From Boomers to Millennials: A Modern US History Podcast

Episode 3 - 1948: From Accidental President to True Man of the People

August 31, 2019 Logan Rogers Season 1 Episode 3
From Boomers to Millennials: A Modern US History Podcast
Episode 3 - 1948: From Accidental President to True Man of the People
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From Boomers to Millennials: A Modern US History Podcast
Episode 3 - 1948: From Accidental President to True Man of the People
Aug 31, 2019 Season 1 Episode 3
Logan Rogers

In this overview of the key events of 1948, we take a closer look at the unlikely presidency of Harry S Truman. Presidential challengers Republican Thomas Dewey, Progressive Henry Wallace, & Dixiecrat Strom Thurmond collectively wanted to know, "do we defeat Truman?" in the '48 presidential election. Meanwhile, Americans successfully faced down the most serious challenge of the Cold War so far, overcoming a Soviet blockade of Western forces with a massive airlift of supplies into West Berlin. Congress passes the Selective Service Act, requiring all American males to register for a potential military draft. The British departure from Palestine meant that the foundation of the nation of Israel would be a matter of long-term geopolitical importance & short-term electoral strategy for the US administration. President Truman issued an executive order desegregating the American military. Plus, ailing writer George Orwell completed his final dystopian masterpiece, Nineteen Eighty-Four, offering a lasting warning to the world about the dangers of totalitarian government.

Show Notes Transcript

In this overview of the key events of 1948, we take a closer look at the unlikely presidency of Harry S Truman. Presidential challengers Republican Thomas Dewey, Progressive Henry Wallace, & Dixiecrat Strom Thurmond collectively wanted to know, "do we defeat Truman?" in the '48 presidential election. Meanwhile, Americans successfully faced down the most serious challenge of the Cold War so far, overcoming a Soviet blockade of Western forces with a massive airlift of supplies into West Berlin. Congress passes the Selective Service Act, requiring all American males to register for a potential military draft. The British departure from Palestine meant that the foundation of the nation of Israel would be a matter of long-term geopolitical importance & short-term electoral strategy for the US administration. President Truman issued an executive order desegregating the American military. Plus, ailing writer George Orwell completed his final dystopian masterpiece, Nineteen Eighty-Four, offering a lasting warning to the world about the dangers of totalitarian government.

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from boomers to millennials is a modern US history podcast, providing a fresh look at the historical events that shaped current generations from the Cold War era to the present. Welcome to 1948 Aka episode three from accidental president to true man of the people. In our episode on 1947 we discussed the rise of tensions between the USA and the USSR, which led the Americans to invest in both economic initiatives such as the Marshall Plan and military defense initiatives such as the Truman doctrine designed to prevent the further spread of Kremlin controlled communism in Europe. In 1948 Stalin would strike back against the west with a ploy to eliminate an island of capitalism within the communist block. After World War II occupied Germany was divided into four zones, one for each of the allied occupying powers, the United States, Britain, France, and the Soviet Union and odd political compromise resulted from the rapid convergence of allied forces from east and west and to Germany.

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The former capital of Berlin was also divided into four separate occupation zones. Despite the city being located completely inside of the eastern part of Germany that was behind the iron curtain. As a result, West Berlin was an enclave of democratic capitalism. While East Berlin was under the control of Communists, alarmed by Western plans to create a unified west Germany with its own separate currency. In July, 1948 Stalin moved to blockade any shipments from the west going through East Germany to west Berlin by highway rail or water. As a result, west Berliners were in danger of being short of the food and fuel needed to survive the winter. The Americans feared that a military effort to dislodge the Soviet blockade would risk starting world war three but felt that abandoning west Berlin would be both a humanitarian disaster and a strategic blender that might even embolden Stalin to attempt further territorial acquisitions.

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If the Soviets followed the blockade within attempted military takeover of West Berlin, it would be a blood bath for the western allies, their forces in the enclave. We're hugely outnumbered by the Red Army occupying East Germany, which had them completely surrounded us. Foreign policy historian George C. Herring called this quote, the most serious crisis of the early Cold War, the u s general who commanded its occupation of West Germany. Urge Truman to try to bust through the blockade with an armed convoy, but the president and his advisors thought that approach was far too dangerous. Fortunately, the United States found a way to call stolens bluff that did not result military conflict. The U S as a warning sent bomber squadrons to Europe have the type capable of carrying atomic bombs, but the Americans had a more peaceful bombardment in mind. They planned a massive air lift to drop supplies into West Berlin. According to herring for 11 months, quote transports flew 250 missions a day around the clock, moving an average of 2,500 tons of food, fuel raw materials, and finished goods daily into Berlin to feed and heat 2 million people and maintain some semblance of a functioning economy.

