Douglas MacArthur (b. January 26, 1880 - d. April 5, 1964) was an American five-star general best known for his command of Allied forces in the Pacific Theater during the Second World War. He was born on an Army base in Little Rock, Arkansas, on January 26, 1880, into a family with a strong military history. His father, Arthur, was a captain at the time of Douglas’ birth, and had been decorated for his service in the Union Army during the Civil War. Douglas’ mother, Mary, was from Virginia, and her brothers had fought for the South during the Civil War. The base where Douglas was born was just the first of several military posts on which he would live during his youth.
In 1893 his family moved to San Antonio, Texas, and MacArthur attended the West Texas Military Academy, where he began to show academic promise. He was also a member of several of the school’s sports teams. After high school, MacArthur enrolled in the military academy at West Point, where he excelled, and in 1903 he graduated with honors.
Following graduation, MacArthur was commissioned as a junior officer in the Army Corps of Engineers and spent the next decade fulfilling a variety of duties. This early period in his military career was marked by frequent promotions and led to posts in countries around the world, including the Philippines, Japan, Mexico and, in 1914, France.
At the start of World War I, MacArthur was promoted to major and assigned to what were essentially intelligence and administrative units. However, after the United States declared war on Germany, the 42nd Division (the so-called “Rainbow Division,” a National Guard unit composed of soldiers from a number of states) was created, and MacArthur was promoted to colonel and put in its command. In 1918 he participated in the St. Mihiel, Meuse-Argonne and Sedan offensives, during which he repeatedly distinguished himself as a capable military leader.
Upon returning from Europe, MacArthur became the superintendent of West Point, a post he held for the next three years. During this time he was promoted to brigadier general of the Army and also married his first wife, Louise Cromwell Brooks. For the rest of the 1920s, MacArthur again held various military posts and also headed the American Olympic Committee. He divorced Louise in 1929.
In 1930, MacArthur was promoted to general and selected as the Army chief of staff. Over the next few years his efforts were primarily devoted to maintaining a military that, like the rest of the country, was crippled by the Great Depression. He also spoke frequently of what he considered to be the increasingly serious threat of Communism, both in the United States and abroad. In 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt chose MacArthur as his military adviser to the Philippines and sent him there to establish a defensive military force. MacArthur married his second wife, Jean Faircloth, in 1937, and the following year she gave birth to a son, Arthur.