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A Word from Harry | August 31, 2014

A Word from Harry


Senator Truman Accepts the Democratic Party’s VP Nomination

Seventy years ago this summer, a world-altering decision was made in Chicago, Illinois. The Democratic Party nominated U.S. Senator Harry Truman – not Vice President Henry Wallace – to be FDRs running mate in the 1944 election. On August 31, Truman gave his formal acceptance speech in his birthplace, Lamar, Missouri. Here’s a bit of what he had to say.

MR. CHAIRMAN, members of the notification committee and fellow citizens:

I am deeply honored to have been named as the Democratic party’s candidate for the Vice-Presidency and accept with humility and a prayer for guidance that I may perform honorably and well whatever tasks are laid before me.

We have long been engaged in a desperate struggle to preserve our liberties and to safeguard the American way of life. Many of our brave citizens have given their lives to win for us the certainty of victory, now assured. Our courageous, well trained and completely equipped soldiers and sailors are beating down the enemy wherever he can be found. Their unequaled valor under the greatest leadership ever given a fighting force guarantees this victory.

[However], the firing of the last shot on the battlefield marks but a beginning. War has taught us that, whether we like it or not, we cannot build a wall of isolation around the United States. Our very existence depends upon the establishment and maintenance of a sound and just peace throughout the world.

If you ask the historian why we failed to bring about a lasting peace after World War I, he will answer: “A partisan struggle for political power.” Let us remember the warning of Woodrow Wilson. “Partisan politics,” he said, “has no place in the subject we are now obliged to discuss and decide.” His wisdom has been proved by the test of time.

Winning the war and concluding the peace are only part of the task facing us during the next four years. We must also reestablish our own domestic economy.

If we devote the same ingenuity to production for peace in America that we have given to the making of engines of destruction, our future will be secure.

We cannot go back, as we tried to do in 1920. We cannot stand still. We must go forward.

The welfare of this nation and its future, as well as the peace of the whole world depends upon [it].

Excerpts from Senator Truman’s vice-presidential acceptance speech, broadcast from Lamar, Missouri, August 31, 1944