Truman Supports Civil Rights

Truman Supports Civil Rights

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On June 29, 1947, as the first president to address the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Harry Truman pledges his support for upholding the civil rights of all Americans.

Truman Supports Civil Rights - HISTORY

The Truman presidency was characterized by an internationalist foreign policy, the Cold War, and domestic unrest.

Learning Objectives

Evaluate the key events of the Truman presidency

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • Democrat Vice-President Harry S. Truman became President in 1945 after President Franklin D. Roosevelt died in office. Shortly thereafter, Germany surrendered and the war in Europe ended.
  • Truman ordered the use of atomic bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima, a controversial decision that cost many Japanese civilian lives but quickly forced Japan’s surrender.
  • After World War II, the Truman administration faced domestic challenges as the country faced a rapid transition from a wartime to peacetime economy. Truman instituted a number of civil rights reforms during his administration, including the integration of the armed forces.
  • Truman pursued an internationalist foreign policy, consisting of support for the United Nations, the rebuilding of Europe under the Marshall Plan, and the creation of NATO to counteract the influence of the Soviet Union. He adopted a policy of containment to combat the spread of communism abroad.
  • In 1948, the Soviet Union began the Berlin Blockade, cutting off access to West Berlin to bring the city under full Soviet control. Truman, along with U.S. allies, successfully circumvented the blockade with the Berlin Airlift.
  • Truman committed U.S. troops to an undeclared war in Korea, which ended in a stalemate, cost many American lives, and caused a drastic dip in Truman’s popularity with the American people.

Key Terms

  • Truman Doctrine: Truman’s promise that the U.S. would provide political, military, and economic support to democratic nations facing threats from authoritarian forces.
  • Berlin Blockade: (June 24, 1948 – May 12, 1949) One of the first major conflicts of the Cold War, in which the Soviet Union attempted to consolidate power over the city of Berlin by cutting off access to West Berlin.
  • Berlin Airlift: Undertaken in response to the Berlin Blockade, a large-scale aerial operation by the U.S. and its allies, under Truman’s leadership, to bring supplies to West Berlin and break the Soviet blockade.
  • internationalist: A political principle that advocates a greater political or economic cooperation among nations and peoples.
  • containment: The central principle of U.S. foreign policy under Truman, which was to prevent the spread of communism overseas.

Harry S. Truman (May 8, 1884 – December 26, 1972) was the 33rd President of the United States (1945–53), an American politician of the Democratic Party. He served as a United States senator from Missouri (1935–45) and briefly as vice president (1945) before he succeeded to the presidency on April 12, 1945, upon the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt. He was president during the final months of World War II, making the decision to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Truman was elected in his own right in 1948. He presided over an uncertain domestic scene as America sought its path after the war and tensions with the Soviet Union increased, marking the start of the Cold War.

The Atomic Bomb and the End of World War II

Nazi Germany surrendered on Truman’s birthday (May 8) just a few weeks after he assumed the presidency, but the war with Imperial Japan raged on and was expected to last at least another year. After Japan refused surrender, Truman authorized the use of atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Japan quickly surrendered and World War II came to an end on September 2, 1945. Truman approved the use of atomic weapons to end the fighting and to spare the thousands of American lives that would inevitably be lost in the planned invasion of Japan and Japanese-held islands in the Pacific. This decision remains controversial to this day, though it is considered one of the principal factors that forced Japan’s immediate and unconditional surrender.

Atomic Bombing of Japan: To bring a quick end to World War II, the U.S. (under Truman’s direction) dropped two atomic bombs on Japan.

Internationalist Foreign Policy

Truman’s presidency was a turning point in foreign affairs as the U.S. engaged in an internationalist foreign policy and renounced isolationism. Truman helped found the United Nations in 1945, issued the Truman Doctrine in 1947 to contain Communism, and got the $13 billion Marshall Plan enacted to rebuild Western Europe. The Soviet Union, a wartime ally, became a peacetime enemy in the Cold War. Truman oversaw the Berlin Airlift of 1948, one of his greatest foreign policy successes, and the creation of NATO in 1949. He was unable to stop Communists from taking over China. When communist North Korea invaded South Korea in 1950, he sent in U.S. troops and gained UN approval for the Korean War. After initial successes in Korea, however, the UN forces were thrown back by Chinese intervention, and the conflict was stalemated throughout the final years of Truman’s presidency. As part of his U.S. Cold War strategy, Truman signed the National Security Act of 1947, which reorganized the military and created the CIA and the National Security Council.

On June 25, 1950, Kim Il-sung’s Korean People’s Army invaded South Korea, starting the Korean War. In the early weeks of the war, the North Koreans easily pushed back their southern counterparts. Truman called for a naval blockade of Korea, only to learn that due to budget cutbacks, the U.S. Navy could not enforce such a measure. Truman promptly urged the United Nations to intervene it did, authorizing troops under the UN flag led by U.S. General Douglas MacArthur. The war remained a frustrating stalemate for two years, with more than 30,000 Americans killed, until an armistice ended the fighting in 1953. In February 1952, Truman’s approval mark stood at 22% according to Gallup polls, which was, until George W. Bush in 2008, the all-time lowest approval mark for an active American president.

Domestic Issues

Domestic bills endorsed by Truman often faced opposition from a conservative Congress dominated by the Southern legislators, but his administration was able to successfully guide the American economy through post-war economic challenges. The president was faced with the reawakening of labor-management conflicts that had lain dormant during the war years, severe shortages in housing and consumer products, and widespread dissatisfaction with inflation, which at one point hit 6% in a single month. Added to this polarized environment was a wave of destabilizing strikes in major industries. Truman’s response was generally seen as ineffective.

As he readied for the 1948 election, Truman made clear his identity as a Democrat in the New Deal tradition, advocating national health insurance and the repeal of the Taft-Hartley Act. He broke with the New Deal by initiating an aggressive civil rights program, which he termed a moral priority, and in 1948 submitted the first comprehensive civil rights legislation and issued executive orders to start racial integration in the military and federal agencies. Taken together, it constituted a broad legislative agenda that came to be called the ” Fair Deal.” Truman’s proposals were not well received by Congress, even with renewed Democratic majorities after 1948. The Solid South rejected civil rights as those states still enforced segregation. Only one of the major Fair Deal bills, the Housing Act of 1949, was enacted. On the other hand, the major New Deal programs still in operation were not repealed, and many saw minor improvements and extensions.

Popular and scholarly assessments of Truman’s presidency initially were unfavorable but became more positive over time following his retirement from politics. Truman’s 1948 election upset to win a full term as president has often been invoked by later “underdog” presidential candidates.

Harry S. Truman: 33rd President of the United States, Harry S. Truman

Executive Order 9981: Equality in the military

President Harry S. Truman spent his entire young adulthood in Missouri, a border state during the Civil War. Both of his sets of grandparents owned slaves. Many voters and politicians believed that Truman would carry his region’s prejudices to the White House and would do comparatively little to advance the cause of civil rights. And so Truman’s decision to issue Executive Order 9981 to provide for equality of treatment and opportunity in the military surprised many people.

What led President Truman to this decision? As African American soldiers returned to the United States from fighting overseas in World War II, they hoped to return to a more equitable society. However, many soldiers experienced openly hostile reactions from white Southerners as they wore their uniforms in their hometowns.

Two such cases made national headlines. In Aiken, South Carolina, a bus driver kicked Sergeant Isaac Woodward off a bus for allegedly being disruptive, and a police officer beat him and gouged out his eyes, blinding him. In Monroe, Georgia, a group of white men dragged two soldiers and their wives from a car and shot them.

In September 1946, shortly after the Isaac Woodward incident, President Truman wrote to Attorney General Tom Clark, asking him to set up a Commission on Civil Rights that could devise recommendations for action. As Truman wrote to David Niles, one of his administrative assistants, “I am very much in earnest on this thing and I’d like very much to have you push it with everything you have.” Truman established the President’s Commission on Civil Rights by Executive Order on December 5, 1946.

In June of 1947, President Harry S. Truman spoke at the final conference session of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the first sitting President to do so. In his speech, he said

As Americans, we believe that every man should be free to live his life as he wishes. He should be limited only by his responsibility to his fellow countrymen. If this freedom is to be more than a dream, each man must be guaranteed equality of opportunity. The only limit to an American’s achievement should be his ability, his industry, and his character. These rewards for his effort should be determined only by those truly relevant qualities.

At the end of his speech, he quoted Abraham Lincoln. In a letter to his sister the day before, he stated that he knew his mother, a staunch Southerner, wouldn’t approve of his quote from Lincoln, and that he wished he didn’t have to make the speech. But this did not change his belief in what he said.

The Commission submitted its report on October 29, 1947, and, President Truman delivered his civil rights message to Congress on February 2, 1948. Truman wrote:

Unfortunately, there still are examples—flagrant example—of discrimination which are utterly contrary to our ideals. Not all groups of our population are free from the fear of violence. Not all groups are free to live and work where they please or to improve their conditions of life by their own efforts. Not all groups enjoy the full privileges of citizenship and participation in the government under which they live.

While the Civil Rights Commission, and Truman’s speech, dealt with a number of different ethnic groups and issues (such as statehood for Alaska and Hawaii, and compensation for Japanese-Americans interned in camps during World War II), the bulk of his program concerned issues important to African Americans—anit-lynching legislation, voting rights, and discrimination in interstate transportation (buses and trains). Congress refused to pass any of Truman’s civil rights proposals.

The specter of President Truman’s speech before the NAACP and his civil rights message hung over the Democratic National Convention. Most delegates from Southern states refused to support President Truman, and many left the convention after the inclusion of a civil rights plank in the party platform.

Shortly after the Democratic National Convention in July 1948, President Truman issued Executive Order 9981, calling for equality of treatment and opportunity in the armed forces of the United States, as well as Executive Order 9980, eliminating racial discrimination in the Federal bureaucracy.

Notice that the order does not have the word “desegregate” anywhere in it. While President Truman felt strongly that everyone should have an equal chance to advance in the military, or obtain a job with the Federal government, he did not agree with the concept of social equality. Desegregation implied a different set of ideas, ones that made Truman, fundamentally a Southerner, uncomfortable. Years later, during the sit-ins at lunch counters and other civil rights protests, former President Truman spoke out against the young people participating in that movement, implying they were inspired by Communists.

