Skip to main content

tv   The Presidency Heartland Presidents - Harry Truman Dwight Eisenhower  CSPAN  August 19, 2021 3:24pm-4:48pm EDT

3:24 pm
conversation by creating a documentary that answers the question, how does the federal government impact your life? your five to six-minute video will explore a federal policy or program that affects you or your community. c-span's student cam competition has $100,000 in total cash prizes, and you have a shot at a grand prize of $5,000. entries for the competition will begin to be received wednesday, september 8th. for competition rules, continues, and more information on how to get started, visit your website at student cam.org. >> harry truman and dwight eisenhower grew up within 180 miles of each other in america's heartland. election, on the presidency a look at these two-term presidents and one-time allies whose political roads diverged during the contention 1952 presidential campaign when ike declared his intention to be the
3:25 pm
republican standard bearer. their meeting at president kennedy's 1963 funeral provided a chance for reconciliation. the speakers are truman library supervisor archivist samuel rushay and deputy director timothy rives. the library co-hosted this event and the truman institute provided the video. >> harry s. truman was a president of the heartland. but what does it mean to say he was a president of the heartland? here i'm referring to his -- his midwestern values, hard work, patriotism, honesty, duty and integrity. now those values are not exclusively midwestern of course, but they do reflect harry truman's personality and character. we only have time to talk about the highlights of his life and career and i look forward to talking with tim about his
3:26 pm
connections with another president of the heartland, dwight eisenhower. so if we could move on to the next slide, please. this is a photograph of harry truman as a young boy. he's in the first grade at nolan school in independence. this picture was probably taken in around 1890. harry truman was born on may 8th, 1884 in the town of lamar, missouri, which is two hours south of kansas city. and at age six his parents moved to independence. his mother was interested in him attending public schools in independence, missouri. so this picture would have been taken probably very soon after his return or his move to independence. that is him in the front row on the far right. you see the little arrow indicating his location there in the picture.
3:27 pm
harry truman was an avid reader as a child in part because of his poor eye sight which prevented him from engaging in the kind of school yard games that a lot of his peers did. so he was fitted with eyeglasses as a young boy and that set him apart from some of his other fellow students. he read history and biography and was a life long learner. he also read the bible quite a bit. he wore eyeglasses and took piano lessons, but otherwise he was an average boy. he had two siblings, he had a brother and a sister. by all indications by his own accounts and his memoirs, he had a happy childhood. okay. go to the next slide, please, morgan. okay. this picture is taken of harry truman when he was probably about 14 years old. about the time that he had his first job at clinton's drug store in independence.
3:28 pm
where he swept the floor and cleaned bottles, and really learned what it was like to work as a young man. he was close to his cousins, the nolan sisters who lived across the street from what would become his future home in independence. at a young age he struck up a friendship with bess wallace, who was a long time native of independence, or life long native of independence. they met in sunday school when harry was in the second grade. they came from different backgrounds and that is kind of important. different economic backgrounds and bess was considered part of the local elite, she was an episcopalian with a long standing roots in independence harry truman himself was a
3:29 pm
baptist. bess's grandfather had been a prominent businessman. next slide, please. this is a picture of harry truman's graduating class in independence high school. harry truman is the fourth from the left in the back row. you see him wearing his glasses. he's got his hand on the shoulder of a man in front of him. bess wallace is in this picture. she's in the second row at the end on the far right. so second row, seated on the far right there. and also of interest in this picture is charlie ross. who is on the far left front row. ross would move on to become harry truman's press secretary during truman's presidency. truman's education was rigorous in high school. and he never did attend college, however. he had dreamt as a young man of becoming a military general and of going to west point.
3:30 pm
after graduation in 1901 he took odd jobs, though, including railroad timekeeper and a bank clerk. his college dreams were shattered when his father's financial fortunes took a downward turn and he had to leave independence for a town of grandview, missouri, which we'll say more about here in a moment. but again harry truman was a life-long learner and a really self-educated man. he drew lessons of history throughout his life and career and drew upon them in just real conversation and they helped guide his personal philosophy and his leadership style and decision-making. next slide, please. okay. this is a picture of the grandview farm. grandview is a town just south of kansas city. it is in the greater kansas city metro area, though. not far from independence. and it is here that truman is
3:31 pm
-- actually pictured here, he is on the right there. he assisted on his family's farm. as i mentioned, his father had some speculative businesses that went bust. and so truman was forced to move with his family to this farm that his grandmother owned and she's pictured there seated in the rocking chair. this is known as the young farm. that was his grandmother's name. truman engaged in numerous activities on the farm. driving horse-drawn plows, doing crop rotations, et cetera. corn and wheat were grown on the farm, as were various kinds of livestock. now, this is around 1906, okay. so harry truman has graduated from high school in 1901 and then he had a series of odd jobs between 1901 and 1906 when he is forced to move on to the farm. he told about his numerous activities in letters to his friend and on again/off again girlfriend bess wallace who had
3:32 pm
become bess wallace truman in the future. he talked about the rigors of farm life and how stressful it was and although he had a philosophical view of farming and knew its importance, of course. he kept the financial books as well and it is about this time he joined the masons which would become an important part of his life and his friendships. he stayed on the farm until 1917 when he enlisted in the national guard and left for -- left the farm for military service in france soon after. during world war i. work on the farm taught him that he could lead farm workers and taught him that he didn't want to be a farmer for the rest of his life. next slide, please. harry truman did not need to serve in world war i. he was 34 years old in 1917 so he was past the enlistment age but he was inspired by woodrow wilson's call to resist german
3:33 pm
aggression and he wanted to see the world beyond rural and kansas city area, in the city of kansas city. he wanted to see the wider world as well. he had an interest in the world by his reading primarily. and he had the opportunity to serve in combat during world war i. he had become the only president of the united states that would see combat during world war i. we could dedicate an entire talk to his service in world war i and unfortunately i don't have time to say too much, but he served in france in 1918, he saw action in the mountains, the sand ehill, sailient, the huge argon offensive and verdun. he commanded 194 men in artillery battery and it was here that he further learned that he could be a leader of men. he was firm, but fair, and by all accounts the men liked him and respected him.
