Harry Truman | St. Louis Public Radio

Harry Truman

The massive guns on the the World War II era battleship could 'fire a 2,500-pound shell almost 24 miles away, with pretty good accuracy,' the president and CEO of the U.S.S. Missouri Memorial Association said.

The massive guns on board the U.S.S. Missouri are a sight-to-see, but it wasn't the ship's weaponry garnering all the attention on a late summer night in 1989.

The U.S.S. Missouri Memorial Association is preparing to commemorate 75 years since the end of World War II, which is a good time remember the battleship is famous for more than just its massive 16", .50 caliber guns and its role in the war. A concert on the ship created its own shock and awe.

President Harry S. Truman standing in an open car, speaking into microphones in 1948, Washington, DC. President Truman had just returned from a campaign trip.
Abbie Rowe | National Archives and Records Administration

For 118 years, Missouri has been represented in the U.S. Capitol’s esteemed Statuary Hall by two statues of slavery opponents from the 1800s: Francis Preston Blair Jr., and Thomas Hart Benton (the politician, not the painter.)

That’s likely to change, according to U.S. Sens. Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill, who issued a rare joint news release a few days ago to declare, in effect, that they’re wild about Harry S. Truman and optimistic his statue will soon bump Blair’s.

Wikimedia Commons

This St. Louis on the Air program will be re-broadcast on Monday, May 30 at noon. You can listen live online here. It was initially aired on July 22, 2015. 

During the summer and fall of 1948, President Harry S. Truman’s risky journey toward a second term turned out to be one of his greatest campaigning decisions.

After a 31,000-mile train ride across the country and 352 speeches during what’s known as his “Whistle Stop Tour,” Truman won the presidential election against then New York Governor Thomas Dewey.

President Harry Truman signed this official portrait during his first term in office. The autograph reads: To the Key Club, a great organization in a great city, St. Louis, with best wishes and happy memories. Harry S Truman
Harry S Truman Library & Museum

If you're surprised to find some courts and state offices in Missouri closed Monday, you might not know about Truman Day — an official state holiday celebrating the president who was raised in Independence, Mo. 

In the summer of 1953, Harry and Bess Truman threw 11 suitcases in their new Chrysler New Yorker and headed east. They planned to drive from their home in Independence to Washington, D.C., and back.

President Harry Truman had been out of office for only a few months. The trip had a June 26 deadline: Truman had to be in Philadelphia for a speaking engagement. So with Harry behind the wheel and Bess monitoring his speed, the Trumans stopped in diners, hotels and gas stations in a road trip that would be unimaginable today.

Ulysses S. Grant
(via Wikimedia Commons/U.S. Library of Congress)

Four presidents have ties to the St. Louis area, and each has left his mark on it.

Ulysses S. Grant came to St. Louis in 1843 after graduating from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and farmed in the St. Louis area for six years. He met his future wife here; Julia Dent was the sister of one of Grant’s classmates at West Point. The two were married in St. Louis in 1848. Grant led the Union armies to victory in the Civil War, and was elected the 18th president of the United States, taking office in 1869.

Wikimedia Commons

On July 15, 1948, President Harry S. Truman received the Democratic nomination for president – hardly an upset as he was already president. He took his first oath of office on April 12, 1945, following the death of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Truman’s entrance to politics, however, hardly suggested a rise to the presidency. He grew up on a farm, worked as bank clerk and ran a men’s clothing business that failed. After that, politics looked like the only good career option.

At that point, political boss Tom Pendergast largely ran Kansas City politics.

Commentary: Why I sometimes like Evil Claire

Jul 11, 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: I tend to confuse ideological people. Conservatives consider me a liberal; liberals — or progressives, as they now self-identify — accuse me of being a reactionary. I feel like the last kid chosen for a ball game at recess: neither team wants me.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 26, 2012 - WASHINGTON – Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, the latest Republican to invoke the spirit of Harry S Truman, declared Monday in St. Louis that there are parallels between Truman’s 1940 Senate race and GOP nominee U.S. Rep Todd Akin’s quest this year.

Health care has dogged Missouri pols since Truman

Jul 3, 2012

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 3, 2012 - WASHINGTON - When Congress passed the Medicare bill in 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson flew with a passle of supportive lawmakers to Missouri so he could sign the bill at a table with former president Harry S Truman.

"It all started really with the man from Independence," Johnson said at the Truman Library ceremony, recalling the Missourian's spirited but unsuccessful effort two decades earlier to convince Congress to pass a national health-insurance plan.

Republican Blunt claims Truman's old Senate office

Apr 19, 2011

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 19, 2011 -WASHINGTON - "A bureaucrat," Harry S Truman once quipped, "is a Democrat who holds some office that a Republican wants."

As a Democratic U.S. senator and later as president, the feisty Truman earned a reputation as "Give 'em Hell, Harry" -- and he often relished giving hell to his Republican opponents in Missouri and around the country.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 2, 2009 - Why does a Civil War general who was an unsuccessful vice presidential hopeful outrank a former president?

That's the question that Gov. Jay Nixon and U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan have sought to answer -- and correct -- after learning that Missouri's only man in the White House, Harry S Truman, doesn't have a statue in the U.S. Capitol.

Happy birthday, Harry Truman

May 6, 2009

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 6, 2009 - Take a moment on Friday to say Happy Birthday to U.S. President Harry S. Truman, Missouri's most famous son. May 8 is the 125th anniversary of his birth.

A half-century has passed since Harry Truman was president, but the spirit of "Give 'em Hell, Harry" remains strong. Indeed, some historians now rank him among America's best presidents.