Many insist that Truman could and should have gone further than he did with civil rights. The Justice Department should have worked harder to prosecute potential civil rights cases. The Federal Housing Administration, in order to minimize loan risk, actively employed redlining and restrictive covenants to prevent African American incursions into white neighborhoods. Others maintain that Truman put forth his civil rights agenda for political purposes, in order to gain African American votes, or to improve our standing in developing nations and gain their support over the Soviet Union.

But in reading Truman’s personal writings and public speeches, it is clear that Truman made his decision out of an innate sense of right and a desire to see that the promise of the Declaration of Independence—the idea that all men are created equal—be carried out.

Many years later, General Colin Powell would credit Truman with the change. “The military was the only institution in all of America—because of Harry Truman—where a young black kid, now twenty-one years old, could dream the dream he dared not think about at age eleven. It was the one place where the only thing that counted was courage, where the color of your guts and the color of your blood was more important than the color of your skin.”

Cast your vote for Executive Order 9981 to be displayed first in the new “Records of Rights” gallery.

Civil Rights Revisionism

National Review&rsquos current cover story, by Kevin Williamson, claims to expose the &ldquooutright lie&rdquo that the two major parties &ldquoswitched roles&rdquo on civil rights for African-Americans during the 1960s. It is in fact a pretty audacious piece of revisionist history that combines an over-simplified &ldquorevelation&rdquo of pre-1960s Democratic hostility towards or indifference to civil rights (which no one, to my knowledge, has ever denied) with a twisted take on what both parties were doing in 1964&ndashall in the service of the strange, frantic conservative effort to project liberal charges of contemporary racism onto liberals themselves.

Jonathan Chait and (at Ten Miles Square) Jonathan Bernstein have already written extensive refutations of Williamson&rsquos abuse of the historical record. Bernstein notes that Williamson&rsquos generalizations about Democrats ignore the support for civil rights among non-southern Democrats that grew steadily from the New Deal (remember how much trouble Eleanor Roosevelt&rsquos outspokenness on the subject caused her husband?) and Fair Deal (remember the 1948 Convention when a civil rights plank touched off the Dixiecrat movement that nearly derailed Harry Truman&rsquos re-election?) on and eventually reached critical mass in the early 1960s. Chait provides this excellent summary of the &ldquomainstream&rdquo view of the subject and Williamson&rsquos unsuccesful revision:

The mainstream, and correct, history of the politics of civil rights is as follows. Southern white supremacy operated out of the Democratic Party beginning in the nineteenth century, but the party began attracting northern liberals, including African-Americans, into an ideologically cumbersome coalition. Over time the liberals prevailed, forcing the Democratic Party to support civil rights, and driving conservative (and especially southern) whites out, where they realigned with the Republican Party.

Williamson crafts a tale in which the Republican Party is and always has been the greatest friend the civil rights cause ever had. The Republican takeover of the white South had absolutely nothing to do with civil rights, the revisionist case proclaims, except insofar as white Southerners supported Republicans because they were more pro-civil rights.

It&rsquos this last argument by Williamson that I most want to comment on. Prior to 1964, southern white Republicans were a hardy minority built on the Mountain Republicanism of regions that had opposed the Confederacy and middle-class business-oriented city-dwellers. While neither faction was loudly racist, nor were they champions of civil rights, either. Not all Democrats were virulently racist, but the virulent racists were all Democrats. As V.O. Key demonstrated in his classic study, Southern Politics, the most race-sensitive white southerners, centered in the Black Belt regions of the Deep South, stuck with the White Man&rsquos Party even as other southerners defected to the GOP in 1920 (over Prohibition) and 1928 (over Prohibition and Al Smith&rsquos Catholicism). In 1948, these same racists heavily defected to the Dixiecrats in a protest against the national Party&rsquos growing commitment to civil rights. They mostly returned to the Democrats after that uprising, until 1964, when they voted almost universally for Barry Goldwater, purely and simply because Goldwater had opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Four years later most of them voted for the race-centered candidacy of George Wallace, and four years after that just about every one of them voted for Richard Nixon. These were not people attracted to the GOP, when they were, because it was &ldquopro-civil rights,&rdquo as Williamson asserts, or because they favored that party on any other issue. It was all about race, which is why, for example, the GOP percentage of the presidential vote veered insanely in Mississippi from 25% in 1960 to 87% in 1964 to 14% in 1968 to 78% in 1972.

Jimmy Carter (who was endorsed by Wallace and most other surviving Democratic ex-segregationists) got a lot of those voters back for the obvious reason of regional pride, and after that issues other than civil rights did matter in the region, though the racial polarization of the two parties was evident from the beginning in Mississippi and eventually spread elsewhere. But however you slice it, the idea that Barry Goldwater in 1964 was viewed by white southerners as anything other than the direct descendent of the Dixiecrats is just ridiculous. Sure, issues other than civil rights buttressed GOP strength in the region later on, but it would not have happened if the GOP had not also rapidly become the party most hostile towards or indifferent to civil rights. It&rsquos also worth mentioning that among the Republicans who were notably interested in civil rights in and after 1964, none of them were southerners.

And that leads me to the most preposterous thing about Williamson&rsquos essay: he&rsquos writing as a movement conservative for the flagship publication of movement conservatism. To the extent that Republicans before, during or after the 1960s fit the pro-civil rights profile he&rsquos trying to affix on the party as a whole, they were overwhelmingly not movement conservatives. Most of them, in fact, were the very &ldquoliberals&rdquo and &ldquomoderates&rdquo and &ldquoRINOs&rdquo movement conservatives have been trying to run out of the GOP, with great success, for decades.

It&rsquos likely, of course, that Williamson&rsquos definition of &ldquocivil rights&rdquo differs not only from mine but from that shared by most people who aren&rsquot &ldquomovement conservatives.&rdquo This is a man, after all, who think&rsquos it is obvious that LBJ and other Democrats were pursuing a consciously racist strategy of &ldquoenslaving&rdquo African-Americans by promoting the social programs associated with the Great Society. He may well think &ldquoliberating&rdquo black folks from the morally corrupting influence of Medicaid or food stamps or the ignominy of affirmative action is the true &ldquocivil rights agenda.&rdquo In that sense, his revisionist effort will succeed, because it makes sense to the people who are his audience, and who don&rsquot want to acknowedge that while most Republicans today may not be bigots, most bigots are certainly voting Republican, just as they voted Democratic prior to World War II. In that regard, there is zero question the two parties have &ldquoswitched roles&rdquo with a vengence.

In 2018, The Washington Post reported that, by 1930, the KKK, while its "membership remained semi-secret, claimed 11 governors, 16 senators and as many as 75 congressmen –roughly split between Republicans and Democrats." [1]

Hugo Black Edit

In 1921, Hugo Black (D) successfully defended E. R. Stephenson in his trial for the murder of a Catholic priest, Fr. James E. Coyle. E.R. Stephenson's daughter had converted to Catholicism and married a man of Puerto Rican descent, and Coyle had conducted the wedding. Hugo Black got Stephenson acquitted in part by arguing to the jury that Puerto Ricans should be considered black under the South's one drop rule. Black, a Democrat, joined the Ku Klux Klan shortly afterwards, in order to gain votes from the anti-Catholic element in Alabama. He built his winning Senate campaign around multiple appearances at KKK meetings across Alabama. Late in life, Black told an interviewer:

at that time, I was joining every organization in sight! . In my part of Alabama, the Klan was engaged in unlawful activities . The general feeling in the community was that if responsible citizens didn't join the Klan it would soon become dominated by the less responsible members. [2]

News of his membership was a secret until shortly after he was confirmed as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Black later said that joining the Klan was a mistake, but he went on to say, "I would have joined any group if it helped get me votes." [3] [i]

On the Supreme Court, Black wrote the opinion in Korematsu v. United States, which upheld the exclusion of Japanese Americans from the West Coast. Black also wrote the opinion in Everson v. Board of Education, a key case about the separation of church and state. [4] Some have argued that his views on the separation of church and state were influenced by the Klan's anti-Catholicism. [5] [6] [7]

Despite his former Klan membership, Black joined the Supreme Court's unanimous decisions in Shelley v. Kraemer (1948), which outlawed judicial enforcement of racially restrictive covenants, and Brown v Board of Education, which outlawed school segregation. Justice William Douglas would write years later that at least 3 (and possibly as many as 5) Supreme Court justices were originally planning to rule school segregation constitutional, but Black had actually been one of the 4 justices who were planning to strike down school segregation from the beginning of the Brown case. [8]

Theodore G. Bilbo Edit

Theodore G. Bilbo (D), the U.S. Senator for Mississippi, stated he was a member of the KKK . [9]

Robert Byrd Edit

Robert C. Byrd (D), the U.S. for West Virginia, was a recruiter for the Klan while in his 20s and 30s, rising to the title of Kleagle and Exalted Cyclops of his local chapter. After leaving the group, Byrd spoke in favor of the Klan during his early political career. Though he later said he officially left the organization in 1943, Byrd wrote a letter in 1946 to the group's Imperial Wizard stating "The Klan is needed today as never before, and I am anxious to see its rebirth here in West Virginia." Byrd attempted to explain or defend his former membership in the Klan in his 1958 U.S. Senate campaign when he was 41 years old. [10] Byrd, a Democrat, eventually became his party leader in the Senate. Byrd later said joining the Klan was his "greatest mistake," [11] and after his death, the NAACP released a statement praising Byrd, acknowledging his former affiliation with the Klan and saying that he "became a champion for civil rights and liberties" and "came to consistently support the NAACP civil rights agenda". [12] In a 2001 interview, Byrd used the term "white niggers" twice during a national television broadcast. The full quote ran as follows: "My old mom told me, 'Robert, you can't go to heaven if you hate anybody.' We practice that. There are white niggers. I've seen a lot of white niggers in my time. I'm going to use that word. We just need to work together to make our country a better country, and I'd just as soon quit talking about it so much." Byrd later apologized for the phrase and admitted that it "has no place in today's society," and did not clarify the intended meaning of the term in his context. [13] [14]

