Harry Truman and Civil Rights

Michael R. Gardner explains the remarkable role the President Harry S. Truman has played to the foundations of civil rights in America. Hardly anyone of the various Truman autobiographies and analyses on his doctrine printed in the last few decades pursued this midst-position in managing his management of civil rights strategy. But Gardner's “Harry Truman and Civil Rights: Moral Courage and Political Risks” is a retro-liberal discussion that is far away from the McCoy and Ruetten’s  thesis.

Gardner's belief is that Truman was leading the way, a leading actor, and the leader of the contemporary civil rights group and is evocative of the early hours of pre-revisionist Truman researchers. Though I myself have the same opinion with Gardner's optimistic handling of Truman's civil rights events, the writer is very passionate, even sloppy, to the position of hagiography.

His text is, time and again, excessively vigorous and sometimes the book emerges as collegiate. For instance, he states his own findings like "the frequently ignored fact that Woodrow Wilson was a hands-on segregationist," a truth renowned among all history writers. After outlining Harry S. Truman's background in a conventional racially-prejudiced culture, Gardner dedicated almost all episodes of this book to the most important behaviors of Truman’s civil rights.

These consist of:  The Committee of Truman on Civil Rights from 1946 to 1947, in 1947 his talking to the NAACP at the Lincoln Memorial, the State of the Union Speech and the Special Message to assembly on basic Civil Rights (both in 1947), the Civil Rights board at the 1948s’ Independent Party Conference, Executive Orders 9980 and 9981 which reconciled central administration employment and the armed forces, the Harlem Speech in October 1948, clashes with Congress during Truman’s second tenure, the Vinson Supreme Court, the Beginning of Howard University’s Address in June 1952 and finally the Harlem Speech in October 1952.

This book’s most excellent input is the dialogues of the link between Truman and his good mate and poker friend, Fred Vinson, who first worked as a Secretary of the Reserves until Truman selected him as a Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court in June 1946. Gardner' legal backdrop is helpful as he directs the person who reads through the imperative Vinson civil rights cases for instance ‘Shelley v. Kraemer’, ‘Hurd v. Hodge’, ‘Henderson v.

United States’, ‘McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents’ and Sweatt v. Painter, which analytically dented ‘Plessey v. Ferguson’ and set the theater for the ‘Brown v. Board’ verdict later under Chief Justice Earl Warren. Typical of Gardner's approach, he thanks Truman with this intact lawful way by affirming that Truman was an excellent adjudicator of personality and that he recognized Fred Vison would proceed assertively on ‘civil rights’ issues.

Gardner does make use of additional resources, particularly the ‘Philleo Nash’ backdrop credentials for Truman's civil rights speeches and spoken accounts and private dialogues with main Truman staff workers on these topics, for instance ‘George M. Elsey’ and ‘Philleo Nash’, plus the dialogues with less recognized icons such as White House concierge ‘Bob Brown’ along with butler Alonzo Fields, two Black staff-workers who had individual affairs with the head.

What the writer doesn’t achieve is to thoroughly tackle those who are less- benevolent concerning Truman's civil rights behavior than he is. He was liable to announce his stand more willingly than to disprove the resistance. By handling civil rights separately rather than as fraction of the entirety of Truman's home policy plan, he leaves himself susceptible to the claim of revisionists that Truman conversed a fine game, but frequently forgone civil rights to other main concerns.

Used with some restraint, the book can offer good stuff for addresses on the premature civil rights group; but speaking expressly to persons who read this picky publication.


Gardner, Michael R. Harry Truman and Civil Rights: Moral Courage and Political Risks. Carbondale, Ill. : Southern Illinois University Press, 2002. McCoy, Donald R. , and Richard T. Ruetten. Quest and Response: Minority Rights and the Truman Administration. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1973