Second inauguration of Harry S. Truman
Harry Truman delivers his inaugural address after being sworn in for his first officially full term in office.
|Date||January 20, 1949|
President of the United States, Harry S. Truman
Fred M. Vinson
Alben W. Barkley
Stanley Forman Reed
The inauguration of Harry S. Truman as the 33rd President of the United States was held on January 20, 1949. The inauguration marked the commencement of the first full four-year term of Harry S. Truman as President and the only four-year term of Alben W. Barkley as Vice President. (Harry Truman served out most of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's 4th term). Chief Justice Fred M. Vinson administered the Oath of office.
It was the first televised US presidential inauguration and the first with an air parade. Truman also restarted the tradition of an official inaugural ball, which had disappeared since Warren G. Harding. The day before the inaugural ceremony, Truman signed a law doubling President's salary to $100,000 a year—the first such increase since Ulysses S. Grant's salary doubled to $50,000 in 1873.
The inaugural celebration, organized by Melvin D. Hildreth, lasted the full week from January 16–23. The New York Times described it as "the most splendiferous since Franklin D. Roosevelt tried to lift the pall of gloom of 1933 with brave words proclaiming the New Deal". Some confusion was generated when thousands of people received souvenir "invitations" that were in fact not valid tickets to inaugural events.
1.3 million people reportedly stood on Constitution and Pennsylvania Avenues in Washington, D.C., to watch the inaugural parade. Six hundred warplanes flew overhead, and army soldiers marched with new weaponry on display. Some of the marching units were racially mixed. During the parade, Truman was saluted by retired General and future President Dwight D. Eisenhower, then President of Columbia University. Truman drew media attention for 'snubbing' southern Governors Strom Thurmond and Herman Talmadge during the parade.
The inaugural ceremony took place on January 20, 1949. Truman took the oath of office administered by Chief Justice of the United States Fred Vinson. Truman then delivered an address and departed with the parade.
According to one analysis, the delayed arrival of members of Congress created a break in succession of Truman's terms as President. The 20th Amendment to the United States Constitution, ratified in 1933, states that a President's term ends at noon on January 20 after the election. Members of Congress arrived 10 minutes late and took another 10 minutes to take their seats. Vice President Alben W. Barkley was inaugurated at 12:23 and technically served as President for six minutes, until Truman was inaugurated at 12:29.
In the inaugural address, sometimes called the Four Point speech, Truman discussed economic growth and opposition to Communism across the globe. This moment is often identified as the beginning of development policy in relation to Third World.
Millions of people watched the inauguration, broadcast as a single live program that aired on every network. (Millions more listened on radio). Many schoolchildren watched from their classrooms. Truman authorized a holiday for federal employees so that they could also watch. The ceremony, and Truman's speech, were also broadcast abroad through the Voice of America, and translated into other languages including Russian and German. According to some calculations, the 1949 inauguration had more witnesses than all previous Presidential inaugurations combined.
Despite being widely attacked as communists, thousands of members of the Civil Rights Congress arrived in Washington, D.C., to protest the inauguration. The group protested Smith Act trials of communist leaders, as well as unfair death penalty sentences for African Americans. They also called for a permanent Fair Employment Practices Commission and the abolition of the House Un-American Activities Committee.
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- Newsreel coverage of Truman's second inauguration from C-SPAN (via YouTube)