Counsellor to the President


Summary Description | Biographical Information | Introduction | Series Descriptions | Container List

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Marsh was a senior advisor who oversaw the White House Congressional Relations and Public Liaison Offices. He had additional responsibilities relating to the 1975 investigations of the intelligence community, the Bicentennial celebration, various matters relating to former President Richard Nixon, and the 1977 transition. His files also span a wide variety of domestic and foreign policy matters, but only occasional items concern political affairs.

50.2 linear feet (ca. 100,400 pages)

Gerald R. Ford (accession numbers 77-67, 77-68, 77-69, 77-71, 77-107, 78-57, 80-29, 94-22)

Open, with the exception of part of the 1994 accretion to the General Subject File. Some items are temporarily restricted under terms of the donor's deed of gift, a copy of which is available on request, or under National Archives and Records Administration general restrictions (36 CFR 1256).

President Ford donated to the United States of America his copyrights in all of his unpublished writings in National Archives collections. The copyrights to materials written by other individuals or organizations are presumed to remain with them. Works prepared by U.S. Government employees as part of their official duties are in the public domain.

Prepared by William H. McNitt, August 1986; Revised January 1998; Stacy Davis, Revised September 2017
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John Otho Marsh, Jr.

August 7, 1926 - Born, Winchester, VA

1944-47 - U.S. Army

1947-51 - Washington and Lee University Law School

1952-62 - Attorney, Strasburg, VA; served as town judge, Strasburg, VA and town attorney, New Market, VA, 1954-62; member Shenandoah County School Board, 1959-60

1963-71 - Democratic Congressman, U.S. House of Representatives

1966-72 - Member, American Revolution Bicentennial Commission

1971-72 - Attorney, Washington, D.C.

1972-73 - Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs

1973-74 - Assistant for Defense and International Affairs to Vice President Gerald Ford

1974-77 - Counsellor to the President, The White House

1977-81 - Partner, Mays, Valentine, Davenport and Moore (Washington, D.C. law firm)

1981-89 - Secretary of the Army

1989-90 - Legislative Counsel to the Secretary of Defense

1990-? - Attorney, Hazel & Thomas, Washington and Falls Church, VA

February 4, 2019 - Died, Raphine, VA


John O. "Jack" Marsh served in Congress with Gerald Ford from 1963 to 1971. Although a Democrat, his conservative political philosophy led President Richard Nixon to appoint him Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs in 1972. He later joined Vice President Ford's staff as an advisor on defense and foreign affairs matters. When Gerald Ford became President in August 1974, he appointed Marsh as a Counsellor to the President.

During the Ford administration, Marsh supervised the work of the Congressional Relations and Public Liaison offices and the White House military aides, served as a key advisor on a wide range of domestic and foreign policy issues, as well as handling special assignments for the President. Among Marsh's special assignments were: coordination of White House responses to congressional investigations of the intelligence community, White House and federal agency programs to celebrate the Bicentennial, oversight of transition expenditures and other matters concerning former President Nixon, and liaison with Jimmy Carter's staff during the 1977 transition.

Marsh's immediate staff consisted of his deputy Russell Rourke and secretaries Donna Larsen and Constance Banford, with occasional other staff members assigned to his office for special projects. For instance, Michael Raoul-Duval, Mason Cargill, Timothy Hardy, Wes Clark, and Ray Waldmann all worked on intelligence issues and John Stiles and Merrill Mueller handled matters concerning the White House swimming pool, housing, and the Bicentennial.

The Marsh files are strongest in documenting his work on congressional relations, legislation, defense matters, the Bicentennial, intelligence investigations, and relations with former President Nixon over routine transition matters. The work of the Public Liaison Office is not as well documented. Only a small amount of material on the 1976 presidential campaign appears.

For several months after Ford succeeded to the presidency, Marsh handled many of the details concerning Richard Nixon's transition to private life. His files include material on Nixon's staff, presidential papers, and transition expenditures along with President Ford's preparations to testify before a congressional committee concerning the Nixon pardon. Other materials from 1974 show Marsh's involvement in such matters as the clemency program for draft evaders and the Rockefeller vice presidential confirmation hearings.

