Harry S. Truman

July 14, 1948: Truman Begins Giving Them Hell



This being a presidential election year I have been thinking lately of prior presidential election years.  In 1948 the Democrats held their national convention in Philadelphia as they did this year.  No president seeking election has ever faced a more daunting prospect than Harry Truman.  His party was fractured, with the pro-segregation Dixiecrats, under Governor of South Carolina Strom Thurmond, peeling off Democrats of the right and the Progressives, under former Vice-President Henry Wallace, peeling off Democrats of the left.  In his acceptance speech Truman gave notice to the nation that if he was going down in November, he was going down swinging.  Here is the text of his speech:

I am sorry that the microphones are in the way, but I must leave them the way they are because I have got to be able to see what I am doing– as I am always able to see what I am doing.

I can’t tell you how very much I appreciate the honor which you have just conferred upon me. I shall continue to try to deserve it.

I accept the nomination.

And I want to thank this convention for its unanimous nomination of my good friend and colleague, Senator Barkley of Kentucky. He is a great man, and a great public servant. Senator Barkley and I will win this election and make these Republicans like it– don’t you forget that!

We will do that because they are wrong and we are right, and I will prove it to you in just a few minutes. Continue reading

Freedom Train

Something for the weekend.  Freedom Train by Irving Berlin and sung by Bing Crosby and The Andrew Sisters.  In 1947 President Harry S. Truman commissioned a special train, staffed with United States Marines, to tour the country and display precious documents of American history to remind all Americans of their heritage.  The train’s cargo included:  the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, one of the 13 original copies of the Constitution, the Emancipation Proclamation, one of Lincoln’s handwritten drafts of the Gettysburg Address, the large flag raised on Mount Suribachi by the US Marines on Iwo Jima, the German and Japanese surrender documents that ended World War II, and much more, including one of the originals of the Magna Carta.

The train toured the US for two years and was surrounded by throngs of visitors wherever it stopped.  It traveled 37,160 miles, stopping in 326 cities and towns.  Over three million Americans went on board the train, many waiting up to six hours to do so.  A second Freedom Train toured the country during the Bicentennial in 1975-1976. Continue reading

Obamaville Shanty Towns: Tent Cities Sprouting Up Across America

As the recession continue to take its toll on our fellow Americans, rendering more and more of them homeless, tent cities have begun sprouting up across this great country.  It would not be fair to blame President Obama for the predicament that our nation is in, but President Obama has done nothing to help the situation.

President Obama’s ‘stimulus package’ only rewarded government contractors with more spending.  It is also correct to point out that former President George W. Bush’s ‘stimulus package’ did nothing more than President Obama’s spending bill.

Small businesses and the private sector in general got almost zero benefit for either porkulus spending bills.  Though this recession is typical of a business cycle, there are some things that can be done to alleviate the stress the economy is undergoing and maybe expedite the expiration of the current recession.  President Obama has done neither.

So it is fitting and fair to label the tent cities that are sprouting across America as Obamavilles.

(Note: In case the above YouTube video is taken down by the Blueshirts, you can see the entire story and video here.)

Continue reading

Bush: Nixon or Truman?

One hears rather often that George W. Bush has ended his presidency with record low approval ratings. Some articles I’ve read have said (apparently incorrectly) that they are the lowest ever.


The above was sent to me yesterday, and it provides an interesting comparison. Two presidents left office with approvals as low as Bush’s: Truman, who faced a struggling post-war economy and a increasingly difficult situation in the Korean War; and Nixon, who was in the middle of being impeached when he resigned.

History has been far kinder to Truman, overall, than Nixon. Indeed, I suspect that few people know that Truman ended his presidency as unpopular as Nixon and Bush. Certainly, I hadn’t realized it. It remains to be seen whether, in 50 years time, Bush will be seen as more like the former or the latter.

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