In 1940, when Truman came up for reelection, his defeat was predicted by many. The Pendergast "machine" had collapsed. Pendergast had been convicted of income tax evasion and was sentenced to serve a prison term. His organization was thoroughly discredited. Despite Truman's association with Pendergast, he won the primary and the regular election. His record and his support for Roosevelt's programs were strong enough merits in the public mind to overcome the disadvantage of the machine association.
While his foes always made capital out of his affiliations with the so-called Pendergast machine, Truman never tried to conceal the fact that it was with Pendergast's help that he got his political start. His views on the ethics of machine politics were frank and perhaps practical in a broad sense of the term. In an interview regarding this matter, he declared: "There was nothing wrong with my relations with the Pendergast machine . . . Every Democratic politician including myself went to Tom Pendergast for support . . . "
After he was nominated for the Vice Presidency, he steadfastly refused to heed the pleas of fellow Democrats who urged him to disown his political mentor. He even attended Pendergast's funeral in January of 1945 putting into practice his view that ingratitude was one of the worst of sins. His defenders stressed that his attitude on the necessity of machine support was perhaps no different from that of scores of other politicians, Republicans and Democrats, holding high and responsible public offices.
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