Joseph E. Brown Edit

Joseph E. Brown (D), the U.S. Senator for Georgia, was a key supporter of the KKK in his home state. [15]

John Brown Gordon Edit

John Brown Gordon (D), the U.S. Senator for Georgia, was a founder of the KKK in his home state of Georgia. [15]

James Thomas Heflin Edit

James Thomas Heflin (1869–1951) (D), the U.S. Senator for Alabama, was suspected of being a member of the KKK. [16]

Rufus C. Holman Edit

Rufus C. Holman (R), the U.S. Senator for Oregon, was an active member of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) in Oregon, serving as an officer in that organization. [17]

Earle Mayfield Edit

Earle Mayfield (1881–1964) (D), U.S. Senator (1923–1929) for Texas from 1923 through 1929. Mayfield had been a Texas Senator from 1907 through 1913. [18]

Rice W. Means Edit

Rice W. Means (R), the U.S. Senator for Colorado, was the directing head of the Ku Klux Klan in Colorado. [19]

John Tyler Morgan Edit

John Tyler Morgan (June 20, 1824-June 11, 1907)(D), the U.S. Senator for Alabama (March 4, 1877, to June 11, 1907), was the Grand Dragon of the KKK in Alabama. [20] [21]

Edmund Pettus Edit

Edmund Pettus (July 6, 1821-1907) (D), the U.S. Senator for Alabama (1896 to 1907), was also a Grand Dragon of the KKK in Alabama. [22]

William B. Pine Edit

William B. Pine (1877–1942) (R), the U.S. Senator for Oklahoma (March 4, 1925, to March 3, 1931), was a Klansman, according to historian Chalmers [23] and the Eufaula Indian Journal. [24]

Lawrence C. Phipps Edit

The Klan helped elect Lawrence C. Phipps (1862–1958) (R), U.S. Senator for Colorado. [25]

Daniel F. Steck Edit

Daniel F. Steck (1881–1950), of Iowa, in 1925, with the help of the Klan, defeated Senator Smith W. Brookhart (1869–1944), a progressive. Because the vote was close, there was a recount, and Steck was the victor. Brookhart contested it. Steck reportedly had no Klan connections, except that he enlisted the Klan's top lawyer and legislative expert, William Francis Zumbrunn (1877–1930), to secure his seat in the 69th Congress (1925–1926). Earlier, Zumbrunn – with lawyer William Pinkney McLean, Jr. (1872–1937) of Fort Worth – helped seat Klan Senator from Texas, Earle Mayfield. [26] [27]

Frederick Steiwer Edit

In the 1926 Oregon election, the Ku Klux Klan, under the auspices of The Oregon Good Government League, helped Frederick Steiwer (1883–1939) win the Republican primary by spreading word that it was supporting the reelection of his opponent, Senator Robert N. Stanfield (1877–1945). The effort was fueled by White Supremacist (anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic) groups in Oregon in support of the state's Compulsory Education Act, enacted in 1922, mandating public education which would have taken effect in 1926 but the Supreme Court, in 1925, struck it down in Pierce v. Society of Sisters. [28] [29]

Arthur Raymond Robinson Edit

Arthur Raymond Robinson (1881–1961), of Indiana, was, on November 2, 1925, characterized by Time magazine was follows: "The New Man. Arthur R. Robinson is only 44. He is an Indianapolis attorney, a 'good Republican' but of no particular political importance. He is said to be a good orator. Against him politically is the fact that he supported Governor Jackson in the last election and so, justly or unjustly, he is considered a 'Klan man. ' " [30]

Frank Willis Edit

According to historian Chalmers, "the Klan supported Frank B. Willis (1871–1928) (R) [of Ohio] not because it liked him, but because it disliked his anti-Klan opponent, Atlee Pomerene (1863–1937), more. [31]

Clifford Davis Edit

Clifford Davis (D), U.S. Representative for Tennessee’s 9th and 10th congressional districts was an active member in Tennessee.

George Gordon Edit

George Gordon (D), U.S. Representative for Tennessee's 10th congressional district, became one of the Klan's first members. In 1867, Gordon became the Klan's first Grand Dragon for the Realm of Tennessee, and wrote its Precscript, a constitution setting out the organization's purpose, principles, and the like. [32] [33] [34] [35]

William David Upshaw Edit

Homer Martin Adkins Edit

Homer Martin Adkins (D), (1890 – 1964) the Governor of Arkansas, was a supporter of the Klan in his home state of Arkansas. [37] [38]

Bibb Graves Edit

Bibb Graves (D), (1873 – 1942) was the Governor of Alabama. He lost his first campaign for governor in 1922, but four years later, with the secret endorsement of the Ku Klux Klan, he was elected to his first term as governor. Graves was almost certainly the Exalted Cyclops (chapter president) of the Montgomery chapter of the Klan. Graves, like Hugo Black, used the strength of the Klan to further his electoral prospects. [39]

Edward L. Jackson Edit

Edward L. Jackson (R), (1873 – 1954) was the Governor of Indiana in 1925 and his administration came under fire for granting undue favor to the Klan's agenda and associates. Jackson was further damaged by the arrest and trial of Grand Dragon D. C. Stephenson for the rape and murder of Madge Oberholtzer. When it was revealed that Jackson had attempted to bribe former Gov. Warren T. McCray with $10,000 to appoint a Klansman to a local office, Jackson was taken to court. His case ended with a hung jury, and Jackson ended his political career in disgrace. There is, however, evidence that Jackson joined the KKK himself. [40]

Clarence Morley Edit

Clarence Morley (R),(1869 – 1948) the Governor of Colorado, was a KKK member and a strong supporter of Prohibition. He tried to ban the Catholic Church from using sacramental wine and attempted to have the University of Colorado fire all Jewish and Catholic professors. [41] [42] [43] [44]

Tom Terral Edit

Tom Terral (D), ( 1882 – 1946) the Governor of Arkansas, was a member of the KKK in Louisiana. [45] [46]

Clifford Walker Edit

Clifford Walker (D), (1877 – 1954) the Governor of Georgia, was revealed to be a Klan member by the press in 1924. [47] [48]

Elmer David Davies Edit

Lee Cazort Edit

Lee Cazort (D), the Lieutenant Governor of Arkansas, was active in the Klan, and openly endorsed the Klan's platform. [50] [51]

John W. Morton Edit

John Morton (D), the Tennessee Secretary of State, was the founder of the Nashville chapter of the KKK [52]

William L. Saunders Edit

William L. Saunders (D), the North Carolina Secretary of State, was the founder of the North Carolina chapter. [53]

A notable number of local officials were also Klansmen, resulting in such as the "reign of terror" inflicted by Louisiana by crony "exalted cyclops": [54] Bastrop mayor, John Killian Skipwith, known as Captain J. K. Skipwith, and Mer Rouge mayor, Bunnie McEwin McKoin, MD, better known as Dr. B. M. McKoin (and whose surname was variously misreported as McCoin, M'Koin and McKoln in media). [55] [56]

John Clinton Porter Edit

John Clinton Porter (D), was mayor of Los Angeles and an early supporter of the Klan in the 1920s. [57]

Benjamin F. Stapleton Edit

Benjamin F. Stapleton (D), was Mayor of Denver in the 1920s–1940s. He was a Klan member in the early 1920s and appointed fellow Klansmen to positions in municipal government. Ultimately, Stapleton broke from the Klan and removed several Klansmen from office. [58]

Kaspar K. Kubli Edit

David Duke Edit

David Duke, a politician who ran in both Democrat and Republican presidential primaries, was openly involved in the leadership of the Ku Klux Klan. [59] He was founder and Grand Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in the mid-1970s he re-titled his position as "National Director" and said that the KKK needed to "get out of the cow pasture and into hotel meeting rooms". He left the organization in 1980. He ran for president in the 1988 Democratic presidential primaries. In 1989 Duke switched political parties from Democrat to Republican. [60] In 1989, he became a member of the Louisiana State Legislature from the 81st district, and was Republican Party chairman for St. Tammany Parish. [61]

Edward Douglass White Edit

Edward Douglass White, a Democrat and the Chief Justice of the United States, was alleged to be a Klansman in one unverified source. More complete is legal historian Paul Finkelman in American National Biography (2000) about that single report: "Although the moviemaker D. W. Griffith claimed White endorsed his racist movie, The Birth of a Nation (1915), and asserted that White had been in the Ku Klux Klan, there is no evidence to support either of Griffith’s contentions." [62] [63]

Warren G. Harding Edit

The consensus of modern historians is that Warren Harding was never a member, and instead was an important enemy of the Klan. While one source claims Warren G. Harding, a Republican, was a Ku Klux Klan member while President, that claim is based on a third-hand account of a second-hand recollection in 1985 of a deathbed statement made sometime in the late 1940s concerning an incident in the early 1920s. Independent investigations have turned up many contradictions and no supporting evidence for the claim. Historians reject the claim and note that Harding in fact publicly fought and spoke against the Klan.

