THIS DAY IN HISTORY
On November 5, 1948, a newly-elected President Truman and Vice President Barkley arrived back in Washington D.C. Hundreds of thousands of Americans lined D.C.’s streets, cheering for the president and singing “I’m Just Wild About Harry.”
The road back to the White House went right by the Washington Post offices. Post reporters and editors, who had endorsed the Republican ticket, hung a sign outside their Pennsylvania Avenue offices reading “Welcome Home from the crow eaters.”
The Washington Post‘s attempts to make amends with President Truman didn’t stop with the sign, however.
That same day, the Post sent a telegram to the president inviting him to enjoy a “crow banquet” with “newspaper editorial writers, political reports and editors, … along with radio pollsters, radio commentators and columnists” who incorrectly predicted that Dewey would defeat Truman.
While guests would be forced to eat “breast of tough old crow en glace,” the telegram indicated that the president would be served a different, more pleasing bird (turkey).
Like the menu, the dress for the event was vastly different for the president and those who underestimated him. President Truman was encouraged to dress in white tie, but political reporters, pollsters, and commentators were instructed to dress in “sack cloth.”
President Truman declined the Post‘s invitation. But, rather than poke fun at the reporters or hold a grudge, a gracious President Truman challenged the victors and the defeated of the 1948 election to work together for a better America.
“I received on the train your very handsome invitation to me to attend a ‘crow banquet.’ I know that we could all have a good time together, but I feel I must decline. As I said en route to Washington, I have no desire to crow over anybody or to see anybody eating crow, figuratively or otherwise. We should all get together now and make a country in which everybody can eat turkey whenever he pleases.”
President Truman even complimented his adversaries at the Post:
“Incidentally, I want to say that despite your editorial opposition to the Democratic ticket, your news coverage of my campaign was fair and comprehensive.”
Truman’s message to the Washington Post echoed remarks he gave to the crowd of thousands that had amassed in front of the White House when he arrived back at 1600 Pennsylvania around noon on November 5, 1948.
“THANK YOU very much. I can’t tell you how very much I appreciate this warm and cordial welcome of the Capital City of the greatest Nation on earth. It is overwhelming. It makes a man study and wonder whether he is worthy of the confidence, worthy of the responsibility which has been thrust upon him.
I will say this to you, that I expect to work just as hard as I have done for you up to date, and to do it to the best of my ability…
I shall look forward to the help and cooperation of all the people, because we are faced with great issues now, which I think we can bring to a successful conclusion. At least, we will do everything in our power to bring them to a successful conclusion.
I want to say now that I thank the turnout of the great many people here in this great Capital City… no turnout has been better than this one, or more enthusiastic.
I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”