DATE OF EVENT: Thursday, April 12, 1945
DATE PUBLISHED: Thursday, April 12, 1945, in The Kansas City Star – Extra
Editor’s note: The death of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, only months before the end of World War II, was announced in a 12-page extra edition of The Star. In the first hours after Roosevelt’s death, the Kansas City importance — that the death “lifted the former Missouri farm boy into the highest office in this nation’s giving”— was secondary, even in Truman’s own county.
The haste in which the extra edition was produced can be seen in the content used –– the exact reprint of the White House’s press release –– and the misspelling of “hemorrhage” in the first line of the story’s text. The full story from that edition is printed here.
Washington, April 12 (AP)—The White House announced late today that President Roosevelt had died of cerebral hemmorage.
The death occurred this afternoon at Warm Springs, Ga.
A White House statement said:
“Vice President Truman has been notified. He was called to the White House and informed by Mrs. Roosevelt. The secretary of state has been advised. A cabinet meeting has been called.
“The four Roosevelt boys in the service have been sent a message by their mother, which said that the President slept away this afternoon. He did his job to the end, as he would want to do.
“Bless you all and our love,” added Mrs. Roosevelt. She signed the message Mother.
“Funeral services will be held Saturday afternoon in the east room of the White House. Interment will be at Hyde Park Sunday afternoon. No detailed arrangements or exact times have been decided upon as yet.”
Harry S. Truman, former senator, Missouri County judge and onetime Kansas City haberdasher, by Mr. Roosevelt’s death moves up to the highest office in the land.
At the Capitol, aides of Truman disclosed he had left for the White House only a few minutes before the news was made public.
“Mrs. Roosevelt, Admiral Ross McIntyre (the Roosevelt physician) and I will leave Washington by air this afternoon for Warm Springs,” Stephen Early, presidential secretary, said.
Vice-President Truman was at work in his office when the news came. He received a call about 5:25 p.m., a few minutes later secret servicemen came and whisked him away to the White House in an automobile.
Matt Connelly, Truman’s executive assistant, said he assumed that the new President would take the oath at once but that he did not know any details.
Truman’s vice-presidential staff stood around his offices in the Senate office building, their faces pale as though they had been stunned by the unexpected news which lifted the former Missouri farm boy into the highest office in this nation’s giving.
DATE OF EVENT: Thursday, April 12, 1945
DATE PUBLISHED: Friday, April 13, 1945, in The Kansas City Times
Editor’s note: The death of Roosevelt prompted a hasty extra edition of The Star. It would not be until the morning Kansas City Times that the focus fell on the new president, Harry S Truman.
The editorial page that day would praise him for displaying “capacities of independence and leadership…and has inspired the respect of Congress, official Washington and the American public.”
ROOSEVELT DIES; TRUMAN GOES IN
Cerebral Hemorrhage Is Fatal to Nation’s President at Warm Springs, Ga., Where He Had Gone for a Brief Rest
TRUMAN TAKES OFFICE
Oath as President Is Given the Missourian by Chief Justice Stone at 7:09 o’Clock in White House
ON WITH CABINET AND POLICIES
New Executive Asks Roosevelt Men to Stay and Announces He Will Carry On as He Believes Predecessor Would
By Theodore C. Alford
(Chief of The Star’s Washington Bureau)
Washington, April 12—Harry S. Truman became President of the United States at 7:09 o’clock tonight.
The former Jackson County farm boy was administered the oath of chief executive by Chief Justice Harlan Fiske Stone two and one-half hours after Franklin Delano Roosevelt died unexpectedly at Warm Springs, Ga., from a cerebral hemorrhage.
Surrounded by the cabinet selected by his predecessor, high government officials, army and navy officers, and Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress, he became the chief executive eighty-two days after his inauguration, January 20, as vice-president.
Truman took the oath in the cabinet room of the White House. He picked up a Bible resting on the big conference table, held it in his left hand, and held up his right hand while the chief justice from memory recited the presidential oath. Truman repeated the words after him.
“I do solemnly swear,” he said, “that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
Truman read the oath from a slip of white paper, swearing to uphold the Constitution.
“So help you God?” Stone intoned.
“So help me God,” Truman said…
As a stunned capital sought to weigh the implications of Mr. Roosevelt’s passing, Truman issued this 1-sentence statement:
“The world may be sure that we will prosecute the war on both fronts, east and west, with all the vigor we possess, to a successful conclusion.”
A short time earlier Truman had announced the United Nations conference would open as scheduled April 25 to draft a plan for a world organization.
Thus Truman acted immediately to carry out the twin objectives of winning the war and seeking a lasting peace…
The most dramatic moment in the life of Harry Truman came at the moment least expected. He knew the President’s health was not good, but he did not think the hand of fate would fall while he was vice-president. It caught him totally unprepared.
But he stood up manfully under the ordeal….
The President died as the final draft is to be made of a world security organization, the monument to him, and something which Woodrow Wilson had failed to achieve. The task of continuing this work now falls on a shy, but conscientious believer in world cooperation, the former county judge of Jackson County.
Harry Truman now finds himself suddenly cast in the role of world leadership. He did not want to be senator from Missouri, preferring the $25,000 a year fee office of county collector. As senator he did not want to be vice-president, preferring to remain in the less-obscure position of senator. He did not want to be President. At the Democratic national convention in Chicago last July, he shrank from the vice-presidential nomination partly because he knew it might thrust him into the highest office at the command of the people. He was acutely aware of his own limitations…