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Close quote, the Soviets were militarily weaker in the air than on the ground and they did not attack the u s planes. They eventually gave up on the blockade during spring 1949 because the successful u s air airlift had rendered all the Soviet roadblocks useless. The Berlin airlift was a major diplomatic victory for the Americans in the Cold War, but the Berlin crisis had caused a nervous congress to pass a law facilitating fast mobilization. In case of another World War legislators passed the selective service act of 1948 and President Truman signed it into law. The bill required all male US citizens who reached age 18 to register for potential mandatory military service. The selective service requirement is still in effect in the USA to this day, although it hasn't been used to conduct a military draft since the Vietnam War of the early 1970s I can't resist mentioning one other artifact of lasting significance.

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Inspired by the tensions of the forties and produced during 1948 British author George Orwell wrote a dystopian novel in which he swapped the order of the four and the eight in his current year to get the title. 1984 were well was a democratic socialist who volunteered to fight fascism during the Spanish civil war of the 1930s however, he became disillusioned when he witnessed the Soviet controlled communist faction arrest and execute members of rival left wing groups that were supposed to be fighting on the same side as the years went on, he became a passionate critic of how the Soviet Union had turned socialist dreams into a totalitarian nightmare or well painted, a portrait of an all-powerful government crushing independent thought within the pages of 1984 which was inspired by the one party rule, secret police and personality called. It's common to both Nazi Germany under Hitler and Soviet Russia. Understanding the novel was Orwell's final statement to the world as he was seriously ill with tuberculosis while writing it in 48 the book gained some acclaim upon its publication in 49 but Orwell had little time to appreciate accolades.

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He died in January, 1950 1984 became one of the most influential and unsettling texts of the 20th century, not just in the UK but also in the USA and around the world. It provided us with phrases such as big brother thought, police, double think, and many other memorable terms that are still relevant to describing oppressive governments and institutions. Today. According to author Thomas Irix, his comparative biography, George Orwell is the third most cited literary figure in US Supreme Court opinions after William Shakespeare and Lewis Carroll. For some reason, another 1948 event of lasting geopolitical significance took place amidst the slow dissolution of the British empire. It's centered upon the British occupied Palestine Mandate, which covered the near eastern territories along the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The native population there was Arabic speaking and demographically consisted not only of Muslims but also Arab Christians as well as members of other faiths. The Jewish population had begun arriving in Palestine during the 19th century when the region was still part of the Ottoman Empire.

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The migrants were adherence of a political movement known as Zionism. This form of Jewish nationalism held that the long persecuted and scattered Jewish population would never be safe as a vulnerable religious and cultural minority within Christian and Islamic countries. Instead, they needed to have their own country that could serve as a refuge for oppressed Jews around the world. There wasn't total consensus among Zionists about where the state should be established, but many advocates settled in Palestine in part because it was the ancestral homeland of Judaism. According to the Hebrew Bible, Jewish settlers, there began a reviving, a version of the Hebrew language, which had been mostly extinct outside of religious ceremonies because a new Lingua Franca or common language was needed so that Jews from around the world with a variety of native tongues could communicate with one another in the news ionist state. According to historian Howard [inaudible] car's book a history of Israel.

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By the 1910s the Jewish population in Palestine had reached almost a hundred thousand people. The British gained control of the region after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War One. The British government in 1917 issued the ball for a declaration which promised to establish a quote national home for the Jewish people. However, in the decades that followed, there was disagreement within the British imperial bureaucracy as to how, when and whether this promise ought to be kept. Although Jewish settlers had become dominant in some areas such as Telaviv. Overall Arabs were still the majority within the mandate. They had already engaged in acts of violent resistance against further Jewish immigration and land acquisition in their homeland and thus Arab Palestinians might revolt over the creation of an explicitly Jewish state. During World War II, the genocidal holocaust made the Zionists about the existential need for a secure Jewish state seemed prophetic. This caused thousands more Jewish refugees from Europe to pour into Palestine, many of them Holocaust survivors.

