Skip to main content

tv   Book Discussion on 1948  CSPAN  August 6, 2016 4:00pm-5:01pm EDT

4:00 pm
streets of hoboken, every store window had pictures of my opponent and his associates on the new deal ticket. know of any more appropriate place to put those pictures. >> for a complete american history tv schedule, go to >> net's history bookshelf, david patricia discusses his book "1948." true mins describes early career, the political climate surrounding the 1948 presidential election, and the name players in the campaign. he also takes questions from the audience.
4:01 pm
this was recorded in clifton park, new york. it is about an hour and 10 minutes. >> good morning everyone. welcome to the clifton park has -- half-moon public library. we are very pleased to have david pietrusza to talk about his latest book 1948 harry truman's improbable victory and the year that transformed america. david is the author of a number of books and he is here to talk about his book about 1920 the year of six presidents, 1960 lbj versus jfk versus nixon, and ted williams my life of pictures. he has also written and produced a wma hq documentary local heroes, baseball and capital district diamonds. reviewed for his hairy german book talk about how likely it is, eliminating portraits of
4:02 pm
portrait support candidates and the even-handed appraisal of truman is especially compelling. the journey he takes is to election day is one he is definitively lead in his past his work has been compared to theodore white's classic them a king of the president series. after three stayed home runs by think pietrusza is the undisputed champion of chronicling americans presidential campaigns. heals a master's degree in history the university at albany and is served on city council in amsterdam new york and is the recipient of the 2011 excellence in letters and arts award of the alumni association at the university of albany. in addition to doing presidential biographies and elections he is also a member of saber a, the baseball historians organization. he is a casey winning judge and
4:03 pm
jury and edgar award finalist for his book by arnold rusty. ladies and gentlemen, david pietrusza. pietrusza. . thank you natalie and it's great to be back here again. the question that people always ask me about my books is, why did you write this book? and americans claim to hate politics, but we love the elections. we love sports. my sports background, your sports background, the whole country is crazy about it. we love the competition. we love the 162 games series and things going down to the 7th game of the world series. we love the home run and we love bill buckner and pookie wilson.
4:04 pm
1948 is one of those bill black mayor moment in elections. elections. this is when the underdog comes back and pulls out what everyone has written. that is harry truman's improbable victory. that is the year, that is the election that was the great iconic comeback, the great surprise, the great surprise when the pundits are proven so spectacularly wrong. that is another thing we love her kuwait love to be smarter than all the guys you see on tv and who are writing in the newspaper columns and harry turman, who was just in ordinary harry, the only, the only president of the 20th century who doesn't go onto college. he's a high school graduate. not the only one since, not the last one, the only one in the 20th century.
4:05 pm
you have to go back to andrew johnson, to abraham lincoln to find such a common man. and not just the common man but a fellow who has been a failure at business. his haberdashery shop in downtown kansas city goes bus left to pay off the debts for 20 years and he pays them all off. he will declare bankruptcy. he is a standard of honor and he will pay all his debts. he also has a standard of honor which marked him in his earlier political career go back where he is the product and he is known for really most of his active political career as being the product of one of america's most attack you rarely corrupt political machines. this is something that like al smith in 1928, is never really able transcend. he is a product of tammany and he gets whooped by herbert hoover for a note in their of other reasons.
4:06 pm
harry truman is the product of the pendergast machine in kansas city. he is the head of the county government. they steal millions and millions of dollars. harry truman never takes a time. he has to kind of wink at what goes on in some cases. yes to get things done. he would sit down. he would sit down and pour out his soul in private letters which he never sent to anyone. he would hole up in these motels and right these letters that were found decades after his death and he would wrestle with these questions cover. am i a public servant or am i a crook? am i doing the right thing? he is conflicted by this but he
4:07 pm
stays in this machine and he is determined to get out of local government. he wants to be a congressman. but he is such a puppet, he is such a nobody even at that time that is like no hairy, you cannot be a congressman. can i be governor? no, you can't be governor. when the machine can find anyone to run the united states senate in 1934, ok. we now return to our regularly-scheduled programming. so, the machine can't find anyone to run for senate, united states senate in 1934. you would think they could. it's going to be a big democratic year. harry pulls it off but he goes into the senate. again, he is like a nobody, nobody and then disaster strikes.
