Tuesday, April 5, 2016

President Truman at the Orchard, 1948 (REPOSTED)

Today, all eyes are on the Badger State. With hotly-contested Democratic and Republican primaries (and a slow week leading up to them), Wisconsin has again become the center of the American political universe.

In honor of all the attention, we're reposting this article from last November about President Truman's campaign visit to Milwaukee in 1948. Enjoy!

Tonight, Milwaukee is the center of the country's political world—the Republican half of it at least—as the would-be GOP candidates for President gather for a debate at the historic Milwaukee Theatre.

Nearly seventy years ago, on October 14, 1948, the Cream City was visited by another important political figure. President Harry S. Truman came through on a campaign stop, part of a quick swing through Wisconsin. The Milwaukee Sentinel characterized Truman's trip as a "determined, eleventh-hour bid for the state's 12 electoral votes." The state Democratic Party chose an outdoor venue for his speech: our very own Borchert Field.

When the President and his family arrived at the downtown train station at 7:27 p.m., they were met by a motorcade that drove them to the Orchard. An estimated 75,000 Milwaukeeans lined the streets to watch the First Family drive by, and they were met at the ballpark by a huge political rally with 11,000 cheering fans.

Getting an early start in his political life, partisan James Mondry, 9, of 534 W. Chambers st., marched in front of the crowd at the President Truman rally at Borchert field Thursday night with this homemade sign.
The Milwaukee Journal had excellent coverage of the festivities:

This amazing photo was taken inside Borchert Field itself, showing how they set up the platform and chairs in the infield.

Milwaukee was host to President Truman Thursday night and a crowd estimated at more than 11,000 heard him make a major campaign talk at Borchert field. The arrow points to the president on the speakers' stand. Democratic officeholders and candidates occupied most of the seats on the stand. Note how police faced toward the crowd. —All Journal Staff
The second shows the President preparing to leave.

An untold number of flashlight bulbs were shot off by photographers. Some of them are shown near the president's car as it started a swing around the field after the speech.
Drove his car around the field? Good thing the Brewers' season was over.

Not to be outdone, the Sentinel's cameras also captured the action:

Their photos haven't been preserved so well in the archives, but you can they're looking at the crowd from a different angle:

That was taken from atop the grandstand roof behind home plate. The police officer is standing in front of the Brewers' dugout, on the third base side.

After finishing his remarks, the President was driven to the Pfister Hotel for a brief reception before boarding a train for Chicago.

Eleventh-hour or otherwise, the swing helped, and Truman carried Wisconsin 50.70% to Thomas Dewey's 46.28% (the Progressive Party candidate received just under 2% and the Socialist just under 1%). This was all part of a come-from-behind victory that still remains the standard for political shockers.

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