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Presidential Visit to Independence Hall - Harry S. Truman - October 6, 1948

Posted on Thursday, December 31, 2020

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On a campaign stop in Philadelphia, weeks ahead of the 1948 Presidential Election, President Harry S. Truman visited Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell on October 6, 1948

On October 6, 1948, President Harry S. Truman, the 33rd President of the United States, arrived in Philadelphia to campaign for his first full term as President of the United States (Truman, the 34th Vice President of the United States, had become President upon the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt). Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell were among the stops on President Truman's tour across the City of Philadelphia and the Greater Philadelphia Region. 

Harry Truman Inspects the Liberty Bell while visiting Independence Hall - October 6, 1948 - The National Park Service

On October 7, 1948, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that President Truman's campaign tour through the region included stops in Wilmington, Delaware and Camden, New Jersey. Upon his arrival in Philadelphia, Truman took a motor parade throughout the city and made numerous stops, the first of which was Independence Hall. At Independence Hall, Truman waved to crowds and met with Philadelphia's Mayor Bernard Samuel who was President Truman's personal tour guide through America's Birthplace. At the time, the Liberty Bell was located inside of Independence Hall and Truman took the time to closely inspect the famous icon of freedom.

In the picture above, Truman can clearly be seen pointing to what is almost certainly the (difficult to see) hairline fracture that silenced the Liberty Bell on in 1846. While most people assume that the very large and visible crack to the left of where Truman is pointing silenced the Liberty Bell, the large crack is actually an attempt to repair the Liberty Bell from a prior crack. The hairline fracture which extends up and to the right from the attempted repair (right where President Truman is pointing) was created when the Liberty Bell was rung repeatedly to celebrate the anniversary of the birthday of George Washington in 1846. The hairline fracture silenced the Liberty Bell forever.

President Wilson's tour of Philadelphia and the region took place just weeks before the 1948 Presidential Election, Truman's first as a candidate for the President of the United States, as Truman was the Vice Presidential Candidate in the 1944 election under President Franklin D. Roosevelt and only assumed the Presidency following Roosevelt's untimely death in 1945.

Democrat Harry S. Truman ran against Republican Thomas E. Dewey and Dixiecrat Strom Thurman. Thurman was previously a Democrat but after Truman and the Democrats had approved a Civil Rights plank to the Democratic Party Platform at the 1948 Democratic National Convention, (which had taken place in Philadelphia a few months earlier) Thurman and other Southern Democrats walked out on the convention and left the Democratic Party. The decision of the Democratic Party to advocate for civil rights for African Americans fractured the Democratic Party and led to Strom Thurman leading a third party challenge against Truman as a Southern Democrat or "Dixiecrat," a short lived political party that fought to maintain segregation in the American South. Truman ultimately fought off Dewey and Thurman and won re-election.

Harry Truman arrives at the Richard Allen Homes on his Tour of Philadelphia - October 6, 1948 - The Philadelphia Inquirer

Other stops on President Wilson's motor tour of Philadelphia included the Richard Allen Homes, a public housing project which was named after Founding Father Richard Allen who lived in Philadelphia and founded the Free African Society and Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church. Wilson also gave at a speech at Convention Hall, where the 1948 Democratic National Convention had taken place a few months earlier.

According to a report by the Salt Lake City Tribune on October 7, 1946 a total estimated crowd of roughly 330,000 people saw Truman on his tour through the Philadelphia region.

Harry Truman travels down Chestnut Street on his Tour of Philadelphia - October 6, 1948 - The Philadelphia Inquirer

Truman's Visit Today

Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, which is no longer housed in Independence Hall, and now sits across the street in the Liberty Bell Pavilion, are both stops on The Constitutional Walking Tour of Philadelphia!

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