Harry S. Truman: Presidential Rhetoric

By Halford R. Ryan | Go to book overview

3
The President versus the General

At 10: 30 P. M., April 11, 1951, President Truman took to the airwaves to deliver his Preventing a New World War speech, which was his response to preempt further attacks on his policy and to defend himself against the storm of protest that resulted from his dismissal of General Douglas MacArthur. Here are some of the more tepid letters and telegrams that Truman received after he gave his speech:

Who are you trying to kid? And I use the 'dear' only as a form of salutation. Your speeches stink and you stink. I cannot help but feel you are 100% wrong.

Here is one letter that caustically communicated what many Americans felt about Truman (but not necessarily about his daughter, Margaret): "Your lousy speech over the radio trying to clear yourself of the blundering mistakes you made at the expense of General MacArthur are as stupid and dumb as your daughter's sand paper singing voice." 1 Barton Bernstein and Allen Matusow observed that "the public outcry against Truman's action was immediate, emotional, and rancorous"; Republicans in Congress actively considered impeachment; and Truman's effigy was hanged in San Gabriel, California. 2 Even before Truman delivered his speech, the White House received about 2,301 (67 percent) letters and telegrams against MacArthur's dismissal and only 1, 126 (33 percent) for it. 3 In fact, Truman anticipated the attack because "he had thought for a long time and very heavily on the consequences of the action and determined that it was a necessary and proper action, and that he couldn't avoid the criticism that

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Harry S. Truman: Presidential Rhetoric
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Series Foreword vii
  • Foreword xi
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • I 1
  • Introduction 3
  • 1 - The Truman Doctrine 19
  • 2 - The Korean Quagmire 43
  • 3 - The President versus the General 69
  • 4 - Doing Unto Dewey 89
  • Notes 105
  • 5 - Point Four 109
  • 5 Point Four 123
  • Conclusion 127
  • Conclusion 131
  • II - Collected Speeches 133
  • The Truman Doctrine 135
  • Acceptance Speech 141
  • Doctor Dewey and the Republican Record 147
  • Inaugural Address 155
  • On Korea I 161
  • On Korea II 163
  • Far Eastern Policy 165
  • Chronology of Speeches 171
  • Bibliography 199
  • Index 207
  • About the Author 215
  • Great American Orators 216
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