Appointed by President Harry S. Truman
George Catlett Marshall, soldier and statesman, was born in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, December 31, 1880, to George Catlett, Sr., a prosperous coking coal manufacturer and entrepreneur, and Laura Bradford, whose children already included Marie Louise and Stuart Bradford. The Marshalls had Virginia and Kentucky roots and were distantly related to U.S. Chief Justice John Marshall. The only member of the family born north of the Mason-Dixon Line, George spoke with a lifelong western Pennsylvania accent.
Uniontown was a manufacturing town during Marshall's childhood, closely tied to the coal, coke, and steel industries. The family lived in the last house in town on West Main Street, which was a portion of the historically important National Road. In addition to instructing his younger son in the outdoors life of hunting and fishing, which remained Marshall's hobbies throughout his life, his father introduced him to history of the area, which included such French and Indian War sites such as George Washington's Fort Necessity and General Edward Braddock's defeat and grave. An abiding interest in history and its lessons was also one of Marshall's enduring characteristics. He was close to his mother, from whom he apparently acquired his taciturn but optimistic and tolerant disposition and Episcopalian Church affiliation.
In 1890, Marshall's father sold a large portion of his properties and invested the funds in land and facilities at Luray, Virginia. When the speculative land boom collapsed in western Virginia in the early 1890s, the family was plunged into unaccustomed financial straits. Only his mother's modest income from some Pittsburgh property prevented serious hardship.
Marshall's early education had been somewhat informal, and his father was embarrassed by his son's scholastic weaknesses when he transferred to public school in 1889 for four years. When it came time to consider young Marshall's educational future in 1897, the enticing free education at the U.S. Military Academy was clearly
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Publication information: Book title: American Statesmen: Secretaries of State from John Jay to Colin Powell. Contributors: Edward S. Mihalkanin - Editor. Publisher: Greenwood Press. Place of publication: Westport, CT. Publication year: 2004. Page number: 351.
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