Harry S. Truman photo

Address in Chicago at the Democratic National Convention.

July 26, 1952

[Broadcast from Convention Hall at 1:43 a.m.]

Mr. Chairman:

You know, it's early in the morning, and it's getting earlier. Certain things have to be done here tonight, and I appreciate immensely this grand reception which you have given me. I will appreciate it a lot more, now, if you will be quiet and let me do my job and get the new presidential nominee here, so he can make a good acceptance speech.

It has been a grand day for me. You people here have had a great and magnificent convention. I have been watching conventions and listening to them ever since I have been old enough, and this--in my opinion-is the greatest Democratic convention ever held.

You have demonstrated here for all the world to see, that the Democratic Party is the party of the people. You have had a free convention. You have made your rules and you have adopted your platform. You have met the issues head-on--the only way to meet them.

You have stood by the principles that make the Democratic Party great. You have adopted a platform that says what it means, and means what it says. You have laid down a winning program, and you have nominated a winner for the next President of the United States.

You are going out of this convention much stronger than when you came in. One of the things that impressed me as I watched this convention on television--and I missed very little of it--is the wealth of good men of great ability that we have in the Democratic Party.

I have never worried about the outcome of this convention, because all those placed in nomination have been unusually fine men and able leaders. I don't know of any time that our party has had better men to choose from, and we have had a lot of good men in the Democratic Party. The only trouble was, we had to pick one--and leave the others out.

It was hard to make a choice among these great leaders, but the choice that we have made is one that we can all get behind. We are going out of here an inspired and fighting party, dedicated to the welfare of the people.

We are bound to win this election.

Now, 4 years ago, I told the Democratic convention in Philadelphia, that Senator Barkley and I were going out and win in 1948. And that is just what we did.

There were a lot of people who didn't believe me. They turned out to be wrong. I am telling you now that Adlai Stevenson is going to win in 1952.

We are going to win in 1952 the same way we won in 1948. And I pledge you now that I am going to take my coat off and do everything I can to help him win.

Now, the Republicans can't understand why it is that the Democrats keep on winning elections. They think there's some kind of trick in it, and they have just about gone crazy trying to find out what that trick is.

You know, the real reason the Democrats win elections is a perfectly simple reason-because the Democratic Party gives the American people the kind of government they want.

Under our leadership, the people of America march forward. Think of what our Nation has done in 20 years of Democratic leadership. Think of it! A country rescued from disaster and made the greatest and strongest Nation in the history of the world. They have 62 million jobs--62 million people at work--the highest living standards in our history, the best distribution of income mankind ever saw. More leisure, greater freedom, and better health, and more security for the average man than any people ever before in the history of the world.

Now, every 4 years the Republican leaders, men of little faith and no vision--they wouldn't be Republicans if they weren't that way--they come forth and try to stop the progress of a mighty people.

Well, they are at it again this year. They are determined and powerful, and they are going to throw all of their forces into the campaign. They have money. They are going to throw millions of dollars into their attempt to deceive and confuse the American people, and stop this onward march.

Well now, in 1948 we didn't have any money. There were times when I couldn't get the train out of the station, when I was out on that whistlestop tour. And you know what happened, don't you? We made them like it. And then there were a lot of people who thought the Democratic Party was a great party, and we managed to pay our bills--but it all happened afterwards.

It has been my experience ever since I have been in politics; that when you want to win an election you go out and win it on the merits, and convince the people that what you have for them is better than what the other fellow is trying to give them. That is exactly my policy, and that is what is going to happen this time.

Now, these Republicans have nearly all of the newspapers and magazines on their side. They may have, and probably will have, public opinion polls--as in 1948. Well, the pollsters and the press in 1948 acted like Kipling's monkey convention in his famous jungle book. You know, the monkeys had a convention, and the head of the whole simians made a statement, and made a statement, and made a statement. And he kept on making that statement. Finally, the concourse said, "It must be so, we all say so. It must be so, we all say so."

It turned out a little differently in 1948. You know, those pollsters and pressmen should have conferred with the people, instead of holding monkey meetings among themselves.

They had control of big business. Look at the advertising figures, if you don't believe it. It has always been against President Roosevelt. It has always been against me. And if it was for me, I'd know I was wrong! We have gone ahead in spite of it, because the people, in five elections in a row, have shown they don't pay any attention to what the newspapers tell them. And smart writers--the smart writers can't fool the hardheaded voters of the United States of America.

Now, the Republicans have bad records, and they have no program. People are not going to pay any attention to men who have been opposing everything the people have wanted for the last 20 years. They know that the Republican reactionaries have fought against every measure that has made our country prosperous at home and powerful abroad.

Now here is what they have been against. The Republicans have been against social security. They have been against price supports to farmers. They have been against fair labor standards laws. They have been against TVA, and rural electrification, and low-cost power. They have been against housing programs, and rent controls, against measures to strengthen national defense, and against measures of peaceful cooperation with the other nations of the world.

