Harry S. Truman photo

Remarks at the Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner

February 24, 1949

[Delivered at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington at 9:40 p.m.]

Mr. Chairman, fellow Democrats:

I can't tell you how very much I appreciate the introduction of the chairman of the Democratic National Committee. I wish I deserved everything he said.

I thought we had a perfect toastmaster, or presiding officer, for this occasion in Wilson Wyatt. I was most highly pleased with the speech of Mrs. Mesta. If that is her first effort at a political speech, I wonder what she will do 10 years from now? My first effort at a political speech would not be printable--or quotable.

I enjoyed the orchestra. I am very fond of good music, and I think Mr. Tucker has one of the loveliest voices I ever listened and I have heard a great many of them.

If I remember correctly, I stood right here on the 19th of February 1948, and told you that you were looking at the next President.1 Well?

1For the Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner address, see 1948 volume, this series, Item 32. See also the President's remarks at the Young Democrats dinner on page 259 of the same volume.

There were a lot of people at that time who disagreed with me. And they had a lot to say in editorials and columns, and newspapers. Ninety percent of them were of the opinion that somebody else would be president now. I am sorry to have disappointed them!

I am most happy, most happy, to have together all the September Democrats, and the October Democrats--and the Monday Democrats, and the Tuesday Democrats, and the Wednesday Democrats!

The Democratic Party, you know, is a great institution. I think it is the greatest political party in the history of the world. Thomas Jefferson first enunciated the principle that the source of power is in the people, and that the people are to be trusted in the conduct of their government. Everybody in Jefferson's day considered that a fine theory, but not much good in practice.

Then came along an old man from Tennessee, and he took a hickory stick and he put it into practice.

Tonight, we are honoring those two great men--Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson.

Since that time, we have had some great Democratic Presidents. Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt gave us the new freedom and the new deal. And now we are continuing those principles of the Democratic Party enunciated by those four great Democratic Presidents.

I am just as sure as I stand here that the people are with us in our efforts to implement the Democratic platform of 1948. They believed us when we said that is what we are intending to implement, and they are going to stay with us while we do it. And I think this great turnout of those September and October Democrats conclusively proved that that is exactly what we are going to do.

I can't tell you how very much I appreciate this privilege. As you know, last year we started at the Statler and ended up here. This year we had to reverse the procedure, we are starting here and we are ending up over at the Statler. So I have to go over to the Statler, and with Senator Barkley reiterate those same principles on which the Senator and I were elected. He is now the Vice President. I always call him Senator--in fact, I always call him boss, because he was the Floor Leader of the Democratic Party all the 10 years that I was in the Senate, and I never did call him any other way but the man who knows where he is going, and what he is doing--and he does.

I sincerely hope that you will give me credit for going the same way.

Note: The President's opening words "Mr. Chairman" referred to Senator J. Howard McGrath, chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Later he referred to Wilson W. Wyatt, chairman of the dinner, Mrs. Perle Mesta of Washington, D.C., and Richard Tucker, a tenor with the Metropolitan Opera.

Harry S. Truman, Remarks at the Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/229921

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