Truman's State of the Union Address:
January 7 1948
Our first goal is to secure fully the essential human rights of our citizens.
—HST, January 7, 1948
On Tuesday, January 6, 1948, just seventy days after Harry Truman formally accepted the report of his Civil Rights Committee, the president prepared to deliver his third state of the union address to members of a Congress already focused on their own reelection and on the election of a president later that year. As a former member of the U. S. Senate, the president knew exactly what he was up against with the GOP-led Eightieth Congress, where Southern Democrat leaders were still a formidable force even though they were temporarily relegated to minority-party status. 1 Truman also knew how deeply his Southern Democratic colleagues treasured their states' rights philosophy, which had provided the legal foundation for the racist, segregated traditions that dominated life throughout the South—and the South would be critical to his election hopes ten months later.
As he prepared his address to the Congress, the ever blunt Harry Truman made the following entry in his diary on January 6, 1948:
Congress meets—Too bad too.
They'll do nothing but wrangle, pull phony investigations and generally upset the affairs of the Nation.
I'm to address them soon. They won't like the address either. 2
Truman knew that this Congress would definitely not like his state of the union address, primarily because the president would tell them that a federal civil rights program was his top priority.