3:34 pm
because he also showed an interest in them. he could be a disciplinarian but he also showed the interest in the men on a personal level and they appreciated that. in fact, they gave him a big silver loving cup as a token of appreciation after the war. truman really made important bonds during his military service and he later served as a colonel in field artillery reserve and really his military service was a real formidable event for him. next slide, please. he returns from the war in early 1919 when he's mustered out of military service and he marries his long-time sweetheart, bess wallace, on june 28, 1919. now, he had proposed to bess in 1911, but she turned him down, and then shortly before he left
3:35 pm
for france bess suggested that perhaps they should get married before he moved on to france, before he left for france, but he refused, saying he didn't want her to be married perhaps to a cripple as he put it or worse, to be a widow. he carried a picture of her in his pocket overseas during the war and in france and throughout the rest of his life he remained very faithful to his beloved bess. next slide, please. the two set up housekeeping at 219 delaware street which is now a national park service historic site that you can kind of go and visit, it's about five blocks south of the truman presidential library. and this house would become the permanent residence of harry and
3:36 pm
bess truman for the rest of their lives. bess' grandfather had built this home, actually. bess did not grow up in this house, though, she grew up just down the street at a house not far from this one, and i wish i had -- it's such an interesting story about her life, i wish i had more time to get into, but it was at this time that harry realized he had to find a business and something to make a livelihood with, and it's here that he established his haberdashery which was a men's clothing store in downtown kansas city with a business partner eddie jacobson, which we will say more about in a while. the business did not survive very long, though, it went bust, you know, as a result of an economic recession shortly after world war i. so harry truman then had to find another occupation which i will say more about here in a moment.
3:37 pm
this is the place where -- this house here is where their only child, harry and bess truman's only child margaret was born in 1924. this house really would remain bess truman's sanctuary as well as her home for the rest of her life despite their numerous travels to washington, d.c. throughout harry truman's political career, they would always carry this home in independence, missouri, as their permanent home. bess remained harry truman's steadfast wife and partner and adviser behind the scenes. never one to like the limelight, however. she preferred to be behind the scenes, but harry truman consulted her regularly for a variety of different reasons throughout his -- throughout his career. okay. next slide, please. this is a photo here of where harry truman conducted a lot of his business during the 1920s. after his haberdashery failed he turned to politics and that's an interesting story that i wish we
3:38 pm
had time to get into as well, but he won his first election in 1922 and he won election as judge of eastern jackson county, and that was considered not a judicial position, it was an administrative, akin to a county commissioner. and so he was defeated for reelection in 1924 and in 1926 he was elected as residing judge of the entire county, jackson county. four-year term, reelected in 1930. this was the building where he conducted business and visitors can still see the office there. this is not far, either, from the truman home, it's walking distance between the truman home and this building and not far from the truman presidential library as well. i realize this is kind of a dated photo here probably from
3:39 pm
the 1970s but i do like it, and it's important in the 1920s to say briefly that harry truman helped renovate this building which is a very old courthouse that predates truman's life of course. he won approval for a bond issue for $6.5 million to build 224 miles of paved highways in jackson county and additional funds for building a county hospital. he also raised money to renovate the courthouse pictured here and to build a new courthouse for jackson county in downtown kansas city. next slide, please. harry truman's political career would not end -- his political ambitions would not end in jackson county, of course. he was tapped to run for u.s. senate, again, a very interesting story that i wish we could get into here this evening, but he was elected in 1934 and as you see here the
3:40 pm
pattern, he's progressing to higher and higher offices. elected in 1934, his patron was a thomas prendergast the so-called boss of kansas city at a time when machine politics ruled a lot of large american cities and the prendergast machine saw a lot of value in running harry truman for senate, plus some of the other candidates they were looking for dropped out for various reasons, but harry truman was a man of high integrity and really struggled, though, as being part of this prendergast machine. he wrote long-hand notes, diary-like entries about the struggles he was having with the ethics of trying to work within the framework of the prendergast machine. by all accounts he was an honest man and he said, you know, i will leave this office, that is the senate, you know, poor in every way as i came in.
3:41 pm
he refused to profit from his office either as presiding judge of jackson county or as u.s. senator. he was elected in 1934, as i say, and then six years later he was reelected in 1940. he was popular with the senate colleagues and played important roles in the passage of bills that became the transportation act and the civil aeronautics act. he also stepped outside what you might expect a midwestern senator to say. he spoke about nazi aggression early during world war ii in the early 1940s and an important speech in chicago and he spoke about civil rights to an all-white audience in a town in missouri. those two speeches are very interesting in terms of truman stepping out of his comfort zone, so to speak, to challenge some of the great issues of the day. .next slide, please. truman's most important -- well,
3:42 pm
the thing he is most famous for as a u.s. senator was the so-called truman committee which was the senate special committee to investigate the national defense program, which may have saved taxpayers up to $11 billion. it also put harry truman on the cover of "time". so in 1944 harry truman was -- became a president. franklin roosevelt's vice president for running mate and this was very crucial because fdr was in declining health. the public wasn't aware of that, but democratic party insiders were well aware of fdr's declining health and they knew that whoever became vice president very likely would become president of the united states and the incumbent vice president, henry wallace, was unpalatable for various reasons. harry truman had positive traits, many positive traits,
3:43 pm
and it is important fewer negative ones than others. so he was elected with franklin roosevelt in the 1944 election and served 82 days as vice president until franklin roosevelt's sudden death on april 12, 1945. so with that i think i will turn it over to my colleague, tim. >> thank you, sam. here we have dwight d. eisenhower, 34th president of the united states and like hair yeah truman, very much a product of the american heartland. would have subscribed to a lot of the same values and embodied the same virtues. the men grew up within about 170, 180 miles of each other, had a lot of similar experiences. in fact, there was even a bit of overlap, eisenhower's oldest brother arthur at one time lived in the same boarding house as harry truman around 1900, i
3:44 pm
believe. even though the men did share a lot in common and there was a lot of mutual respect, there was not always a lot of mutual like for each other. we will discuss that in a little bit. which is kind of ironic, again, given so many similarities between the two men. next slide, please. we will go to ike's childhood and it always strikes me how similar this picture is to the picture of harry truman's grade school class, looks like it's about the same size and they put the students in the same pose. there you can see ike on the front row second from the left with the arrow pointing to him. i think it's actually pointing that arrow at the key, he's wearing a key on a string around his neck, so i guess he was sort of a latch key child, which doesn't make a whole lot of sense because he lived directly across the street from his boyhood home, probably 100 feet from his house. for whatever reason he is wearing a key around his neck. he was born october 14th, 1890,
3:45 pm
in dennyson, texas. ironic in the eisenhower story because he became so identified with kansas and with abilene. in fact, he was the only one of the # seven eisenhower boys who was born outside of the state of kansas. his father had suffered a business setback with a sundry dry goods store that he owned in hope, kansas, about 25 miles south of abilene. and out of maybe a sense of shame he went to texas in this self-imposed exile, worked as a wiper on a missouri-kansas-texas railroad in dennison. that's where ike was born in 1890. in 1892, a number of family members convinced him to move back to abilene and ike's father went to work in the bell springs creamery where he worked for many years. his original name was david dwight eisenhower, but david was
3:46 pm
