Saturday, December 15, 2012
The Truman Committee
One of Oliver Stone's contentions in his "Untold History" is that Truman was an 11th hour choice for Vice-President after it was clear there was no popular support for Jimmy Byrnes to replace Henry A. Wallace on the ticket. Stone shows archival footage of the strong support on the convention floor for Wallace, and that Truman was the furthest person from anyone's mind, especially Roosevelt who had already made his sympathies clear in regard to Wallace.
Well, there are other accounts like this one, Choosing Truman, in which Robert Ferrell noted that a Truman Committee had been formed as early as Spring of 1944, well before the convention and that not only Dixiecrats but northern conservative Democrats like Bronx leader Edward Flynn saw Truman as the perfect compromise solution. As Alonzo Hamby noted in this American Experience clip, the "Missouri Compromise."
Ferrell referenced a dinner with the President on July 11, 1944, eight days before the convention, where names were brought up to replace Wallace on the ticket. Truman's name was "injected" into the conversation, and by the end of the dinner talk, Roosevelt himself was apparently willing to accept Truman as the VP choice, virtually sight unseen.
Of course, accounts will vary, but Stone clearly wants viewers to believe that Wallace was not only the "people's choice" for Vice-President in 1944 but also the President's choice. However, one finds that there was widespread anxiety among Democratic leaders against Wallace staying on the ticket in 1944, especially with the very real possibility of FDR's imminent death. Most felt that the next Vice-President could very well become President by ascension, and many Democratic leaders felt more comfortably with Truman.