the South. The General told of various theories as to the prospects of war in this country and of conflicting opinions as to proper measures of national defense. "But there is one thing you cannot get away from," he declared, "and that is that if you have an army you have got to provide it with food, clothing and shelter." He continued: "You increased the Army by 50,000 men at the last session of Congress. I understand that 18,000 have already been trimmed off by the Budget. I may be wrong. You have the estimates and know more about this than I do. But I am inclined to think that you will lose all the rest of these 50,000 men within the next 4 or 5 years if the budgeteers are to determine their fate. "I am asking that you take the Army and its supplies out of wartime shacks and put it into permanent buildings. You have got to do it. You have no choice. If you do not do it this year, you have got to do it next year, or the year after that, or you have got to abolish the army. "I am suggesting that you do it now when there is a lot of easy money floating around, and not to wait until you are skinning the budget to the bone in order to make up for past extravagance." It IS EVIDENT in the foregoing portions of General Hagood's testimony that out of a lifetime of army service he had acquired an almost passionate interest in the establishment of proper and permanent housing facilities for the Army. His description of unsanitary housing conditions is supported by the testimony of other officers before the same subcommittee. At the same hearing Major Gen. Hugh A. Drum, Commander of the Hawaiian Department, testified as follows: "Second, the housing of the command. If they knew about them, I am sure the American people would object seriously to some of the conditions in this respect existing in the Hawaiian Islands military forces. We have enlisted men living in tents, overcrowded in barracks, living in wooden snacks worse than any 'shanty town' normally found near dump piles. Many of our fine non-commissioned officers, with their families, are forced to live in these shanties; others live in small villages near our posts in buildings worse than those furnished oriental laborers and in the same locality with them. . . . A whole regiment is living in cantonment 'shanties.' The committee has seen these conditions, so I need not dwell long thereon. They must be corrected. This condition has existed since the World War." Also, on January 3, the same committee heard a statement by Representative Lawrence Lewis (Democrat), of Colorado, as to conditions at Fort Logan, Colorado. The witness said: "I can assure you that the condition of the barracks, and quarters there is such that no one of you, I believe, would want any officer or enlisted man of the Army of the United States to live in them. In shocking and even dangerous condition of disrepair, in lack of modern or even proper sanitary facilities, some of the barracks for enlisted men and quarters for officers at Fort Logan rival conditions in the much advertised slums of larger cities. Such conditions would not be tolerated by the building and sanitary inspectors in Denver. While immense amounts of Federal money are being spent for rural and suburban housing and for city slum clearance for the benefit of persons not in the service of the United States, would it not be well to spend something for the housing, in comfortable, habitable, at least decent quarters of the officers and enlisted men of the United States Army." None of THESE statements was assailed as "political." No question was raised in the committee room as to the truth of General Hagood's statement regarding almost incredible conditions. The veteran soldier, knowing that at best the appropriation for correction of these abuses would be inadequate, addressed himself to the use of WPA funds for these purposes. His conviction was that they should be used for permanent improvement of those conditions demanding most immediate attention. It was not a civilian matter to him, for the emergency relief funds used in his Corps area had, in fact, become military funds. It was in exasperation because of the restrictions placed upon the use of these relief funds that he, as commander of the area, spoke out against temporary projects which were giving employment to unskilled civilian employees, but which were not doing the housing job so imperatively needed. He had been told by the Chief of Staff that he was free to "express any opinions" and with that assurance he made the following statements: "I got $45,000,000 last year for the C.C.C. and I got a lot of this stage money from the W.P.A. I call it stage money because you can pass it around but you cannot get anything out of it in the end. Now the C.C.C. is a fine thing the best thing perhaps in the whole relief program. But the $45,000,000 I spent on it last year will all be gone away next year. Give me 38 millions for Army housing and my great-grandchildren will show it to your great-grandchildren 50 years from now. "I can put men to work have put men to work. During the winter of 1931 to 1932 I was working more skilled labor in the city of Omaha than was being worked anywhere else in the State of Nebraska. That statement was made by the labor people to their organization in Washington. And I did not have to ask Congress for the money. I had saved it out of other projects. "Since that time I have poured a lot of money down rat holes. It is harder for me to get 5 cents to buy a lead pencil than to get a thousand dollars to teach hobbies to C.C.C. boys. I do not like the Government standard lead pencils and I cannot get by the Comptroller with the kind of pencils that I like. But C.C.C. hobbies are exempted from the Comptroller's decisions. They do not have to come up to Government specifications. One man can be taught to collect postage stamps while another man can be encouraged to take an interest in butterflies. "Under the W.P.A. I can get $200 to build a gravel walk to the garden house but I cannot get $10 to repair a 'busted' steam pipe. "For many years this committee has been forcing economy upon the Army. Gentlemen, the tables are turned. I am begging you now to let me use some common sense and to spend this money in the best interests of the taxpayers. "As to relief funds and other funds, I am not familiar with the various pockets in which Uncle Sam keeps his money. I understand that there is Budget money, which is very hard to get; there is P.W.A. money, which is not so hard to get; and then there is a vast quantity of W.P.A. money, which is very easy to get for trifling projects but almost impossible to get for anything worthwhile. "The usual plan is to spread appropriations over a period of years. But at the present time there is a vast flow of silver I won't say gold spreading out all over the country like mud. It will soon dry up without anything permanent to show for it. I shall not be accused of profanity when I say, 'For God's sake, put some of it into stone and steel.' I am not asking you to build pyramids. I am asking you to put up useful buildings that will be occupied by your men in uniform for a hundred years to come." THE HOUSE subcommittee released the printed report of the hearings on February 10 and the testimony of General Hagood immediately aroused nation-wide comment. It is not of record whether the General knew that his testimony was to be made public. He appeared in an executive session and, according to press reports, he expressed regret that the committee had made the proceedings public without giving him an opportunity to delete any portion of his testimony that might be regarded as improper for use in the newspapers. A large portion of the General's comments, relating to confidential matters with regard to national defense were, in fact, deleted from the record as published. In any case the General, when asked by the Chief of Staff of the Army whether his testimony had been accurately reported, promptly replied that it was substantially correct. Then came the announcement that General Hagood had been deprived of his command. Following is the text of the order: "By direction of the President, Major Gen. Johnson Hagood, U. S. Army, is relieved from assignment to the command of the Eighth Corps Area and further duty at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Major Gen. Hagood will proceed to his home and await orders. The travel directed is necessary in the military service." The order was issued on February 24 and was signed by General Malin Craig, Chief of Staff, by order of Secretary Dern of the War Department. It is generally accepted that the order, if it is not modified or rescinded, means the end of General Hagood's military career. 10