Early life and education
A military brat, Douglas MacArthur was born 26 January 1880, at Little Rock Barracks, Little Rock, Arkansas, to Arthur MacArthur, Jr., a U.S. Army captain, and his wife, Mary Pinkney Hardy MacArthur (nicknamed "Pinky"). Arthur, Jr. was the son of Scottish-born jurist and politician Arthur MacArthur, Sr., Arthur would later receive the Medal of Honor for his actions with the Union Army in the Battle of Missionary Ridge during the American Civil War, and be promoted to the rank of lieutenant general. Pinkney came from a prominent Norfolk, Virginia, family. Two of her brothers had fought for the South in the Civil War, and refused to attend her wedding. Arthur and Pinky had three sons, of whom Douglas was the youngest, following Arthur III, born on 1 August 1876, and Malcolm, born on 17 October 1878. The family lived on a succession of Army posts in the American Old West. Conditions were primitive, and Malcolm died of measles in 1883. In his memoir, Reminiscences, MacArthur wrote "I learned to ride and shoot even before I could read or write—indeed, almost before I could walk and talk."
Douglas MacArthur as a student at West Texas Military Academy in the late 1890s
This time on the frontier ended in July 1889 when the family moved to Washington, D.C., where Douglas attended the Force Public School. His father was posted to San Antonio, Texas, in September 1893. While there MacArthur attended the West Texas Military Academy, where he was awarded the gold medal for "scholarship and deportment". He also participated on the school tennis team, and played quarterback on the school football team and shortstop on its baseball team. He was named valedictorian, with a final year average of 97.33 out of 100. MacArthur's father and grandfather unsuccessfully sought to secure Douglas a presidential appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point, first from President Grover Cleveland and then from President William McKinley. After these two rejections, he was given coaching and private tutoring by Milwaukee high school teacher Gertrude Hull. He then passed the examination for an appointment from Congressman Theobald Otjen, scoring 93.3 on the test. He later wrote: "It was a lesson I never forgot. Preparedness is the key to success and victory."
MacArthur entered West Point on 13 June 1899, and his mother also moved there to a suite at Craney's Hotel, overlooking the grounds of the Academy. Hazing was widespread at West Point at this time, and MacArthur and his classmate Ulysses S. Grant III were singled out for special attention by southern cadets as sons of generals with mothers living at Craney's. When Cadet Oscar Booz left West Point after being hazed and subsequently died of tuberculosis, there was a congressional inquiry. MacArthur was called to appear before a special Congressional committee in 1901, where he testified against cadets implicated in hazing, but downplayed his own hazing even though the other cadets gave the full story to the committee. Congress subsequently outlawed acts "of a harassing, tyrannical, abusive, shameful, insulting or humiliating nature", although hazing continued. MacArthur was a corporal in Company B in his second year, a first sergeant in Company A in his third year and First Captain in his final year. He played left field for the baseball team, and academically earned 2424.12 merits out of a possible 2470.00 or 98.14, the third highest score ever recorded, graduating first in his 93-man class on 11 June 1903. At the time it was customary for the top-ranking cadets to be commissioned into the United States Army Corps of Engineers, so MacArthur was commissioned as a second lieutenant in that corps.