Truman and Pendergast

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University of Missouri Press, 1999 - Biography & Autobiography - 162 pages
No portion of the political career of Harry S. Truman was more fraught with drama than his early relationship with Thomas J. Pendergast. The two men met in 1927. Truman, who was then presiding judge of Jackson County, gave a $400000 road contract to a construction company in South Dakota, & Pendergast, the Boss of Kansas City, wasn't very happy about it: he had someone else in mind for the contract. Although their association began in disagreement, their common interest in politics was enough to establish a long-lasting relationship. In 1934, after turning down fourteen other contenders, the influential Pendergast sponsored Truman for the Senate. Although Truman had often cooperated with Pendergast on patronage issues, he had never involved himself in the illegalities that would eventually destroy the Pendergast machine. In fact, Truman had no idea how deeply the Boss had engaged in corruption in his personal affairs, as well as in managing the government of Kansas City. When the Boss was sent to Leavenworth for tax evasion in 1939, Truman was astonished. Despite Truman's honesty, his relationship with Pendergast almost caused his defeat during the Missouri senatorial primary in August 1940. The main challenger for Truman's Senate seat was the ambitious governor of Missouri, Lloyd C. Stark. In an effort to obtain the Senate seat, Stark set out to destroy Truman's sponsor, the Pendergast machine, & also denounced Truman as "the Pendergast senator." Behind the governor was President Franklin D. Roosevelt, whom Stark sucessfully turned against Truman. Roosevelt needed Missouri's electoral votes to win his third term, & he believed that Stark could give them to him. Because of the stigma of Truman's Pendergast connection, the 1940 Democratic primary was the tightest election in his entire political career. He won by fewer than eight thousand votes. In Truman & Pendergast, Robert H. Ferrell masterfully presents Truman's struggle to maintain his Senate seat without the aid of Pendergast & despite Stark's enlistment of Roosevelt against him. Ferrell shows that Truman won the election in his typical fashion-going directly to the people & speaking honestly.
 

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TRUMAN AND PENDERGAST

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A study of Truman's career from his 1922 start in politics through his surprising reelection to the US Senate in 1940, focusing on his relationship with the corrupt Pendergast political machine that ... Read full review

Truman and Pendergast

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Harry S. Truman and Thomas J. Pendergast met in 1927, when Truman was a Missouri judge with political ambitions and Pendergast was the boss of a powerful political machine in Kansas City. Over the ... Read full review

Contents

Jackson County to Washington
4
Collapse of the Machine
31
Organizing and Campaigning
80
Victory
104
Aftermath
129
Notes
135
Bibliography
149
Index
157
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About the author (1999)

Robert Hugh Ferrell was born in Cleveland, Ohio on May 8, 1921. He studied music and education at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, but his education was interrupted by World War II. He served as a chaplain's assistant in the Army Air Forces before being promoted to staff sergeant. After the war, he received a B.S. in education from Bowling Green State University and a master's degree and a Ph.D. in history from Yale University. He taught at Indiana University in Bloomington from 1953 until his retirement in 1988. He expanded his dissertation into a book, Peace in Their Time: The Origins of the Kellogg-Briand Pact, which was published in 1952 and won the American Historical Association's George Louis Beer Prize. He wrote or edited more than 60 books including Off the Record: The Private Papers of Harry S. Truman; Harry S. Truman: A Life; The Eisenhower Diaries; Woodrow Wilson and World War I, 1917-1921; American Diplomacy: The Twentieth Century; The Strange Deaths of President Harding; Five Days in October: The Lost Battalion of World War I; and Argonne Days in World War I. He died on August 8, 2018 at the age of 97.

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