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After the war, there were violent clashes between Arabs and Jews and there were Jewish and Arab attacks on the British occupiers. The bankrupt UK government was by then quite ready to wash its hands of this mess. And the British agreed to begin withdrawing from Palestine. In 1947 the new United Nations peacekeeping organization approved a partition plan and 47 to divide the land between Jews and Arabs. But when British withdrawal completed in 48 there was no peaceful partition and a tragic cycle of violence began that has still not subsided out of this bloody struggle. The Jewish population by May, 1948 had gained control of a contiguous territory within the Palestine region, which had declared to be the new independent nation of Israel. To call the events surrounding the foundation of Israel. Controversial would be an understatement. This podcast will not attempt to referee what side was to blame for various injustices.

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There are two main stories told and argued about regarding what happened from the Israeli perspective. They had finally created a homeland for the historically marginalized Jewish people featuring a democratic government with laws that required it to respect the rights of religious minorities to the Palestinian Arabs. However, the events of 1948 where I'll knock that or the catastrophe, a classic example of Western settler colonialism that's stolen from indigenous people who had lived in Palestine for centuries after Israel declared independence. Neighboring Arab nations attempted to bring a quick end to the Zionist state by attacking the new country. But to many people's surprise, the Israelis won the war and the Jewish nation became a lasting power in the Middle East. A major factor in establishing the international legitimacy of Israel was the u s government's decision to officially recognize the nation state after it declared independence. In 1948 some of President Truman's advisers, including Secretary of State, George Marshall, urged against this move citing cold war reality polity concerns.

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He feared that endorsing Israel would push the oil rich Arabic countries to side with the Soviet. However, Truman was persuaded in favor of recognizing the Jewish state based upon both humanitarian concerns for refugees displaced by the Holocaust and political concerns about getting support from Jewish voters in November during the upcoming US presidential election, Jewish Americans were far more numerous than Arab Americans at this time, and many were concentrated in key states controlling many electoral votes. Common American Protestant, Christian religious may have also played a role in the decision. According to Truman's biographer, David McCullough, one of his closest political advisers quoted from the Bible in order to convince the president of the Jewish claim to a Palestinian homeland. The remainder of this week's episode examines the four very different men who would for the presidency during the chaotic 1948 election. President Harry s Truman has been a featured player in our last two episodes, but now we will take a deeper look at where the man came from, what made him tick, and how he got to the White House.

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Truman spent his youth during an era when the U s was still emerging out of the Victorian social mores and gilded age, economic instability of the 19th century. He was a remarkably average American of his time growing up in a working class Baptist family and the small town of independence, Missouri. Deep in the heart of Middle America. It's difficult to imagine someone so ordinary with all of the good and bad aspects that suggests becoming president today. To give you a sense of how old fashioned Truman and small town Missouri during this era were. One might note the fact that he only ever romantically pursued one woman as far as we know, she lived two and a half blocks away from him and independence and her name was Elizabeth Wallace, but she went by bess or Bessie. She was initially Luke warm toward his advances, but he kept trying to win her over and eventually he persuaded her to marry him, but he never won over his mother in law.

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She was from a more socially prominent family and independence than the Truman's and she always thought Harry was kind of a loser who wasn't good enough to marry her daughter. Even after he had a successful political career and even after he was freaking president, you just can't please some people. I guess in addition to these social slights, Truman was a relatively short man who had to wear spectacles from a young age for his poor eyesight. He lacked exposure to highbrow culture or formal education beyond high school. As a result, he harbored a deep sense of insecurity and he compensated for it by developing a tendency for bluster and bravado. At times, Truman's feistiness would be admired by voters who thought he was a passionate fighter for common people at other times. However, his knee jerk reactions would escalate conflicts and problems during his presidency. At least you didn't have access to Twitter.

