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.

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  • Additional funding for this program was provided by

  • NEH

  • Additional funding for this program was provided by

  • NEH