for his father, the dwight was after a famous 19th century evangelist named dwight moody but they always called him dwight because they didn't want him to be called junior after his father. like ulysses s. grant when he went to west point his name officially changed, it was then when he reversed the order to dwight david eisenhower and became the name that's now so well-known. abilene was an interesting town, it was only about not even a generation removed from its wild cowtown past. abilene is the terminus of the chisolm trail, you had all that great history of the cattle drives up the trail to kansas, wild bill hickok had been the city marshall so you had gun fights and everything that goes along with a cow town. eisenhower absorbed and enjoyed that history. coincidentally 1890 the year he
3:47 pm
was born was also the year the american frontier was declared closed. you had eisenhower coming into the world at this transition in american history from this open frontier, moving into a more industrialized age. in fact, there's great sim tree in his life. he was born in the year the frontier was declared closed and died the year that america landed on the moon. so you can see this really broad range of history of eisenhower embodied and, in fact, with his creation of nasa helped create that. and the foundation also -- the foundation, rather -- i mean, the frontier gave ike a sense of limits. if most of the free land was gone, if natural resources were in danger of being exhausted, then there had to be limits set on expansion and on what we could expect out of the natural habitat. and for reasons that
3:48 pm
would take a while to get into, eisenhower's view of frontier and of these limited resources would actually lead him to expand social security to a certain degree, which does take some explanation so maybe we can get into that later. he was a good student, he really enjoyed ancient history, he enjoyed math, did well in school. next slide, please. you will see him a few years later, this is his high school -- his senior picture i guess we would call it today. ike graduated in 1909. should have graduated 1908, but when he was a freshman he had had an accident, scraped knee which became badly infected and, in fact, almost lost a leg and had to repeat his freshman year in high school. he had a brother edgar who is a little more than a year older who had dropped out of school and returned, so the brothers would end up graduating together in abilene high school in 1909.
3:49 pm
being high school graduates in 1909 actually put one into an american elite. only about 30% of americans graduated from high school at that time. it's roughly three times that now. but eisenhower, like harry truman, was always academically and educationally ambitious and wanted to get a good education. he was a very good athlete, played baseball and football at abilene high school. i think you will see the baseball team picture, that's ike on the back row, second from the right. it's always a little difficult to recognize eisenhower as a young man because he had such a full head of hair. of course, we don't think of ike in our imagination or memories as having a full head of hair. usually a center fielder, and a running back on the football team, and also organized the abilene high school athletic association which raised money for equipment and things like that that the student athletes needed. there was a prediction in his
3:50 pm
high school yearbook, for every graduate there was a prediction made by the editor. the editor predicted that his brother edgar would become president of the united states and that dwight would become a professor of history at yale university. so they were close, but not quite there. next slide, please. again, education, eisenhower really wanted a college education and he wanted to continue playing sports as well. the eisenhowers were a very modest family economically. some might say poor, but i would say that they were still within the middle class. they had this home now that we can see on our screens where they moved in 1898. it is now the center of our campus. still in its original location. i find it interesting that all three of the homes where ike lived as a boy are still standing. the first where he was born in
3:51 pm
1890 in dennison, texas, is still standing and it's a state park. there's another house in abilene. on southeast 2nd street where the family lived from 1892 to 1898 which is still standing and this structure built in 1887, like truman, there's a family section. this was owned by one of ike's uncles named abraham lincoln, eisenhower and sold the house to his parents in 1898. ike lived here from the time he was in about third grade until he left for west point in 1911. unlike harry truman who had dreamed of, you know, maybe being a general as a boy. eisenhower didn't really ever have he said later an idea of that growing up, but he really did want a college education, and his brother edgar did too, and so edgar started at the university of michigan. the idea was that ike would work
3:52 pm
for two years and support edgar, and edgar would drop out, ike would go for two years, and they would kind of leapfrog their way through college, and so to support edgar, eisenhower was working at the bell springs creamery where his father worked, basically as a boiler attendant for about 84 hours a week. it was, you know, every night from 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. now, during that time, he had renewed an acquaintanceship, his father was a physician in about abilene, he told ike if you want to get a college education, you should get a service academy appointment. ike dedicated himself to get an appointment at annapolis or west point, he didn't have a strong preference. he wanted a college education, and he wanted someone to pay for it, so while he's tending the boiler, he's also studying every
3:53 pm
night during those 12 hours. does well on the appointment, there's a competitive exam offered by senator joseph bristow, and then eisenhower secures an appointment. he was too old to go to annapolis. by this time, he was 20 years old, and he would not start college until he was almost 21. and that would have made him a year or two old for eligibility in annapolis. he ended up going to west point, which is fine with him. again, he wants that college education, and he wants to continue playing sports. he goes to west point in 1911 and indeed becomes a football star and in fact, started to gain a lot of national attention. plays in a game against the famous jim thorpe, carlisle school, he was on the verge of being a star when he suffers a really catastrophic knee injury in the game against tufts university, and that's basically the end of his athletic career,
3:54 pm
nothing he could fix at the time, and it was probably a torn acl or something along those lines that are fairly routine now, but it was enough to end his athletic career, and almost cost him his commission. and in fact, he could not join the cavalry because his knee could not take mounting and dismounting a horse, but he did make it through west point academically. he was kind of mid win, middle of the class, he had a high number of demerits, a lot of things, of course minor infractions but he accumulated an awful lot of him. his best scores were in english and mathematics. in fact, he created some solutions to math problems that school solutions. did not like history. did not like west point's memorization approach to history, and lost his boyhood love which was later rekindled by an officer that was
3:55 pm
influential in his life. negs -- next slide, please. ike went on to become such a famous pair. ike's just out of west point, he goes to fort sam houston, which is in san antonio, texas, which is still there and he meets mamie dowd, mamie came from a wealthy denver family. her father became a millionaire still in his 40s, thanks to the meat packing business in iowa, back in the 19th century when a millionaire meant something. it minced well for the time. they lived in denver but they would spend their winters in san antonio where it was a good deal warmer, and really the two met not long after ike's arrival in the fall of 1915. and by valentine's day 1916 were engaged and then married on july 1st, 1916. the war also affected their
3:56 pm
plans as they did harry and bess in that rather than waiting, the eisenhowers decided to speed up their plans, so they got married fairly soon, but of course it wasn't very good during marriage, and very successful partnership. next picture, please. of course there is that war, and as sam said, harry truman's the only present to have served in combat in world war i. combat is what dwight eisenhower wanted more than anything. he felt in order to make his mark as an officer, to advance his career, he had to get to france, and made so many requests to get to france that he was threatened disciplinary action. but instead, he was already -- he had been recognized for his great managerial and administrative abilities that he would become famous for. instead of going to france, he becomes the director of the national tank training center at
3:57 pm
camp colt, pennsylvania, which is buy gettysburg, and eisenhower was in charge of training almost all american tankers. at one time he had about 10,000 men under his command. he was one of three graduates from the class of 1915 to become a lieutenant colonel. it was a temporary promotion. you can see him in front of a tank, the type that were used. no idea who the guy is sticking his face out of the hatch there. there is a young dwightize tennessee hour. won very high marks, and also for his administration of public health during the spanish flew, influenza epidemic of that time which i think we can all relate to better now than we could a year or so ago. he was again bitterly disappointed at missing the chance for combat in france.