4:08 pm
1939, pendergast on good friday goes to the federal pen for corruption and people say well, that's the end of harry truman now. who is going to want him? who is going to want this pendergast puppet that still remains in the united states senate. he is finished so he faces a three-way primary. and he wins. he goes to all the small towns and courthouses, the masonic temples and every other place he knows in missouri and while some, pulls it off and that is a valuable lesson when it comes to 1948 when the democratic party is split once again but he is back in the senate. but who is he? he is given an assignment. look into all these military bases. the contracting things to win the war against hitler. are we getting the bang for the buck? are we spending our money
4:09 pm
wisely? perry chairman goes around, gets in his car and really no staff, delivers a remarkable report that no we are not. we are wasting a hell of a lot of money while our boys are fighting and dying in europe and north africa and the south pacific and we have got to stop it. here is how. people say gee whiz, he did that intelligently, honestly in a nonpartisan manner. maybe there is something to this harry truman guy. which takes us to 1944. franklin roosevelt is looking for a fourth term. the war is still on and to 1940, he has dumped his vice president, john vance gartner, who had grown a bit too conservative for the new deal and he puts in henry a. wallace the secretary of agriculture. who is a very left-wing kind of new age kind of guy or back them.
4:10 pm
and he forces wallace on the ticket in 1940. the democratic party does not really want him. and in 1944, roosevelt is getting the word back, you keep this guy on the ticket, he could cost you a million votes. roosevelt is a great politician. he knows what this means. and he says, i have forced henry wallace on the party once. i can't do it twice. i can't do it twice. he has got to go. not in so many words, not in so many words but he eventually slits wallace's throat. who did he replace them with? the guy he replaced them with is a guy that is not too southern, not to northern, not too conservative, not too liberal, respected by the union but not really in the pocket of the
4:11 pm
union and that is harry truman. he fits in all the slots. they put him on the ticket in 1944 and by april 1945 franklin roosevelt is dead. harry truman goes to the white house and says to eleanor roosevelt, can i pray for you? and she says no, we need to pray for you because you are the fellow who is in trouble now. he starts off very popular. the war is won, tomek loans are dropped on japan its vj v.j. day and americans are smiling, and harry chairman reaches a popularity level of 87%. transit gloria monday. that goes downhill real fast and
4:12 pm
people, some of it is beyond his control but there are reasons why his popularity drops. he is not franklin roosevelt. right now all the republicans are saying, who is the next reg and? boy we miss reagan a lot. back then that was, my god, my god how we miss fdr him on, the democrats. harry german was no fdr. so, there is a longing for the lost leader then and also he is prone to certain gaps. his appointments are not always the strongest. there is talk of a missouri gang as there was an ohio gang with warren harding, people who are hangers on, small timers who are put in positions way above their abilities.
4:13 pm
you see the old new dealers being shoved out of the cabinet, not just henry wallace who was fired by harry truman for being a pro-stalinist really, giving speeches against germans foreign-policy, but you also have where, with harry truman, the country turns against the party and the leader which brings us into war. if you don't believe me, ask either bush. ask lyndon johnson, woodrow wilson after world war i what happened to the democratic party. what happens is winston churchill, a pretty good war leader in 1945. he is out the door. so this is a normal thing, the readjustment means a lot of things get thrown out including parties in power. republicans take the house and the senate in 1946. they are on a roll. harry truman keeps going up and down in popularity. this spring of 1948, he is down in the low 30's in terms of popularity.
4:14 pm
and it's not only a republican democratic thing going on here. the democratic party is leading three ways, not just two ways, not just you have got some sort of oh, carter, teddy kennedy thing going on. not a george bush pat buchanan thing going on, but it's being split, the left, the center and the right. on the right, you have the southern segregationist democrats. franklin roosevelt had talked a good game with black civil rights, but he really hadn't done anything. remember that the army and navy in world war ii are still segregated. there is no move to desegregate anything in the country. harry truman proposes a big civil rights program at the beginning of 1948. the southern democrats are simply aghast by this and beyond that they feel personally betrayed because they had thought of harry truman as one of their own.