The rejected claim was made by Wyn Craig Wade. He stated Harding's membership as fact and gives a detailed account of a secret swearing-in ceremony in the White House, based on a private communication he received in 1985 from journalist Stetson Kennedy. Kennedy, in turn had, along with Elizabeth Gardner, tape recorded some time in the "late 1940s" a deathbed confession of former Imperial Klokard Alton Young. Young claimed to have been a member of the "Presidential Induction Team". Young also said on his deathbed that he had repudiated racism. [64] [65] In his book, The Strange Deaths of President Harding, historian Robert Ferrell says he was unable to find any records of any such "ceremony" in which Harding was brought into the Klan in the White House. John Dean, in his 2004 book Warren G. Harding, also could find no proof of Klan membership or activity on the part of Harding. [66] Review of the personal records of Harding's Personal White House Secretary, George Christian Jr., also do not support the contention that Harding received members of the Klan while in office. Appointment books maintained in the White House, detailing President Harding's daily schedules, do not show any such event. [67]

In their 2005 book Freakonomics, University of Chicago economist Steven D. Levitt and journalist Stephen J. Dubner alluded to Warren Harding's possible Klan affiliation. However, in a New York Times Magazine Freakonomics column, entitled "Hoodwinked? Does it matter if an activist who exposes the inner workings of the Ku Klux Klan isn't open about how he got those secrets?", Dubner and Levitt said that they no longer accepted Stetson Kennedy's testimony about Harding and the Klan. [68]

The 1920 Republican Party platform, which essentially expressed Harding's political philosophy, called for Congress to pass laws combating lynching. [69] Harding denounced lynching in a landmark 21 October 1921 speech in Birmingham, Alabama, which was covered in the national press. Harding also vigorously supported an anti-lynching bill in Congress during his term in the White House. His "comments about race and equality were remarkable for 1921." [70]

Payne argues that the Klan was so angry with Harding's attacks on the KKK that it originated and spread the false rumor that he was a member. [71]

Carl S. Anthony, biographer of Harding's wife, found no such proof of Harding's membership in the Klan. He does however discuss the events leading up to the period when the alleged Klan ceremony was held in June 1923:

[K]nowing that the some branches of the Shriners were anti-Catholic and in that sense sympathetic to the Ku Klax Klan and that the Klan itself was holding a demonstration less than a half mile from Washington, Harding censured hate groups in his Shriners speech. The press "considered [it] a direct attack" on the Klan, particularly in light of his criticism weeks earlier of "factions of hatred and prejudice and violence [that] challeng[ed] both civil and religious liberty". [72]

In 2005, The Straight Dope presented a summary of many of these arguments against Harding's membership, and noted that, while it might have been politically expedient for him to join the KKK in public, to do it in private would have been of no benefit to him. [73]

It was falsely rumored, in his lifetime, that Harding was partly of African-American descent, so he would have been an unlikely recruit for the Ku Klux Klan. [74]

Calvin Coolidge Edit

One common misconception is that President Calvin Coolidge was a Klan member, [ii] a claim that Klan websites have spread. [75] In reality, Coolidge was adamantly opposed to the Klan. According to Jerry L. Wallace at the Coolidge Foundation, "Coolidge expressed his antipathy to the Klan by reaching out in a positive, public way directly to its victims: Blacks, Jews, Catholics, and immigrants, with whom he had good relations—especially so for Irish Catholics—going back long before the rise of the Invisible Empire . . . [and] sought to highlight their positive achievements and contributions to American life." [76] Ironically, many Klan members voted for the Republican Coolidge in the 1924 presidential election because the Democratic presidential nominee John W. Davis denounced the Klan at the party's convention. [1]

Harry S Truman Edit

Harry S Truman, the Democratic politician who became president in 1945, was accused by opponents of having dabbled with the Klan briefly. In 1924, he was a judge in Jackson County, Missouri. Truman was up for reelection, and his friends Edgar Hinde and Spencer Salisbury advised him to join the Klan. The Klan was politically powerful in Jackson County, and two of Truman's opponents in the Democratic primary had Klan support. Truman refused at first, but paid the Klan's $10 membership fee, and a meeting with a Klan officer was arranged. [77]

According to Salisbury's version of the story, Truman was inducted, but afterward "was never active he was just a member who wouldn't do anything". Salisbury, however, told the story after he became Truman's bitter enemy, so historians are reluctant to believe his claims. [iii]

According to Hinde and Margaret Truman’s accounts, the Klan officer demanded that Truman pledge not to hire any Catholics or Jews if he was reelected. Truman refused, and demanded the return of his $10 membership fee most of the men he had commanded in World War I had been local Irish Catholics. [iv]

Truman had at least one other strong reason to object to the anti-Catholic requirement, which was that the Catholic Pendergast family, which operated a political machine in Jackson County, were his patrons Pendergast family lore has it that Truman was originally accepted for patronage without even meeting him, on the basis of his family background plus the rt that he was not a member of any anti-Catholic organization such as the Klan. [78] The Pendergast faction of the Democratic Party was known as the "Goats", as opposed to the rival Shannon machine's "Rabbits". The battle lines were drawn when Truman put only Goats on the county payroll, [79] and the Klan began encouraging voters to support Protestant, "100% American" candidates, allying itself against Truman and with the Rabbits, while Shannon instructed his people to vote Republican in the election, which Truman lost. [80] [79]

Truman later claimed that the Klan "threatened to kill me, [81] and I went out to one of their meetings and dared them to try", [82] speculating that if Truman's armed friends had shown up earlier, violence might have resulted. However, biographer Alonzo Hamby believes that this story, which is not supported by any recorded facts, was a confabulation based on a meeting with a hostile and menacing group of Democrats that contained many Klansmen, showing Truman's "Walter Mitty-like tendency . to rewrite his personal history". [83] Sympathetic observers see Truman's flirtation with the Klan as a momentary aberration, point out that his close friend and business partner Eddie Jacobson was Jewish, and say that in later years Truman's presidency marked the first significant improvement in the federal government's record on civil rights since the post-Reconstruction nadir marked by the Wilson administration. [v]

Lyndon B Johnson Edit

An anonymous person told the FBI that Ned O'Neal Touchstone (1926–1988) – newspaper publisher who has been chronicled as influential in radical right politics in Louisiana politics during the 1960s – was a member of a group that called itself "the Original Members of the Ku Klux Klan" and that in 1963 he claimed that the group had documented proof of Lyndon Johnson having been a member of some KKK group in the 1930s. [84]

Black Athletes, Movies Stars, and Musicians

Football: The sport was integrated in 1946. That year, 4 black athletes took to the professional gridiron. Bill Willis, playing for the Cleveland Browns, is considered to be the first black starter in football. Marion Motley played for the Browns that year, while Kenny Washington and Woody Strode played for the Los Angeles Rams. Strode would go on to a career in film.

Baseball: In 1946 Jackie Robinson signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers and played with their farm team in Montreal. The following year, six days before the start of the 1947 season, the Dodgers called Robinson up to the major leagues, where he played initially as a first baseman. Robinson made his debut at Ebbets Field in front of 26,623 spectators, including 14,000 African Americans. Robinson’s presence caused some racial tension amongst his teammates, until Dodgers management sent a clear message. Manager Leo Durocher told the team, “I do not care if the guy is yellow or black, or if he has stripes like a fuckin’ zebra. I’m the manager of this team, and I say he plays. What’s more, I say he can make us all rich. And if any of you cannot use the money, I will see that you are all traded.” The Baseball Commissioner and the National League President squelched a potential strike by racist players by threatening to suspend them. Nevertheless, Robinson endured racial abuse from both fans and players. On April 22, 1947, during a game between the Dodgers and the Philadelphia Phillies.

Phillies players called Robinson a “nigger” from their dugout and yelled that he should “go back to the cotton fields”. On May 14, on the Dodgers’ first visit of the season to Cincinnati, Robinson was subjected to a torrent of racial abuse from fans. They also hurled insults at teammate Pee Wee Reece, because Reece was a Southerner, born just across the river from Cincinnati in Kentucky, and here he was “playing ball with a nigger,” Robinson later recalled. During the episode, Pee Wee left his position and walked over to Robinson at second base. He put his arm around his shoulder and stood talking until the jeering stopped. Robinson recounted these episodes in a later interview.

Robinson endured the taunts and death threats stoically, however, and his flawless fielding at first base, timely hitting, and 29 stolen bases helped the Dodgers capture the National League pennant and won him the title Rookie of the Year. Two years later, in 1949, he won the batting championship with a .342 average and was voted the league’s Most Valuable Player.

Golf: In 1948, Ted Rhodes became the first African American to compete in the U.S. Open golf championships since John Shippen prior to WWI. Charlie Sifford was the first black American to receive tour playing privileges, in 1961.

Basketball: Chuck Cooper was the first black player drafted in NBA history in 1950. Cooper was picked in the second round of the draft by the Boston Celtics. In the eighth round, Earl Lloyd was picked by Washington. Later, Nat “Sweetwater” Clifton was signed by the New York Knicks. Lloyd made his debut first, on October 31, 1950.

Tennis: In 1950, Althea Gibson became the first black American to compete at any of tennis’ “majors,” at the U.S. Championships. On August 28, Gibson beat Barbara Knapp 6-2, 6-2 in the first round. She was escorted off the court by former champion Alice Marble, and a mixed crowd of smiling fans. The following year Gibson also competed at Wimbledon. She became the first African American, man or woman, to win a major at the 1956 French Open. By the end of the 1958 season she had added two Wimbledon and two U.S. Championships in singles competition, as well as 6 major doubles titles.

Hockey: In 1958, Willie O’Ree became the first back to play in professional hockey, with the Boston Bruins. O’Ree was not an African American, however, as he held Canadian citizenship. O’Ree noted that “racist remarks were much worse in the U.S. cities than in Toronto and Montreal,” the two Canadian cities hosting NHL teams at the time, and that “Fans would yell, ‘Go back to the South’ and ‘How come you’re not picking cotton?’ Things like that. It didn’t bother me. I just wanted to be a hockey player, and if they couldn’t accept that fact, that was their problem, not mine.” He would remain the only black to have played professional hockey for 15 years.

Civil Rights as Human Rights

While the Human Rights Commission worked on drafting the Declaration, some of those leading the struggle for civil rights in America believed that bringing the case of segregation in America before the United Nations would help draw international attention to their plight. They felt that a change in terminology—from “civil rights” to “human rights”—would align their struggle with that of other oppressed groups and colonized nations around the world. They hoped that the shift would bring pressure on the United States to live up to the ideals and freedoms inscribed in the American Constitution.

Nearly one million black men and women served in World War II, many of whom believed that wartime patriotism would earn them full parity with white Americans upon their return. They also hoped that the struggle to defeat Nazi racism would transform racism on American soil. They were wrong on both counts.