Marsh was not heavily involved with congressional relations until William Timmons resigned as head of the Congressional Relations Office at the end of 1974. Timmons had held this position since 1970 and appears to have run the office without much direct supervision during the early months of the Ford administration when Marsh was busy with other matters. During the transition from Timmons to his successor Max Friedersdorf, Marsh became more involved in the day-to-day work of the Congressional Relations Office. The files include information on Marsh's presentations to Cabinet meetings about congressional relations, background and minutes for many congressional leadership meetings with the President (more complete for 1975 than 1976), memoranda concerning the organization and operation of the Congressional Relations Office, and memoranda showing Marsh's dealings with Friedersdorf and his staff.

The largest files tend to be on military and defense matters (such as amnesty for draft evaders or MIA's in Southeast Asia); and on significant lobbying efforts in Congress (such as antitrust legislation, oil decontrol, or strip mining controls). However, folders on many, if not most, of the major issues facing the Ford administration are included. These materials show some of the work of Marsh and his staff, but presumably much lobbying was conducted in person or by telephone, activities not always reflected in the files. Materials on issues and legislation are generally stronger for 1975 and 1976 than 1974.

Marsh's involvement with the Public Liaison Office was more limited than his work on congressional relations or specific issues. William Baroody, director of the Public Liaison Office, made reports to Marsh and sought approval for major decisions, but Marsh usually did not get involved in the details of public liaison work. An exception is the activities of Theodore Marrs and Milt Mitler, with whom Marsh worked closely on such matters as the Bicentennial, MIA's in Indochina, and liaison with military and veterans organizations. Besides his work with Marrs and Mitler, the collection includes only a few reports from Baroody and small files of memoranda exchanged with Baroody and staff.

Marsh's files on the Bicentennial cover the period after December 1974 when he inherited responsibility for Bicentennial matters from Anne Armstrong. His files include information on the organization and operation of the American Revolution Bicentennial Administration, meetings of the White House and federal agency Bicentennial task forces (including agendas, minutes, and reports), his dealings with Theodore Marrs and Milt Mitler who handled routine Bicentennial matters, and a variety of exhibits, publications, and projects.

The collection contains an extensive series on intelligence matters, especially the investigation of intelligence community abuses by the Rockefeller Commission and congressional committees and Ford administration attempts to reform the intelligence community. Due to Marsh's role as Chairman of the Intelligence Coordinating Group, this collection contains detailed information on most aspects of these issues. This series currently is unprocessed and unavailable for research.

Marsh's materials on the 1977 transition to the Carter administration, while large in bulk, consist almost entirely of a series of transition reports produced by the federal agencies. Few memoranda concerning the actual conduct of the transition are included.

The collection includes only a small amount of material reflecting Marsh's involvement in political matters, including the 1976 campaign, and it is routine in nature.

Related Materials (January 1996)
All staff files from the Congressional Relations Office are currently available for research, along with most collections from the Public Liaison Office (including the files of Theodore Marrs and Milton Mitler with whom Marsh frequently worked on Bicentennial, military, and MIA matters).

The White House Central Files include many related categories, some of which are:

Open collections relating to the intelliegence investigations/reforms include the Richard Cheney Files; the James Connor Files; the Ron Nessen Files and Papers; and the files of various staff members in the Congressional Relations Office, especially the Vernon Loen/Charles Leppert collection.

In addition, the Library holds unprocessed collections of Mason Cargill/Timothy Hardy Files and James Wilderotter Files, and unprocessed series on intelligence matters from the files of Philip Buchen and Michael Raoul-Duval. These collections/series are not currently available for research.


General Subject File (Boxes 1-44)

Intelligence Subject File (not currently available)(Boxes 45-61)

Box Numbers Not Used (Boxes 62-63)

Bicentennial Subject File (Boxes 64-72)

White House Memoranda (Boxes 73-96)

Congressional Correspondence (Boxes 97-107)

General Correspondence (Boxes 108-117)

Telephone Logs (Boxes 118-121)

War Powers Notifications File (Box 122)

General Subject File - 1994 Accretion (bulk of series not currently available)(Boxes 122-126)


General Subject File, 1974-77.  (Boxes 1-44 and 122-126, 19.3 linear feet)
Memoranda to and from the President, other White House staff members, and department and agency officials; correspondence with members of Congress, businessmen, local officials, and the general public; speech drafts and speeches; reports; meeting minutes; briefing papers and books; legislative status reports; schedule proposals; copies of legislation; vote tally sheets; question and answer briefing sheets; press releases; publications; and clippings. These materials concern White House administrative matters, congressional liaison, Richard Nixon (re his papers, the pardon, and transition expenses), and a wide variety of domestic and foreign policy issues. Major topics include: administration personnel changes in November 1975, amnesty (especially the work of the Presidential Clemency Board), antitrust legislation, Arab Boycott, budget, defense, Federal Election Campaign Act amendments, Medal of Freedom awards, MIA's, oil decontrol and import fees, Panama Canal, Regulatory Reform, Nelson Rockefeller, State of the Union addresses, strip mining, taxes, 1977 transition, Turkish arms embargo, uranium enrichment, and Vietnam.

