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Kansas City political boss Thomas J. Pendergast and his nephew, James Pendergast, sit on a bench together in what appears to be an office, ca. 1939. From: Truman Home.

Senator Harry S. Truman, Thomas J. Pendergast, James P. Aylward, James Farley, N. G. Robertson, and David Fitzgerald at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Date: 
June 24th 1936

Portrait of Tom Pendergast.

Portrait of Thomas J. Pendergast around 1900. From the book, "Independence As It Is."

Photograph showing Tom Pendergast and his nephew James Pendergast. Tom Pendergast is seated, and his nephew standing.

Date: 
1939

Letter from Harry S. Truman in Washington D.C. to his wife Bess in Independence, Missouri. In this letter, Truman updates Bess on his day and then shows his political persistence: "If I quit this thing now, they'll say that Kemper and the Boss pulled me off, and I'm going to go through with it if I don't get home at all."

Date: 
November 9th 1937

Letter from Harry S. Truman in Washington D.C. to his wife Bess in Independence, Missouri. In this letter, Truman updates Bess on his day and then provides some candid information concerning Kansas City and Missouri politics: "…[Bennett C.] Clark has definitely lined up with the Boss [Tom Pendergast] you see. He and Maurice Milligan almost came to blows the last time they met and now the Pres and [Lloyd C.] Stark are thinking of running him for Senator against Clark."

Date: 
November 28th 1937

Letter from Harry S. Truman in Washington D.C. to his wife Bess in Independence, Missouri. In this letter, Truman updates Bess on his travel and then provides information on the Missouri public's current opinion of Governor Lloyd C. Stark: "There are a number of letters from all over the state giving the governor a real dressing down. One calls him Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde-for T.J.P. to get elected and against him to get headlines."

Date: 
July 5th 1939

Letter from Harry S. Truman in Washington D.C. to his wife Bess in Independence, Missouri. In this letter, Truman updates Bess on the political maneuvering of Maurice M. Milligan and Bennett C. Clark and mentions that "Then Canfil came in with a whole string of trouble which I got straightened out to some extent and now John Madden and R.R. Brewster are here on a parole for Pendergast."

Date: 
September 25th 1939

Letter from Harry S. Truman in Washington D.C. to his wife Bess in Independence, Missouri. In this letter, Truman updates Bess on his speech he gave the previous day and on some of the people he interacted with: "Reverend Foster is the most influential preacher in southeast Missouri and he spent the whole time getting all the facts on Pendergast and Stark. I made lots of hay I'll tell you. But it was hard work. They nearly pulled me to pieces."

Date: 
October 9th 1939

Letter from Harry S. Truman in Washington D.C. to his wife Bess in Independence, Missouri. In this letter, Truman updates Bess on his endeavor to select the new Kansas City W.P.A. Director and then comments about those affiliated with the Pendergast machine: "Mr. [Matthew S.] Murray, Mr. [Henry F.] McElroy, Mr. [Otto P.] Higgins, and even Mr. [Tom] P. himself probably would pay all the ill-gotten loot they took for my position and clear conscience."

Date: 
October 27th 1939

Letter from Harry S. Truman at Fort Riley, Kansas to his wife Bess in Independence, Missouri. This letter reveals his growing association with Tom Pendergast. Truman says, "I wonder if you would call up Buck and ask him to see Tom and get Tom to request Reed to pay me a visit. I'd be sitting on top of the moon if that could be done and Col. A.J.E. would have a spasm."

Date: 
July 6th 1926

Letter from Harry S. Truman at the Worthington Hotel in Herington, Kansas to his wife Bess in Independence, Missouri. In this letter, Truman describes some of the men in power in Herington including the postmaster: "His name is Dave Naill and he is considered an authority on Republican politics in Kansas. He's got Tom [Pendergast] backed off the boards as a boss."

Date: 
November 8th 1926

Letter from Harry S. Truman at the Hotel Robidoux in Saint Joseph, Missouri to his wife Bess in Independence, Missouri. In this letter, Truman requests that Bess send him several items he forgot to pack on his trip to Camp Ripley. He then provides some candid information on Tom Pendergast, Fred Boxley, Frederick Gunn, Edward F. Neild, and others involved in the planning of the Jackson County Courthouse.

Date: 
July 8th 1932

Letter from Harry S. Truman in Independence, Missouri to his wife Bess in Biloxi, Mississippi. In this particularly revealing letter, Truman provides a detailed update on politics in Jackson County and says, "I have talked to T.J. [Tom Pendergast] and to Jim [James Pendergast] over the phone. T.J. is much better and gave me to understand that I could do as I pleased with the county."

Date: 
April 14th 1933

Letter from Harry S. Truman in Independence, Missouri to his wife Bess in Biloxi, Mississippi. In this revealing letter, Truman provides a detailed update on politics in Kansas City and says, "The Star is making a goat of me--not a Pendergast goat either but a tax goat. I'll lick the whole gang yet and make 'em like it."

Date: 
April 15th 1933

Letter from Harry S. Truman in Grandview, Missouri to his wife Bess in Biloxi, Mississippi. In this letter, Truman updates Bess on his meeting with Tom Pendergast, saying that, "He told me to do as I pleased with the county payroll, make the adjustments I wanted to, and he'd put the organization in line behind me. He also told me that I could be Congressman or collector."

Date: 
April 23rd 1933

Letter from Harry S. Truman in Washington D.C. to his wife Bess in Independence, Missouri. In this letter, Truman updates Bess on his day and expresses his simple desire to be a businessman in a small town. He then recounts a dinner meeting with other Senators, including Joseph F. Guffey. Truman exclaims that, "He has a desire to be a Senate boss and since I don't like Pennsylvania anyway it wasn't hard for me to be against him. He tried to get Tom P. [Pendergast] to bring pressure on me about his real bill and Tom told me about it."

Date: 
June 26th 1935

Letter from Harry S. Truman in Washington D.C. to his wife Bess in Independence, Missouri. In this particularly candid letter, Truman updates Bess on the politics of Missouri and the nation, saying that "Pendergast hasn't made up his mind yet who will be governor. He'll announce it sometime soon. If the man is smart and politically minded he can say who Clark's successor will be and can deliver the 1940 delegation at the national convention."

Date: 
July 23rd 1935

Letter from Harry S. Truman in Washington D.C. to his wife Bess in Independence, Missouri. In this candid letter, Truman informs Bess that he intends to travel in secret to New York to meet with Tom Pendergast.

Date: 
July 24th 1935

Pages

KANSAS CITY PUBLIC LIBRARY | DIGITAL HISTORY
Civil War on the Western Border: The Missouri-Kansas Conflict,1855-1865.
The Pendergast Years, Kansas City in the Jazz Age & Great Depression.
KC History, Missouri Valley Special Collections at the Kansas City Public Library.