Harry S Truman Fiftieth Election Anniversary 1948-1998
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Whistle-Stop Campaign

Contributed by John K. Hulston

On July 5, 1948, Truman traveled to Bolivar, Missouri, to dedicate a statue to Simon Bolivar, the South American liberator. On the return trip, Hulston suggested that Truman stop over in Springfield. The following is an account of that stop, taken from Hulston's book An Ozark Lawyer's Story:

Meanwhile, back in Springfield despite the heat and practically no publicity, because we had not been certain the President would speak until his agreement early that morning, a crowd began to assemble long before 5:00 P.M., the hour set for the Truman train to arrive from Bolivar for a three hour stop.

Truman, standing on the rear end of the plush Frisco car, spoke off-the-cuff. He said, "I thought everybody in Greene County was [in Bolivar] this morning, but I guess I was mistaken. It's a great pleasure to see all of you and to get to speak to you, which I hadn't expected to do.” He then told in a folksy way about what he did at Bolivar and emphasized that Simon Bolivar was regarded as a George Washington in South America. He didn't 'give the 80th Congress hell,’ but he didn't miss any bets either.

I have searched the available records and am willing to defend the proposition that the off-the-cuff speech by Truman in Springfield, on this day is actually the granddaddy of the Truman "whistle-stop” speeches of the 1948 campaign, which it now seems won for him the Presidency.

 

Statue of Simon Bolivar
photo of the statue of Simon Bolivar

 

Truman at Bolivar Dedication
photo of Truman at Bolivar dedication

 



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Created 1998 - Revised 2002: Acknowledgments
Missouri State ArchivesOffice of the Secretary of State, Missouri