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Young Truman served honorably in the u s armed forces as an artillery officer in France during World War One. The return of veterans struggled to find a career path upon his return to Missouri for a time he worked as a Haberdasher, selling men's hats and clothing in Kansas City, but his shop went out of business in an economic downturn in the early 1920s scholar James T. Patterson writes in his book, grand expectations. Quote Truman was then 38 years old, three years married, and without many prospects in life, close quote politics would save him. Truman got involved with the local democratic political machine and Kansas City run by an Irish American boss named Tom Pendergast, who was involved in the seedier side of the town. Political machines were urban political party organizations that mobilized votes by doing favors for people and expecting favors and political loyalty. In return, the Casey machine and courage loyal party operative Truman to run for a local county office.

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He won with the machine support and he became a quite popular and effective public official. His future detractors would dismiss him as the former pawn of a corrupt political machine, although according to historian David M. Kennedy, Truman kept his hands relatively clean and did not use his office to enrich himself. Truman climbed fast up the ranks in his political career. Eventually reaching the office of United States senator in Washington DC. Truman game national acclaim for investigating fraud and waste within government defense contracts during World War II. According to David M, Kennedy has committee exposed, quote, profiteering and mismanagement in the construction of army camps and the delivery of substandard materials to the armed forces. Close quote, it is estimated that these investigations save the taxpayers billions of dollars. This work gave senator true and positive media attention. Andrew the interest of Democratic Party leaders and even President Franklin Roosevelt Center Circle. The former Haberdasher was now seen as a possible asset to a national presidential election ticket.

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FDR had a complicated history with his vice president, his original veep in 1932 and again in 1936 was John Nance Garner, Aka Cactus Jack, a cigar chomping Texan, who had been added to the ticket to appease the conservative southern wing of the party. Garner was never a specially close to FDR or particularly enthusiastic about the new deal. He griped that the office of the vice presidency was quote, not worth a bucket of warm spit. It was more common in the past for a president to pick a new VP for a new election seeking a more amiable and ideologically compatible partner. FDR In 1940 selected Henry, a Wallace of Iowa as his running mate who had been his liberal secretary of agriculture and an enthusiastic champion of new deal economic programs. However, by 1944 concern was growing among Democratic officials that Wallace was so left wing that he could be an electoral liability.

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They began to look for a replacement on the ticket and they decided that the feisty senator from Missouri who had exposed misuse of government wartime funds was an ideal vice presidential candidate. Truman's combination of populous economic views tempered by fiscal and cultural moderation seemed ideal to help FDR when the support of small businessmen, rural southerners, urban political machines and other groups who usually lean democratic but who might be disturbed by the socialistic ideas of Wallace Truman's insecurities flared up when he was offered the VP position, he was reluctant to accept such a high office. FDR said he would be responsible for breaking up the Democratic Party in the middle of a war if he declined the offer with the president basically ordering him to serve his country. Truman finally accepted the vice presidency. Truman seems to be an exception to the rule that most mid to late 20th century U s presidential and vice presidential candidates spent years tirelessly scheming their way into the White House.

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Think of shrewd political manipulators like Lyndon Johnson or Richard Nixon, for example. There's a pretty good chance that Harry Truman, on the other hand, may never have sought America's top office if he had not been pressured onto the ticket. As FDR, his running mate in 1944 Roosevelt's declining health made the identity of the vice president even more significant. It was becoming increasingly clear to insiders that FDR might not survive his fourth term in office. One person who did not seem to be reflecting on this possibility much was the old man himself, perhaps because he was in denial about the seriousness of his condition or because his judgment had been damaged by the ravages of stress, illness and old age. FTR did very little to prepare his understudy Harry Truman for the presidency. According to Truman's biographer, David McCullough, he quote, had met with the president exactly twice except for cabinet meetings since becoming vice president and neither time was anything of consequence discussed.

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Close quote, according to historian George Herring VP Truman wasn't even briefed about the existence of the atomic bomb. When FDR died just a few months into 1945 vice president Truman was urgently summoned to the White House to meet with the Roosevelt family and he asked if there was anything he could do to assist them during this time of grief. Eleanor Roosevelt, sadly, but slyly responded, quote, is there anything we can do for you for you are the one in trouble now, close quote, Truman initially benefited from public goodwill admits the jubilation surrounding the USA is World War II victories in the Pacific and European theaters. However, by 1946 as the economy experienced the postwar turbulence we described in episode one, Truman became increasingly unpopular. Critics pawned on the old saying to err is human by instead saying to air as Truman. However, according to authors, Walter Isaacson and Evan, many advisers around Truman, including so-called wise men such as future secretary of state, Dean Atchison came to respect him as a man of integrity, toughness, and common sense.

