Harry Truman and Civil Rights: Moral Courage and Political Risks / Edition 3

Harry Truman and Civil Rights: Moral Courage and Political Risks / Edition 3

by Michael Gardner
     
 

Given his background, President Truman was an unlikely champion of civil rights. Where he grew up—the border state of Missouri—segregation was accepted and largely unquestioned. Both his maternal and paternal grandparents had owned slaves, and his mother, victimized by Yankee forces, railed against Abraham Lincoln for the remainder of her ninety-four

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Overview

Given his background, President Truman was an unlikely champion of civil rights. Where he grew up—the border state of Missouri—segregation was accepted and largely unquestioned. Both his maternal and paternal grandparents had owned slaves, and his mother, victimized by Yankee forces, railed against Abraham Lincoln for the remainder of her ninety-four years. When Truman assumed the presidency on April 12, 1945, Michael R. Gardner points out, Washington, DC, in many ways resembled Cape Town, South Africa, under apartheid rule circa 1985.

Truman’s background notwithstanding, Gardner shows that it was Harry Truman—not Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, or John F. Kennedy—who energized the modern civil rights movement, a movement that basically had stalled since Abraham Lincoln had freed the slaves. Gardner recounts Truman’s public and private actions regarding black Americans. He analyzes speeches, private conversations with colleagues, the executive orders that shattered federal segregation policies, and the appointments of like-minded civil rights activists to important positions. Among those appointments was the first black federal judge in the continental United States.

            

One of Gardner’s essential and provocative points is that the Frederick Moore Vinson Supreme Court—a court significantly shaped by Truman—provided the legal basis for the nationwide integration that Truman could not get through the Congress. Challenging the myth that the civil rights movement began with Brown v. Board of Education under Chief Justice Earl Warren, Gardner contends that the life-altering civil rights rulings by the Vinson Court provided the necessary legal framework for the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision.

Gardner characterizes Truman’s evolution from a man who grew up in a racist household into a president willing to put his political career at mortal risk by actively supporting the interests of black Americans.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780809325504
Publisher:
Southern Illinois University Press
Publication date:
10/28/2003
Edition description:
1st Edition
Pages:
296
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.63(h) x 1.10(d)

Table of Contents

Foreword
Foreword
List of Plates
Acknowledgments
Introduction1
Ch. 1The Historical Background for Truman's Civil Rights Crusade4
Ch. 2Truman's Committee on Civil Rights: December 5, 194614
Ch. 3Truman's Speech to the NAACP at the Lincoln Memorial: June 29, 194728
Ch. 4The Report of Truman's Committee on Civil Rights: October 29, 194743
Ch. 5Truman's State of the Union Address: January 7, 194865
Ch. 6Truman's Special Message to Congress on Civil Rights: February 2, 194871
Ch. 7The 1948 Democratic Party Convention and the Civil Rights Plank: July 14-15, 194887
Ch. 8The Turnip Day Congressional Session and Executive Orders 9980 and 9981: July 26, 1948105
Ch. 9The Great "Comeback" Campaign and Truman's Harlem Speech: October 29, 1948122
Ch. 10Civil Rights Progress Despite a Recalcitrant Congress: 1949-1952147
Ch. 11Truman and the Vinson Court163
Ch. 12Truman's Howard University Commencement Address: June 13, 1952198
Ch. 13Truman's Final Civil Rights Address in Harlem: October 11, 1952210
Ch. 14The Truman Civil Rights Legacy216
Epilogue225
Notes231
Bibliography249
Index269

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