Civil Liberties and the Legacy of Harry S. Truman

Richard S. Kirkendall, ed.

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President Harry Truman identified himself repeatedly as a champion of civil liberties in the American system of government. (TLS 9)

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The Truman Legacy Series, Vol. 9

Critics did not always value civil liberties as highly as Truman, and he felt that opponents weakened the pursuit of peace by suggesting that America, in the fight against communism, move away from the great model of liberal principles. Although the pursuit of peace topped his agenda, Communist containment and civil liberties were, in his mind, closely linked. The American Constitution’s Bill of Rights was a source of strength that the United States had, but that authoritarian regimes did not. To strengthen respect for civil liberties, the president sought to educate Americans about the great importance of these liberties. Critics did not always value civil liberties as highly as Truman, and he felt that opponents weakened the pursuit of peace by suggesting that America, in the fight against communism, move away from the great model of liberal principles. Contributors in this volume recognize that President Truman had shortcomings in this area, but he balanced concerns about national security and individual liberties and worked hard to persuade Americans in and out of government that civil liberties must be respected.

Contents

Truman as Civil Libertarian
Civil Liberties and Harry Truman’s Peace Program.....Richard S. Kirkendall
Harry S. Truman and Japanese Americans.....Roger Daniels

The National Security System
The Truman Presidency and the FBI.....Athan G. Theoharis
Revisiting Truman’s Federal Employee Loyalty Program.....Landon R. Y. Storrs
The Smith Act Case.....Michal R. Belknap
The Tale of the Classified Upside—Down Cake Recipe: Harry Truman, the Press, and Executive Confidentiality in the Cold War Years.....David Greenberg

Three Participants in the Red Scare
Conflicted Loyalties: The Betrayals of Alger Hiss and Harry S. Truman.....R. Bruce Craig
Harry and Joe: President Truman Confronts Senator Joe McCarthy.....Richard M. Fried
Truman’s Loyalty Review Board and the Honorable Survivor.....Lynne Joiner

Liberty and Security
Civil Liberties and National Security: A Graphic Essay Based on the Holdings of the Harry S. Truman Library.....Raymond H. Geselbracht
Cold Warrior and Civil Libertarian: Truman’s Attempt to Manage the “Second Red Scare”.....Ken Hechler and Robert P. Watson

Appendix A
President Truman’s Speeches and Messages Relating to Civil Liberties

Appendix B
Excerpts Relating to Civil Liberties from President Truman’s News Conferences

Appendix C
Executive Orders, a Directive, and Publicly Released Letters Relating to Civil Liberties

Authors

Richard S. Kirkendall is professor emeritus at University of Washington, Seattle. He received his PhD in history from the University of Wisconsin. He served in the United States Navy during the Korean War and taught at four universities (Wesleyan, Missouri, Indiana, and Iowa State) before moving to Washington in 1988.

Reviews

This extremely valuable and timely monograph, volume 9 in The Truman Legacy Series, recalls for a frequently forgetful nation the many great difficulties forced on a an accidental president of the United State, Harry S. Truman, while reminding us of the past and current threat to civil liberties and the Bill of Rights in the US Constitution.

Patrick E. McLear, Missouri Historical Review, September 2014

This 352-page compendium is comprised of eleven informed and informative articles by academicians who focus upon Truman’s political balancing act of persuading the American public as to the importance of protecting constitutionally defined civil liberties in a time of Cold War politics and fear mongering. [...] Enhanced with the inclusion of three appendices, a list of the contributors and their credentials, and a comprehensive index, The Civil Liberties Legacy of Harry S. Truman is a welcome and highly recommended addition to academic library 20th Century American History reference collections and Political Science supplemental reading lists.

—Library Bookwatch, March 2013

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