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These bonds developed despite the cultural Gulf that existed between the Ivy League educated Wiseman and Harry, a plain spoken Midwesterner who would be the last president elected during the 20th century who did not graduate from college. The public remained skeptical. However, in the elections of 1948 not many people were betting on Truman. He had been unable to prevent his party's defeat by the GOP in the congressional elections of 46 and he was expected to face opposition within his own party. One of his fiercest critics among Democrats was the man he had replaced as vice president Henry Wallace. When FDR replaced Wallace with Truman on the national ticket in 44 Roosevelt allowed Wallace to remain an important figure in his government, appointing him to the cabinet role of secretary of commerce. When FDR died, Truman kept his popular predecessor's cabinet intact, but he soon found himself clashing with Wallace on matters of foreign policy.

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Above all, Wallace criticized the Truman administration's increasingly tough stance toward the Soviet Union. He insisted that USA USSR cooperation was essential for the future peace of the world. He thought that the British were trying to drive a wedge between the two supposedly anti-colonial colonialists superpowers with the assistance of Truman's elitist advisers. Wallace condemned the Truman doctrine as a dangerous step toward militarily provoking the communists even oppose the Marshall Plan. Wallaces public speeches became so out of sync with and implicitly critical of the Truman Administrations Cold War policies that the president dismissed him from his cabinet. Wallace would seek his revenge leaving the Democrats to become the standard bearer of a new left wing third party called the Progressive Party. Wallace claimed he was the more genuine air to FTRs legacy of liberal policies, favoring labor unions and favoring regulating big banks. He hoped to steal away a substantial portion of FDRs new deal coalition of supporters from Truman and the mainstream Democrats who was this maverick, who was willing to leave his own party to challenge its sitting.

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President Wallace grew up in Iowa, the son of an agricultural scientist of Scottish descent who had served as Republican president hardings agriculture secretary back in the 1920s the son inherited the family's successful business that produced hybrid seeds to sell to farmers. Young Henry also had training in agricultural sciences, but there was a more philosophical, even mystical side to Wallace to sympathetic biographers, John C Culver and John Hyde dubbed him and American dreamer. He didn't smoke, rarely used profanity, and never drank anything stronger than milk on foreign trips. As a government official, he liked to spend his free time talking to impoverished local farmers about agriculture. He sometimes referred to scripture to justify his political views about fighting for peace and against poverty. He was an idealist who believed that society could be transformed into a more peaceful and eagle attarian order. This conviction led him to embrace bold new programs such as farm subsidies as FDR is agriculture secretary.

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After being selected as FTRs veep. In 1940 Wallace became the center of a controversy when letters were discovered that revealed him to be a former follower of a Russian immigrant spiritual guru named Nicholas Rich. This occurred long before the era when Marianne Williamson was a bestselling author, a turn political candidate, democratic campaign officials feared that Americans weren't ready to have a man who consulted with a new age, second rate rest sputum Amir heartbeat away from a presidency. In recent presidential elections, even Catholic candidates had been politically controversial after all, the GOP got a hold of Wallace's fonting letters to rich and threatened to publish them, but they backed down when the Democrats threatened to expose proof of 1940 Republican presidential candidate Wendell wilkies extramarital affair, proof positive. The politics have never been pretty. As Vice President Wallace became an enthusiastic proponent of a continued alliance between the U S and Soviet Union, which became his fixation during his time as Truman's commerce secretary, unsurprisingly is pro Soviet views have led people to speculate that Wallace may have been a communist or a paid agent of the USSR.

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However, most reputable historians agree that unlike some other characters whom we will discuss in the next episode, existing evidence indicates Wallace was not a communist nor did he engage in espionage or disloyalty. Rather, he seems to have been an idealistic Peacenik who had some sympathy for the collectivists Soviet project, although he thought that it went too far in terms of neglecting private and individual rights. He seemed to be rather naive or in denial about the cruelties and oppressions involved in Stalin's rule over the USSR and it's eastern European satellites. According to historian James T. Patterson, some progressive's initially drawn to Wallace's domestic support for labor unions and civil rights were alarmed by his doveish foreign policy views. Some of Wallace's rhetoric resembled that of future left wing third party candidates like Ralph Nader such as his condemning of both parties for being too closely allied with Wall Street and the Pentagon Wallace, his vice presidential pick was one of the more unusual politicians of the era.