3:58 pm
eisenhower was always considered by his peers to be blessed with a lot of luck, and luck is something that many successful generals have been credited with having. in fact, napoleon's question of the general is always is he lucky, and for whatever reason, eisenhower had that gift. one of the boys from kansas, aaron flatner who had taken the west point or service academy qualifying test along with ike, but did not get an appointment went to france in the infantry and was killed. another boy who competed against ike, didn't get the appointment against west point, went to the air core, and was killed. several guys associated with ike and their efforts to go to west point and annapolis, he went into the regular army instead and lost their lives in world war i, and so who knows what eisenhower actually avoided by
3:59 pm
fate that he actually experienced. but that seems to be kind of a theme throughout his life, these fortuitous events, but probably because he missed that experience, next slide, please. he eagerly volunteered for the 1919 transcontinental motor convoy, which was a coast to coast demonstration of america's new mechanized army. and also a test of that capability to see how well these new largely, you know, mobile mechanized units could do. and also a test of how well america was prepared to defend itself by giving its army access to these roads. the answer was not very well. 58 days from washington, d.c. to san francisco, they averaged not
4:00 pm
quite 60 miles a day. and in some places across the country, the roads were virtually nonexistent. in many places, they had to build bridges to actually continue their journey. the big thing to come out of this is to put in eisenhower's mind the idea that he needed a good national grid of roads, and, you know, eventually you see the interstate highway system come out of this experience along with his experience later on the german autobond. this is what planted the first seed was the two-month crawl across the country from coast to coast with the transcontinental motor convoy, but it was a very formative experience in ike's life, and you can see the picture on the right, eisenhower is on the right of that picture. and i believe to his immediate left is one of the fire stones. there would usually be a reception in every city that they went to, and in this case,
4:01 pm
they actually stopped at the firestone headquarters which i believe were in ohio. if memory serves. again, a very important experience in ike's life. next slide, please. he returned, went to what was then camp mead, maryland, home of the tank corps, where he continued for a couple of years following the motor convoy. then he went to panama. in panama he was the executive director, executive officer, rather, of an infantry brigade under a general named fox connor in charge of military operations under john pershing during world war i. connor was a very influential mentor of ike. he put him on an extensive, professional reading program, rekindled ike's love of military history, and really groomed ike for advancement.
4:02 pm
he also prepared him to go to the army's commander general staff school at ft. leavenworth, which is a real watershed for career army officers and that is how you determine which direction your career would take. eisenhower graduates first in his class, that opens a lot of opportunities for him. he goes to washington, and under retired general john j. pershing is assigned to the american battle commission, in charge of all the cemeteries in europe following the war. also charged with putting out a guide book to the battle monuments, and the cemeteries. . eisenhower as i mentioned was a very good student, english student at west point, and was considered one of the best writers in the war department. pershing assigned him to finish writing a book that some others
4:03 pm
had started and then ike was given the opportunity to go to france for a year, do more research and rewrite that volume, which he did. so they spent 1928, 1929, ike and mamie and their son john, in france. and ike would spend his days, as you can see in his picture here, out touring the battlefields. and so he got to examine the entire western front that he had missed during world war i. so he was able to at least gain an appreciation of that ground and those battles from this experience that he had missed in 1917 and 1918. he returns, finishes up his guidebook, which you can still find copies of, surprisingly. he becomes assistant to the assistant secretary of war studying war mobilization, travels around the united states studying how ready industry would be to convert to a war-time footing if that should occur.
