Political power, not public fame, quickened the pulse of James F. "Jimmy" Byrnes. And as that pulse quickened for ninety years, Jimmy Byrnes—a former U. S. congressman, a former U. S. senator, a former associate justice of the U. S. Supreme Court, a former U. S. secretary of state, and a former state governor—continued to be influential on a national scale until only a few years before his death in 1972. Byrnes is arguably among the most experienced and least known of the "wise men" who exercised great political power just below the office of the president during the Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, and Nixon administrations.
Nor did Jimmy Byrnes consider the office of the presidency itself to be beyond his abilities; and in attempting the possession of the Oval Office, Byrnes, who was known throughout the war years of the 1940s as the "assistant president," did not fail for lack of trying. Twice this intensely private and ambitious man from South Carolina was encouraged by Franklin Roosevelt to become his vice-presidential running mate, once in 1940 and again in 1944; and twice Roosevelt withdrew his political support for Byrnes' nomination at a critical moment during the party's national conventions after objections to Byrnes' nomination by the liberal wing of the