"He can do as he damn pleases," Harry Truman snapped to a group of startled journalists gathered at the White House on January 19, 1950. The president's tart statement was in response to a reporter's question at a news conference that day, asking Truman for his reaction to the announcement that Jimmy Byrnes was leaving private life in order to run for the governorship of South Carolina. Little more than three years had passed since former Secretary of State James F. Byrnes had resigned from Truman's cabinet with a cordial exchange of "Dear Mr. President" and "My dear Jimmy" letters. But during that time much water had flowed under the bridge, to use one of Joseph Stalin's favorite expressions; and although Byrnes had continued after leaving the federal government to give strong public support to the administration's Cold War policies, Jimmy Byrnes had by 1950 emerged as the foremost critic of the Truman administration's domestic policies.
Byrnes at first kept to his plans to retire from public affairs and "make a little money." Less than three months after Byrnes had resigned from the State Department, newspapers in the nation's capital and other major cities carried the announcement in April 1947 that the former secretary of