4:04 pm
works closely with congress and other political leaders. it's a really good education just in the ways of washington and the ways of the political bureaucracy. and as ike later said, it was his introduction to the military industrial complex that he would make so famous in his farewell address. he then becomes assistant to douglas macarthur who was the army chief of staff. then he follows macarthur to panama. macarthur is there really to form a philippine army, defense force, in preparation for the island's eventual independence. and there eisenhower is given the day-to-day work of building an army from scratch, again, invaluable experience. i know we need to get moving, so next slide, please. at the end of this career of really hard work and a lot of
4:05 pm
ambition, of course culminates in his appointment as the supreme commander of the allied expeditionary force. his supreme moment of june 6, 1944, the d-day invasion, which which i really think is the moment that, at that moment people knew that he was probably going to be president some day, just the respect that he had and the reputation for competence and leadership. you know, it was pretty obvious that this guy was someone to look out for politically. here is that iconic photograph of eisenhower with the men of the 101st airborne the night before the invasion. and he kept a copy of this picture on his desk the rest of his life, whether as president or as a private citizen. next slide, please. and he left this message the night before the invasion, taking personal responsibility if the invasion failed. this is an item we have in the eisenhower presidential library,
4:06 pm
and music, and i think it's our single most important item, not only the momentous historic occasion, but what it tells you about eisenhower's leadership and his sense of duty. if you can't read it, it just says our landings have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and i have withdrawn the troops. my decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. the troops, the air, and the navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. if any blame or fault attaches to the attempt, it is mine and mine alone. it is misdated july 5, we'll talk about that later. i think we better keep moving into the presidency at this point. >> okay. thank you, tim. okay. we're going to shift gears and talk about harry truman. and, you know, many of the things tim and i are talking
4:07 pm
about could themselves be separate talks. so i do apologize for glossing over some very important things that i'm hoping to at least hit some highlights. i mentioned harry truman becomes president suddenly on april 12, 1945. and few if any presidents have ever faced similar challenges that harry truman faced, particularly since he was very ill-prepared by franklin roosevelt. the two had only had two meetings during his 82-day vice presidency. and what was happening was the war against germany, that is, world war ii, against germany, was concluding, it would conclude in may, the following month. but the war against japan was still very much happening, ongoing. and so harry truman was faced with how to end the war against japan and dealing with the
4:08 pm
issues of post-war europe and asia after the war. and so he has a meeting here in july of 1945 with the big -- the so-called big three meeting. winston churchill, truman, joseph stalin. churchill of course the british leader and stalin the russian leader, the soviet leader, who were our allies during the war. and, you know, harry truman, some of his greatest successes had to do with the forming of a framework or a structure to conduct the cold war which would occur after the end of world war ii, that is a cold war conflict that would last for 40 years between the united states and the soviet union. although we're allies of the soviet union during world war ii, those relations would sour soon after the successful conclusion of the war. and truman helped establish that framework through the marshall plan, which was a huge aid package to europe, for european
4:09 pm
recovery after world war ii, the establishment of nato, the defense alliance with our european allies, the truman doctrine, which was more the ideological framework for containment, that is, how to deal with the soviet union, not through aggressive war but through containing their expansion. and of course, not the least, the establishment of the united nations to try to prevent war and to promote peace throughout the world. so in this photograph we have truman meeting with the big three. okay. next slide, please. one of the things that harry truman had to deal with, as i mentioned, was concluding the war against japan. and he had options available to him. he has approved, shortly after becoming president, the first part of the invasion of the japanese home islands. of course that ended up not being necessary, when he was
4:10 pm
briefed shortly after becoming president by the secretary of war, henry stimson, about the progress of the manhattan project, which would develop the atomic bomb. harry truman, as was his leadership style, would gather as much information as he could from experts and rely on their experts, their expertise, with very little ego associated with it. he was willing to have people in the room that he knew were experts and smarter than him in their various areas. but in the end, the buck stopped with harry truman, you know, "the buck stops here," the famous sign. he always knew that he was the one who made the decisions. so for harry truman, the decision to use the atomic bomb, or authorize its use, was a simple one. you know, as an ex-artillery officer, he saw that the bomb, probably without complete understanding
4:11 pm
of it, as a weapon to end the war and save american lives and that was his goal, that he successfully accomplished. and we still, you know, over the years have gotten thank-yous from veterans and their families for truman's use of the bomb to end the war and save the lives of american receives servicemen who would have been lost in the event of invasion. the atomic bomb was successfully tested in july of 1945. and, you know, it was used in august, august twice, actually, against hiroshima and nagasaki on august 6 and 9 respectively, and it brought the war to a successful conclusion. again, we could talk a lot more about these issues. but no evidence has ever -- there is no evidence truman ever agonized about this matter, which remains of course a controversial one, though. next slide, please. one of the most important things
4:12 pm
harry truman accomplished as president in addition to ending the war against japan was extending recognition to the new state of israel in 1948. and for harry truman, this was a moral, humanitarian, and yes, a political issue. he was keenly aware of the suffering of the jewish people and other displaced persons during and after world war ii. and of real importance here was eddie jacobson who is photographed here with truman on the left, who personally intervened with harry truman on this issue. truman showed really strong leadership here. many of his own advisers opposed recognition of israel for geopolitical and economic reasons. but jacobson personally interceded with truman to see what would become the future president of israel, chaim waitzmann.
4:13 pm
and that conversation was a very pivotal one. trueman's own advisers, most notably george marshall opposed this decision. the fear among his advisers was it would cut off oil supplies because of a possible arab embargo if we were to recognize israel and it would increase the leverage or power of the soviet union in the middle east. and these are some powerful voices. but again, harry truman was willing to listen and in the end made his own decision. next slide, please. >> a lot of people have asked me. >> all right. i think we'll probably go ahead and skip the video there in the entes interest of time. so one of the things that harry truman had to deal with as well, in a very eventful eight-year presidency, was the invasion of south korea by north korea in june of 1950.
4:14 pm
and the real takeaway here was that harry truman in his own reading of history, in his own experience, knew that aggression had to be met with force if necessary. and so harry truman authorized the use of american military forces under the leadership of the united nations. and that's a very important thing, and the leadership of general dwight -- sorry, douglas macarthur, to lead those united nations forces in june of 1950. truman made a quick decision. he heard the advice of his advisers on this. but in the end, he wanted to preserve south korean independence, which is what he did. he helped avert world war iii as well. douglas macarthur had a difference of opinion on how to conduct the war, and in truth, truman ended up firing douglas macarthur in the spring,
4:15 pm
ensuring primacy of civilian control in the military. and this was also the first successful stress test, to put it lightly, for the united nations, which is a fledgling organization established in 1945, and something very important, near and dear to harry truman's heart. next slide, please. in the domestic realm, harry truman did a lot for the issue of civil rights. he had been appalled by the treatment and abuse of african-american veterans following world war ii. this was a remarkable thing, with truman's own past, both his grandparents had been slave holders in missouri. and truman was known in some of his early letters to bess to use racist language. so that context is important when you think about what truman was able to accomplish in the area of civil rights. he established the civil rights commission, which is pictured here.
