Harry S. Truman Visits The Elms Hotel
|November 2, 1948
The Elms Hotel is located at 401 Regent Street in Excelsior Springs, Missouri.
|On election day, November 2, 1948, Truman sat with his staff in the suite at the Muehlebach Hotel in Kansas City and followed what news they could get about the voting. When Tom Evans told Truman about some good early results, Truman responded, "I've been telling you I was going to win all the time. It's nothing new." Evans stayed in the Presidential Suite most of the night. Truman left first for Independence and then for Excelsior Springs, where he hid away from reporters in the Elms Hotel. He called Evans from time to time during the night to see how things were going. He returned to the Presidential Suite at 6 a.m. the next morning. "...It was a madhouse," Evans remembered. "The halls going into the penthouse were full and I walked in…and it was packed full.... [Truman] was all joyous and everything.... It was quite a party and the Secret Service men certainly did not have much control of who came in or out that particular morning." (Tom L. Evans oral history interview, Truman Library, 1962-63.)|
from Public Papers of the Presidents • Harry S. Truman • 1949 print
Remarks at a Dinner of the Presidential Electors Association.
January 19, 1949
Mr. President of the Presidential Elector. Association, and guests, and fellow citizens:
You know, this is a great occasion. This meeting here tonight--and those various other meetings I have attended today, and am going to attend tomorrow--is a symbol of this great American Government of ours.
On election day I voted at an hour that was convenient to the White House photographers, so they wouldn't have to get up too early. And I paid a visit to the Democratic headquarters, in the outside precincts of Jackson County, where I was raised; and then I paid a visit to the headquarters of the Democratic organization in Kansas City. And then I decided that I would go and take a rest for the evening. And then, for some reason or other, the reporters weren't on the job. So I got a very pleasant evening over in Excelsior Springs, which is a resort-a very famous resort.
Years ago, there was a gentleman from Kansas City who went to Baden Baden in Germany, when that was a great resort. And the doctors over there told him that the difficulty he was suffering from could be cured only at a little town in Missouri called Excelsior Springs. It was only 28 miles from where he started!
I had my sandwich and glass of buttermilk, and went to bed at six-thirty. And along about 12 o'clock, I happened to wake up, for some reason or other, and the radio was turned on, to the National Broadcasting Company. And Mr. Kaltenborn and Mr. Harkness were reporting the situation as it then developed.
Mr. Kaltenborn was saying, "While the President is a million votes ahead of the popular vote, when the country vote comes in, Mr. Truman will be defeated by an overwhelming majority."
Mr. Harkness came on, and analyzed the situation as it was then, and as Mr. Kaltenborn had recorded it. And to the sorrow of myself, and to those who were listening with me, it looked very much as if the election would be thrown into the House of Representatives, because of course, it was not possible for me to get a majority of the electoral votes. I went back to bed, and went to sleep.
About 4 o'clock in the morning, the Chief of the Secret Service came in and said, "Mr. President, I think you had better get up and listen to the broadcast. We have been listening all night."
And I said, "All right." I turned the darn thing on, and there was Mr. Kaltenborn again. Mr. Kaltenborn was saying, "While the President has a lead of 2 million votes, it is certainly necessary that this election shall go into the House of Representatives. He hasn't an opportunity of being elected by a majority of the electoral votes of the Nation!"
And Mr. Harkness came on and analyzed the situation.
I called the Secret Service men in, and I said, "We'd better go back to Kansas City, it looks as if I'm elected!"
Along about 10 o'clock, I had a telegram which said that the election was over, and that I should be congratulated on the fact that I had won the election. Apparently it was too bad, but it happened!
That has been the attitude from the time I took my nonpolitical trip across the country. But, for some reason or other, the situation had not been analyzed as I myself had analyzed it, and I found that the people were interested in the welfare of this great Nation, and that they wanted to continue the forward progress of the country and the world.
And so, on November the 2d, they decided that they would burden me with the responsibility of carrying that progress on.
I was not in any way elated over the election. In no sense did I feel that anything unusual had happened to me. I felt only the responsibility, and that is what we are faced with now.
I am highly appreciative of the electors who voted--the 303 electors who voted for me as President--and I am not in any way interested in the analyses which have been made of the vote, which would show--when those analyses were made by Mr. Gallup, and Mr. Kaltenborn, and Mr. Harkness--that in all probability there ought to be a proportionate arrangement of the electoral votes, so that I wouldn't have been elected. I am interested only in seeing this great Nation assume its position of responsibility, which God Almighty in 1920 intended that we should assume, and which we did not assume.
We are going to do that. And we are going to do it so that it will be for the benefit of all the people of the world. Not for the selfish benefit of the United States, or any other nation, but for the benefit of all the world together, in the hope that if we do that, our children and grandchildren will not have to do what we did, and what our children did, in two awful wars in less than half a century-
I am sure we can do it. I know that with the cooperation of all the right-minded people in the United States, and with the cooperation of those people in the world who believe that honesty and morality are the bases on which the welfare of the human race rests, we will get the job done.
Now, thank you for this great demonstration. Thank you for this dinner, in honor of the election that was for the United States. I am in favor of letting the constitutional provision, which provides for electors, continue as it has continued for the last 160 years, and the country will be all right.
Now, it is necessary, on account of the festivities that are going on in the city of Washington, that Mrs. Truman and Margaret and myself have engagements which prevent our remaining with you for the rest of the evening. I hope you will appreciate the fact that we have to appear at all these festivities, because they are for us, and we appreciate them--we want to show our appreciation. I hope you will forgive us if we leave you immediately.
NOTE: The President spoke at 8:25 p.m. at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington. His opening words referred to Michael F. Doyle, president of the Presidential Electors Association. Later in his remarks the President referred to Hans V. Kaltenborn and Richard L. Harkness, radio news commentators of the National Broadcasting Company, and George H. Gallup, director of the American Institute of Public Opinion.
|Photo of Truman with newspaper "Dewey defeats Truman"|
Previously on Display at the Museum
Harry S. Truman