A Compromise Candidate
The 1944 Democratic Convention focused on who would be nominated for the Vice Presidency.
Harry Byrd, Senator: The entire focus of that convention was on who would be nominated for the Vice Presidency.
Narrator: The current Vice-President, Henry Wallace, was the man to beat. A champion of civil rights and labor, he was immensely popular with liberals, but conservative Democrats opposed him. Many of them turned to Jimmy Byrnes from South Carolina, a former Senator and Supreme Court Justice. An avowed segregationist, he was unacceptable to liberals. With the democrats divided, party leaders were searching for a compromise. Party Chairman Bob Hannegan wanted neither Wallace nor Byrnes.
Pat Hannegan: My father and the other political advisors felt that Jimmy Byrnes would be a liability to the ticket. Southerners were a drawback at that time. Labor was not particularly fond of him. And my father was very concerned about Wallace as a possible President. He felt that he was sort of flaky. And from a politician's standpoint my father couldn't control him. So, my father felt that Truman would be somewhat blameless. That he would have no real drawbacks.
Alonzo Hamby: So he emerges as a compromise candidate. "The Missouri Compromise: some people say. He has conservative friends.
Southerners like him. But he's been a good New Dealer. He's got labor union contacts. He emerges as the person everyone can agree on.
Ken Hechler: It was simply, actually a dipping into almost the bottom of the barrel, you could almost say, to appoint as Vice President, and to select as Vice President on the ticket, a man who didn't have anything against him.
My American Experience
Who is your favorite 20th-century American president? Was it FDR? Reagan? Clinton? Or one of the other 14 men who helped usher the United Sates through the 1900s? Who do you think was the most influential?