Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Ruml, Beardsely; Wyatt, Wilson W. (Wilson Watkins), 1905-; Dever, Paul A. (Paul Andrew), 1903-1958; Harriman, W. Averell (William Averell), 1891-1986; Kefauver, Estes, 1903-1963; Barkley, Alben William, 1877-1956; McKinney, Frank E. (Frank Edward), 1904-1
Political parties; Political leadership; Presidential campaign, 1952; Presidential candidates; Political conventions; Vice-Presidents

Unsent Draft Letter from President Harry S. Truman to Adlai Stevenson, ca. 1952. President's Secretary's Files - Longhand Notes.

Dear Governor:

I have come to the conclusion that you are embarrassed by having the President of the United States in your corner in this campaign.

Therefore I shall remain silent and stay in Washington until Nov. 4.

You understand that I had decided in 1949 that I would not be a candidate for this greatest office in the history of the world, again.

In January 1952 you came to the Blair House at my request and we discussed a successor to me in the White House.

You were coy and backward, advancing various reasons why you had to be the candidate for Governor of Illinois, your divorce, your belief that you did not have the qualifications etc.

Again a month later we had the same sort of a discussion.

When the time for the Democratic Convention approached I sent the Chairman of the Democratic Committee to see you. Frank McKinney was the ablest chairman the Democratic Committee had produced in my recollection. You stalled and gave him the same answer you had given me.

Then I called the Vice President to the White House along with Mr. McKinney and a number of other able national politicos and told him that we would support him for the nomination for President.

You of course know the rest of the story. Barkley became discouraged and withdrew. He was intending to leave Chicago a whipped man. I called Mr. McKinney and Barkley's farewell speech was the result.

On Friday morning you called me and told me that your friends-among them the Governor of Indiana, who is now running on the Republican ticket-wanted to nominate you. You wanted to know if I would be embarrassed by that procedure. I told you that I would be highly pleased.

That afternoon I boarded a plane and landed in Chicago in the middle of the afternoon. The Convention had recessed with no nomination. Kefauver had some 360 votes, you had 330 odd, and favorite sons had the balance.

I sent one of my aides to see Mr. Harriman, one to see Gov. Dever of Mass., one to see the Minnesota and the Michigan delegations with instructions to switch to you. Harriman and Gov. Dever switched, the amateurs didn't until later.

You were nominated and you made a grand acceptance speech.

Then you proceeded to break up the Democratic Committee, which I had spent years in organizing, you called in the former mayor of Louisville as your personal chairman and fired McKinney, the best chairman of the National Committee in my recollection.

Since the Convention you have treated the President as a liability. You brought in Beardsley Ruml as finance chairman, who is in the Wilson Wyatt class as an amateur. You had your Chicago lawyer made chairman of the National Committee. He is a fine man but has no political contacts and is completely ignored by both you and Wyatt.

I have tried to make it plain to you that I want you elected-in fact I want you to win this time more than I wanted to win in 1948.

But-I can't stand snub after snub by you and Mr. Wyatt.

When the President after much thought (from a political point of view, which may be beneath high level consideration) asks the Democratic Candidate to come to a strategy conference and is coldly turned down and referred to a crackpot, it seems to me that the Democratic Candidate is above associating with the lowly President of the United States.

I shall go the dedication of the Hungry Horse Dam in Montana, make a public power speech, get in a plane and come back to Washington and stay there.

You and Wilson can now run your campaign without interference or advice.


Harry S. Truman

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