Henderson County, Kentucky


It was so absolutely perfect, not even a baby cried.

President Harry TRUMAN'S visit to Henderson just couldn't have been any better.

At least, that's the opinion of the person who wrote the editorial for The Gleaner's Sunday, October 3, 1948, edition that was published four days after the nation's chief executive spoke here.

TRUMAN'S whistle-stop speech marked the beginning of his Kentucky campaign for the country's top office.

"There are no regrets, misgivings or Wish-I-Hads as President's Day in Henderson passes in mental review," the editorial related.

"We cannot recall a greater or more successful occasion. If any more cars had come to town there wouldn't have been any place to park them. If there had been any more people there wouldn't have been any place for them to stand or to hear."

As the October 1 Gleaner had pointed out, about 40 percent of Henderson's total population was present at Union Station on September 30 to greet the plain-spoken man from Missouri.

Stanley HOFFMAN, Henderson resident and state senator, was later lauded for having the good sense to forgo a long-winded introduction to the president. HOFFMAN already had told reporters he intended to be brief. "The people will come to hear Mr. TRUMAN - not me," he said. "I'm not going to take up a lot of valuable time."

And he was true to his word, simply looking out at the sea of faces beyond the train platform where the president stood and saying, "Ladies and gentlemen, it is my honor to introduce to you the president of the United States, the honorable Harry S. TRUMAN."

Upon his arrival, TRUMAN had been welcomed by Governor Earle C. CLEMENTS, the Union County native for whom the job corps center at Morganfield is named.

The president's 17-car train was two hours late pulling into the depot. It had been held up in Illinois by large crowds that, The Gleaner reported, had "refused to let the train depart."

Aware of Henderson's strong agricultural base, TRUMAN told his audience that "the Democratic party always has been for the farming territories."

Gesturing toward the "soy bean mill," he maintained that "the Democrats always have sanctioned cooperatives, but the Republicans denounced them by calling them socialistic.

"You have a strong example of cooperative work in Henderson and Union counties. The REA supplies hundreds of homes with electricity. But the Republicans think that is wrong."

(Editor's note: The first rural electric system to be energized in the state was connected on the Frank STREET farm here in October 1937).

With huge speakers angled in all directions atop the train, TRUMAN said, "I have been traveling throughout this great country of ours and have been telling the people of the issues. The Republicans are afraid to face the issues. They know they can't win if they are faced."

During his commonwealth visit, TRUMAN got rousing applause when he declared Kentucky "the most spirited state in the union!"

But then, remembering his roots, he added, "except my own state of Missouri."

The president was all smiles here, as was Mrs. TRUMAN and the couple's daughter, Margaret. Those women and the state's first lady, Mrs. CLEMENTS, were presented large baskets of flowers prepared by local florists and bearing cards signed, "Friends of Henderson, KY."

When the train pulled away from the depot, it didn't leave quite all of the town's residents behind. Climbing aboard and riding with the dignitaries to Louisville were seven locals: Senator HOFFMAN, County Judge Fred VOGEL, County Treasurer Lucille FARLEY, local Democratic leader O. B. SPRINGER, Radio Station WSON owner Hecht LACKEY, Mrs. W. C. COOPER and Mrs. James W. (Francele) Armstrong.

Reprinted with permission.
Progress Edition, The Gleaner, Saturday, March 30, 1996
Written by Judy Jenkins

Contributed by Netta Mullin, HCH&GS
Copyright 2002 HCH&GS