Robert E. Hannegan


Robert E. Hannegan

Infobox US Cabinet official
name=Robert E. Hannegan


image_width=
order=52nd
title=United States Postmaster General
term_start=1945
term_end=1947
predecessor=Frank C. Walker
successor=Jesse M. Donaldson
birth_date=June 30, 1903
birth_place=
death_date=October 6, 1949
death_place=
party=Democrat
spouse=
profession=Politician, Civil servant, Businessman
religion=

Robert Emmet Hannegan (June 30, 1903–October 6, 1949) was a St. Louis, Missouri politician who served as Commissioner of Internal Revenue from October 1943 to January 1944. He also served as chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 1944 to 1947 and United States Postmaster General from 1945 to 1947. After his political career, in 1947, Hannegan and partner Fred Saigh purchased the St. Louis Cardinals of Major League Baseball. But Hannegan, ill with heart disease, sold his share in the team to Saigh a few months before his death.

Education

Hannegan earned an LL.B. from Saint Louis University School of Law in 1925.Facts|date=November 2007

Politics

A power broker in the St. Louis Democratic Party allied with Senator Bennett Clark, Hannegan helped save the political career of Harry S. Truman in 1940 following the tax fraud conviction of Truman's ally, Kansas City boss Tom Pendergast. Hannegan supported Truman for re-election to the U.S. Senate when he was challenged in the Democratic primary by Governor Lloyd C. Stark and Maurice M. Milligan, who both sought credit for bringing down Pendergast. Truman re-won the seat with increased support in St. Louis, particularly from Catholic neighborhoods in which Hannegan wielded considerable influence. In his second term, Truman achieved national prominence by chairing a Senate committee investigating government waste in defense contracts.

When Franklin Delano Roosevelt offered Truman the position of DNC chairman, Truman declined and recommended Hannegan, who Roosevelt eventually appointed. As Democratic chairman, Hannegan was responsible for brokering the deal that made Truman Roosevelt's running mate in 1944. Shortly before the Democratic National Convention that year, Roosevelt famously sent Hannegan a letter stating he would be "happy to run with" either Truman or Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas. Douglas supporters speculated that when reporting the letter to the convention audience Hannegan reversed the order of the two men's names in order to make it appear as though Truman was Roosevelt's first choice. However, research in the 1990s by biographers of Douglas proved this widely circulated rumor was false and the letter had indeed listed Truman's name first. Ironically, Truman later asked Douglas to be his running mate in 1948, but Douglas declined.

Though plagued with ill health for much of his tenure as party chairman, Hannegan emphasized voter turnout efforts in Roosevelt's 1944 re-election campaign and prevented an upset by Thomas Dewey, who won a surprising 46 percent of the popular vote that year. He promoted a liberal policy agenda for the national party and was a strong advocate of labor unions. Hannegan stepped down as chairman after Democrats suffered Congressional losses in the 1946 midterm elections, but his ideological focus at the helm of the party contributed to Truman's upset win in the Presidential election of 1948 and influenced his Fair Deal proposals.

Death

Hannegan is interred next to his beloved wife, Erma Protzmann Hannegan at Calvary Cemetery in St. Louis, section 18. [Historical Tour Outline of Calvary Cemetery (brochure)]

Popular Culture

Hannegan was mentioned in the film Miracle on 34th Street in his role as Postmaster General. Therefore in the film, by implication, he was responsible for affirming that Mr. Kris Kringle, the central character was the one and only Santa Claus.

External links

* [http://www.trumanlibrary.org/hstpaper/hannegan.htm Truman Library Hannegan papers]

References


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