4:15 pm
his mother had been in an internment camp during the civil war. confederate sympathizers. if you look at harry's statements and you look at his private correspondence, he is not exactly at leading heart liberal on the topic. but, he puts this forward in the southerners are aghast. they start talking about a strategy in which they will punish harry chairman. they will punish the democratic party and make the democratic party come to its senses on civil rights, states rights and all of these things and they will do this by putting the election into the electoral
4:16 pm
college and brokering a deal. one of the people involved in that is a young man, young governor from south carolina named j. strom thurmond, decorated war veteran, former judge and considered at the time to be kind of a progressive liberal nuke deal kind atomic rat, the new base of the south except that once he gets caught up in this one south carolina legislators start talking it against the truman civil rights program he joins with the dixiecrat's largely centered in mississippi and alabama going to these regional readings to say what can we do about harry truman? now the irony of this, the irony of this when thurmond starts being carried away by this talking about how federal government bayonets will not force black people into our
4:17 pm
swimming pools and into our homes and our schools, the irony is that j. strom thurmond had a black illegitimate daughter. that is one wing of the democratic party. the other wing which seems actually to be more troublesome than harry truman is the henry wallace wang and that is the extreme left-wing of the democratic party the on the new dealers, beyond the eleanor roosevelt, beyond that hubert humphrey's which is in many cases communist dominated, communist party united states of america, not just left-wing, not just radical whatever but actual party members and has wallace, wallace has a problem. both times involving harry chairman. you would not be human unless you were bitter about this. he had this bitter former vice
4:18 pm
president of the united states with left-wing proclivities anyway and now he has got two reasons, two reasons to be against harry truman personally and he is talked into not a primary challenge against german but a third-party challenge. what is their strategy? again, what is their strategy? their strategy is being dictated from extreme left-wingers from the people being controlled by really, when you get down to it. it has to be there again not trying to win an election but to send a message to truman and say
4:19 pm
look, you change or foreign-policy harry truman because we will punish you and we will give elections to the republic. and then we will go back to the way it was undefined on roosevelt with a guy we dealt with in 1944, the communist party of the united states had have actually endorsed franklin roosevelt. it was kind of one big happy family at one point. so, truman is being squeezed on the left and on the right. he is in trouble and how can he hold together a coalition which will have enough electoral votes to win if the south is going to be stolen away from them by the dixiecrat's and where does henry wallace hold his strength? not all over the country but in big states like new york, new york city, in southern california, in illinois where he can be the balance of power in those states and tip stage which a democrat should when in the republican column. so, the republican column. who is the republican going to be? the same answer at some point as we have now looking forward to 2012, a very crowded field.
4:20 pm
typical, typical when you have a president and incumbent who is vulnerable. the opportunity is there and a lot of opposition candidates come out. and the for front-runners that year, governor thomas e. dewey of new york. new york is the big kahuna, 45 electoral votes. you have a big leg up on the presidency. harold e. stassen, former governor of minnesota, now i punchline in american political history because he ran and lost so many times and ran and lost so many times with absolutely no chance of success. robert a. taft, senator from ohio, leader of the congressional republicans, mr. republican, mr. conservative but not charismatic and the 4th is not even in the country.
4:21 pm
the general of the army, jug, douglas mccarthy and tokyo running the former, i guess still present empire of japan and a popular guy but can he pull it off from faraway? he doesn't. he has entered into the wisconsin primary. he should when that. he doesn't. he stumbles and is out fairly quickly. there are not a lot of primaries that year. there's the new hampshire primary. there is always the new
4:22 pm
hampshire primary. there is the wisconsin primary which macarthur should win and doesn't. he loses a tooth harold stassen which elevates stassen. stassen as an outsider. he is a boy wonder. in 1938 he had been elected governor of minnesota and he was the youngest governor of any state ever and he quit. he is reelected saying it now if you reelect me i'm going to quit in four months and go into the navy and he is popular and elected. imagine being elected with a platform like that. he comes out, he's an internationalist. you have got the debate still going on of internationalism versus isolationism. stassen is on the extreme end of the republican internationalist brigade at that point. he is feisty. he is a real outsider. he wins in wisconsin, he went to nebraska and he is poised to take the front-runner status away from thomas e. dewey as the campaign heads into oregon. now again, notice i have only named for states.
