Gallup Vault: Americans Divided on Truman Firing MacArthur
Gallup Vault

Gallup Vault: Americans Divided on Truman Firing MacArthur

by Art Swift

In April 1951, President Harry Truman dismissed Gen. Douglas MacArthur from his position of command of the U.S. forces in Korea. One month later, amid a national uproar over the firing, Gallup determined there was a cultural divide between perceived "elites" and the general public in response to Truman's decision.

Gallup measured Americans' approval of Truman's dismissal of MacArthur among a random sample of two distinct groups -- the general public and "Who's Who in America," a roster of the nation's most prominent professional and business leaders. Those in the "Who's Who" category narrowly approved of the president's decision to fire MacArthur, while the general public overwhelmingly disapproved.

Reactions to MacArthur's Dismissal in 1951 Differed Along Cultural Lines
Do you approve or disapprove of President Truman's action in removing Gen. MacArthur?
"Who's Who" General public
% %
Approve 51 25
Disapprove 46 66
No opinion 3 9
Gallup, April 16-21, 1951

The president and general clashed over the direction of the war in Korea. When Chinese troops entered North Korea in late 1950, MacArthur asked for permission to bomb communist China, which would likely expand the war substantially. Truman refused this request. A very public war of words between him and MacArthur followed, and Truman eventually fired his commander.

MacArthur sustained great popularity in the wake of his dismissal, for a limited time at least. He addressed Congress, was touted as a presidential candidate and was showered with parades. In time, MacArthur faded from prominence and Truman became something of an elder statesman and revered former president.

Read the original Gallup news release.

These data can be found in Gallup Analytics.

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