TRUMAN, Harry S. (1884-1972), President. Typed letter signed (''Harry''), as U. S. Senator, to Edward D. McKim, Washington, D. C., 22 November 1941. 1 page, 4to, United States Senate stationery, two punch holes at top. A three word autograph postcript (''How's Ed. Jr.?'') at bottom.
TRUMAN, Harry S. (1884-1972), President. Typed letter signed ("Harry"), as U. S. Senator, to Edward D. McKim, Washington, D. C., 22 November 1941. 1 page, 4to, United States Senate stationery, two punch holes at top. A three word autograph postcript ("How's Ed. Jr.?") at bottom.
TRUMAN DENOUNCES FDR'S CREATION OF AN ECONOMIC "FRANKENSTEIN" AND RECOMMENDS BEATING JOHN L. LEWIS WITH A PICK-HANDLE
After discussing family news and joking about McKim's "manure spreader" on his Nebraska farm, Truman turns to Washington politics: "You are just as right as you can be about the labor situation. Our administration and I say 'our' advisedly has built a Frankenstein at the other end of the economic scale, just as bad as the one that Harding and Mellon built up at the top of the scale. It is going to take ten or fifteen years to get a readjustment on a right basis, when that readjustment could have been obtained just as easily as if power hadn't been concentrated in the hands of a few men who handle these sheep who make up labor unions. There isn't any difference in the manner in which John L. Lewis is trying to overturn the Government and the manner in which the New York bankers tried to do it in the 1920's. We got the banking situation cleaned up, and now we have a worse one on our hands. The only language Mr. Lewis can understand is a pick-handle, and that is what ought to be used on him."
Smearing union members as "sheep" and recommending a beat-down of CIO leader John L. Lewis with a pick-handle would not have endeared Truman to one of the bedrock constituencies of the Democratic Party. Fortunately the recipient was an old Army buddy, and Truman felt safe enough to let himself go. Truman always positioned himself on the right-wing of the New Deal coalition, precisely why FDR picked him to replace the leftist Henry Wallace as vice-president in 1944. As the sarcastic quotes around "our" administration show, Truman was sometimes uncomfortable in the New Deal tent, and it especially galled him to have to share it with radicals like John L. Lewis. As President, Truman resisted the harsh anti-labor measures of the Republican Congress, like the Taft-Hartley bill of 1947. But when steel workers struck in April 1952, he used his authority as wartime Commander-in-Chief to have the army to seize the mines and keep them running--a move which the Supreme Court eventually struck down as unconstitutional.