4:23 pm
these are about the only for important primaries there are. most of these things are still being done at party conventions which means in the backroom. these are places like albany or columbus or wherever or when you get to the convention. now, or again is where we see something happening which is being repeated again this year, debates. we are debating, we are debating, we are debating in d.c. -- and you see newt gingrich at every stop saying i want a lincoln-douglass style debate on one topic just me and this other guy in the room and it doesn't matter who the guy is or who the is or what the topic is. what he should be calling on historically because he is a great historian is a stassen dewey debate because the stassen dewey debate is the first broadcast debate in presidential
4:24 pm
history. it is held in a radio station in portland oregon and held on one topic. to guys in a room and an iron cage on a topic, should the communist party of the united states of america be outlawed? harold stassen the great liberal in the affirmative, in the affirmative. tom dewey, tom dewey in the negative. now we haven't talked much to about thomas dewey. dewey was the governor of new york, a pretty popular guy. he had been the nominee of the republican party in 1944. he had led on the first three ballots in 1940 before losing to wendell willkie, wilkie quite remarkable because this year he is only 46 years old. that is about the age obama was. that is only 3 years older than
4:25 pm
jack kennedy was. he is a young man. and he has been on the verge of power and national notoriety even before the 1940. he is in asked district attorney. he is not even governor. he was the district attorney of manhattan. he was mr. district attorney, crime buster, the guy who went after the mob, put him in jail and went after the wall street guy, put them in jail. he did it all. he was spectacular as the district attorney but as governor he begins to trim his sails. he is looking at the polls and the candidate the same way. even though he is the purported front-runner and he is the front-runner in terms of delegates at this point, he is not particularly loved in the party or among the population but in this debate, he is the former district attorney.
4:26 pm
he is a great prosecutor. stassen was a prosecutor too but evidently the prosecutors in manhattan have to be tougher than the prosecutors in minnesota and do dewey pleads his clock. stassen is essentially left bleeding on the floor after that primary. dewey wins it but he still can be stopped at the convention because, because he doesn't have the votes, he doesn't have the love, but he knows had to make deals. he makes a deal with the governor of pennsylvania to push him over the top and he wins the nomination. at that point he is faced with a choice. who do i make my vice presidential candidate? it's a guy you want to put on the ticket for years before, one of these guys you have heard of, or a warren, governor of california. this is another one of these cases. there is this big liberal wing of the republican party. dewey, stassen, warren.
4:27 pm
warren may be the most liberal of all of them. warren does not want to do it. he doesn't want to do it in 1944, doesn't want to do it in 48 but he is finally thinking if i keep turning these people down they will stop asking me to dance. if i want anything ever again this could be it. so i had better take it. with great reluctance he becomes the dewey warren ticket which people think is just great. it's great. it's a fairly young ticket. is progressive, it's forward thinking, geographic balance it's got new york and , it's got california. wow what a great ticket and the democrats have got harry truman. maybe not. earlier in the gear the -- year, the republicans were looking at a guy named dwight david eisenhower, the grassroots ike. everybody likes ike. they don't know what he is,
4:28 pm
republican or democrat? he is a general, that's good enough sort of like some big political version of white christmas. everybody loves a general. and they love him. he turns the republicans down. the democrats, things are getting better for harry chairman. the convention is going into philadelphia. republicans, democrats and progressives. let's go with ike. if this amazing incoherent coalition of democrats forms united by one name, staying in the bosses of chicago, jersey city, members of franklin d. roosevelt family, all of them
4:29 pm
come together and they want to stamp the convention for ike. he says no. at the last minute. otherwise it could have been eisenhower as the nominee and even the president. but he says no, it is not his year. he does become president of columbia university. four years more for the presidency. so truman, truman is so bad at that convention he gets on the phone, and he is calling william o douglas, supreme court justice . will you be my vice president? why him? william o douglas is respected by the new dealers. he has to get back in good graces with that wing of the party. he has to cement himself with the new deal. and william o douglas supposedly says i will not be a number two man to a number two man and
4:30 pm
turns him down. so he takes alvin barkley, hair and true me -- harry truman takes alvin barkley. barkley is a good speaker. he is kind of well-liked. he is older than harry truman, and harry truman is not a young man. they both come from border states. it does not look like much of a ticket. it doesn't look like much of the ticket. but harry truman goes to the convention. he waits for hours to give his speech. he doesn't give it until like 1:00 in the morning. allconvention is just embroiled, up at everything with hubert humphrey has gone to the floor and forced a floor fight on the civil rights plank. southern democrats were mad enough going into that convention. then hubert humphrey said our plank on civil rights is not as strong as the republicans'.
