James Harbord

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James Guthrie Harbord
James Harbord.jpg
General James G. Harbord
Born (1866-03-21)March 21, 1866
Bloomington, Illinois
Died August 20, 1947(1947-08-20) (aged 81)
Rye, New York
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch Emblem of the United States Department of the Army.svg United States Army
Years of service 1889–1922
Rank US-O9 insignia.svg Lieutenant General
Commands held 2nd Division (Army)
4th Marine Brigade

Mexican Revolution
*Mexican Border Service
World War I

Awards Distinguished Service Medal

James Guthrie Harbord (March 21, 1866 – August 20, 1947) was a Lieutenant General in the United States Army and President and Chairman of the Board of RCA.

Harbord was born in Bloomington, Illinois, and raised in Bushong, Kansas and Manhattan, Kansas. He graduated from Kansas State Agricultural College in 1886, and thereafter worked as an instructor at the college for two years. In 1889, he enlisted in the Army, and in 1891 he received a commission.

Army career[edit]

Harbord's first overseas experience came as a member of the occupation army in Cuba after the Spanish–American War. After leaving Cuba, he served as Assistant Chief of the Philippines Constabulary from 1903 to 1909 and again from 1910 to 1913. In 1916, he was on the Mexican border with General John J. Pershing, pursuing Pancho Villa.

When the United States entered World War I in 1917, Harbord went to France as General Pershing's chief of staff, which won him a promotion to Brigadier General. Throughout the war he continued to work closely with General Pershing. In June 1918, he was given command of the Fourth Marine Brigade, which was serving as part of the Army Second Infantry Division, and then on July 15, briefly given command of the Division itself. He commanded the Marines during the Battle of Château-Thierry and the Battle of Belleau Wood. In August 1918, Harbord was recalled from the front and put in charge of troop and supply movement. Following the war, he was promoted to Major General and awarded the Distinguished Service Medal.[1]

In August 1919, President Woodrow Wilson sent a fact-finding mission to the Middle East, headed by General Harbord, to investigate the feasibility of the Balfour Declaration, which supported the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine, taken from the Ottoman Empire during the war. Harbord was also to report on Turkish–Armenian relations in the wake of the Armenian Genocide. Upon returning to the United States, Harbord wrote the Conditions in the Near East: Report of the American Military Mission to Armenia, which was a summary of the expedition that provided various details of the mission. The report includes maps, statistics, and a historical analyses of the country and its population. In addition to such details, Harbord collected evidence and information regarding the massacres of Armenians and was an eyewitness to them.[2] Harbord's report stated that "the temptation to reprisals for past wrongs" would make it extremely difficult to maintain peace in the region.[3]

Harbord's report stated that "the temptation to reprisals for past wrongs" would make it extremely difficult to maintain peace in the region.[4] The final conclusion of the report was the inclusion of Armenia in the possible American mandate for Asia Minor and Rumelia since a mandate for Armenia alone was not deemed feasible under these conditions.[5]

Radio Corporation of America[edit]

In 1922, Harbord retired from the Army to become President of the Radio Corporation of America. While Harbord was President of RCA, the corporation undertook a number of significant moves. In 1926, RCA began television broadcasts and formed NBC. In 1928, RCA was one of four corporations that jointly formed RKO Pictures. Finally, in 1929, RCA acquired the Victor Talking Machine Company (maker of the famous "Victrola") and became RCA-Victor. In 1928, Harbord took a leave of absence to campaign for Herbert Hoover for President, and in 1930 he officially retired from the position, allowing David Sarnoff to assume the office.

Harbord remained as Chairman of the Board for RCA until 1947, finally retiring shortly before his death. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Partial bibliography[edit]

  • Leaves From a War Diary (1931)
  • The American Army in France 1917-1919 (1936)

See also[edit]


  • John Arthur Garraty & Mark Christopher Carnes, ed. (1999). "James Harbord". American National Biography. volume 10: Handerson-Hofmann. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-512783-8. 
  • Robert McHenry, ed. (1978). "James Harbord". Webster's American Military Biographies. Merriam-Webster. ISBN 0-486-24758-9. 
  1. ^ [1] Lyon Co. native led troops in WWI
  2. ^ Richard Hovannisian, ed. (2008). The Armenian genocide cultural and ethical legacies. New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers. p. 123. ISBN 1-4128-0891-X. 
  3. ^ James G. Harbord
  4. ^ "Conditions in the Near East: Report of the American Military Mission to Armenia". p. 22. Considering...the isolation of certain regions where the temptation to reprisals for past wrongs will be strong for at least a generation, a certain force must be kept in hand to supplement the native constabulary when needed. 
  5. ^ Harbord, James G., Report of the American Military Mission to Armenia, (Government Printing Office, 1920), 7.

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