Second inauguration of Harry S. Truman

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1949 Inauguration of Harry S. Truman
Inaugural Truman 1949.jpg
Harry Truman delivers his inaugural address after being sworn in for his first officially full term in office.
Date January 20, 1949; 73 years ago (1949-01-20)
Location U.S. Capitol,
Washington, D.C.
Participants President of the United StatesHarry S. Truman
Assuming office
Chief Justice of the United States,
Fred M. Vinson
Administering oath
Vice President of the United States,
Alben W. Barkley
Assuming office
Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court,
Stanley Forman Reed
Administering oath

The second 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[1] and the first with an air parade.[2] Truman also restarted the tradition of an official inaugural ball, which had disappeared since Warren G. Harding.[3] 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.[4]


The inaugural celebration, organized by Melvin D. Hildreth, lasted the full week from January 16–23.[5][6] 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".[7] Some confusion was generated when thousands of people received souvenir "invitations" that were in fact not valid tickets to inaugural events.[8][9]

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.[10] During the parade, Truman was saluted by retired General and future President Dwight D. Eisenhower, then President of Columbia University.[11] Truman drew media attention for 'snubbing' southern Governors Strom Thurmond and Herman Talmadge during the parade.[12][13]

Lena Horne, Dorothy Maynor and Lionel Hampton performed at the inaugural gala—the first African Americans to appear at this type of performance.[14]


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.[15] Truman then delivered an address and departed with the parade.[16]

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.[9][17]

In the inaugural address, sometimes called the Four Point speech, Truman discussed economic growth and opposition to Communism across the globe.[15][18] This moment is often identified as the beginning of development policy in relation to Third World.[19][20]

Millions of people watched the inauguration, broadcast as a single live program that aired on every network. (Millions more listened on radio).[21] Many schoolchildren watched from their classrooms.[22] Truman authorized a holiday for federal employees so that they could also watch.[7] The ceremony, and Truman's speech, were also broadcast abroad through the Voice of America, and translated into other languages including Russian and German.[23] According to some calculations, the 1949 inauguration had more witnesses than all previous Presidential inaugurations combined.[22][24]


Despite being widely attacked as communists, thousands of members of the Civil Rights Congress arrived in Washington, D.C., to protest the inauguration.[25] The group protested Smith Act trials of communist leaders, as well as unfair death penalty sentences for African Americans.[26][27] They also called for a permanent Fair Employment Practices Commission and the abolition of the House Un-American Activities Committee.[28]

See also


  1. "Inauguration of the President: Facts & Firsts". U.S. Senate. Retrieved December 13, 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Shannon Humphrey, "Three-time war vet reflects: John G. Corley II, of Gloucester, flew in Truman's air parade in 1949, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War", Newport News Daily Press (McClatchy), 20 February 2009; accessed via ProQuest.
  3. "Inaugural Ball". Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. Retrieved 2009-01-22.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. John Steele Gordon, "Why America's CEO is Poorly Paid", Wall Street Journal, 23 January 2001; also published at Jewish World Review.
  5. Jane Krieger, "Truman Inaugural to be Gala Show", New York Times, 12 December 1948, p. E7; accessed via ProQuest.
  6. "Truman Calls For Simple, Inexpensive Inaugural", Washington Post, 30 November 1948, p. B1; accessed via ProQuest.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Anthony Leviero, "Truman appeals for unity in party to aid peace aims", New York Times, 19 January 1949, p. 1; accessed via ProQuest.
  8. "Inauguration Invitations Are Problem: Thousands Think Mere Souvenirs Are Admittance Tickets", Washington Post, 15 January 1949, p. 1; accessed via ProQuest.
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Inauguration Upsets Those Who Didn't Plan It That Way", Washington Post, 21 January 1949; accessed via ProQuest.
  10. "Democracy in Action in Inaugural Parade", Baltimore Afro-American (NNPA), 29 January 1949.
  11. Philip Potter, "Truman Calls For Bold World-Aid Plan; 1,300,000 Line Route Of Inaugural Parade", Baltimore Sun, 21 January 1949, accessed via ProQuest.
  12. Westbrook Pegler, "Truman Snubs Leader of Dixiecrats", Milwaukee Sentinel (KFS), 21 January 1949.
  13. "Truman Curt to Thurmond; Turns Back on Talmadge", Washington Observer (UP), 21 January 1949.
  14. "Cream of Nation's Talent Stars at Truman's Inaugural Gala", Baltimore Afro-American, 29 January 1949.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Venice Spraggs, "Truman Restates Equality Credo At His Inaugural", Chicago Defender, 22 January 1949, p.1; accessed via ProQuest.
  16. Harlan Trott, "Solemnity Keys Truman Inaugural", Christian Science Monitor, 20 January 1949; accessed via ProQuest.
  17. Bill Bartleman, "From past to present: Truman-Barkley ceremony a record-setting event", Paducah Sun (McClatchy), 18 January 2009; accessed via ProQuest.
  18. George Ronald, "Truman Bitterly Attacks Communism in Washington Inaugural Speech", Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, 20 January 1949.
  19. "The genealogy of development", Business World, 1 December 1998; accessed via ProQuest.
  20. Eric Helleiner, "The Development Mandate of International Institutions: Where Did it Come From?", Studies in Comparative International Development 44 (3), September 2009; accessed via ProQuest.
  21. Wayne Oliver, "Millions to See Truman in Telecast of Inaugural", New York Times, 16 January 1949, p. L4; accessed via ProQuest.
  22. 22.0 22.1 "10,000,000 See Inauguration By Television: Total Greater Than All Witnessing Previous Ceremonies", Baltimore Sun (AP), 21 January 1949; accessed via ProQuest.
  23. "World to Hear Truman Inaugural Ceremonies", Christian Science Monitor (Associated Press), 19 January 1949; accessed via ProQuest.
  24. "More Persons Expected to View Inauguration By Video Than Combined Previous Witnesses", New York Times, 20 January 1949; accessed via ProQuest.
  25. Tony Smith, "Reds in Capital for Protest Rally", Pittsburgh Press, 17 January 1949.
  26. Walter Winchell, "Some More Notes of a Newspaperman", Wilmington Star-News, 7 February 1949.
  27. Tony Smith, "Capital to Cut Loose In Big Noisy Inaugural for Truman Thursday", Pittsburgh Press, 16 January 1949.
  28. "3,000 'Freedom' Crusaders Demand Civil Rights Laws", Baltimore Afro-American, 29 January 1949.

External links

Template:US inaugurations