During the war, blacks began more forcefully to demand their citizenship rights. Weary of Jim Crow indignities, many Southern blacks refused to be segregated any longer on streetcars and buses, stood their ground when challenged, and thus provoked almost daily racial altercations. Blacks became less compliant with conventional rules of racial etiquette, finding small but symbolic ways to challenge the racial status quo. Black soldiers, frustrated by the constant racial abuse they suffered, began fighting back the result was much interracial violence and many deaths. 1

The huge industrial boom, precipitated by military production, failed to benefit many black workers and factory owners. In the military, only a few black soldiers were allowed to assume combat roles or become officers. Enough was enough. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 8802 (see Part II), which banned government contractors from discriminating according to race, religion, or national origin, made a big difference. Within three years, two million blacks were reportedly working in the defense industry. 2 Extraordinary as this presidential move was, however, the lives of black men and women were little improved when the war ended. Moreover, hostility toward black veterans increased at the end of the war. The attacks and violence were neither accidental nor simple crimes of passion (although passionate mobs were often involved). They were carried out by whites who were determined to put loyal American veterans “back in their place” and to reinstate segregation. Eleanor was acutely aware of the explosive potential of this racial friction. But now that she was no longer a White House insider, how could she help? The return of these soldiers and their bitterly cold reception highlighted the need for uncompromising action. As the issue of civil rights was forced to the forefront, Eleanor used her popularity, connections, and influence to promote racial and social equality. She participated in conferences, fund-raisers, and public debates to raise awareness about America’s racial problem. She also joined the board of directors of several organizations, including the NAACP.

Frustrated by a country that could demand sacrifice in its moment of need and then turn its back when the crisis passed, black veterans sometimes took direct action. The results could be chilling:

In Alabama, when an African American veteran removed the Jim Crow sign on a trolley, an angry street car conductor took aim and unloaded his pistol into the ex-Marine. As the wounded veteran staggered off the tram and crawled away, the chief of police hunted him down and finished the job . . . In South Carolina, another veteran, who complained about the inanity of Jim Crow transportation, had his eyes gouged out with the butt of the sheriff’s billy club. In Louisiana, a black veteran who defiantly refused to give a white man a war memento was partially dismembered, castrated, and blow-torched…In Columbia, Tennessee, when African Americans refused to “take lying down” the planned lynching of a black veteran who had defended his mother from a beating, the sheriff’s storm troopers . . . “drew up their machine guns and tommy guns . . . fired a barrage of shots directly into the black area of town, and then moved in.” 3

The events in Columbia, Tennessee, were indicative. In this town of 5,000 whites and 3,000 blacks, racial tensions actually subsided during the war. But when the returning soldiers did not accept the daily humiliations of Jim Crow laws, many whites reacted violently. The events began on February 25, 1946, when a dissatisfied black customer, accompanied by her navy veteran son, got into a fight with a radio repair clerk who refused to address their concerns and became abusive. The clerk was pushed out the window, an act for which both the veteran and his mother were arrested. After pleading guilty and paying their fine, the two headed home. Later that day, the son was arrested again on more serious charges but was bailed out and released again.

That night, an angry white mob gathered near the black neighborhood. Blacks, including armed veterans, organized to protect themselves against possible attack. When four police officers attempted to disperse the crowd, they were shot and wounded. What followed was not uncharacteristic of the way law-enforcement agents reacted to racial tensions:

Within hours, state highway patrolmen and the state safety commissioner, Lynn Bomar, arrived in town. Together with some of the town’s whites, they surrounded the Mink Slide [black] district. During the early morning of February 26, highway patrolmen first entered the district. The officers fired randomly into buildings, stole cash and goods, searched homes without warrants, and took any guns, rifles, and shotguns they could find. When the sweep was over, more than one hundred blacks had been arrested, and about three hundred weapons from the black community had been confiscated. None of the accused were granted bail or allowed legal counsel. 4

According to prisoners’ testimonies, three of the black prisoners were later taken for interrogation. Shots followed one was injured, and the other two were killed. While the police officers claimed it was self-defense, fellow prisoners claimed that the men were executed in retaliation for their actions during the riots. Thurgood Marshall, the NAACP’s leading lawyer, who would be the first African American to sit on the Supreme Court, immediately flew in with Walter White. They built a national defense committee (representing various organizations) whose mission was to provide funds and protection for the prisoners. They demanded that the alleged violations of black residents’ civil rights be investigated. Walter White then approached Eleanor to co-chair the committee with Channing Tobias, and she immediately agreed. Though occupied with her work for the United Nations, Eleanor participated in the committee’s defense efforts. In a letter she wrote with Channing Tobias to prospective donors, she summarized her views on the events. The men who were arrested, she argued, more than half of whom were recently discharged servicemen,

had been the innocent victims of race hatred and violence. The events which took place in Columbia on February 25th and 26th rose out of a dispute between a white shopkeeper and a Negro customer. They culminated in lynch threats, an armed invasion of the Negro district, wanton destruction of Negro property and wholesale arrests and beatings of Negro citizens. 5

Thurgood Marshall’s spectacular defense saved many of the prisoners the injustice of long prison terms. But when he and others forced Tennessee Attorney General Tom C. Clark to investigate the actions of the National Guard unit and highway patrolmen who raided the black neighborhood, the results were deeply disappointing. Despite the fact that dozens of people witnessed the actions of the National Guard unit and patrolmen, blacks were not allowed to testify, and the white officers did not cooperate. The record of this investigation, Marshall later wrote to Eleanor, showed “that none of the witnesses . . . could identify any person responsible for the property damage which occurred or for any other act prohibited by Federal laws.” 6 When Marshall left town, the police followed him and his colleagues. He was arrested for alleged drunk driving and was almost lynched by white residents of Columbia.

Responding to the maelstrom of violence, representatives of the African American community turned to the United Nations. W. E. B. Du Bois, a highly accomplished scholar and activist (he was the first African American to receive a doctoral degree from Harvard), led a team of lawyers and scholars who submitted a brief to the human rights division in 1947. It was titled “An Appeal to the World: A Statement of Denial of Human Rights to Minorities in the Case of Citizens of Negro Descent in the United States of America and an Appeal to the United Nations for Redress.”

How, asked Du Bois, could the leaders of the United States seek to lead the free world while refusing to confront the injustices of racism in every American town and city? A “disastrous” policy, segregation, he wrote, had

repeatedly led the greatest modern attempt at democratic government to deny its political ideals, to falsify its philanthropic assertions and to make its religion to a great extent hypocritical. A nation which boldly declared “That all men are created equal,” proceeded to build its economy on chattel slavery masters who declared race-mixture impossible, sold their own children to slavery and left a mulatto progeny which neither law nor science can today disentangle churches which excused slavery as calling the heathen to god, refused to recognize the freedom of converts or admit them to equal communion. . . . [A] great nation, which today ought to be in the forefront of the march toward peace and democracy, finds itself continuously making common cause with race-hate, prejudiced exploitation, and oppression of the common man. 7

America’s “high and noble words,” Du Bois concluded, had been “turned against it, because they are contradicted in every syllable by the treatment of the American Negro for three hundred and twenty-eight years.” 8

“An Appeal to the World” was Du Bois’s plea for the international community to take notice of the ongoing discrimination, segregation, and racial violence in America. In writing and submitting it to the United Nations, Du Bois and his colleagues tried to shift from national and internal debate to an international and universal one. When arguing in court and protesting on the street, African Americans were fighting to receive their civil rights: rights granted to all the citizens of the United States but denied to them. Du Bois and the NAACP believed that the United Nations’ discussion of human rights was an opportunity to mobilize international public opinion for their cause and to align their plight with that of other oppressed people. This was neither the first nor the last such attempt to “internationalize” the injustices suffered by blacks.

The brief was to be submitted on October 23, 1947, to Humphrey as the director of the human rights division and to Henri Laugier of the Secretariat. Walter White, a longtime civil rights activist and the executive director of the NAACP, asked Eleanor to be present. 9 She declined:

As an individual I should like to be present, but as a member of the delegation, I feel that until this subject comes before us in a proper way, in a report to the Human Rights Commission or otherwise, I should not seem to be lining myself up in any particular way on any subject. 10

She added: “It isn’t as though everyone did not know where I stand.” 11 For example, before taking up her duties at the United Nations, Eleanor had often identified racism directed at African Americans as intolerable. The situation had to change, and in 1942, she repeated demands she had made many times before—that every citizen of the United States should have the following rights:

  • Equality before the law
  • Equality of education
  • Equality to hold a job according to his or her ability
  • Equality of participation through the ballot in the government 12

“We cannot force people to accept friends for whom they have no liking,” she argued, “but living in a democracy, it is entirely reasonable to demand that every citizen of that democracy enjoy the fundamental rights of a citizen.” 13

In Eleanor’s essay, “Abolish Jim Crow,” she spoke about the need to align the ethical mission of the war with the struggle for justice at home, drawing parallels among the persecution of the European Jews, the Russian dissidents, and the American blacks. 14 Moreover, since the war, Eleanor had often warned against the hypocrisy of condemning the Nazis for their racial policies while allowing the free reign of white supremacy in many areas of the United Sates. In a response to a member of President Truman’s commission on civil rights,she repeated the comparison: “We cannot look down too much on the Nazis or the Communists, when somewhere in our land things like this happen.” 15 While Eleanor called for patience and for working within the system, but this did not mean that she went along with official decisions with which she disagreed: she knew how to dig in her heels and push back.

A case in point was the United States’ support for the formation of the state of Israel. In the aftermath of the Holocaust, Eleanor became convinced that this was the only appropriate response to horrific actions that had left six million Jews dead and had turned those who survived into unwanted, stateless refugees. 16 So when the United States seemed as if it would withdraw its support for the formation of a Jewish state in Palestine, Eleanor threatened her resignation from the United Nations. 17

But “The Appeal to the World” put Eleanor in a tough position. She believed that receiving petitions from anyone but a member state violated the guidelines for the Human Rights Commission. The commission had never been assigned any executive power at all. Both human rights standards and the institutions that would act to uphold them were yet to be created. Moreover, Eleanor anticipated complications. She knew that the Soviets would use “The Appeal to the World” for anti-American propaganda (which they later did). In that case, if Eleanor sided with the petitioners, she would be set against the government she represented, which was unthinkable.

Of the many decisions, acts, policies and executive orders signed by former President Harry S. Truman, one of the most famous remains his decision to desegregate the military. Truman’s Executive Order 9981 (July 26, 1948) figures prominently in ongoing discussions on civil rights and equality today.

Yet while Executive Order 9981 is perhaps one of Truman’s most progressive pieces of legislation, his decision to sign the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act in the same year suggests Truman recognized a need for even more equalizing change in the United States military.

Signed on June 12, 1948, the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act legally permitted women to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces in a number of official capacities. Most importantly, the act allowed women to serve in all four branches of the military. Previously, women serving in the military could enlist as volunteers in clerical positions or work as nurses, though Congress did briefly give the Women’s Army Corps full army status during WWII.

