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Harry Truman Celebrates 79th Birthday

May 8, 1963 - Fifteen thousand Southern Baptists sang “Happy Birthday” in Kansas City, Mo., today to one of their most illustrious brethren, former President Harry S. Truman, on his 79th birthday. Mr. Truman took the tribute with a broad smile and responded with a greeting of his own to the Southern Baptist Convention, which was born 118 years ago today after splitting with the Northern Baptists over slavery. Dressed in a gray suit and carrying a cane in his left hand, Mr. Truman appeared briefly in Municipal Auditorium as the Baptists moved into the first full day of their convention. In the Presidential campaign of 1960, many Baptists were infuriated by a remark attributed to Mr. Truman in Waco, Tex., to the effect that if they disagreed with him over the candidacy of John F. Kennedy, they could “go to hell.” Today, Mr. Truman alluded to the incident. “I told ‘em what I thought of them, and Texas went for Kennedy, so we didn’t do him any harm,” he said. Mr. Truman said his family had been Baptists for five generations and that he liked it because “Baptists are governed from the church up, not the top down, and I think that’s the way the Lord intended.”

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