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!