This year they have made it perfectly plain they are going backward and not forward. They have their 1920 model in reverse, just to be sure.

In their 1952 platform, the Republicans endorse the Taft-Hartley Act--lock, stock and barrel. Well, here we are!--they are for something--Taft-Hartley. They have come out against Federal aid to education. They promise to cut the farmer loose, and take his chances in the marketplace--they want to put him in the hands of the loan sharks and have the courts foreclose him again.

They weasel on civil rights.

Read their civil rights paragraph, and then read our paragraph on civil rights, and see which one you want.

They promise to remove price controls, and scuttle rent control. They are always for something that will hurt the people and help special privilege.

Now, wonder of wonders, this is one you can write home about. They even endorse the 80th Congress. Can you beat that? That discredited 80th Congress!

Well, the Republicans are for two things: They are for Taft-Hartley, and they are for that discredited 80th Congress. That is just about as forward-looking as they ever get. They are looking back all the time.

This country won't listen to men who want to turn back the clock, men who want to run the car in reverse instead of high gear. That is what they want to do. The country is not going to choose leaders who have no faith in the people. This country is not going to turn over its prosperity to men who would sacrifice the many to protect the privileges of the few, and that is Republican policy from start to finish.

I don't think the country is going to turn the safety of this country over to men who are more concerned in cutting the budget than they are with stopping communism.

Now, this country is determined to go forward, and to go forward in high gear. The people of this country are far ahead of most of the politicians, and they always are. The people are not afraid of new ideas. They want the Government to go ahead with the measures that are necessary to realize the unlimited opportunities America offers for increasing the happiness and welfare of the people of this great country.

That is why the people will turn this year, as they have in the past, to the party of progress, the Democratic Party--the party of the people. They will turn to us because we have a program for going forward. It is a program of concrete, practical measures-written down in black and white in the platform in words that are as plain and easy to understand as it is possible.

Now, our greatest program is for world peace. First of all, ours is a program for peace in the world. This is a program to which we have dedicated ourselves with all our hearts. We are determined to avoid world war three.

Everything I have done since I took office has been directed toward this single goal: preserving the peace of the world.

The foundation of our program for peace is the United Nations.

I am fully convinced that if we keep working at it, the United Nations will become what it was intended to be: the parliament of man and the federation of the world. That is what we are looking forward to.

In the United Nations we have pledged our honor. We have backed up our pledge with our resources and our armed might. We created the Marshall plan, and the mutual security program. We have created the North Atlantic Treaty, and joined it. We have entered into security arrangements in the Pacific. We have met aggression in Korea, and we have stopped it there.

By these acts we have given hope and faith to those who live in the shadow of conquest, and those in the slave world of communism. By these acts we have created a company of allies, and a chain of defense to protect this beloved country of ours.

But we know a lasting peace cannot be won by force alone. We know that peace must mean bread, and justice, and opportunity, and freedom for all the people in the world. That is why we have pledged our aid to help other nations, to help themselves to go forward. That is why we have launched the point 4 program.

Point 4 is good business for us, and for our friends. In the underdeveloped countries of the world, for them and for us, it means more trade, more markets, and more prosperity, and a better supply of raw materials.

But point 4 is much more than that. Point 4 is the helping hand we extend to the farmer in Egypt, to the undernourished child in India, to the impoverished laborer in Iran, Iraq, and Syria.

I want to remind you of something. This country, in its developing stage, had investments from Germany and France, and Holland and Great Britain, which helped us develop railroads and mines and cattle ranches. And that is one of the things that has made this country great. Now, when those countries became involved in two world wars within a generation, they had to withdraw those funds and use them for their protection.

We are in the position now of making the world entirely safe for democracy, if we don't crawl in the shell and act selfish and foolish.

Point 4 is the way to help. Point 4 is the way that we can help people to help themselves. Point 4 is not a giveaway program. Point 4 is something that, in the long run, will keep our production machine busy from now on, if we can just raise the standard of living of the rest of the world as much as 2 percent.

We must keep this lamp alight and shining, because it is a symbol to the world of our humane Americanism, of our friendship for all peoples--people of all races, of all creeds, who want to lift themselves up and build a better life for themselves and their children.

Point 4 is the way to make freedom work for millions and millions of people. That is why it is one of our strongest weapons against the spread of communism.

I must say to you, my friends, that when I speak of our foreign policy, I speak with great pride, for our foreign policy is one of the greatest achievements of this country-or any other country--in all the history of the world.

My good friends, we have finally stepped into the leadership which Almighty God intended us to assume a generation ago.

But the Democratic Party has a forward-looking domestic program to match its forward-looking foreign policy. We know that one will not work without the other.

To meet our responsibilities to the world, we must have a strong and prosperous United States of America. The Democratic Party has a program for strengthening our country and improving the life of every person in it.

We will carry on the fight for the progress of the American farmer, including strong price supports for farm products, and a soil conservation program that really works.