4:31 pm
it's the same mush that we were paddling in 1944. no, we need a move out of the shadow of states rights into the bright sunlight of civil rights, and he forces a floor fight on to the convention, the first one since 1932 and the democrats, since prohibition and he wins. , he wins in the southern democrats, some of them anyway, walk out, walk out. the convention is dragging on into chaos, and then when they announced harry truman is coming into the hall at 1:00 a.m. past any immediate notice that you could get, they unleash this, they open this big floral display of the liberty bell in philadelphia and they fly out the doves of peace which are all pigeons actually, and they have been trooped up for hours now. and they see all the lights and the fans and they just go crazy. they are attacking things and
4:32 pm
flying into electric fans and landing on sam raeburn's head and they are doing things that , pigeons do. [laughter] and harry truman has worn a white suit. [laughter] probably the low point. harry truman starts off kind of slow, and he kind of has the point of alvin barkley to get some applause lines, and then he gets into what is going to do. and i am going to challenge the republican party and the do-nothing congress to come back in a special session and turn against and pass the program for the american people, and the crowd goes wild. and people say wow, this could be a horse race. maybe there's something going on here. but when harry truman goes to detroit to start his campaign on labor day as democrats traditionally do, he hasn't got enough money to take the train
4:33 pm
out of the station, and they have to make frantic calls to do that. it's still very dicey for him. the progressives under henry wallace come into philadelphia next. they have their convention. it's very interesting. you see the people who show up and we hear these names later , on. pete seeger is providing the music, paul robeson is providing the music. you have got a couple of delegates there who become united states senators one of which is george mcgovern, and they kind of go off on their own , but their campaign is downward, downward, downward with the progressives. the dixiecrats meet again. they nominate strom thurmond. all the while things are going , on in the world and in the country. as the conventions are meeting uncle joe stalin decides he's , going to blockade berlin. so what do you do?
4:34 pm
war?u start a world do you send the convoys in, or do you do an airlift? you figure out how to do an airlift to supply the people of west berlin before they riot and demand communism. and america figures out how to do that. and that is one of the things going on. you have got the return of the peacetime draft. now, world war ii was a segregated army. the blacks are saying, ok, we have put up with that, we put up with that during the war. we are not putting up with that again. and a. philip randolph says to harry truman, you do this again, i am going to have a march on washington before martin luther king. march on washington. and you know something? ,e have taken pulled, -- polls
4:35 pm
30% of our black american youth will not register for the draft if you have a segregated army. truman, with his back to the wall in the middle of the election, knowing that have already gone as far as they can and not knowing where the black vote will go in the north, this is when he makes his decision to desegregate the armed services. this happens right in the middle of this. in the spring, actually in february, in february there is a special election in new york. there's always a special election in new york for congress. every week, we have some special election, and this was with in -- this one was in the bronx. a precinct democratic seat and what happens is republicans don't win, but a henry wallace supporter wins and sends shockwaves through the democratic party. it is like wow this movement may , have legs. this is in a fairly heavily
4:36 pm
jewish area, ok? wallace had been taunting truman as being insufficiently pro-israel. all the candidates are pretty much pro-israel, dooley, taft, all of these guys, truman. but truman has been having problems with the jewish community. they don't think he is sufficiently pro-israel, and what he does is, 13 minutes after the state of israel's independence or statehood is proclaimed, he is the first chief of state, we are the first country to recognize israel. this help solve some of his problems on the left with the wallace vote, but it is very chilling to see chilling to read , i think in "the new york times" that day or the next day, that out of egypt, out of cairo , muslim leaders are talking about a jihad against america.