Arranged alphabetically by topic.

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Intelligence Subject File, 1974-1977.  (Boxes 45-61, 6.8 linear feet)
Memoranda to and from the President, other White House staff members, and department and agency officials; correspondence with members of Congress; speeches; reports; testimony; hearings transcripts; and clippings. The material concerns the congressional intelligence investigations, administration reforms of the intelligence community, and other intelligence matters. Topics include: George Bush confirmation hearings, Church and Pike Committee investigations of intelligence community abuses, work of the Intelligence Coordinating Group in formulating the administration's response, Kissinger contempt citation, Commission on CIA Activities within the United States (Rockefeller Commission), congressional oversight committee legislation, establishment of the Intelligence Oversight Board, President Ford's intelligence reorganization decisions and executive order, and the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board.

Arranged alphabetically by topic.

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Boxes 62-63 - Box Numbers Not Used

Bicentennial Subject File, 1974-76.  (Boxes 64-72, 3.6 linear feet)
Memoranda to and from the President, other White House staff members, and department and agency officials; schedules and schedule proposals; speech drafts; reports; lists; agendas; minutes; messages; proclamations; occasional correspondence with local officials and the general public; press releases; and publications. The materials concern: presidential activities on and around July 4, 1976; presidential trips and speeches; the Bicentennial Exposition on Science and Technology; the work of the American Revolution Bicentennial Administration, the Federal Agency Bicentennial Task Force, and the White House Bicentennial Task Force; and a variety of exhibits, publications, and projects produced for the celebration.

Arranged alphabetically by topic.

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White House Memoranda, 1974-77.  (Boxes 73-96, 9.6 linear feet)
Memoranda to and from the President, other White House staff members, his own staff, and officials from some agencies within the Executive Office of the President. Many are copies of items in the three subject files, but others are unique. Topics include: domestic and foreign policy issues, legislation, scheduling, trips, speeches, personnel matters, and politics.

Arranged alphabetically by name of staff member or office or agency.

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Congressional Correspondence, 1974-77. (Boxes 97-107, 4.4 linear feet)
Correspondence with members of the Senate and House of Representatives with occasional notes about telephone calls. Many documents in this series are copies of items in the three subject files, but others are unique. Much of the material concerns routine requests for White House tours, photographs, autographs, and messages, but legislative issues, personnel matters, and politics are frequently discussed. As a former colleague of some congressmen and overall head of congressional liaison, Marsh served as a White House contact point for various members of Congress and notes and messages to be relayed to the President are often included. The series is not a complete record of White House contacts with Congress, it only includes those in which Marsh was personally involved.

Arranged alphabetically by name of the member of Congress.

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General Correspondence, 1974-77.  (Boxes 108-117, 4.0 linear feet)
Correspondence with current and former federal, state, and local government officials; businessmen; lawyers; friends; and the general public concerning such topics as issues, legislation, personnel matters, politics, and routine requests. Many documents in this series are copies of items in the three subject files, but others are unique.

Arranged alphabetically by name.

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Telephone Logs and Messages, Sept. 1974-January 1976.  (Boxes 118-121, 1.6 linear feet)
Logs of telephone calls and messages received by Marsh's office. The logs to December 15, 1974 include completed and incomplete calls. After December 15, 1974, there are two sets of logs, one for each secretary in the office, and apparently include only messages for incomplete calls. One set of these logs covers through August 28, 1975 and the other continues until January 28, 1976.

Arranged chronologically for the period through December 15, 1974 and then divided into two sequences by secretary's name and thereunder chronologically.

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War Powers Notifications File, 1975-76.  (Box 122, 0.3 linear feet)
Memoranda, letters, and talking points concerning the notification of congressional leaders of the use of American military personnel in the evacuation of Vietnamese refugees, the evacuations of Americans from Phnom Penh and Saigon in 1975 and from Lebanon in 1976, and the rescue of the crew of the Mayaguez.

Arranged chronologically in case files by date of notification.

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General Subject File - 1994 Accretion  (Boxes 122-126)
See above for description of the General Subject File.

Arranged alphabetically by topic.