Although the act promised more opportunities for women, it also limited the number of women who could serve in each branch to two percent of the total number of enlistees per branch. So, while women certainly integrated the armed forces, their overall presence remained limited.

The Women’s Armed Services Integration Act, coupled with Truman’s decision to desegregate the military, also permitted African-American women to officially serve in the military. Annie E. Graham, for example, became the first African American woman to join the Marine Corps in 1949.

Besides Truman’s own involvement and support of women in the armed forces, his Secretary of Defense George C. Marshall went on to establish the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services, a committee composed of civilian women and men appointed by the Secretary of Defense.

Since its inception in 1951, the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services has served the purpose of seeking fair and equal treatment for women in the Armed Forces. The committee goals are as follows: to provide advice and recommendations on matters and policies relating to the recruitment, retention, employment, integration, well-being and treatment of servicewomen in the Armed Forces.

It is interesting that discussions of Truman’s progressive attitudes and legislation are often limited to issues of desegregation or healthcare reform, especially considering his instrumental role in the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act, which paved the way for thousands of women’s military careers. While July 26, 1948 stands out as a significant date in American history, in civil rights, and in Truman’s presidency, June 12, 1948, just one month prior, deserves recognition as the beginning of a fundamental overhaul to the United States Armed Forces.

Individually the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act and Executive Order 9981 appear as two separate pieces of legislation with different goals, but taken together, these two decisions which came in the summer of 1948 during one of Truman’s most significant years in office, point to a much broader goal of equality both in the military and for the American people in general.

Natalie Walker contributed this post while working as an Archives Technician at the Truman Library Institute and finishing a Master’s in Public History at Colorado State University.

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A liberal Democrat of the Midwestern populist tradition, Truman was determined to both continue the legacy of the New Deal and to make Franklin Roosevelt's proposed Economic Bill of Rights a reality, while making his own mark in social policy. [2]

In a scholarly article published in 1972, historian Alonzo Hamby argued that the Fair Deal reflected the "vital center" approach to liberalism which rejected totalitarianism, was suspicious of excessive concentrations of government power, and honored the New Deal as an effort to achieve a "democratic socialist society." Solidly based upon the New Deal tradition in its advocacy of wide-ranging social legislation, the Fair Deal differed enough to claim a separate identity. The Depression did not return after the war and the Fair Deal had to contend with prosperity and an optimistic future. The Fair Dealers thought in terms of abundance rather than depression scarcity. Economist Leon Keyserling argued that the liberal task was to spread the benefits of abundance throughout society by stimulating economic growth. Agriculture Secretary Charles F. Brannan wanted to unleash the benefits of agricultural abundance and to encourage the development of an urban-rural Democratic coalition. However, the Brannan Plan was defeated by strong conservative opposition in Congress and by his unrealistic confidence in the possibility uniting urban labor and farm owners who distrusted rural insurgency. The Korean War made military spending the nation's priority and killed almost the whole Fair Deal but did encourage the pursuit of economic growth. [3]

In September 1945, Truman addressed Congress and presented a 21-point program of domestic legislation outlining a series of proposed actions in the fields of economic development and social welfare. [4] The measures that Truman proposed to Congress included: [5]

  1. Major improvements in the coverage and adequacy of the unemployment compensation system.
  2. Substantial increases in the minimum wage, together with broader coverage.
  3. The maintenance and extension of price controls to keep down the cost of living in the transition to a peacetime economy.
  4. A pragmatic approach towards drafting legislation eliminating wartime agencies and wartime controls, taking legal difficulties into account.
  5. Legislation to ensure full employment.
  6. Legislation to make the Fair Employment Practice Committee permanent.
  7. The maintenance of sound industrial relations.
  8. The extension of the United States Employment Service to provide jobs for demobilized military personnel.
  9. Increased aid to farmers.
  10. The removal of the restrictions on eligibility for voluntary enlistment and allowing the armed forces to enlist a greater number of volunteers.
  11. The enactment of broad and comprehensive housing legislation.
  12. The establishment of a single Federal research agency.
  13. A major revision of the taxation system.
  14. The encouragement of surplus-property disposal.
  15. Greater levels of assistance to small businesses.
  16. Improvements in federal aid to war veterans.
  17. A major expansion of public works, conserving and building up natural resources.
  18. The encouragement of post-war reconstruction and settling the obligations of the Lend-Lease Act.
  19. The introduction of a decent pay scale for all Federal Government employees—executive, legislative, and judicial.
  20. The promotion of the sale of ships to remove the uncertainty regarding the disposal of America's large surplus tonnage following the end of hostilities.
  21. Legislation to bring about the acquisition and retention of stockpiles of materials necessary for meeting the defense needs of the nation.

Truman did not send proposed legislation to Congress he expected Congress to draft the bills. Many of these proposed reforms, however, were never realized due to the opposition of the conservative majority in Congress. Despite these setbacks, Truman's proposals to Congress became more and more abundant over the course of his presidency, and by 1948 a legislative program that was more comprehensive came to be known as the "Fair Deal". [6] In his 1949 State of the Union address to Congress on January 5, 1949, Truman stated that "Every segment of our population, and every individual, has a right to expect from his government a fair deal." Amongst the proposed measures included federal aid to education, [7] a large tax cut for low-income earners, [8] the abolition of poll taxes, an anti-lynching law, a permanent FEPC, a farm aid program, increased public housing, an immigration bill, new TVA-style public works projects, the establishment of a new Department of Welfare, the repeal of the Taft–Hartley Act, an increase in the minimum wage from 40 to 75 cents an hour, national health insurance, expanded Social Security coverage, and a $4 billion tax increase to reduce the national debt and finance these programs. [9]

Despite a mixed record of legislative success, the Fair Deal remains significant in establishing the call for universal health care as a rallying cry for the Democratic Party. Lyndon B. Johnson credited Truman's unfulfilled program as influencing Great Society measures such as Medicare that Johnson successfully enacted during the 1960s. [10] The Fair Deal faced much opposition from the many conservative politicians who wanted a reduced role of the federal government. The series of domestic reforms was a major push to transform the United States from a wartime economy to a peacetime economy. [11] In a context of postwar reconstruction and entering the era of the Cold war, the Fair Deal sought to preserve and extend the liberal tradition of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal. [4] During this post-WWII time, people were growing more conservative as they were ready to enjoy the prosperity not seen since before The Great Depression. [12] The Fair Deal faced opposition by a coalition of conservative Republicans and predominantly southern conservative Democrats. However, despite strong opposition, there were elements of Truman's agenda that did win congressional approval, such as the public housing subsidies cosponsored by Republican Robert A. Taft under the 1949 National Housing Act, which funded slum clearance and the construction of 810,000 units of low-income housing over a period of six years. [13]

Truman was also helped by the election of a Democratic Congress later in his term. According to Eric Leif Davin, the 1949–50 Congress ‘was the most liberal Congress since 1938 and produced more “New-Deal-Fair Deal” legislation than any Congress between 1938 and Johnson's Great Society of the mid-1960s.” As noted by one study

“This was the Congress that reformed the Displaced Persons Act, increased the minimum wage, doubled the hospital construction program, authorized the National Science Foundation and the rural telephone program, suspended the ‘sliding scale’ on price supports, extended the soil conservation program, provided new grants for planning state and local public works and plugged the long-standing merger loophole in the Clayton Act…Moreover, as protector, as defender, wielder of the veto against encroachments on the liberal preserve, Truman left a record of considerable success – an aspect of the Fair Deal not to be discounted.” [14]

Although Truman was unable to implement his Fair Deal program in its entirety, a great deal of social and economic progress took place in the late Forties and early Fifties. A Census report confirmed that gains in housing, education, living standards, and income under the Truman administration were unparalleled in American history. By 1953, 62 million Americans had jobs, a gain of 11 million in seven years, while unemployment had all but vanished. Farm income, dividends, and corporate income were at all-time highs, and there had not been a failure of an insured bank in nearly nine years. The minimum wage had also been increased while Social Security benefits had been doubled, and 8 million veterans had attended college by the end of the Truman administration as a result of the G.I. Bill, [15] which subsidized the businesses, training, education, and housing of millions of returning veterans. [9]

Millions of homes had been financed through previous government programs, and a start was made in slum clearance. Poverty was also significantly reduced, with one estimate suggesting that the percentage of Americans living in poverty had fallen from 33% of the population in 1949 to 28% by 1952. [16] Incomes had risen faster than prices, which meant that real living standards were considerably higher than seven years earlier. Progress had also been made in civil rights, with the desegregation of both the federal civil Service and the armed forces and the creation of the Commission on Civil Rights. In fact, according to one historian, Truman had “done more than any President since Lincoln to awaken American conscience to the issues of civil rights". [15]

Note: This listing contains reforms drawn up by the Truman Administration together with reforms drawn up by individual Congressmen. The latter have been included because it is arguable that the progressive nature of these reforms (such as the Water Pollution Law, which was partly a Republican initiative) was compatible with the liberalism of the Fair Deal.

