do it--if you will give us a chance." 39
And the voters did. The popular vote was about 24,100,00 (49.5 percent) for Truman versus Dewey's 21,900,000 (45.1 percent), and the electoral vote was 303 against Dewey's 189 and Strom Thurmond's 39. 40
This chapter has pointed the way toward a revision of Harry S. Truman as an orator. Of course, his delivery was his major distraction, which might be a reason one hesitates to term Truman a "great" American orator. However, the 1948 campaign was Truman's finest oratorical hour, for it proved conclusively that he could energize crowds with his appeals, especially when he relied minimally on his manuscript and instead spoke extempore, or ad-libbed his addresses. Unfortunately, but inexplicably, Truman reverted to his wooden style of delivery for the rest of his presidency. Moreover, Truman possessed a substantial mastery over the grand rhetorical strategy of the campaign. His handling of language for purposeful effect, as illustrated by his emendations on various drafts, was more artistic than has hitherto been granted.
Harry Truman won the 1948 campaign on his own merit and against substantial odds, which Franklin D. Roosevelt did not have to confront in 1932 and 1936, and certainly not in 1940 and 1944, although the race with Dewey was FDR's closest. HST's political instincts were prescient, for he correctly forecasted, in his undated manuscript penned on White House stationery after the Republican convention but before the Democratic convention, that "The American people will believe me when I tell them the truth and the result can only be one way. Continuation of a peoples [sic] government." 41 Such Jacksonian faith, from a Jackson County Democrat, was rewarded by the American people in 1948.