1948 Democratic National Convention

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1948 Democratic National Convention
1948 Presidential Election
34 Harry Truman 3x4.jpg 35 Alben Barkley 3x4.jpg
Truman and Barkley
Date(s) July 12–14, 1948
City Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Venue Convention Hall
Presidential nominee Harry Truman of Missouri
Vice Presidential nominee Alben Barkley of Kentucky
1944  ·  1952

The 1948 Democratic National Convention was held at Convention Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from July 12 to July 14, 1948, and resulted in the nominations of President Harry S Truman for a full term and Senator Alben W. Barkley of Kentucky for Vice President in the 1948 presidential election. The convention was televised on the East Coast by CBS and NBC.

Dispute over civil rights[edit]

Northern liberal Democrats led by Mayor of Minneapolis Hubert Humphrey and Illinois Senator Paul Douglas pushed for the convention to adopt a strong civil rights platform plank and endorse President Truman's pro-civil rights actions.[1] They were opposed by moderates who feared alienating Southern voters (regarded as essential to a Democratic victory), including Truman's own aides, but pressed ahead. They were supported by northeastern urban Democratic leaders, who thought the plank would appeal to the growing black vote in their cities (traditionally Republican).[2]

In a speech to the convention, Humphrey urged the Democratic Party to "get out of the shadow of states' rights and walk forthrightly into the bright sunshine of human rights." The convention adopted the civil rights plank in a close vote (651½-582½).

In response, all 23 members of the Mississippi delegation, led by Governor Fielding L. Wright and former Governor Hugh L. White, walked out of the assembly.[3] The thirteen members of the Alabama delegation followed, led by Leven H. Ellis.[4] The bolted delegates and other Southerners then formed the States' Rights Democratic Party ("Dixiecrats"), which nominated Strom Thurmond for President and Wright for Vice President.

The fight over the civil rights plank was a launching point for Humphrey. He was elected to the United States Senate that year, and in 1964 was elected Vice President.

The balloting[edit]


In the absence of three dozen Southern delegates who walked out of the convention with Thurmond, 947 Democrats voted to nominate Truman as their candidate (against 263 for Senator Richard Russell, Jr. of Georgia).

Presidential Balloting, DNC 1948
Contender Vote
President Truman 947.5 (74.81%)
Senator Richard Russell, Jr. 266 (21.00%)
James A. Roe 15 (1.18%)
Paul V. McNutt 2 (0.16%)
Senator Alben W. Barkley 1 (0.07%)
Not Voting 35 (2.76%)

Vice President[edit]

U.S. Senator Alben W. Barkley of Kentucky was nominated by acclamation without a roll call vote.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Steve Inskeep, Ron Elving (August 27, 2008). "In 1948, Democrats Weathered Civil Rights Divide". npr.org. 
  2. ^ Steven White (March 15, 2013). ""The Crackpots Hope the South Will Bolt": Civil Rights Liberalism & Roll Call Voting by Northern State Delegations at the 1948 Democratic National Convention" (PDF). sas.upenn.edu. 
  3. ^ Katagiri, Yasuhiro. The Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission: Civil Rights and States' Rights Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2001; p. xxiv.
  4. ^ Pietrusza, David (2011). 1948: Harry Truman's Improbable Victory and the Year That Transformed America. New York, New York: Union Square Press. p. 237. ISBN 978-1-4027-6748-7. 

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