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Senator Glenn Taylor of Idaho Taylor's profession prior to politics was as a show man specializing in the singing cowboy style, who had crooned his way to victory into the Senate by singing to the tune of home on the range. Oh, give me a home. By the Capitol Dome Wallace's Progressive Party campaign was damaged by the fact that he seemed willing to tolerate communist sympathizers among his campaign, supporters and organizers. According to author David McCullough, Wallace said he wouldn't repudiate anyone support as long as it was quoted on the basis of interest in peace. Close quote, this might have not gotten as much criticism had he been running for President 15 years prior, but this was the post Truman doctrine era of inflamed Cold War tensions. Mainstream liberal groups such as the Ada, Americans for Democratic Action and prominent figures such as Eleanor Roosevelt denounce the Wallace campaign for its alleged communist ties.

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After receiving this negative publicity, Wallace struggled to hold onto the support of any democrats other than the most left wing fringe of the party's electorate. One more aspect of the Wallace campaign merits attention. He had sufficient conviction in his ideas that he dared bring his message condemning cold war militarism and championing African American civil rights into the heart of the conservative pro military and racially segregated American south. In his speaking engagements there he was jeered and heckled and sometimes had to dodge rotten vegetables and eggs that were thrown at him by hostile audience members. Whatever you may think of Wallace's beliefs and associations, you've got to admit that it took guts for him to stick by his message in places where it was wildly unpopular and in spite of these verbal insults and threatened physical attacks. Now, the south was traditionally democratic because the Republican Party was historically associated with Abraham Lincoln and you list these s grant and William Tecumseh Sherman and their northern occupation of the southern states during and after the u s civil war that said many southern Democrats were closer and ideology and temperament to the jeering pro segregationists crowds than they were to Henry Wallace, this so-called dixiecrat faction.

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What also emerged with its own favorite third party candidate during the 1948 presidential election. Tension between Harry Truman in the deep south grew over issues of racial equality. Unsurprisingly, Truman grew up in a blue collar rural white environment and a border state with a history of slavery. He sometimes made negative comments and judgments based upon racial stereotypes. Still, according to Thomas Borstal men's book, the Cold War and the color line quote for a man of his place in time, the Missourian made impressive strides on matters of race. Close quote back in episode one, we discuss Truman's appointment of a committee to study the issue of racial inequality in the United States. Nowadays, we usually assume that when a controversial issue is referred to a commission for further study, politicians are engaging in an empty gesture and have no intention of taking meaningful action. However, in this case, a committee actually did matter when it issued its report.

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Truman read it carefully and considered implementing some of the recommended actions. According to historian James T. Patterson, the president had been stalling some, but he decided to take action under pressure from congressional liberals. Like Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota most prominently, Truman decided in 1948 to issue an executive order desegregating the u s military. This move was a major civil rights milestone, one that would bolster Truman's credibility with black voters and many northern liberals. Even liberal hero. FDR had failed to act on this issue for all of his efforts to help poor people. Generally FDR had done almost nothing to help black people specifically mostly out of fear of losing the support of the pro segregationists southern wing of the Democratic Party. Truman's bold decision to integrate the armed forces came with the heavy cost at the Democratic Party convention in 1948 some deep south delegations stormed out in protest to military desegregation and other pro civil rights language in the party platform.

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These forces would coalesce around Governor Strom Thurmond of South Carolina who became a third party candidate representing the Dixie Kratt faction. Thurman was the son of a wealthy lawyer who went into the family business by becoming a county attorney and then embarked on a highly successful political career after leaving the governor's match, and he eventually went on to serve several terms in the Senate, not retiring until age 100 during which he defended the southern racial status quo of segregation and opposition to race mixing. However, after his death in 2003 it would be revealed that Thurmond as a young man had been intimately involved in race mixing at age 22 Thurman had secretly fathered a mixed race child with a teenage black housekeeper. This revelation was scandalous, but it was perhaps less shocking than you might think in that era. It had not been uncommon for wealthy white southern men to view domestic servant women as a vulnerable and disposable objects.

