*As I was about to leave the house in Independence for the Chicago Convention of the Democratic Party, the telephone rang. It was Jimmy Byrnes in Washington. He told me that President Roosevelt had decided on him for Vice president-that is the new nominee for Vice President at the Chicago Convention.
Wallace was not popular as Vice President either in the Senate or with the politicians who ran things in the Party Organization. So when Byrnes called and told me that the President had decided to have him as his running mate for the 4th term I just took it for granted that things were fixed.
Byrnes asked me to nominate him. I told him I'd be glad to do it if the President wanted him.
As I started for the car again to go to Chicago I was called back to the telephone. It was Alben Barkley, Majority Leader of the Senate. He asked me to nominate him for Vice President in the Convention. I told him that Byrnes had just called me and told me that the President had decided on him for the place and had asked me to nominate him and that I'd agreed to do it.
When I arrived in Chicago I had breakfast with Sidney Hillman who was a power in the labor section of the Convention. I asked him if he would support Byrnes. He said he would not-that there were only two men he would support. They were Wm. O. Douglas Justice of the Supreme Court and Harry S. Truman U.S. Senator from Missouri.
I told him that I was not a candidate and that I had agreed to nominate Byrnes because he told me the President wanted him.
Then I had a meeting with Phil Murray head of the C.I.O. and one with Whitney head of the Railroad Trainmen. Both told me exactly what Sidney Hillman had told me.
The next morning William Green, head of the A.F. of L. asked me to breakfast at the Parker House. He told me that the A.F. of L. did not like Wallace and that they had decided to support me. I told him my position with Byrnes and that I was not a candidate.
While we were talking Senators Tydings and George Radcliff came over to our table and asked me to come over to their table and shake hands with the Maryland Delegation to the convention. I went over thinking perhaps I could drum up some support for Byrnes.
Tydings introduced me as the Maryland Candidate for Vice President! I explained my situation and went back to finish my conversation with Mr. Green. I reported all these conversations to Byrnes just as they happened. He would tell me every time I'd report just to wait the President would straighten everybody out in plenty of time.
On Tuesday evening Bob Hannegan came to see me and told me that President Roosevelt wanted me to run with him on the ticket for Vice President. This astonished me greatly. Hannegan showed me a long hand note in the Presidents hand writing which said "Bob, its Truman. FDR"
It was written on a scratch pad from the President's desk.
I told Bob that I was not a candidate and that I was committed to Byrnes who had told me that the President was for him.
The President had written a letter in which he had said he would be satisfied with Wallace or Douglas and he had made a public statement in which he said if he were in the Convention as a delegate he would vote for Wallace.
Later when he came to Chicago on his way to San Diego, Calif. He had dictated another note to Hannegan and Ed Pauley in which he said he would be satisfied with either me or Douglas.
I reported all this to Byrnes and he still told me that the President wanted him.
On Thursday before the Vice President was to be nominated Hannegan called me and asked me to come over to the Blackstone Hotel to a meeting of the Democratic Leaders. I went. Ed Flynn N.Y., Mayor Kelly, Chicago, Mayor Haig, Jersey City, George Allen, Ed Pauley, Bob Hannegan and several others were there. They began to put pressure on me to allow my name to be presented to the Convention. I said no and kept saying it. Hannegan had put in a call to San Diego for the President. When the connection was made I set on one twin bed and Bob on the other. When the President used the phone he always talked in such a strong voice it was necessary to hold the phone away from your ear to keep from being deafened. I could hear both ends of the conversation.
Finally Roosevelt said, "Bob, have you got that fellow lined up yet?" Bob said "No, he is the contrariest Missouri mule I've ever dealt with." The President then said "Well, you tell him if he wants to break up the Democratic Party in the middle of a war that's his responsibility" and hang up went the phone.
To say I was stunned is put it mildly. I sat for a minute or two and then began walking around the room. All the people in the room were watching me and not saying a word.
Finally I said "Well, if that is the situation I'll have to say yes, but why the hell didn't he tell me in the first place."
Then we had difficulty finding someone to nominate me. I'd told all my friends that I was not a candidate and they were committed to someone else.
We finally persuade Sen. Bennett Clark to do it.
Mo. Delegation Action
Meeting at White House the week before the convention
When the Missouri Delegation to the Convention met, someone offered a resolution endorsing me for Vice President after I'd been elected Chairman of the Delegation. As chairman I ruled the resolution out of order as I was not a candidate.
About that time someone called me to the door to pass on the admission of some visitor and Sam Wear, Vice Chairman of the delegation put the motion and I was unanimously endorsed by the Missouri Delegation to the Democratic Convention of 1944 for the nomination as Vice President of the United States.
In trials gone by the Missourians at Democratic Conventions were always in a knockdown and drag out fight over what they'd do. That was so in 1896, 1912, 1920, 1924, 1928, 1932. But this time there was no fight over the chairman or the man they were for. I didn't understand it.
Sometime after my brake [sic] with Byrnes I learned that President Roosevelt had called a meeting at the White House of the political leaders in the Party to discuss the situation with regard to the nomination of a Vice President at the coming Democratic Convention.
Bob Hannegan, Ed Pauley Chairman & Treasurer of the National Democratic Committee, Frank Walker, Postmaster General, the President's son-in-law, Colonel Boetigger, George Allen, Ed Flynn and one or two others were there. Wallace, Douglas, Jim Byrnes and Truman were discussed. After some acrimonious debate the President told them that he thought Truman would be the best candidate. He gave Hannegan a note in long hand which said, "Bob, Truman is the man. F.D.R." He also told Frank Walker to inform Jimmy Byrnes of their action and his decision and to tell him he was out.
It is my opinion that Byrnes knew of this action when he called me in Independence. I knew nothing of the meeting until long afterwards.
All the Democratic Senators on my Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program had urged me at one time and another to come out for Vice President. I always refused and would ask the one to whom I was talking to name four former Vice Presidents who were not alive. Not one could do it. I also would tell them that I was perfectly happy in the Senate and that I wanted to stay there.
Some time after I became President one of the radio shows asked a $64.00 question which was to name the living Vice President. The person asked named all of them but me!
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