4:16 pm
for him, civil rights was a moral issue. he believed that america should treat all of its citizens equitably, especially during the cold war, so that the american form of government could be an attractive model for the world. next slide, please. truman became the first president to speak before the naacp. this speech took place in washington, d.c. in 1947. and you can read there what he said during that speech. very, very important. and this would come at a time of great political risk to truman himself, by his own democratic party, which in the south, anyway, was -- well, the democratic party was very powerful in the south at that time, and they were very conservative southern democrats, particularly in the senate,
4:17 pm
which opposed truman's civil rights platform, which would result in a split in his own party, a three-way split during the 1948 election. next slide, please. one of the most pivotal documents in our collection of the truman library is this executive order here, which is the executive order 9981 which established a committee on the equality of treatment and opportunity in the armed forces or in short, resulted in the eventual desegregation of the armed forces. he also issued another order desegregating the civil service. truman used executive orders because he couldn't get even basic bills through congress on civil rights. he was unable to get an anti-lynching bill passed or legislation to abolish the poll tax. that showed you the context he's working in here.
4:18 pm
we talk about some of the weaknesses or failures or challenges of the truman presidency. we'll move on to the next slide, please. that's in the area of korea. and again, these are big issues that we don't have time to get into here. but in late 1950, truman authorized the use of the united nations forces to push north korean forces back across the 38th parallel, back into north korea. in other words, not only did he push north korean forces out of south korea, he authorized the use of those same forces to pursue the north koreans across the border, try to unify the country, remove the north korean government of kim il song. however, what happened is that the push went too far to the border with china, which is north korea's northern border and that resulted in a massive invasion by chinese forces in
4:19 pm
support of north korea, the north korean allies. and so this resulted in a protracted stalemate of the korean war that tim i'm sure will say more about here. but it really cost truman politically, and the democratic party, in the 1952 election. korea, in addition to its very positive legacy, had also a negative legacy, limited, undeclared wars, which did not result in a third world war but did exact a very high price in civilian populations in south cree korea and later vietnam, and american soldiers killed during those conflicts. in north korea there was no peace treaty, even to this day. next slide, please. what we have here is another more negative aspect of the truman presidency. despite all the glowing things that truman accomplished for the world and the country, the
4:20 pm
loyalty board was not one of them. even prior to joseph mccarthy making accusations of communists in government, just three years prior, harry truman had issued an executive order that would create a loyalty board that has a lot of aspects to it. basically it was truman's effort to try to preempt more stringent efforts by the republicans to try to root out communists. so even before mccarthy's charges, harry truman was dealing with the communists in government issue. it was an issue that he really didn't think there was a severe threat to the u.s. government by communists within the government. but he did establish a loyalty board. and part of the problem here is
4:21 pm
that truman distrusted the fbi which was involved in this loyal di, -- loyalty, implementing the loyalty program. and truman disliked its director, j. edgar hoover. charges could be based only on unfounded accusations and there were a number of employees who lost their jobs, some of them, you know, for legitimate reasons, but others because they were just rooted out, unfairly rooted out. standards of procedural safeguards and standards of evidence were lacking. so i think we'll move on here. i'll pass it on to you, tim. >> okay. just a little quick background, eisenhower, following world war ii, became the army chief of staff. he eventually retires from the army and becomes the president of columbia university. during that time, he's called back to serve sort of part-time in washington, since they're combining some of the military services, and eisenhower becomes
4:22 pm
the first sort of informal chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. then also while he's still at columbia, president truman taps ike to become the first supreme allied commander of nato in december of 1950. and then in early 1951, eisenhower goes to france, i believe he was still in france at the time, to take up that position. and in many ways, i mean, his running for president was to protect the internationalist organizations that harry truman supported. the republican party at that time was deeply divided between eastern moderates who believed in internationalism, they believed in the united nations, they believed in nato, they believed in a european defense community, as opposed to the more america first, old guard
4:23 pm
conservatives, as they were often described, led by senator robert taft. eisenhower had for a number of years been declining invitations to run for president as both a democrat and a republican. we know from both men's diaries, dwight eisenhower's and harry truman's, that harry truman brought eisenhower to the white house and offered to run as his vice president if ike wanted to run for president as a democrat. ike was a republican. he -- and largely because he believed the democrats had been in power for too long in washington, 20 years in the white house, that there had been too much centralization of power and too much deficit spending. those were his main reasons for identifying as a republican. but it was as a fairly liberal to moderate republican dedicated to internationalism. had robert taft -- in fact there was a meeting between the two men.
4:24 pm
eisenhower said, if you'll agree to support nato and the united nations, european defense community, i will publicize this letter i'm holding saying that i am not a candidate for president in 1952. taft would not agree to that statement. taft would continue to oppose those organizations. and so eisenhower decided to run largely for those reasons, against taft. and then given his popularity, just in general, was able then to easily win the election once he had won the republican nomination, which took a little more work. but at any rate, to get quickly into this slide, when we're talking about the greatest things, accomplishments or failures, i like to use his words. he thought in terms of foreign policy, the end of the korean
4:25 pm
war was the first one. as sam said, the word "stalemate" had become a big problem for president truman. eisenhower, during the campaign of october of 1952, in speech in detroit, pledged, if elected i will go to korea. and just the image of the successful military leader saying he was going to look at the situation inspired a lot of confidence, in fact it gave him an immediate 5% bump in the polls. president truman kind of sneered and then asked ike after the election if he still wanted to go to korea, or was it an empty campaign pledge. but ike did, he visited korea in december of '52, got the lay of the land, and decided it wasn't worth continuing, came back and by july 27, 1953, there was an armistice or at least a cease-fire, technically. it also had to do with the fact
4:26 pm
that joseph stalin had died in march of '53 which made it easier, made it possible for that to take place. also ike would point to what he described as the prevention of communistic efforts to dominate iran, guatemala, lebanon, formosa, which is taiwan. we'll see some of the means he used would come back to haunt us. for example, overthrowing the regime in iran by covert means. next slide, please. in fact, these images you see on the screen, they're from the same page in his diary. and up until may of 2010, if you had asked to see eisenhower's diary from october 8th of 1953, you would have been given that page on the left, which is mostly, as you can see, redacted. if you look on the right, you can see eisenhower talking about recent developments in iran
4:27 pm
which were accomplished thanks to the cia, in which he says reads like a dime novel, basically admits that we by force overthrew the government of iran by covert means. it was not a very well-kept secret. technically this part of his diary remained classified until about the last ten years, which is quite a while after eisenhower's presidency. but again, you can see how relations with iran have still been troubled by this action that he took. but he believed it was worth it, given the stakes of the cold war. next slide, please. in terms of foreign policy failure, eisenhower said i admit to little progress in global disarmament, i'm reducing the bitterness of the east/west struggle. there were certainly attempts to improve relations with the soviet union. one of the last was undermined by eisenhower's own decision. there was to be a summit in
4:28 pm
paris in may of 1960. unfortunately, shortly beforehand, he gave a green light to one of the last missions of the u-2 spy plane which flew over russia and was shot down. he was perturbed that francis gary powers, the pilot, did not use the kill pill he was given to take his own life and was captured by the soviets and the cat was out of the bag at that point. what you see on the screen is the first cover story that was put out. the united states knew that the u-2 disappeared but they said it was on a mission collecting weather data. which was kind of a likely story for the cover of a spy operation. but eisenhower decided very quickly that it was useless to try to keep up the pretence and that we had simply been caught, which then undermined yet another peace conference with the soviet union. and as you can see, it troubled eisenhower. these words are from his memoir, that he did consider that his greatest foreign policy failure. next slide, please.