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That's unfortunate practice. Harken back to the common antebellum phenomenon of slave owning men having coercive sexual relationships with slave women. This fact about Thurman was unknown to the public during his 1948 pro segregation presidential run. Nevertheless, his appeal, while strong within Dixie land was not geographically wide. He tried to capitalize on the national anticommunist mood according to Patterson's book grand expectations. Thurman claimed that Truman's civil rights measures were meant quote to excite race and class hatred. He even suggested this was part of a plan to create chaos and confusion, which leads to communism. Close quote, this connection between civil rights activists and communism would often be alleged by defenders of segregation during the decades that followed, but it still seemed far fetched to most Americans at this time. Thurman was popular in deep southern states where most White Democrats were appalled by Truman's integration ism, but the South Carolinian held little appeal in northern and western regions.

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Thurman didn't even appear on the general election ballot in some northern states still buy potentially playing the rule of spoiler. He could perhaps teach the Democratic Party a hard lesson about taking it supporters in Jim Crow country for granted. Everything seemed to be falling in place for the Republicans. The unpopular Democratic president now faced third party challenges on both the left and right flanks of his own party. All the GOP had to do was nominate a safe, mainstream, likable candidate and presumably they would coast to victory. The party chose Governor Thomas e Dewey of New York who had come closer than any prior Republican presidential nominee to defeating Franklin d Roosevelt back in 1944 Dewey was the son of a small town, Michigan newspaper publisher. After graduating from the University of Michigan do, we left for New York City to attend prestigious Columbia law school, also FDR his alma mater as it so happened, however, do we left to successful private law firm to pursue public service as a Manhattan district attorney, he became a type of Elliot Ness figure taking on organized crime, which had grown powerful during the prohibition era of the 1920s and which remained influential in America's urban centers during the 1940s Da Dewey successfully prosecuted famous mobsters such as lucky Luciano and Dutch Schultz, heroic former da who was also the current governor of America's most populous state at that time seemed to compelling and appealing candidate do you is not the only candidate who sought the 1948 Republican nomination.

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He had to fend off arch conservative isolationists Robert Taft of Ohio, whom we met in episode two and the more moderate governor Harold Stassen of Minnesota, who would later become something of a political punchline for running for president nine times across five decades, but who is considered a serious contender in 48 do we out maneuvered these Midwestern rivals by consolidating some support among the mostly moderate northeastern delegations and then winning over some in the far west. He showed his appreciation to the California GOP delegation by selecting it, the convention, its favorite son Candidate Governor Earl Warren as his vice presidential running mate we're in would later eventually become better known for his future exploits as chief justice of the u s supreme court where he would annoy some of his fellow Republicans with his increasingly progressive legal views. According to Patterson Dewey's platform implied the Democrats weren't tough enough on communism, but it was moderate on economics and relatively progressive on civil rights.

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Pulling in other predictive methods were far less sophisticated in the 1940s than they are today, but most available data indicated that Dewey would win. For example, Macola in his biography of Truman sights and April, 1948 Gallup poll that put Truman's approval rating at a mere 36% members of the press, academia and the business community were near unanimous in assuming that Thomas Dewey would be the next president of the United States. However, the feisty accidental president from Missouri wasn't going to go down without a fight. He embarked on a massive cross country whistle stop campaign traveling by train and giving short speeches in every small town train stop along the way. It should be noted that during the early to mid 20th century, presidential campaigns were not usually the grueling cross country marathons we're familiar with today. Many candidates campaign through surrogates and mobilize party loyalists through political machines.

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Television was a brand new technology out of reach for most households in 1948 so any public speeches given by the candidate were only broadcast on the radio or reprinted in the newspapers. Some early 20th century candidates won the presidency by running so-called front porch campaigns during which the nominee himself would do little traveling and public speaking, but Harry Truman could not afford to rest on his laurels facing an uphill battle to retain the presidency. He had little choice but to take his message directly to the people. Meanwhile, Dewey was complacent in his lead and what little campaigning he engaged and did little to build public enthusiasm for his candidacy. According to Patterson quote, he didn't get his campaign underway until mid September and didn't work hard at it. Thereafter, his speeches were bland and the extreme close quote. As good as his credentials may have looked on paper, he lacked the common touch.