We will carry on the fight for fair wages and good working conditions for American labor.

And we will fight for the repeal of that good-for-nothing Taft-Hartley Act.

It's a snare and a delusion, that Taft-Hartley thing is. It doesn't get you anywhere, and it isn't going anywhere itself.

We will carry on the fight for strong wage and price controls to protect the buying power of the white-collar workers, and people of fixed income.

We will carry on the fight for real competitive enterprise against monopoly.

We will carry on the fight for increased benefits and greater coverage under the social security laws.

We will carry on the fight for Federal aid to education, to help the States meet the crisis confronting our schools.

We will carry on the fight to develop our natural resources for the benefit of all the people, and not for private monopolies.

We will carry on the fight to bring decent housing within the reach of all our people at prices they can afford to pay.

We will carry on the fight to bring better health to all our people.

We will carry. on the fight for the full protection of civil rights to all of our citizens in all parts of the country, without regard to race, religion, or national origin.

Now, these elements of the Democratic program are not empty promises. They are plans for action.

I was elected in 1948 because the people wanted these things done. They believed that a Democratic President and a Democratic administration would work for human progress. And that is exactly what we have been doing.

We have worked and fought to translate the hopes and dreams of the American people into reality.

We have gone ahead to expand opportunities for young people, to help the aged and afflicted, to make American homes more secure against sickness and disaster. We have opened the way to good incomes and greater freedom for all.

And now--now in this year 1952, the world is moving into the atomic age. The American people know that the way to fulfill the promise of the future is to stick with the progressive policies that have been pioneered by the Democratic Party--this great party of ours. For the people know that we are interested not only in the next election-we are interested in the next generation.

We are standing at the threshold of a new day in human history, a day when men's lives will be changed, beyond anything we can imagine, by the giant strides of science, by developments like electronics, supersonic speeds, and atomic energy. We are at the end of an era and the beginning of another. We face the greatest age in the history of the world. I wish I was 18 instead of 68 so I could see the development to its conclusion.

The program that the Democratic Party faces is toward this new day. This administration has been working to bring this new day into being. We have put the resources of the Government behind the development of these miracles of science. At present we must devote these new inventions in great part to defense, but if we can establish world peace--and we are going to establish it-then we can turn these new inventions to improving the lot of mankind. We can look forward to the day when the people of this land, and of all this world, will have a better life than they have ever known before. The prospects are simply fantastic and simply beyond the imagination.

It is God's will, I am sure, that all this new energy, all this new scientific progress and research, should be placed at man's disposal for reasons other than man's destruction. You and I are determined that they shall be used to make a better world for all of God's children--a world of peace and plenty, a world of freedom and understanding, a world of democracy and faith.

We have faith in the future of the world. We have faith in the future of this great country of ours. We believe in an expanding America. We believe that democracy is but another name for growth. We believe in a nation--and a world--in which every living person and every child to be born may have an opportunity to grow in all ways; to grow in mind, in heart, and in body; to grow in the things of the spirit; to enjoy health and opportunity and happiness, and an increasing share of worldly goods; and above all else, to grow in freedom.

We believe in an unlimited America. Unlike our Republican opponents, we would not limit our goals to the mere compass of our fears. Instead, we will extend our goals to match our hopes.

The essence of American belief in the future is faith. We have overcome adversity and triumphed again and again over foes and fears, because we are a confident and optimistic people. Our faith will sustain us in the future, as it has in the past if we remember to act upon it. The way to live up to our faith is by working and voting for a better and a brighter future.

The touchstone of our hopes is the ballot box. It is there we affirm our belief that things can and will be better for us all.

Throughout the past 20 years, in five presidential elections, millions of confident Americans have gone to their polling places and there pledged their faith in America unlimited, and in a world unrestrained by fear and force.

They did that by voting the Democratic ticket, and that is exactly what they are going to do in November. [At this point, at 2:10 a.m., the President introduced Adlai Stevenson, Governor of Illinois.] Please sit down.

If you don't let the President-elect make his acceptance speech, you won't have any candidate, so you had better sit down.

Mr. Chairman, members of the convention:

I have a privilege tonight that comes to very few people. It is my privilege and pleasure to present to you a man who was nominated for President of the United States because he was a gentleman, and a citizen of this great State of Illinois, and a great administrator, and because he would not make any deals with anybody.

He was nominated on a draft. This is the first time in my recollection that we have nominated a man for President on a real, honest-to-goodness draft.

He is able, capable, and will carry on the traditions of the Democratic Party in the best way they can possibly be carried on.

I consider it an honor and a privilege to present to you the Honorable Adlai Stevenson, the nominee for Democratic President.

Note: The President's opening words "Mr. Chairman" referred to the Honorable Sam Rayburn, Speaker of the House of Representatives and permanent chairman of the convention.

Harry S Truman, Address in Chicago at the Democratic National Convention. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/231241

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