4:29 pm
in terms of accomplishments, domestic accomplishments, in 1966, at a time when eisenhower felt that he was under a lot of criticism largely thanks to two best-selling books, one by arthur schlesinger jr. called "a thousand days" about the presidency of john f. kennedy and another book about president kennedy by ted sorenson just called "kennedy," he thought it put his administration in a really poor light. so he put out a memo to his friends. he said, i just dashed these things off the top of my head. but it's this really kind of detailed memo. we often at work refer to it as ike's top ten. he actually lists 23 things. i just have some of them here on the screen for your consideration. of course he added two states to
4:30 pm
the union were added during ike's presidency. the st. lawrence sea way was built. significantly, the first civil rights bill in 80 years, one in 1957, one in 1960, dealing largely with voting rights, were passed. the most ambitious road program by any nation in all history of course is our interstate highway system. eisenhower did not completely reject the new deal. in fact he really accommodated much of fdr's new deal and harry truman's fair deal. the interstate highway system cost more than all of the new deal social programs and work programs combined. so it was a massive public expenditure. and of course something that many of us experience almost daily in our commutes. he notes, as you can see, the initiation of the space program, which was nasa, began under president eisenhower. next slide, please. just to kind of finish this one off. desegregation of washington,
4:31 pm
d.c. of the armed forces. the defense education bill which occurred in the wake of the sputnik, the soviet union sputnik satellite which really put a scare into americans in terms of our technological capabilities and the defense education bill was one of our responses to it. the use of federal power to enforce equality in little rock, arkansas. which we will discuss, but on and on. eisenhower saw these as accomplishments that were being overlooked, in sort of what he felt was this adulation of john f. kennedy's administration. next slide, please. in terms of what you might say were ike's failures, sam alluded to senator joseph mccarthy's anticommunist crusade and hearings. eisenhower was very anti-mccarthy and worked behind the scenes, which he preferred
4:32 pm
to do, in combating mccarthy, but did not confront mccarthy. still in debate and there are still books published in the last few months of eisenhower's dealings with joe mccarthy and whether he took the right tack or not. so that's one that's not going away anytime soon. he admittedly did not convert the republican party to what he called his middle way governing philosophy. and he did not provide moral, rhetorical support in terms of civil rights, as a civil rights leader. he was a little tepid. for example, after the brown versus board supreme court case, he didn't say this was a just decision, way overdue. he just said the supreme court has spoken and i am sworn to uphold the law, which looked like that he almost disagreed with the court, but he would kind of, you know, accept it and move on.
4:33 pm
and something else that's come up that i have more awareness of, sam and i first did this program more than ten years ago. and so a lot of these slides were put together at that time. and one of course thing that many of us had more awareness of is the history of gay civil rights. as truman had his loyalty review board, eisenhower banned gays in federal employment in the mid-1950s, largely for security reasons too. and so you're starting to see more criticism of ike for that action as well. but it's all within the same context of security and the cold war with the soviet union, which is not to excuse it but something that can clearly be seen as a knock on his leadership. next slide, please. we all know what harry truman's saying was, i think everyone knows "the buck stops here." eisenhower had a saying too, you can see it here in latin.
4:34 pm
i'm sure my pronunciation is incorrect. suaviter in modo, fortite in re, which is basically gently in manner, strong in deed. and you can hear sort of echoes of teddy roosevelt in there, too, speak softly and carry a big stik. what ike was talking about is it's not so much your words or flashier or fancy words but it's what you accomplish that matters. he's kind of putting himself in comparison, when he would talk about this later, with john f. kennedy, who he viewed as being perhaps more sizzle than steak in his estimation. eisenhower did not really trust even someone like senator mccarthy -- not senator mccarthy. general macarthur, whose so strong on rhetoric and his ego, which eisenhower really found distasteful.
