Harry S. Truman 1949 Typed Letter Signed as President – “While We Were Engaged In Fighting Two World Wars”


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** ….important contributions to the national welfare while we were engaged in fighting two world wars… **

33rd President.  Typed letter signed “Harry S. Truman” AS PRESIDENT, 8×10.5, December 21, 1949, The White House Washington stationery, to George M. Harrison, President, Brotherhood of Railway Clerks, Cincinnati, in full:

Hearty congratulations to you personally and to the officers and members of the Brotherhood of Railway Clerks upon the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of this outstanding organization. During your long term as President the Brotherhood has grown in influence and prestige in the interest of its members and the labor movement and in the public interest as well.

The Railroad Clerks, like all railroad workers, made important contributions to the national welfare while we were engaged in fighting two world wars. Now in peacetime they are serving the nation well on railroads from coast to coast and border to border. I wish them many more years of successful and constructive activity in their own interest and that of their fellow Americans.

After WWII, in 1945, American workers, having held back demands because of the war (putting patriotism ahead of personal wants), wanted their share of the new period of postwar prosperity. A number of major unions went on strike nearly paralyzing the economy of the U.S. On May 23, 1946, the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen and Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers went on strike, causing national transportation to grind to a halt. This strike also threatened war-beleaguered Europe, since the shipment of grain would be halted without the railroads. On the evening of May 24th, President Truman went on national radio and announced that two willful men (the union presidents) should not be allowed to shut down the entire country. He demanded that the striking railroad workers return to their jobs by 4:00 PM the next day or he would call out the Army to do whatever was necessary to break the strike. He then scheduled an appearance before Congress at 4:00 PM the next day where he dropped another bombshell: he intended to have any striking railroad worker immediately drafted into the armed forces. Both Democrats and Republicans erupted with approval. After this announcement, the Secretary of the Senate hurried to Truman while he was speaking and told him that the strike had been settled. Truman had put the welfare of the country ahead of politics. Labor had always supported Truman, even in his Senate races. However, he damaged one of his largest political bases. In the 1946 congressional elections, the Democrats lost control of both Houses of Congress. Truman surprised everyone by winning the 1948 presidential election. His “whistle-stop” train tour of the country was one of the keys to his historic upset over Republican Thomas E. Dewey.

Folds, diagonal fold touches “S” and “T” in signature. Mounting stains at upper left and right blank corners. Nicked at bottom right blank edge. Lightly creased.