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He was a stuffy, pompous, unsmiling and uncharismatic man. His formal attire and a effect complete with a small neatly trimmed mustache made him resemble a holdover from a prior generation of American politics. Fun fact, he would be the last major party presidential candidate of the 20th century who sported facial hair. Alice Roosevelt Longworth, the socialite daughter of Teddy Roosevelt, who'd had a more presidential mustache, was known for her biting wit. She mockingly compared the stiff Dewey to the plastic quote little man on the wedding cake on the stump the every man Truman was working at reassembling the new deal coalition of voters that allowed the Democratic Party to dominate the pre 1945 era of us politics. Patterson recalls that during fall 1948 Truman traveled over 30,000 miles, mostly by rail bashing the inaction of the conservative Congress and criticizing tight fisted Republican policies. He paid special attention to swing voters in the Midwestern farm belt, which the dewy Warren ticket was unwisely neglecting.

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He Associated The New Yorker, Dewey with Wall Street greed, and he attached the alleged indifference of the pro-business GOP to suffering farmers, workers, and consumers. He maintained his populist credibility by picking elder statesman senator, how Ben Barkley of Kentucky as his running mate like Truman Barkley was a moderate liberal from a border state, but he had far more political experience than Truman and he had the distinction of being one of the last American politicians who had literally been born in a log cabin. He made sure to reach out to various ethnic voter blocks. According to Boris Stillman, he campaigned in Harlem three days before the election to rally black voters around his civil rights record to win over Jewish voters. He emphasized his bold decision to recognize the infant nation of Israel. Above all, Truman reminded all voters of modest means, regardless of geographic region or ethnic origin. About the last Republican elected president, Herbert Hoover, who had been unable to slow down the nation's economic free fall into the Great Depression of the early Thirties Truman's barnstorming whistle stop campaign worked shocking the American political establishment.

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The election proved very close, but many newspapers still believing the conventional wisdom about the likely outcome. Assume do. We would emerge victorious and even printed headlines to that effect. However, Truman Limited Thurman's pickups in the south to four states in just over 2% of the national vote. Henry Wallace also got just 2% and he didn't win any states within significant levels of support outside of New York and California, Truman made up for the electoral votes. He lost to Thurmond in the south by actually picking up the Midwestern states of Ohio, Wisconsin, and Iowa, which do we had actually carried over FDR back in 1944 the GOP ticket did capture some northeastern states that FDR had one in 44 but it wasn't enough to assemble an electoral college majority when all the votes were counted. Truman had won both the electoral college and the popular vote I'll be at by a narrow margin.

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Furthermore, Democrats made gains further down the ballot all across the country, allowing them to recapture both houses of Congress from the Republicans, the new democratic formula, which combined liberal and populous domestic policies with a tough anticommunist cold war foreign policy had proven to be a very effective combination. The most famous photographic image to emerge out of the 1948 election depicted a beaming Harry Truman holding up a Chicago newspaper bearing the headline. Dewey defeats Truman in the wee morning hours after election day. Truman grinned broadly because he had learned that this headline was dead wrong, that his doubters had all been proven wrong and that he had somehow navigated his way past internal democratic rivals and overcome a large Republican lead in order to finally be elected president of the United States in his own right. No one could any longer dismiss the little firebrand from Missouri as an accidental president, nor could they ever again claim that he lacked the skill and sophistication needed to succeed in politics on a national level. However, this period would prove to be the peak of Truman's popularity. Had he known what dire challenges awaited him in his second term in office, it surely would have wiped the smile right off his face. The United States was about to experience its most harrowing period since the height of World War II. As Cold War worries escalated into a borderline national panic, we will track the gathering storm clouds during our next episode covering the year 1949

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from boomers to millennials is produced by Aaron Rogers logo design by Kamie Schafer and Aaron Rogers written and narrated by Logan Rogers. You can keep these episodes coming maybe even more regularly and more promptly by making a small donation to our patrion at patrion.com/boomer to millennial two L's, two ends in millennial. Any amount is fine. Small amounts are welcome. You can also help us out by leaving a favorable review of from boomers to millennials on your favorite podcast platform. You can follow us on Twitter at boomer underscore, too. If you have comments or suggestions about our podcast, we welcome your emails@boomertomillennialatoutlook.com finally, I want to reveal that the real winners of the 1948 elections were drum roll please our listeners, so thank you for listening.

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[inaudible].