Choosing Truman: The Democratic Convention of 1944 by Robert H. Ferrell

By Robert H. Ferrell

As Franklin D. Roosevelt's well-being deteriorated within the months major as much as the Democratic nationwide conference of 1944, Democratic leaders faced a dire state of affairs. Given the inevitability of the president's demise in the course of a fourth time period, the alternative of a working mate for FDR was once of profound value. The Democrats wanted a guy they can belief. They wanted Harry S. Truman.

Robert Ferrell tells an engrossing story of ruthless ambition, mystery conferences, and get together politics. Roosevelt emerges as a manipulative chief whose wish to keep energy resulted in a blatant omit for the loyalty of his subordinates and the aspirations of his vice presidential hopefuls. Startling in its conclusions, impeccable in its learn, Choosing Truman is an engrossing, behind-the-scenes examine the making of the nation's thirty-third president.

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That is, Hull, like Garner, wanted the presidency. His second choice, the president said, was Jimmy Byrnes, but he talked with Archbishop Francis Spellman of New York and others in the Catholic church who said Byrnes would not do. 42 At the last minute he decided on Wal- 20 Choosing Truman lace. The burden ofthese details was that Wallace was a stopgap in 1940 and was hardly essential in 1944. And if the conversation had gotten back to Wallace it w<;mld have discouraged the vice-president without his chief, the president, having openly done so.

By that time he had broken with Byrnes over what he considered Byrnes's too independent stance as secretary of state in 1945-1947 and especially siding with the Dixiecrats in 1948, but he was now cognizant of a deeper disloyalty, this phone call to get him to nominate Byrnes. In a long, memorandum-like letter for the record, given to his close friend Press Secretary Ross, Truman, among other things, described Byrnes as a "slick conniver," which may not have been far from the mark. 70 Tuesday, July 11, 1944, through Friday, July 14, had been a mo- 34 Choosing Truman mentous time for Byrnes.

He thought that when the vice-president went to China he might take the "wrong people" with him-that is, people who believed China could teach democracy to the world. He had his daughter, Anna, check on passengers in the vice-president's plane. 40 On June 2, speaking with three of his assistants including Daniels, who was keeping a diary, the president showed how his mind was moving. "41 He went on to say he had thought the feeling against Wallace had been largely that of politicians but was beginning to believe it went down below.

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