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The Library has digitized three series within this collection. Click on folder titles to view contents.

Box 1 - General Subject File

Box 2 - General Subject File

Box 3 - General Subject File

Box 4 - General Subject File

Box 5 - General Subject File

Box 6 - General Subject File

Box 7 - General Subject File

Box 8 - General Subject File

Box 9 - General Subject File

Box 10 - General Subject File

Box 11 - General Subject File

Box 12 - General Subject File

Box 13 - General Subject File

Box 14 - General Subject File

Box 15 - General Subject File

Box 16 - General Subject File

Box 17 - General Subject File

Box 18 - General Subject File

Box 19 - General Subject File

Box 20 - General Subject File

Box 21 - General Subject File

Box 22 - General Subject File

Box 23 - General Subject File

Box 24 - General Subject File

Box 25 - General Subject File

Box 26 - General Subject File

Box 27 - General Subject File

Box 28 - General Subject File

Box 29 - General Subject File

Box 30 - General Subject File

Box 31 - General Subject File

Box 32 - General Subject File

Box 33 - General Subject File

Box 34 - General Subject File

Box 35 - General Subject File

Box 36 - General Subject File

Box 37 - General Subject File

Box 38 - General Subject File

Box 39 - General Subject File

Box 40 - General Subject File

Box 41 - General Subject File

Box 42 - General Subject File

Box 43 - General Subject File

Box 44 - General Subject File

This series continues in box 122

Box 45 - Intelligence Subject File

Box 46 - Intelligence Subject File

Box 47 - Intelligence Subject File

Box 48 - Intelligence Subject File

Box 49 - Intelligence Subject File

Box 50 - Intelligence Subject File

Box 51 - Intelligence Subject File

Box 52 - Intelligence Subject File

Box 53 - Intelligence Subject File

Box 54 - Intelligence Subject File

Box 55 - Intelligence Subject File

Box 56 - Intelligence Subject File

Box 57 - Intelligence Subject File

Box 58 - Intelligence Subject File

Box 59 - Intelligence Subject File

Box 60 - Intelligence Subject File

Box 61 - Intelligence Subject File

Boxes 62-63

Box numbers not used.

Box 64 - Bicentennial Subject File

Box 65 - Bicentennial Subject File

Box 66 - Bicentennial Subject File

Box 67 - Bicentennial Subject File

Box 68 - Bicentennial Subject File

Box 69 - Bicentennial Subject File

Box 70 - Bicentennial Subject File

Box 71 - Bicentennial Subject File

Box 72 - Bicentennial Subject File

Box 73 - White House Memoranda

Box 74 - White House Memoranda

Box 75 - White House Memoranda

Box 76 - White House Memoranda

Box 77 - White House Memoranda

Box 78 - White House Memoranda

Box 79 - White House Memoranda

Box 80 - White House Memoranda

Box 81 - White House Memoranda

Box 82 - White House Memoranda

Box 83 - White House Memoranda

Box 84 - White House Memoranda

Box 85 - White House Memoranda

Box 86 - White House Memoranda

Box 87 - White House Memoranda

Box 88 - White House Memoranda

Box 89 - White House Memoranda

Box 90 - White House Memoranda

Box 91 - White House Memoranda

Box 92 - White House Memoranda

Box 93 - White House Memoranda

Box 94 - White House Memoranda

Box 95 - White House Memoranda

Box 96 - White House Memoranda

Box 97 - Congressional Correspondence

Box 98 - Congressional Correspondence

Box 99 - Congressional Correspondence

Box 100 - Congressional Correspondence

Box 101 - Congressional Correspondence

Box 102 - Congressional Correspondence

Box 103 - Congressional Correspondence

Box 104 - Congressional Correspondence

Box 105 - Congressional Correspondence

Box 106 - Congressional Correspondence

Box 107 - Congressional Correspondence

Box 108 - General Correspondence

Box 109 - General Correspondence

Box 110 - General Correspondence

Box 111 - General Correspondence

Box 112 - General Correspondence

Box 113 - General Correspondence

Box 114 - General Correspondence

Box 115 - General Correspondence

Box 116 - General Correspondence

Box 117 - General Correspondence

Box 118 - Telephone Logs and Messages

Box 119 - Telephone Logs and Messages

Box 120 - Telephone Logs and Messages

Box 121 - Telephone Logs and Messages

Box 122 - War Powers Notifications File

Box 122 (Continued) - General Subject File - 1994 Accretion
Boxes 123-126 - General Subject File - 1994 Accretion