Whoever said the pen is mightier than the sword obviously never encountered automatic weapons. – General Douglas MacArthur


The phrase “The pen is mightier than the sword” refers to the idea that words are a more effective form of communication than physical force and weapons. Although we both agree that talking things out is better than fighting, General Douglas MacArthur thought otherwise. General Douglas MacArthur is known as one of the most promising generals of all time. He served for more than half a century with various positions and expertise in the military, willing to offer his life in the pursuit of keeping the civilians safe and out of harm. That is why; MacArthur once made a remark, “Whoever said the pen is mightier than the sword obviously never encountered automatic weapons”.

Douglas MacArthur

Who was General Douglas MacArthur?

On January 26, 1880, in Little Rock, Arkansas, Douglas MacArthur was born. For most of his life, General Douglas MacArthur was an Army officer by profession. With the highest honors in his class, he graduated from West Point in 1903 and spent the next ten years working as an assistant and a junior engineering officer before spending the final four years on the general staff. He spent several months serving with American forces in Veracruz, Mexico.

One of the very few people to hold a five-star rank, MacArthur is best known for his service in World Wars I, II, and Korea. He was a recipient of the Medal of Honor as well as 17 other awards, and he stood out as a military leader who was smart, courageous, and competent. After serving in the military for 52 years, MacArthur retired in 1951. He raised his son for the rest of his life, giving counsel to numerous military and civilian leaders. He passed away at Walter Reed Army Medical Center on April 5, 1964.

MacArthur as a student

Origin of the Quote

General Douglas MacArthur was well-known for his ideas on how to manage the military with excellence. Unfortunately, this quotation’s exact date of utterance is unknown. We may infer that probably this quote was said during his service in the military, fighting off the wars.

Meaning of the Quote

Pen Mightier than a Sword, Pen and Sword

Simply put, while we may all agree that ideas have power, contemporary weaponry make it quite simple to put such ideas—and even the individuals who develop them—to execution. Only when it develops power is the pen truly powerful. Naturally, this proves that the sword is not mightier than the pen. Because of the limitations and dangers faced by journalists in some countries, the pen doesn’t always function. So, the sword might be required in those scenarios to combat oppression. It means that in terms of wars and peace, the military knows best.


War, Soldiers with gun

Although we deal differently with our battles in life, for General Douglas MacArthur and the rest of the military personnel, using the ‘sword’ is necessary for them rather than the ‘pen’. That is why; MacArthur once made a remark, “Whoever said the pen is mightier than the sword obviously never encountered automatic weapons” he surely understood the power of violence can often silence the pen.


Douglas MacArthur. (n.d). National Museum of the United States Army. Retrieved from https://www.thenmusa.org/biographies/douglas-macarthur/ [Accessed August 25, 2022]

James, D. (2022). Douglas MacArthur. Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Douglas-MacArthur/ [Accessed August 25, 2022]

Kumar, P. (n.d). The Pen is Mightier than the Sword in Inclusive Growth 2 Ed. Google Books. Retrieved from https://books.google.com.ph/books?id=x3vsARs1HhwC&pg=PT182&lpg=PT182&dq=Whoever+said+the+pen+is+mightier+than+the+sword+obviously+never+encountered+automatic+weapons.&source=bl&ots=Qik1CiQoER&sig=ACfU3U0DpTik9gd0QGV4RKlNM7Rp0GoCgQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjy_Ja95-b5AhUK7GEKHX2kAkk4RhDoAXoECB4QAw/ [Accessed August 26, 2022]

Rosenberg, P. (2013). Myth: The Pen Is Mightier Than the Sword. Retrieved from https://www.caseyresearch.com/daily-dispatch/pen-is-mightier-than-the-sword/ [Accessed August 26, 2022]


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