A century ago, on 30 June 1920, Major General John Archer Lejeune was appointed the 13th Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps. He would become one of the most iconic Commandants in Marine Corps history, celebrated for reorienting the service toward operating with the Navy for its advanced base mission after the Great War. He crafted a Marine Corps birthday message in 1921 that is still read each year by Marines around the world on 10 November. There is Camp Lejeune, a major Marine Corps base and the home of II Marine Expeditionary Force, in North Carolina and Lejeune Hall at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.
Major General Lejeune’s prominence in Marine Corps memory shows no sign of receding. The challenges that the Corps faces today, namely educational reforms and shifting focus back to naval operations, are remarkably similar to the ones Lejeune tackled a century ago, which makes his Commandancy more relevant than ever.
1. Joseph Arthur Simon, The Greatest of All Leathernecks: John Archer Lejeune and the Making of the Modern Marine Corps (Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press, 2019), 64–145; Allan R. Millett, Semper Fidelis: The History of the United States Marine Corps, rev. ed. (New York: Free Press, 1991), 322–25; Merrill L. Bartlett, “George Barnett, 1914–1920,” in Commandants of the Marine Corps, eds. Allan R. Millett and Jack Shulimson (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2004), 195–213.
2. Colin Colburn, “Esprit de Marine Corps: Making the Modern Marine Corps through Public Relations 1898–1945” (Ph.D. diss., The University of Southern Mississippi, 2018), 195–213.
3. Glenn M. Harned, Marine Corps Generals, 1899–1936, 2d ed. (North Charleston, SC: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2017), 87–90.
4. Simon, The Greatest of All Leathernecks, 79.
5. Senator Thomas Butler to Lejeune, 6 July 1920, Papers of John A. Lejeune, Container 14, Reel 12, Library of Congress, Washington, DC. (hereafter Lejeune Papers).
6. MGEN John A. Lejeune, USMC, “Paper prepared by Major General John A. Lejeune, and read by him to the Naval War College, April 3, 1925,” Lejeune Papers, Speeches and Writings File.
7. COL John A. Lejeune, USMC, “The Mobile Defense of Advance Bases by the Marine Corps,” Marine Corps Gazette 1, no. 1 (March 1916): 1–18; MAJ John H. Russell, USMC, “A Plea for a Mission and Doctrine,” Marine Corps Gazette 1, no. 2 (June 1916): 109–22.
8. MGEN John A. Lejeune, USMC, “Report of the Major General Commandant of the United States Marine Corps,” Annual Reports of the Navy Department (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1920), 1055–56.
9. MGEN John A. Lejeune, USMC, to LCOL Earl H. Ellis, USMC, 7 July 1920, Lejeune Papers.
10. Anonymous, “Marine Corps Institute Attains Magnitude of a University,” Ogden, Utah, Standard-Examiner, 4 July 1920.
11. O. C. Lightner to MGEN Wendell C. Neville, USMC, 24 March 1923, Office of the Commandant, General Correspondence 1913–38, RG 127, Entry 18, National Archives, Washington, DC.
12. MGEN John A. Lejeune, USMC, “The U.S. Marine Corps, Present and Future,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings 54, no. 10 (October 1928): 861.
13. MGEN John A. Lejeune, USMC, “Relations between Officers and Men,” 14 August 1920, usmcu.edu/Portals/218/LLI/MLD/Fidelity/Relations%20Between%20Officers%20and%20Men.pdf?ver=2018-09-26-095744-880.
14. MAJ Joseph C. Fegan, USMC, “Athletics as Publicity,” Marine Corps Gazette 8, no. 1, (March 1923): 16.
15. Fegan, “Athletics,” 17.
16. “Extracts from Testimony of the Major General Commandant Before the Subcommittee on Appropriations on the Naval Appropriation Bill, 1922,” Marine Corps Gazette 6, no. 1, (March 1921): 88.
17. Marine Recruiting Bureau, Yearly Statement of Recruiting by Divisions, Districts and Stations (Headquarters Marine Corps, Washington, DC, fiscal years 1920, 1922, and 1923). Copies of these reports found in Recruiting Subject Files, Marine Corps History Division, Quantico, VA.
18. Anonymous, “Impressive Ceremony,” The Sioux City Sunday Journal, 23 March 1924.
19. Confidential letter from MGEN George Barnett, USMC, to COL John H. Russell, USMC, 2 October 1919, Barnett Papers, Marine Corps Archives, Quantico, VA; “What Other Papers Say . . . Gen. Barnett’s Revelations as to Haiti Held Not an Understatement. Blot on the Administration . . .” The Washington Post, 16 October 1920.
20. MGEN John A. Lejeune, USMC, “To the Editor of The Nation,” The Nation, 24 July 1920, 101
21. “Harding Reviews Force of Marines,” The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY, 3 October 1921.
22. MGEN John A. Lejeune, USMC, “Address Delivered to the Boy Scouts of Washington, D.C., at Central Highschool, on the Evening of February 14, 1925,” see also “Address to Midshipmen at the Naval Academy” (no date recorded), Speeches and Writings File, Speeches 1924–25, Lejeune Papers.
23. MGEN John A. Lejeune, USMC, “Address Delivered by Major General John A. Lejeune, Commandant, U.S. Marine Corps, at Philadelphia, PA., on the 151st Birthday of the Corps,” 10 November 1926, Speeches and Writings File, Speeches 1926–29, Lejeune Papers.
24. “Address Delivered by Major General John A. Lejeune, Major General Commandant, U.S. Marine Corps, at the Commencement Exercises of Norwich University, Northfield, Vermont, June 16, 1927,” Speeches and Writings File, Speeches 1926–29, Lejeune Papers.
25. MGEN John A. Lejeune, USMC (Ret.), The Reminiscences of a Marine (Philadelphia, PA: Dorrance and Company, 1930), 476–77.
26. Lejeune, Reminiscences, 307.