Truman Election 1948

I could hardly wait for my 21st birthday. When the day arrived I sat at one of my usual stools and asked the bartender for a beer on the house, a custom at the time when a good customer was celebrating a birthday. He obliged and asked me how it felt to be 22. He had mixed feelings when he learned the truth. He obviously was pissed that I had been drinking illegally at his place for a year but he was glad to know he no longer had to risk the consequences of serving a minor.
The magic age also had special meaning at the time because now I could vote, something I could not do by showing a fake ID. The year was 1948 and we were in the midst of a presidential campaign unlike any before or since.
Harry Truman was up for his first term as an elected president. He became president in 1944 when, as vice-president, he assumed the office after the death of Franklin Roosevelt .This was the time when he made the bold decision to swiftly end the war by the use of the atomic bomb on Japan. (The decision cancelled all plans for an invasion of Japan similar to D-Day at Normandy . Navy personnel were training almost exclusively with small boats in preparation for the landings.)
Truman also recognized the injustices in the services that were placed on Black soldiers and sailors. Shortly after the war, he issued an executive order to desegregate the armed forces. During the war Blacks found it difficult to hold most ranks or to serve in the line next to Whites .Roosevelt felt he couldn't right this wrong without alienating the Deep South during a time of emergency.
These two actions by Truman split the Democratic Party from the Right and the Left. The decision about the Bomb sparked a candidacy from the left in Henry Wallace, an ultra-liberal. The desegregation of the Blacks, which was the beginning of Civil Rights in this country, angered the Solid South, so-called because they voted democratic since the days of reconstruction. A new party was formed by the Southerners,which was known as the Dixiecrats. Their candidate for president was Strom Thurmond. Strom is presently serving as senator from South Carolina and is almost 100 years of age. There was Harry trying to get elected from a party with a split on both ends. He wasn't given much of a chance. His Republican opponent, Thomas Dewey, was so sure of his own candidacy he hardly campaigned .A columnist at the time described Dewey as looking like the "little man on top of the wedding cake.
Truman traveled by train on his famous "whistle stop tour " and gave speeches from the platform on the caboose. He also joined the crowds on Main Street. I remember when he came to Brockton. He made the Republican congress his opponent at the time and people used to yell " give 'em hell Harry! " Harry would mince no words .He didn't use innuendo like we have in campaigns today. Harry would never hint that Dewey was this or that. He just kept hitting the theme of what he wanted to do and what the republican congress didn't want to do. He called them "the do-nothing congress. " The public was well-informed because there was no TV. We didn't have sound bites. We relied on newspapers primarily. The day before the election the polls had Dewey winning by a landslide. The Chicago Tribune was so sure of his election they printed the morning paper with the headline DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN. HV Kaltenborn, a Rush Limbaugh type radio personality with a distinctive voice, gave the same kind of broadcast. Truman savored both these events when he was photographed with a copy of the Tribune showing the infamous headline. When he had his Inauguration Party he mimicked Kaltenborn.The History Channel shows the speech from time to time and if you listen carefully you can discern that Harry, at the podium in his tuxedo, holding a copy of the Tribune and giving his Kaltenborn imitation, uncharacteristically slurred his speech a little. It was a night to enjoy.
There was the time Harry's daughter Margaret gave a vocal performance that was widely publicized and attended. Harry was a proud father listening to his daughter on the stage singing classical music. Paul Hume, music critic for the Washington Post gave a scathing review of the performance. Harry wrote a letter the next day .Mr Hume : I just read your lousy review of Margaret's concert...Some day I hope to meet you . When that happens you'll need a new nose, a lot of beefsteak for black eyes, and a supporter for below.
Harry was heard calling syndicated columnists, " rat , no good can of lard, newsliars. " When he fired General Macarthur, he called him a " son-of-a-bitch "
There was only one president like him. If you followed the ratings from the time of his presidency you would see he climbed from near bottom to near top of the list. People liked his straight talk.