Publication Date


Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Master of Arts in History



Major Advisor

David Walker, Ph.D.


Lisa Brady, Ph.D.


Joanne Klein, Ph.D.


This thesis argues that Douglas MacArthur, General of the Army and Commander in Chief of Allied Forces in the Southwest Pacific Area during the Second World War, and those acting under his purview, did knowingly and deliberately engage in a campaign of misinformation – during and after the war – with the intention of enhancing his reputation. The goal of this campaign was twofold: He would secure enough popular support to make him politically unassailable at the time and he would protect his legacy for posterity. Unlike previous surveys, which fail to hold MacArthur accountable for the deep and pervasive vein of propagandistic fallacy which he-and-his inserted into the historical narrative, this study puts lie to the defense that his actions were the innocent idiosyncrasies of a colorful eccentric, the aloofness of an old man, or the fault of loyal but unprompted subordinates.

Thorough examination of contemporary records and accounts are used to establish – beyond a reasonable doubt – that MacArthur understood both the reality of the situations in question and what he stood to gain by reporting otherwise. Analysis of the historiography concerning MacArthur was conducted and is herein summarized to establish both that his efforts were effective, pervasive, and distinct in both quantity and scope from the level of self-aggrandizement undertaken by his peers. As there exists far too much literature, both primary and secondary, on which this study could focus for comprehensive analysis in a work of this type, this study has focused primarily on two periods between December 1941 and May 1942 – the Clark Field Attack and the Evacuation from Corregidor – to establish a pattern of behavior demonstrative of conscious action, malicious and selfish intent, and tangible benefit. This work aims to serve as a realization – one nearly a century in the making – of the yearning by historians, servicemen, officials, victims, and voyeurs for a time and a method to declare openly that one of America’s most venerated heroes was a fraud.

This work is composed in hope that the glory and acclaim he stole might be returned to those whose blood bought the veneration with which he showered himself. It is written in hope that historians might free themselves from the fear of repercussions implicit in holding a man Franklin Delano Roosevelt once called “The most dangerous man in America” accountable for his lies. And it is published in the hope that the vainglorious denizens of the future may yet come to see Douglas MacArthur as a cautionary tale rather than a figure for emulation.