4:37 pm
many things are part of that year which continue for a long time afterwards and into today. as the election goes on, we also see -- now harry truman has this special session of the legislature and the law of unintended consequences. he brings congress back in. congress doesn't want to come back in the middle of an election, but they come in, and they hold some hearings on communists, communists and government. they take some testimony and what this leads to is a guy named whittaker chambers going before the house on it -- un-american activity committee, and saying that alger hiss is a member of the communist party, former secretary of state, undersecretary of state, and this is the beginning of the mccarthy era. communist issues. it is also the beginning of richard nixon's political career because he is one of the few
4:38 pm
people who, when this starts to happen, says i smell a rat. , i smell a rat. i do not believe hiss. they go after him and finally get him, but this is again one of the things that differentiates 1948 as starting so many different things. the campaign starts. in the spring, harry truman made an interesting discovery. well he kind of new. part of it was something he knew. he knew, he was really bad giving a speech office script. i mean, really bad. he wasn't just franklin roosevelt, he was bad. when he was in the senate, he probably gave only three speeches in his whole career. he had very bad eyesight, and he had trouble reading from a piece of paper and just giving a speech like this, but he talked to a bunch of newspaper editors at the white house and the first he gives his speech. people are like, is the bar
4:39 pm
still open? and then he speaks off-the-cuff, and even people who don't like him go, hey, that was pretty good. i kind of like that guy. he has got something. everybody notices this. this is one of these great moments where the lightbulb goes on, and then he does it again. he does it again actually when he speaks right after recognizing israel. he goes to a jewish group in washington, and he does the same them. and he wows he says, i got to keep doing this. i have to keep doing this because i stink doing it otherwise. and he does, and he goes across the country in the spring on his first whistlestop campaign. there are a lot of gaffes. there are a lot of mistakes, there are lot of errors. then he goes to california. then he does it again after labor day. do we does the same thing. he has one of these whistlestop
4:40 pm
tours as well, but dewey is not as lively, not as spontaneous. tom dewey originally to not want to be presidents. he wanted to be a performer. harry truman, you remember, was the piano player. tom dewey was training to be a concert pianist. he knew how to present himself. he was really good, but he was too slick, and it did not come across well, and his content was too much of mush. harry truman is rocking and socking, and as he leaves washington on his fall whistlestop tour, someone says give them hell, harry. he says, yeah, i will, and he does. and he used to say, well, i just tell them the truth, and they think it's hell. but the, in many cases, he is
4:41 pm
very rough. he is very rough. in his speech in chicago for example, he pretty much accuses tom dewey and the people behind him of being fascist. it is really over the top and even his advisers are cringing from it, but it is like attack, attack, attack. dewey is not attacking, and people should notice things. people often see what they want to see. they have made up their mind. they don't need any more data or the data is irrelevant, so they know terry -- harry truman is a loser. they know that tom dewey is the next president of the united states. so they see these crowds getting bigger and bigger and bigger and more boisterous for harry truman, it is like they are just , curious. they just want to see the president. they don't care. and when they see the crowds not so big and not so enthusiastic for tom dewey, they should say, shouldn't people want to see the next resident of the united
4:42 pm
states? and they don't. they don't make the connection. the roper polling organization stops polling in mid-october. they think it is in the bag. why waste money on this? also people see, it looks like humphrey is going to win in minnesota, and it looks like they might win in west virginia against whoever, and is like, well we might be in trouble. release this,to and they don't connect the fact that the wheels are falling off the republican campaign all over the place because they have made up their minds that this is safe. a week before the election, i think the gallup had it down to five points. that is really within the margin of error, and then when you add in this fact that third-party candidates tend to just collapse as election day comes in, henry wallace collapses, and those
4:43 pm
votes go to harry truman. so, election day 1948, it's all festivities in new york at the hotel roosevelt. republicans are there, they are ready to win. the democrats are don't even put , up a tote board in their headquarters in new york and washington. we don't want to know what these numbers are. just let us die in peace. but the returns start to come in and they are not too bad for , dewey at first. in fact, what happens is he wins in the northeast. he wins the northeast in part thanks to harry wallace. he carries new york and he carries maryland over harry truman, thanks to henry wallace, and he does well through the northeast.
4:44 pm
pennsylvania is a very republican state. ewey had carried the midwest in 1944 against franklin roosevelt. he ignores that and concentrates on the northeast. early on in the truman re-election effort, there was a campaign document developing and it said, well, you can safely ignore the south. that's not exactly right. although here is a fun fact. franklin roosevelt had won the presidency four times without needing one electoral vote from the south. without needing one of those votes. harry truman's advisers say, you know the farmers, the midwest, , the far west, the far west is looking for irrigation projects, infrastructure. the farmer in the midwest is looking for government help. and harry truman was a missouri
4:45 pm
dirt farmer. he understood these people. ok? he goes, and he is walloping the republicans on these issues and also inflation. inflation. he has got 7% inflation in the country, and he is walloping the congress about doing nothing about it. now, he also has prosperity. he has got prosperity, and there is a cold war, but it ain't a cold war. nobody is dying, so he is peace and prosperity. what do i mean by prosperity? no 8%, 9% 10% unemployment, no , great depression. 3.8% unemployment in 1948. james carville said it, it's the economy, stupid, and the people who had gone through great depression and a world war, this is the song really is not i am , just wild about harry.
