Truman and PendergasteBook - 1999
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.
Publisher: Columbia : University of Missouri Press, c1999
Characteristics: x, 162 pages : illustrations 24 cm
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