July 11, 2003
Truman Wrote of '48 Offer to Eisenhower
By THE NEW YORK TIMES
ASHINGTON, July 10 — A newly discovered diary kept by President Harry S. Truman in 1947 tells of a private conversation in which he urged Dwight D. Eisenhower to seek the Democratic presidential nomination the next year, with Truman as his vice-presidential running mate, the National Archives announced today.
Although there was speculation of such a plan at the time, Truman always denied it. The diary, however, shows that he was concerned that Gen. Douglas MacArthur, then the military governor of Japan, might win the Republican nomination. So he had the idea of countering with another popular World War II hero, Eisenhower.
"Ike and I think MacArthur expects to make a Roman triumphal return to the U.S. a short time before the Republican convention meets in Philadelphia," says the relevant entry, dated July 21, 1947. "I told Ike that if he did that," then Eisenhower should "announce for the nomination for president on the Democratic ticket and that I'd be glad to be in second place, or vice president."
In the end, MacArthur's Republican supporters failed to win the nomination for him, Truman won the Democratic nomination and defeated Thomas E. Dewey in the general election, and four years later Eisenhower became Truman's successor, as a Republican.
Though Jews generally regarded Truman as a friend for his support for the creation of Israel, one diary entry, dated July 28, reflects some anti-Semitism.
After a 10-minute conversation on postwar immigration to Palestine with Henry Morgenthau Jr., who was Treasury secretary under Franklin D. Roosevelt and then briefly under Truman before becoming chairman of the United Jewish Appeal in 1947, the president wrote, "The Jews have no sense of proportion, nor do they have any judgment on world affairs."
"The Jews, I find, are very, very selfish," he continued. "They care not how many Estonians, Latvians, Finns, Poles, Yugoslavs or Greeks get murdered or mistreated" as displaced persons, "as long as the Jews get special treatment."
The unassuming blue-covered diary was a gift to Truman from the president of the Real Estate Board of New York, and bears the label "1947 Diary and Manual of the Real Estate Board of New York." The 42 passages handwritten by Truman were buried behind 160 pages of advertisements and member listings. The diary sat on the shelves of the Truman Library in Independence, Mo., for 38 years, until a librarian discovered Truman's writing in the back of it earlier this year.