4:46 pm
it's happy days are here again. this is really the beginning of the 1950's. this is the peace and prosperity of the 1950's beginning already then. you get that bump of korea, but otherwise very similar. so, the returns start coming in , and it is starting to look like a horse race. where is harry? harry goes to a luncheon in independence, missouri, his hometown sneaks out the backdoor , into a waiting limousine and drives off to a pretty much vacant resort favored by politicians and gangsters outside of town, checks into a room. nobody knows he is there. he is hidden from the press. he is hidden from the nation really. checks into a room and is determined that he is not going to follow this on a minute by minute basis. there is a bottle of whiskey on
4:47 pm
the nightstand and a ham and cheese sandwich, and that is his election night celebration. he turns out the lights. it's probably about 9:00. every so often, his secret service people wake him up and tell them he has won this state or he is doing well in that state. each time they wake him up, they just annoy him. they just annoy him more and more, but finally they give him the news which causes him to just say, i think i have one. i think i have one. -- won. let's go down to kansas city. let's go down to headquarters. and harry truman has amazingly pulled it off. the ballroom in new york for tom dewey is an empty, forlorn place. for henry wallace, for strom thurmond all these things have , fallen apart. but harry truman has proven one thing as the great political philosopher lawrence peter
4:48 pm
berra, a fellow missourians stated, it ain't over until it's over. and harry truman proved that so right in 1948 and as for this talk, it's now officially over. [applause] thank you. we have got time, we have got time for some questions, and the deal is you go to that microphone so that the people in our c-span audience can hear you , and then i will attempt to evade your questions. [laughter] any takers? most unusual. we have one. go right up there. >> your book contains a lot of
4:49 pm
quotes from harry truman better -- that are blatantly anti-semitic and anti-black. david: absolutely. >> talk into the mic? david: that is to go on c-span, suggest speak up. pretend you are me. >> start all over? your book has a lot of anti-semitic quotes from harry, anti-black quotes. how do you square that harry truman with the harry truman that recognizes israel and pushes for a civil rights plank? david: people are complex. people are complex, and they have really different parts of them, and they see different things differently at different times. harry truman's partner in the haberdashery was a guy named jacobsen, so he has a very good relationship with jacobsen. his mother-in-law, truman's mother-in-law, who he did not
4:50 pm
have a great relationship with, was so anti-semitic, she would not about jacobsen into the house. truman is -- has sympathy for the jewish people. he has sympathy for black people when they are being lynched, when they are being treated patently unfairly, but he does , even after the presidency, he is writing in his memoirs in like 1955, this is not some private letter that he doesn't equality with black people. and you get into the 1960s and he is the kennedy campaign has , to hide him because he is declaring the sit in demonstrators as communist. but people compartmentalize things, and i think he does that. and people are contradictory. truman is just a spectacular
4:51 pm
example of that, and i think we can't, we cannot exclude a certain amount of political calculation in this, that truman and that document i was talking about, his blueprint for re-election says, you have got to hold onto the black vote up north, and particularly if dewey is the nominee, you have got trouble. you will lose new york. you will lose ohio. you will lose period, so there is that political calculation. just as i alluded to, where he is given a lot of credit for integrating the armed services, but usually it's not mention that a. philip randolph had a gun to his head in the middle of this election. the southerners have gone off, they have done all this damage. when i say they have done all the damage they can, the
4:52 pm
southern strategy, the dixiecrat strategy is to dump the democrats off the ballot, and once truman knows that he is still on the ballot in all of these states, he knows he can pull it off in large parts of the south like texas and georgia , but up to that point, it's dicey for him. so again, people have different parts of them -- churchill for example. churchill has some remarkably anti-semitic statements, and franklin d. roosevelt, who of course very friendly to the jewish people. not as -- it's very interesting to see what he would have done with the state of israel, because he was talk in with the arabs just before he dies, with the saudis i have read that he is, sayinge sauds he will consult you on everything. i have read that he was part of the board of directors which
4:53 pm
instituted the numerous classes at harvard which put in a quota system against the jewish, and who is really his best friend among cabinet members? it is morgenthau, so people are contradictory. there is contradictions among every person in this room, and harry truman is just this amazing example of it. anyone else? >> is it true that when truman, truman did not run in 1952. stephenson ran against ike. he simply he and bess simply , jumped in their car without the benefit of any secret secret service protection or anything and drove back to independence, missouri? david: there is a new book on that, well not as new as my book out maybe a year ago. and yes, which indicates that. years before, i was going to do a book on this election, i visited independence, missouri