4:35 pm
it's just kind of a personality difference between the two men, but i think it's eisenhower's view and preference as expressed as well in this motto, which was on a plaque that sat on his desk in the white house. next slide, please. civil rights is, despite what was done in terms of banning gays in federal employment, here is just a -- in terms of revision in eisenhower's scholarship. here is just a number of bullet points, you can see things that he was able to accomplish in terms of not just banning discrimination in firms receiving federal contracts, completing the desegregation of the armed forces that began under president truman, rebuilding the federal judiciary with integrationist judges, signing two civil rights bills, establishing the civil rights division within the doj and
4:36 pm
civil rights commission, sending federal troops to little rock, appointing a fellow named frederick morrow, first african-american executive in the white house and even the first african-american secretary and also the first african-american at a cabinet meeting. so eisenhower did take steps, much like harry truman, about as much as he could have done in the era and in the context. but again, it's another part of his presidency that's still getting a lot of attention from scholars. next slide, please. i think it's back to sam. >> great. thank you, tim. i think in the interests of time, because i know we want to take some questions, we'll go quickly through these next few slides that show some photographs from the truman library's collection of harry truman with dwight eisenhower. this picture here is taken at the potsdam conference. that's omar bradley in the car as well. here is harry truman in 1948,
4:37 pm
awarding general eisenhower the third oak leaf cluster and there was extensive correspondence between the two men in the truman papers during the truman presidency. unfortunately, that would end as a result of the 1952 campaign which was a contentious one, and this is a meeting that took place between the two men shortly after eisenhower left the presidency in 1952. you can see by the expression there that it's rather tense for various reasons. truman was quick to congratulate eisenhower upon his victory in 1952. truman decided not to run for president by the way in 1952. and it was adelaide stevenson who decided to run. eisenhower did visit the truman library in 1961 after eisenhower
4:38 pm
left office, and eisenhower wanted to see the layout of our building in independence, missouri, so truman himself gave eisenhower a tour. the real reconciliation between the two men, though, occurred as a result of the tragic events in november 1963, the john f. kennedy funeral which brought the two men together for a long conversation. so even though they would not become friends, tim would agree with that, they mended the fences enough to be amicable, and they met on several occasions at various funerals. sad occasions, but it did bring the two men together. and then the next slide, please. and i think that quote probably says a lot there. and can we go to the next one, please? if you don't mind, maybe we can just conclude with this survey, which was the latest presidential survey. >> yeah, i think -- i'm sorry,
4:39 pm
sam. >> no, go ahead. >> it's just so interesting, of course, when president truman left office, he had an extremely low approval rating. when eisenhower left office about a year after ike left office, schlesinger did a big poll of "the new york times" of ranking the presidents and drawing upon the expertise of his colleagues, and eisenhower ranked 22nd out of 34 presidents, down around chester arthur, i believe. which really incensed ike in his inner circle. one thing it did lead to is trying to get the papers in abilene available to scholars as quickly as possible so they could tell their side of the story. and i think with both, you know, the availability of the records in abilene and in independence that both men's reputations have risen in direct correlation to the release of those papers and for scholars to get a first-hand look at what was really going on.
4:40 pm
and now both men are into really the near great category. in fact, about as high as you can get without being in the real upper stratosphere of the american presidency. and so they both really rose fairly rapidly in reputation since the time they left office. and, again, so much in part to the archival record, but also to the advantage that hindsight gives us, and probably in comparison to some other successors is they look pretty good, too. but it has been a remarkable rise for both men. and can you really rank people as precisely? no. and there's always still some subjectivity associated with these polls. but you can see in the estimation of professional historians and political scientists, both men are in really good company at this
4:41 pm
time. but there will be further revisions. some presidents' stock goes really down. woodrow wilson used to be ranked among the top presidents. but wilson's record on race and single-handedly segregating washington, d.c. and the federal bureaucracy has really made him drop in the eyes of many students now. and that will happen with things that decisions of both ike and president truman made will probably affect how they're seen in the future by historians too. both men have had remarkable posthumous presidential careers, at least among scholars. >> yes. i wholeheartedly agree with that tim. and so i think we'll turn it back to you, morgan. >> okay. excellent. thank you, sam and tim, for a wonderful presentation. if you have a question and haven't added it to the q&a feature at the bottom of your screen, please go ahead and do so now.
4:42 pm
you can also like a question that's already been submitted that you would like to see answered. and we'll take a few of these here. so the first we have is for tim. it's from zachary and asks, is there a book you came across that deals with eisenhower's views on the frontier of limited, or is that drawn from your own observation? >> it's not in any book yet. there are a number of letters in which ike spells that out for a friend of his. there's an article i did that appeared in prologue magazine in 2015, which you can probably find online. but no one's really expanded on that in a book yet, which i've always found that such an interesting time, eisenhower's view on the frontier, and how that affected his ideas on economics and any number of things, and on policy.
4:43 pm
if there were a way, i'd be happy to make copies of those documents available to you, so if you'd just like to contact the library, we can do that. but he did talk about it quite a bit. and he explains it really well. >> excellent. our next question is from pam. and pam asks, what was eisenhower's most defining moment that he designated in his life outside of d-day? >> well, he was often asked what his greatest accomplishments were. and he would usually say the defeat of nazi germany 11 months after invading the continent of europe and eight years of peace and prosperity as president. those were his stock answers. but at age 77, eisenhower was a very avid golfer. and in retirement in palm springs, california, he shot a hole in one at age 77 and he called that his greatest achievement. so i guess that puts it all in context.
4:44 pm
but generally the defeat of hitler and then the eight years of peace and prosperity is what he considered his crowning moments. i guess he had two. >> okay. i think i'll take this last question in here. it's a little bit longer one, but i think it should be fun. there's a question from richard that says both hst and dde are ranked in the top ten presidents. could you each argue why the other should be ranked ahead of your guy? so tim you have to argue for harry, and sam, you would have to argue for ike. we'll end after this one. >> okay. do you want to take a stab at that one, tim, first? >> yeah, i was hoping you would. you know, i think that in many ways he might admit, have to admit, grudgingly, that truman devised some policies that he
4:45 pm
agreed with that he followed, particularly in foreign policy in containment. when eisenhower became president, he formed this committee and had a code name of project solarium. they had teams that debated different foreign policy approaches and one was containment, and one was liberation and one was like nazi retaliation. they basically came out with a containment-like foreign policy that was clearly based on truman's models. also in other ways eisenhower followed democrat policies like in the new deal which he accommodated. and another way i think he found their ideas useful, perhaps in need of some modification or better administration, but they weren't, that there side wasn't completely without merit. >> sure. and i would argue that eisenhower was a very unifying figure. yes, he did face divisions within his own party, but he was
4:46 pm
able to really unify the american people in a very unique way. i think if he could have been re-elected in 1960, he probably would've been elected for a third term had the constitution permitted it. but also i think his consolidation of the new deal fair deal policies, as you mentioned, deserve a lot of credit there, make them more palatable to republicans and having eisenhower as president with his stamp of approval, so to speak, helped really make them acceptable, and not to mention the cold war framework that he strengthened as well. and i think eisenhower deserves great credit for at least bringing some maybe not ideal ending to the war in korea but one that averted a third world war. that's a good interesting question, richard.
4:47 pm
thank you for that. >> it really is. next, on the presidency, dwight d. eisenhower presidential library and museum director dawn hammatt takes us on a virtual tour of the facility in abilene, kansas. the museum showcases the legacy of the nation's 34th president. ms. hammatt answers questions from viewers, and direcr,

23 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on