Civil Rights Movement Edit

As Senator, Truman had not supported the nascent Civil Rights Movement. In a 1947 speech to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), which marked the first time a sitting President had ever addressed the group, Truman said "Every man should have the right to a decent home, the right to an education, the right to adequate medical care, the right to a worthwhile job, the right to an equal share in the making of public decisions through the ballot, and the right to a fair trial in a fair court." [17]

As President, he put forward many civil rights programs but they were met with a lot of resistance by southern Democrats. All his legislative proposals were blocked. However, he used presidential executive orders to end discrimination in the armed forces and denied government contracts to firms with racially discriminatory practices. He also named African Americans to federal posts. Except for nondiscrimination provisions of the Housing Act of 1949, Truman had to be content with civil rights' gains achieved by executive order or through the federal courts. Vaughan argues that by continuing appeals to Congress for civil rights legislation, Truman helped reverse the long acceptance of segregation and discrimination by establishing integration as a moral principle. [18]

Health Edit

The main program of universal health care failed to pass after intense debates. [19]

  • A bill was signed which authorized Federal agencies to provide minor medical and dental services to employees (1945). [20]
  • The National Mental Health Act (1946) authorized federal support for mental health research and treatment programs. [21]
  • The Water Pollution Law (1948) provided funds for sewage treatment system and pollution research while empowering the Justice Department to file suit against polluters. [22]
  • The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (1947) introduced regulations on the use of pesticide in food production. [23]
  • The Hill-Burton Act (Hospital Survey and Construction Act) (1946) established a federal program of financial assistance for the modernization and construction of hospital facilities. [24] The program brought national standards and financing to local hospitals, and raised standards of medical care throughout the United States during the course of the 1950s and 1960s. While the legislation favored middle-class communities because it required local financial contributions, it channeled federal funds to poor communities, thus raising hospital standards and equity in access to quality care. The program required hospitals assisted by federal funding to provide emergency treatment to the uninsured and a reasonable volume of free or reduced cost care to poor Americans. [25]
  • The Hospital Survey and Construction Amendments of 1949 raised the amount of federal funding available and raised the federal share of hospital construction to two-thirds. These amendments made it possible for less-wealthy communities to benefit from the Hill-Burton Act of 1946. [26]
  • A program was established to fund payments to medical vendors for care of aged persons on low incomes (1950). [27]
  • Funding was authorized for research and demonstration relating to the coordination, utilization, and development of hospital services. [26]
  • Grants to states for cancer control were introduced (1947). [28]
  • The Omnibus Medical Research Act (1950) authorized the establishment of the Institute of Neurological Diseases and Blindness and the transmutation of the Experimental Biology and medical Institute into the much larger Institute of Arthritis and Metabolic Diseases. The legislation also empowered the Surgeon General to establish additional institutes when he felt that they were necessary, and also to ‘conduct and support research and research training relating to other diseases and groups of diseases.’ [29]
  • The Atomic Energy Commission was directed by Congress to investigate the linkage between atomic research and cancer therapies, providing some $5 million for this purpose (1950). [29]
  • A Clinical and Laboratory Research Center was established (1947). [28]
  • The research construction provisions of the Appropriations Act for FY 1948 provided funds "for the acquisition of a site, and the preparation of plans, specifications, and drawings, for additional research buildings and a 600-bed clinical research hospital and necessary accessory buildings related thereto to be used in general medical research . " [30]
  • The National Heart Act (1948) authorized the National Heart Institute to assist, conduct, and foster research, provide training, and to provide help to the states in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of heart diseases. [30]
  • The National Institute of Dental Research was authorized by the National Dental Research Act (1948) to “conduct, assist, and foster dental research provide training and cooperate with the states in the prevention and control of dental diseases.” [30]
  • A National Institute of Arthritis and Metabolic Diseases was established (1950). [30]
  • A National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Blindness was established (1950). [30]
  • The Durham-Humphrey Amendment (1951) defined “the kinds of drugs that cannot be safely used without medical supervision and restricts their sale to prescription by a licensed practitioner.” [31]

Welfare Edit

Under Truman, many adjustments were made to the social welfare system, although one of his key aims, to extend Social Security coverage to 25 million Americans, was never accomplished. Despite this, 10 million received Social Security coverage. [32]

  • The Federal Railroad Disability Insurance program was enacted (1946).
  • The Social Security Act was amended (1950) to provide a new category of state aid to the totally and permanently disabled. [33]
  • Throughout 1950, more than thirty major changes were made to Social Security. Compulsory coverage was extended to residents of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, federal employees not covered by federal pensions, domestic servants, most self-employed workers, and agricultural workers. State and local government workers were provided with the option of joining the system. Survivor's benefits were increased and expanded, and Social Security benefits were increased significantly for current beneficiaries by 77.5%. Changes were also made to increase the progressivity of benefits. [34] Another amendment granted wage credits toward all Social Security benefits for military service performed between September 1940 and July 1947. [35]
  • The Aid to Families with Dependent Children program was expanded to include support for caregivers (1950). [36]
  • Grants to states for public assistance to needy individuals, those who were totally and permanently disabled, and also to maternal and child welfare services, were broadened and increased. [37]
  • The Displaced Persons Act admitted individuals who were victims of persecution by the Nazi government. [38]
  • The admissions numbers for displaced persons were doubled to 400,000 (1950). [38]
  • Federal financial participation of public assistance payments was increased (1946). [20]
  • Compulsory contribution to Social Security was expanded (in principle) to all dependent employees and workers (1946). [39]
  • The Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA) was amended in 1946 to permit states where employees made contributions under the unemployment insurance program to use some or all of these contributions for the payment of disability benefits. [35][40]
  • The Social Security Act was amended in 1946 to provide survivor benefits to the dependents of World War II veterans who died within three years of having been discharged from the military. The amendments considered veterans of the Second World War to be fully insured under Social Security for purposes of survivor benefits, even if they had not completed the required number of quarters of covered employment under Social Security. [35]
  • The Civil Service Retirement Act was amended (1948) to provide protection for the survivors of Federal employees. [20]
  • The Civil Service Retirement Act of 1930 was amended (1945) to provide retirement credit, in computing length of service, to persons who left Government service to enter the armed forces. [20]
  • The Internal Revenue Code and the Social Security Act were amended (1945) in order to extend coverage to all employees of the Bonneville Power Administration who were not covered under the Federal Civil Service Retirement Act and therefore had no retirement protection. [20]
  • The Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act and Railroad Retirement Act amendments (1946) established monthly survivor benefits and sickness and maternity benefits for railroad employees. The Social Security Act was also amended by the provision making wages in railroad employment applicable for survivor benefits under the old-age and survivors insurance program. [20]
  • The Social Security Act was amended (1946) to provide coverage to private maritime employees under State unemployment insurance, monthly benefits under old age and survivors insurance for survivors of certain World War II veterans, and temporary unemployment benefits to seamen with wartime Federal employment. Permission was given to States, with employee contributions under their unemployment insurance laws, to use such funds for temporary disability insurance benefits. There would also be greater Federal sharing in public assistance payments for a specified period, and larger grants were to be provided for maternal and child health and child welfare, as well as the extension of these programs to the Virgin Islands. [20]
  • A bill was approved (1947) which extended to July 1949 the time in which income from nursing service and agricultural labor could be disregarded in making old age assistance payments. [20]
  • A law as passed (1947) under which certain aged recipients of assistance could continue, until July 1949, to care for the sick or work for wages on a farm without having such wages jeopardize their assistance payment. [20]
  • The Railroad Retirement Act was amended (1948) to increase certain survivor and retirement benefits. [20]
  • A law was passed (1948) which raised railroad pensions by 20%, yet reduced taxes on payrolls. [20]
  • A law was passed (1948) which increased certain benefits payable under the Longshoremen's and Harbor Workers Compensation Act. [20]
  • A law was approved (1949) which authorized appropriations for the Federal Security Administrator to meet the emergency needs of crippled children for fiscal year 1949, in addition to funds authorized under the Social Security Act. [20]
  • Increases in Social Security benefits were authorized (1948). [41]
  • An act for the rehabilitation of the Navajo and Hopi tribes of Indians was approved (1950), which included a provision to increase the Federal participation in public assistance payments. [33]
  • The Social Security Act of 1950 increased welfare benefits, [42] extended the coverage of Social Security to elderly Americans, and raised the minimum wage. These benefits appealed to both middle-class and working-class Americans. [43] Farm and domestic employees and nonfarm self-employed persons came to be covered for first time under the Social Security Old-Age Insurance pension program. [44] As a result of these changes, an additional 10.5 million Americans were covered by Social Security. [45] According to one historian the 1950 act “was almost as significant as the original 1935 legislation.” [9]
  • In September 1950, benefits began to be paid to dependent husbands, dependent widowers, wives under the age of sixty-five with children in their care, and divorced wives. [33]
  • A law was signed (1952) which increased sickness and unemployment benefits for railroad workers by 30% to 60%, and was financed by a payroll levy on the railroads. [33]
  • The Social Security Act was amended (1952) to extend for another year “the time within which State Governments could make agreements that were retroactive to January 1, 1951, for old-age and survivors insurance coverage of State and local Government employees”. [33]
  • The Federal Property and Administrative Services Act (1949) provided the Federal Security Administrator with the authority to dispose of surplus Federal property to nonprofit or tax-supported educational institutions for health or educational purposes. [41]
  • The Social Security Act of 1952 increased benefits under the old-age and survivors insurance program, extended the period of wage credits for military service through December 31, 1953, liberalized the retirement test and raised the retirement test from $50 to $75 a month. The legislation also changed, for a two-year period, the grant formula for public assistance payments in order to make additional funds available to the States. [33]
  • Social Security coverage was extended to farm workers (1951). [46]
  • Unemployment coverage was extended. [47]
  • Aid to the Permanently and Totally Disabled, a welfare program to provide help to people with disabilities, was introduced (1950). [48]
  • A bill was passed (1952) which raised Social Security benefits [49] by 12.5%. [50]

Labor Edit

A centerpiece of the Fair Deal—the repeal of Taft–Hartley—failed to pass. As Plotke notes, "By the early 1950s repeal of Taft–Hartley was only a symbolic Democratic platform statement." [51]

  • A new Fair Labor Standards Act established a 75-cent-an-hour minimum wage.
  • The Employment Act of 1946 created a clear legal obligation on the part of the federal government to use all practical means ‘to promote maximum employment, production, and purchasing power.’ The Act also established “the basic core of machinery for such economic planning – the Council of Economic Advisers working directly for the President, and the joint Committee on the Economic report in Congress.” Under the Employment Act, within two decades following its passage, swift measures taken by the Federal Reserve authorities and by the administration in charge held in check four recessions, those of 1948–49, 1953–54, 1957–58, and 1960–61.
  • The Office of Economic Stabilization was re-established (1946) in an effort to control rising prices. [52]
  • The Federal Employees Pay Act (1946) brought about a 14% increase in the base pay of most Government workers whose positions were subjected to the Classification Act of 1923. [53]
  • The Fair Labor Standards Amendments of 1949 introduced various provisions designed to “assure the health, efficiency and general well-being of workers.” [54]
  • Moderate tax relief for low-income earners was passed by Congress. [55]
  • The first code of federal regulations for mine safety was authorized by Congress (1947). [56]
  • The Federal Coal Mine Safety Act of 1952 provided for annual inspections in certain underground coal mines, and provided the Bureau with limited enforcement authority, including the power to issue violation notices and imminent danger withdrawal orders. The Act also authorized the assessment of civil penalties against mine operators for refusing to give inspectors access to mine property or for noncompliance with withdrawal orders, although no provision was made for monetary penalties for noncompliance with the safety provisions. [56]
  • Child labor was finally prohibited through an amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act(1949). [57]
  • The number of employees covered by the federal minimum wage was increased. [58]
  • The Judiciary and Judicial Procedure Act of 1948 prohibited employers from intimidating, discharging, threatening to discharge, or coercing permanent employees for serving jury duty. [59]
  • The McGuire Act (1952) strengthened fair trade laws by enabling manufacturers to extend price maintenance even to retailers “who refused to sign contracts.” [60]

