Truman's Whistle-Stop Campaign

Overview

Faced with the likely loss of the 1948 presidential elections, Harry S. Truman decided to do what he did best: talk straight. When Truman boarded the train to head west in June 1948, he and his campaign advisors had decided on a rhetorical strategy that would get him a hearing with at least the Democratic base and perhaps with the larger electorate.

Shifting from prepared text to extemporaneous stump speeches, Truman developed an oratorical style marked by homespun humor, ...

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Overview

Faced with the likely loss of the 1948 presidential elections, Harry S. Truman decided to do what he did best: talk straight. When Truman boarded the train to head west in June 1948, he and his campaign advisors had decided on a rhetorical strategy that would get him a hearing with at least the Democratic base and perhaps with the larger electorate.

Shifting from prepared text to extemporaneous stump speeches, Truman developed an oratorical style marked by homespun humor, warmth, and populist appeals. The "new Truman" emerged as a feisty, engaged speaker, brimming with ideas on policies and programs important to the common citizen.

Steven R. Goldzwig engagingly chronicles the origins of Truman's "give 'em hell" image and the honing of his rhetorical delivery during his ostensibly nonpolitical train trip west, which came to be known as his "whistle-stop tour." He also covers the impact of the famous whistle-stops during the fall campaign. At the time, Truman was both applauded and criticized by the public, but his speeches delivered at each stop helped win him the presidency. Goldzwig's study offers the first full investigation of the impact of these campaign tactics on the election outcome and the first consideration of these speeches as a piece of collective rhetoric that can be studied as a whole. This detailed look at the background of the campaign, Truman's preparations and goals, the train trip itself, and the text and tone of the speeches helps us better understand how Truman carried the 1948 election and came to represent the plainspoken "man of the people" who comes from behind to win, against all odds.

About the Author:
Steven R. Goldzwig teaches in thedepartment of communication studies at Marquette University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781603440059
  • Publisher: Texas A&M University Press
  • Publication date: 3/24/2008
  • Series: Library of Presidential Rhetoric Series
  • Pages: 160
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.80 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author


STEVEN R. GOLDZWIG teaches in the department of communication studies at Marquette University. He has received numerous awards and is an associate editor for Communication Monographs. He lives in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin.
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Table of Contents

Text of Harry S. Truman's Rear-Platform Remarks in Decatur, Illinois, October 12, 1948 1

1 Setting the Political and Rhetorical Strategy, January-May 1948 5

2 The Western Tour, June 1948 20

3 The Democratic National Convention and the Special Session of Congress, July 1948 39

4 The Fall Campaign Begins, September 1948 50

5 The Fall Campaign Continues, October-November 1948 89

6 Why Truman Won: The Rhetorical Roots of a Homespun Victory 107

Notes 125

Selected Bibliography 141

Index 145

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