4:54 pm
and visit the truman home. and it's like gee whiz, there is real linoleum on the floor. isn't it? i mean this was not, you go to, you go to hyde park or some of these other presidential homes and they are pretty modest. even like kelvin coolidge. you go to his house before he is president, and it's really modest. it's like, you know, someplace you would see in amsterdam like a hose or something. but afterwards, he does have to move into a big place. harry truman never moves into a big place, and his circumstances are sufficiently modest that he is the guy, he is why we have presidential pensions. up to that point, you know, we really don't have that, and they may be independently wealthy like a herbert hoover or they are able to have accomplished
4:55 pm
something more than truman did, you know, very monist -- modest on the payroll his whole life, federal or local county government. so truman really is a very modest guy. he might have been taking all these walks to save on gasoline, i don't know. yes? >> the photograph, the photograph you have on your sign, what can you tell us about this picture of truman holding up this newspaper from the chicago daily? david: ok, i like that cover and is a great cover. and the picture is about two days out from the election. it's in st. louis. one of his campaigns, campaign aides has brought him the photograph, and harry is just in love with it, as you can see. even just seeing half his face. what happens is again, people not seeing what they should be
4:56 pm
seeing, but also, we had some labor. these are also times of labor difficulties. truman threatens to put the steelworkers and the coal miners in jail in 1946, and we have the taft-hartley act by the republicans, and there is labor troubles in the "chicago tribune" that night. and there will be a delay in sending the headlines by three hours, so they get on the phone to their correspondent arthur hamming spears. the tribune does in washington, and is light, is this safe? can we go with this? nothing could go wrong. it's in the bag. it was not in the bag. oddly enough, the correspondent was pensioned off right after this. [laughter] that was the end of his career. you don't see him with george will on sundays or anything after that.
4:57 pm
so that story, that is the story , and of course, once he gets back to washington, he is greeted by this immense crowd at union station and there is this, maybe the second-biggest crowd to ever assemble in washington. they are lining the streets. they are going crazy, and i think it's bess truman who says to her daughter, you know, there weren't as many people out here when we left washington. [laughter] everyone loves a front-runner. >> ok, and i have got one other one, again about a photograph. this picture of the president playing the piano with a young woman sitting on top. what information do you have about that? david: well that is at the , national press club. the piano is still there. it is in the harry truman lounge on the 13th or 14th floor. and harry truman was then not resident, he was vice president,
4:58 pm
and he is at the press club, and he is playing the piano, and lauren bacall is there who is then only about 19 years old, and she sits on the piano, actually kind of reclines on it, and so when i introduce her and -- in my cast of characters at the beginning of the book, i say the legs on harry truman's piano. and this picture did two things. it really infuriated mrs. truman -- [laughter] -- and it causes people to wonder who this guy was and did he have the gravitas to be president or was he a tag for the pendergast machine again? so while it had become iconic at the time it was shall we say problematical, because they were different standards of presidential dignity at that point. even this whistlestop tour is somewhat unusual for presidents.
4:59 pm
remember, presidents don't even go to the convention, the national convention, until 1932 roosevelt so i have been given -- until 1932 with franklin roosevelt. so i have been given the signal that the time is just about up so we are going to wrap it up so , we don't get caught in the middle of an answer. and i wish to thank you all for coming today, and you have been a great audience. thank you very much. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] announcer: every saturday at 4:00 p.m. eastern. you can watch any of our programs at any time by visiting y.r website, american history tv, all weekend, every weekend on species -- on c-span3. >> c-span3 gazeta thomas edison
5:00 pm
depot museum, one of many places we are visiting import your on. -- port huron. here to tell us about his ties to the city and is building. the 20th century would look so different without the photograph and a lightbulb, all common things that we take for granted, but they came from his brain. his brain came from port huron. he arrived here at seven years old, lord and 1847. in 1859,d working here and this was a brand-new built station. he got a job here at age 12. edison's mother yelling at his teacher mr. crawford for calling


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on