Education Edit

As Donaldson notes, the major proposal for large-scale federal aid to education "died quickly, mostly over whether aid should be given to private schools." [61]

    established school lunch programs across the United States, with the purpose of safeguarding "the health and well-being of the nation's children and to encourage the consumption of agricultural abundance". [62] This legislation introduced the provision of commodity donations and federal grants for non-profit milk and lunches in private and public schools. The program had the strong support of conservative Congressmen from rural districts. [63]
  • The George-Barden Act (1946) expanded federal support for vocational education. [64]
  • The Fulbright Program was established (1946), becoming one of the “world’s largest and most respected cooperative educational programs for the interchange of graduate students, teachers, and scholars.” [65]
  • The National Science Foundation was established to support education and research in science. [66]
  • The Federal Impacted Areas Aid Program (1950) authorized federal aid to school districts in which “large numbers of federal employees and tax-exempt federal property create either a substantial increase in public school enrollments or a significant reduction in local property tax revenues.” [63]
  • Long-term low-interest loans to colleges for dormitory construction were authorized (1950). [67]
  • Following the outbreak of the Korean War aid was provided for current expenses and for the construction of additional school facilities in districts which had become centers of wartime activity and were overwhelmed by the arrival of military personnel and their families. [68]
  • $96.5 million was appropriated for school construction under P.L. 81-815 (1950). [41]
  • The federal government funded scholarships and loans for nursing students and provided aid to medical schools in order to meet the growing need for caregivers. [69]
  • $23 million was appropriated for school operating expenses under P.L. 81-874 (1950). [41]

Housing Edit

During the Truman years, the role of the federal government in the field of housing provision was extended, with one major reform in particular (the Housing Act of 1949) passed with the support of the conservative senator Robert A. Taft.

  • The Housing Act of 1949 was a major legislative accomplishment stemming from the collaboration of the Fair Deal and conservative leader Senator Taft. [70] This led to the allocation of federal funds to go towards 800,000 units of public housing.
  • The Federal Housing and Rent Act (1947) was passed to encourage the construction of new rental housing in cities. [71]
  • The Housing and Rent Act (1949) extended federal rent control authority. [72]
  • The Farmers Home Administration was established (1946) to assist self-help rural housing groups as well as to make grants and loans for the repair and construction of rural homes. [73]
  • More money was provided for farm housing. [74]
  • The Federal Housing Administration's mortgage insurance programs were liberalized, authorizing a program of limited technical research and setting up a new program for guaranteeing a minimum yield on direct investments in housing. [75]
  • The Housing Act of 1950 enlarged and liberalized the loan guarantee privileges of Second World War veterans by administering a direct loan program for those veterans who were unable to acquire private home financing. The legislation also authorized a program of mortgage insurance for co-operative housing projects, a program of technical aid, and a new program of mortgage insurance for low-priced new rural housing. [76]
  • A permanent national housing agency was established (1947), promising co-ordination of the principal nonfarm housing functions of the federal government. [75]
  • Rent controls were extended (1951) to cover previously exempted categories. [77]
  • Funds were provided for slum clearance and urban renewal. [9]
  • Appropriations for the Farmer's Home Administration were increased (1950). [78]

Veterans Edit

Veterans benefits were non-controversial, and won support from left and right.

  • The V
  • The Veterans' regulations were amended (1945) to provide increased rates of pension for certain service-incurred disabilities, generally on a parity with rates payable for similar disabilities under the World War I Veterans' Act, 1924, as amended. [33]
  • The Veteran's Readjustment Assistance Act (1952) included provisions for unemployment compensation for veterans under a uniform Federal formula. [33]
  • Legislation was approved (1952) which increased veteran's compensation and pension rates. [33]
  • A law was signed (1949), which extended for one year to June 1950 reconversion and unemployment benefits for seamen provided by Title XIII of the Social Security Act. [20]
  • $3.7 billion was spent of GI benefits from 1945 to 1949. [9]
  • The Social Security Act was amended (1952) to grant wage credits toward Social Security benefits for each month of military service after July 1947 and before January 1954. [35]

Agriculture Edit

Dean shows that the major Fair Deal initiative, the "Brannan Plan" proposed by Secretary of Agriculture Brannan, failed in Congress because Truman delayed too long in presenting it before Congress and it lost initiative and because he never consulted with top leaders in farm legislation. A separate Anderson Act was signed in 1949 that had more in common with the Republican-sponsored Agricultural Act of 1948 than Secretary Brannan's plan did. [79]

  • A Conservation of Wildlife Act was passed (1946) to protect wildlife resources. [80]
  • The Farmers Commodity Credit Corporation Charter Act (1948) stabilized, supported and protected farm incomes and prices, assisted in maintaining adequate supplies, and facilitated an orderly distribution of commodities. [46]
  • The Agricultural Act (1948) introduced a more flexible system of price supports. [77]
  • The Agricultural Act (1949) maintained price supports at 90% of parity. [38] The Act also made certain donated commodities acquired through price-support operations by the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) available for distribution to local public welfare organizations serving poor Americans, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and school lunch programs. It also authorized the CCC “to pay for added processing, packaging, and handling costs for foods acquired under price support so that recipient outlets could more fully use them”. [81]
  • The Disaster Loan Act (1949) made farmers who experienced severe crop losses due to natural disasters eligible for special low-interest loans. [82]
  • A loan program was authorized (1949) for expanding and improving rural telephone facilities. [83]

Federal reclamation and power projects Edit

Truman's Fair Deal reclamation program called for expanded public distribution of federally produced electric power and endorsed restrictions on the amount of land an owner could irrigate from federal water projects. Lobbying efforts by privately owned power companies prevented the spread of public utilities. Political pressure and conflicts with the Budget Bureau and the Army Corps of Engineers kept the Bureau of Reclamation from enforcing the excess land law. [84]

EEO Statement

The Truman Foundation ensures equal employment opportunity for all employees and applicants for employment. Federal Law prohibits discrimination against employees or applicants with respect to race, religion, color, sex, national origin, age, genetic information or disability. The Foundation also ensures equal employment opportunity for all employees or applicants regardless of pregnancy, marital status, or sexual orientation. Complaints of discrimination should be reported to the Deputy Executive Secretary.

All employees have the freedom to compete on a fair and level playing field with equal opportunity for competition. The Truman Foundation observes equal opportunity in all personnel and employment programs, management practices and decision making. Workplace harassment will not be tolerated. Allegations of harassment should be immediately reported to the Deputy Executive Secretary for investigation. Where allegations are substantiated, action will be immediately taken. Reprisal against one who is engaged in a protected activity, such as reporting a claim of discrimination or participating in an EEO investigation, will not be tolerated. The Truman Foundation supports the rights of all employees to exercise their rights under civil rights statutes. The Truman Foundation also supports the rights of employees to engage in union or labor organizing activities. The Foundation will conduct an annual self-assessment to determine if the above policies are being properly enforced.

The Foundation also extends these protections to applicants to the Truman Scholarship Program. The Foundation does not discriminate against a candidate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, genetic information, disability, marital status, pregnancy, economic status or sexual orientation. The Foundation conducts an annual evaluation of its selection process to determine the best way to remove barriers that may operate to exclude certain groups and develop strategic plans to eliminate identified barriers. If you have a suggestion on how this could be done, please contact the Deputy Executive Secretary.

Harassment Policy:

The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation does not permit harassing conduct by anyone in the workplace. The Truman Foundation maintains a work environment free from any unwelcome verbal or physical conduct based on any characteristic protected by law or otherwise covered by the Foundation's EEO Statement. Such conduct rises to the level of harassment when the conduct can reasonably be considered to adversely affect the work environment or employment decisions affecting the employee are based upon the employee's acceptance or rejection of such conduct.

The Foundation will treat any harassing conduct as a form of misconduct, even if the conduct does not rise to the level of harassment actionable under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended. The Foundation will act before a pattern of offensive conduct renders the workplace hostile. Use of ethnic, sexual, religious or racial epithets is not acceptable in the workplace at any time. The Deputy Executive Secretary will deal with even single instances of such conduct immediately. The Foundation will also not tolerate any retaliation against an employee making a good-faith effort of reporting harassing conduct. Employees should bring any complaints of retaliation to the attention of the Deputy Executive Secretary.

Each Truman Foundation employee should act professionally and refrain from harassing conduct – both in their interactions in with one another and with the public that the Foundation serves. Employees will familiarize themselves with this policy and the EEO policies of the Foundation. Employees must promptly report any incident of harassment to the Deputy Executive Secretary. The Deputy Executive Secretary will act promptly and appropriately to prevent harassment and retaliation in the workplace. Once conduct is reported, the Deputy Executive Secretary will conduct an investigation into the incident. Relief, if warranted, will be provided to the alleged victim of harassment pending the outcome of the investigation. If the conduct is proven, the Executive and Deputy Executive Secretary will take prompt and corrective disciplinary action against personnel who have engaged in harassing conduct.

All information related to the investigation will be maintained on a confidential basis to the greatest extent possible. If there is a formal investigation of the conduct, the Deputy Executive Secretary will provide a written summary of findings within one week of the completion of the investigation. The results will be shared with the parties involved and with the Executive Secretary.

Employees found in violation of this policy are subject to a variety of corrective action in accordance with Chapter 75 of the Civil Service Reform Act, up to and including removal.

Watch the video: MP2002-78 Former President Truman Discusses Civil Rights


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