Eisenhower and the American Crusades

By Herbert S. Parmet | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4 Why They Liked Ike

A LTHOUGH MANY WERE certain that the General had prudently given himself latitude by using the words "in the absence of some obvious and overriding reasons" in his "I do not choose to run" letter to Leonard Finder, the statement was widely regarded as a fine argument for not having a military man as President and as a firm, if un-Shermanlike, no. The letter, a response to Finder's newspaper editorial call for Eisenhower's participation, via delegates pledged in his behalf, in the New Hampshire primary elections of March 1948, was necessary to halt the pro-Ike activity in the Granite State.

But, coinciding with his arrival at Columbia, the national boom continued. Politicians, most of them Democrats bent on dumping Truman, went to Morningside Heights in persistent droves. One estimate states that at least eight Senators and a half dozen Governors reached the campus.1 Publicly, endorsements of support came from a wide range of sources: Jersey City's strong-arm Mayor Frank Hague; "Boss" Jacob Arvey of Chicago; Mayor Hubert Humphrey of Minneapolis; Governor William Tuck of Virginia; other Southern politicians, both liberal and conservative, such as Senators John C. Stennis of Mississippi, John Sparkman of Alabama, Richard Russell of Georgia and Claude Pepper of Florida, the latter an outspoken New Dealer.2 Furthermore, they were all Democrats. But a relatively early call for Ike came from Alf Landon of Kansas, the GOP's loser to FDR in 1936. In March, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr., a vice-chairman of the Americans for Democratic Action, and the policy committee of New York's Liberal party both announced for Ike, thereby abandoning Truman.3 Organized labor also offered

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