Harry S Truman Fiftieth Election Anniversary 1948-1998
Introduction Nomination Campaign Election Inauguration Links

Whistle-Stop Campaign

July - October 1948


"The idea was his own. 'I want to see the people,' he had said. There would be three major tours: first cross-country to California again, for fifteen days; then a six-day tour of the Middle West; followed by a final, hard-hitting ten days in the big population centers of the Northeast and a return trip home to Missouri."
(McCullough, David. Truman. Simon & Schuster: New York, 1992. Page 654)


THE TRAIN CAMPAIGN PROVED TO BE AN UNEXPECTED SUCCESS. During the tour, a new relaxed and confident Harry Truman was presented to the people — a candidate who spoke their language and understood their needs. The upheaval at the July convention led to Democratic splinter-party presidential candidates: J. Strom Thurmond ran on the State's Rights ticket, known more familiarly as the "Dixiecrats," and Henry Wallace ran on the Progressive Party ticket. Both of these Democratic revolts worked to Truman's advantage. The Dixiecrat Party break-off reassured black voters of Truman's commitment to civil rights, which he reinforced with 1948 executive orders desegregating the armed forces and ending bias in federal employment practices. Wallace's Progressive program was supported by the Communist Party of America, which made it difficult for anyone to then label Truman "soft on communism." For his part, Truman relentlessly accused the "do-nothing" Republican Congress of failing to meet the needs of the American people, a tirade that served him well with the common voter. "Give 'em hell, Harry" became a battle-cry for the hard-fought, uphill battle of the campaign.

The following excerpts from the Harry S. Truman Election Anniversary Collection show the feelings that the common voter — from Missouri and surrounding states — had regarding the tenacity of Truman's campaign tour.

 


Exhibit Collection

 



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Created 1998 - Revised 2002: Acknowledgments
Missouri State ArchivesOffice of the Secretary of State, Missouri