To Truman from ‘a town where we have no freedom’

“January 24, 1951

“Dear Mr. President,

“How are you today? Fine I hope. I know you are wondering who is writing you. Well, I am a 15 year old Negro 10th Grade school girl. I am speaking for our History class since we are interested in the News and World Affairs….

“Every time war starts, members of the opposite race start talking about freedom. I am living in a town [Greensboro] where we have no freedom….

“Sincerely yours,

“Arlene Williamson”

— From “Dear Harry: Truman’s Mailroom, 1945-1953” by D. M. Giangreco and Kathryn Moore (1999)


Graham tallies souls (but not Truman’s) in D.C.

“For a place he once called ‘the most sinful city’ he had ever visited, Washington, D.C. has lent Evangelist Billy Graham a pretty respectful ear. By last week, at the end of a nine-week prayer ‘crusade’ there, Billy had preached to audiences totaling 500,000 people. Recorded conversions: 6,244.

” ‘And they were not just the ordinary people,’ Billy said. ‘As near as I can tell, we averaged between 25 and 40 Congressmen and about five Senators a night.’

“His one disappointment in Washington was his snub by Baptist Harry Truman, who failed to answer repeated invitations to attend the meetings. (Said Billy, ‘I guess he was just too busy or something.’) As a consolation prize, he went to Manhattan for an hour-long talk with Episcopalian Douglas MacArthur. ‘He is one of the most inspiring men I ever met,’ Billy said. ‘He is deeply religious.’ ”

— From Time magazine, March 3, 1952

Google Ngram measures Billy Graham vs. Billy Sunday

These photos may knock you for a loupe

This week’s speculation over the identity of Clyde Hoey (and a camera-shy Harry Truman?) brought to mind, “a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s” (’60s, actually). Some are familiar (Lewis Hine, Dorothea Lange), but others may surprise.

Some North Carolina examples:

— Petersburg provost marshal’s office, 1864

— Mount Airy Indian-themed 1964 birthday party

— Mount Olive homestead, 1800

— Pitt County 1910 chain gang

— Sapphire lodge, 1902 and (here too)

Jonathan Daniels: Brickbats for Boswell

“If Harry Truman ever had a faithful Boswell, he was Jonathan Daniels, the even-voiced editor of the Raleigh, N.C. News & Observer (circ. 113,277). Daniels, briefly Truman’s press secretary in 1945, was always welcomed at the White House as a friendly reporter. The President read, and edited in galley proof, large chunks of Daniels’  ‘The Man of Independence.’

“Last week Presidential Press Secretary Joseph Short angrily denounced an article by Daniels in Collier’s which…  attributed to the President some recommendations for reforming Congress. Most notable: limiting tenure to 12 years. Daniels pointed out that such a limitation would lop off such Democratic pillars as Speaker Sam Rayburn….

” ‘That subject,’ said Short, reading from notes he and Truman had prepared together, ‘was mentioned a long time ago in a casual, joking way during a confidential conversation…. The President never has considered the subject seriously . . . The article is an entirely misleading distortion….’

“Stung at being called a bad reporter, Daniels snapped back: ‘I wish . . . Joe Short had consulted the White House files . . . Letters . . . will show that the article was not even undertaken until I had written the President, asked him if I could see him to get the story, and had a reply that he would be glad to see me . . .’ ”

— From Time magazine, April 16, 1951