on this day in history december 31 1880 statesman george c marshall is born

George C. Marshall, a World War II leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner, was born on this day in history, Dec. 31, 1880, in Uniontown, Pennsylvania.

George Catlett Marshall was best known for his service as chief of staff to two different presidents from 1939 to 1945.

Marshall (1880-1959) is credited with building and directing the largest army in history during World War II, according to nobelprize.org.

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He served as secretary of state from 1947 to 1949, devising the Marshall Plan, which provided post-war economic and military aid to European nations. 

The Marshall Plan offered more than $15 billion to help reconstruct cities, industries and damaged infrastructure across Europe, as History.com has reported.

General George C. Marshall, as chief of staff, pictured at his headquarters in the War Department, located in Washington, D.C. (Getty Images)

Marshall, the youngest of three children, grew up in Pennsylvania. 

His father owned a coal business.

Though his father was prosperous, the young boy decided to pave his own way — and join the military.

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U.S. Army Colonel (and future General) George Marshall in France, 1919.  (PhotoQuest/Getty Images)

Marshall enrolled at the Virginia Military Institute, He graduated in 1901 as the senior first captain of the Corps of Cadets.

After graduating with honors from the Infantry-Cavalry School at Fort Leavenworth in 1907 and the Army Staff College in 1908, Marshall worked on various posts for the next nine years.

Before the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Marshall preached military readiness. 

Marshall earned an appointment to general staff in World War I and sailed to France with the First Division.

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Marshall climbed the ranks following the Great War — and after that, served in China in the 1920s.

george marshall harvard marshall plan

Former Secretary of State George C. Marshall (at the podium) speaks on the second anniversary of his address at Harvard University, in which he outlined the Marshall Plan for the economic recovery of Europe. (Getty Images)

Among several military posts, Marshall went on to act as commander of the Eighth Infantry in 1933 and as senior instructor to the Illinois National Guard from 1933 to 1936.

From 1936 to 1938, Marshall served as commander, with the rank of brigadier general, of the Fifth Infantry Brigade.

Marshall accepted the position with the General Staff in Washington, D.C., in July 1938.

Franklin D. Roosevelt in Sept. 1939 named him chief of staff, with the rank of general, in 1939.

truman, churchill and marshall

President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill are shown on the big forward deck of H.M.S. Prince of Wales as they relax, chat and breathe a bit of salt air during their epoch-making Atlantic meeting on March 15, 1941. Behind the two at right are Admiral E.J. King, commander of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet, and Gen. George C. Marshall (far right). (Getty Images)

In 1944, Marshall became Army general — the same year Congress created the five-star rank, according to nobelprize.org.

Before the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Marshall preached military readiness. Later, he was partially responsible for building, supplying and deploying more than eight million soldiers.

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Marshall resigned from his post in 1945 once World War II ended.

But his career didn’t end there.

harry truman george marshall

In ceremonies held in the Pentagon Court, President Harry Truman (center, at right) awards an Oak Leaf Cluster to the Distinguished Service Cross to General George C. Marshall, retiring chief of staff. (Getty Images)

In Jan. 1947, Marshall joined President Harry Truman’s cabinet as secretary of state. 

He remained in that post for two years.

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Marshall officially resigned from public service in Sept. 1951 at almost 71 years old, after spending a year as secretary of defense during the Korean War.

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Marshall was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1953 for “proposing and supervising the plan for the economic recovery of Europe,” as nobelprize.org noted.

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