Truman

At one point during a meeting in Truman’s office, Silver had hammered on Truman’s desk and shouted at him. “Terror and Silver are the causes of some, if not all, of our troubles,” Truman later said, and at one Cabinet meeting he reportedly grew so furious over the subject of the Jews that he snapped, “Jesus Christ couldn’t please them when he was on earth, so how could anyone expect that I would have any luck.” To

But to the managing editor of Life, Joseph J. Thorndike, Jr., the problem centered on bias. “Of course, we did not intentionally mislead our readers,” he wrote. But I do think that we ourselves were misled by our bias. Because of that bias we did not exert ourselves enough to report the side we didn’t believe in. We were too ready to accept the evidence of pictures like the empty auditorium at Omaha and to ignore the later crowds. We were too eager to report the Truman “bobbles” and to pass over the things that were wrong about the Republican campaign: empty Dewey speeches, the bad Republican candidates, the dangers of Republican commitments to big business.

Eric Sevareid, who observed at close range so much of the history of the era and its protagonists, would say nearly forty years later of Truman, “I am not sure he was right about the atomic bomb, or even Korea. But remembering him reminds people what a man in that office ought to be like. It’s character, just character. He stands like a rock in memory now.” •   •   • He had lived eighty-eight

Free speech is a restraint on government; not an incitement to the citizen.

He asked for national compulsory health insurance to be funded by payroll deductions. Under the system, all citizens would receive medical and hospital service irrespective of their ability to pay. And

He loved politics in large part exactly because it meant time spent with men like Cactus Jack Garner(who would be remembered for observing that the vice presidency was not worth a pitcher of warm piss).

He was always on the job early. Some mornings, at his desk before the staff arrived, he would answer the phone himself, telling callers what the library hours were, or, in reply to further questions, saying he knew because it was his library. “This is the old man himself.

He wasn’t a hero, or an original thinker. His beliefs were their beliefs, their way of talking was his way of talking. He was on their side. He was one of them. If he stumbled over a phrase or a name, he would grin and try again, and they would smile with

I not occurred

It is almost a reconciliation to having my leg broken to contemplate the amount of reading I am going to do this summer. I am getting better fast and I am afraid I’ll get well so soon I won’t get to read enough.

July 12, 1911 Dear Bessie: You know that you turned me down so easy that I am almost happy anyway. I never was fool enough to think that a girl like you could ever care for a fellow like me but I couldn’t help telling you how I felt. I have always wanted you to have some fine, rich-looking man, but I know that if ever I got the chance I’d tell you how I felt even if I didn’t even get to say another word to you. What makes me feel good is that you were good enough to answer me seriously and not make fun of me anyway. You know when a fellow tells a girl all his heart and she makes a joke of it I suppose it would be the awfullest feeling in the world. You see I never had any desire to say such things to anyone else. All my girlfriends think I am a cheerful idiot and a confirmed old bach. They really don’t know the reason nor ever will. I have been so afraid you were not even going to let me be your good friend. To be even in that class is something. You may think I’ll get over it as all boys do. I guess I am something of a freak myself. I really never had any desire to make love to a girl just for the fun of it, and you have always been the reason. I have never met a girl in my life that you were not the first to be compared with her, to see wherein she was lacking and she always was. Please don’t think I am talking nonsense or bosh, for if ever I told the truth I am telling it now and I’ll never tell such things to anyone else or bother you with them again. I have always been more idealist than practical anyway, so I really never expected any reward for loving you. I shall always hope though. . . . Then, promising to put on no hangdog airs when next he saw her, he changed the subject. Did she know of any way to make it rain? •   •   •

Lord, grant that I may always be right, for Thou knowest I am hard to turn,

Once rolling the train would travel under the code name “POTUS,” for “President of the United States,

One August morning at Blair House, he read in the papers that the body of an American soldier killed in action, Sergeant John Rice, had been brought home for burial in Sioux City, Iowa, but that at the last moment, as the casket was to be lowered into the grave, officials of the Sioux City Memorial Park had stopped the ceremony because Sergeant Rice, a Winnebago Indian, was not “a member of the Caucasian race” and burial was therefore denied. Outraged, Truman picked up the phone. Within minutes, by telephone and telegram, it was arranged that Sergeant Rice would be buried in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors and that an Air Force plane was on the way to bring his widow and three children to Washington. That, as President, was the least he could do.

Republicans in Washington have a habit of becoming curiously deaf to the voice of the people. They have a hard time hearing what the ordinary people of the country are saying. But they have no trouble at all hearing what Wall Street is saying. They are able to catch the slightest whisper from big business and the special interests.

Roosevelt loved the subtleties of human relations...He was sensitive to nuances in a way that Harry Truman never was and never would be. Truman, with his rural Missouri background, and partly too, because of the limits of his education, was inclined to see things in far simpler terms, as right or wrong, wise or foolish. He dealt little in abstractions.

The basic policy of the present [Japanese] government [said a combined Intelligence Committee report of July 8, 1945] is to fight as long and as desperately as possible in the hope of avoiding complete defeat and of acquiring a better bargaining position in a negotiated peace. Japanese leaders are now playing for time in the hope that Allied war weariness, Allied disunity, or some “miracle” will present an opportunity to arrange a compromise peace.

The Democratic Party would win in November because the Democratic Party was the people’s party. The Republicans were the party of the privileged few, as always.

the formality of the presidency, all

The lethal possibilities of such atomic action in the future is frightening, and while we are the first to have it in our possession, there is a certainty that it will in the future be developed by potential enemies and that it will probably be used against us.” Robert

The morning bourbon—an ounce of Old Grandad or Wild Turkey taken after the two-mile walk and a few setting-up exercises and the rubdown that usually followed the morning walk—had also become routine. Whether the bourbon was on doctor’s orders, or a bit of old-fashioned home medicine of the kind many of his generation thought beneficial to the circulation past age sixty (“to get the engine going”), is not known. But it seemed to agree with him.

The year of the birth of Israel, the year of the Republican tax cut and the Truman Balcony, would be remembered also as the year green (chlorophyll) chewing gum became a fad, the year of a new word game called “Scrabble,” of tail fins on Cadillacs, and an unimaginably daring new bathing suit called the bikini, after the island where the atomic bomb tests were carried out the summer before.

Today’s prime fact is war,” Henry Stimson had said at the start of one Interim

Truman, Acheson knew, was far more sentimental than generally known, or than he wished people to know, far more touched by gestures that to many might seem routine. On board his plane later in the year, bound again for Key West, he would write Acheson a brief longhand note marked and underscored “Personal.” It was good of you to see us off. You always do the right thing. I’m still a farm boy and when the Secretary of State of the greatest Republic comes to the airport to see me off on a vacation, I can’t help but swell up a little. “And then he was so fair,” Acheson would say. “He didn’t make different decisions with different people. He called everyone together. You were all heard and you all got the answer together. He was a square dealer all the way through.

We are here today to raise the flag of victory over the capital of our greatest adversary . . . we must remember that . . . we are raising it in the name of the people of the United States, who are looking forward to a better world, a peaceful world, a world in which all the people will have an opportunity to enjoy the good things of life, and not just a few at the top. Let us not forget that we are fighting for peace, and for the welfare of mankind. We are not fighting for conquest. There is not one piece of territory or one thing of a monetary nature that we want out of this war. We want peace and prosperity for the world as a whole. [Here the thumbs came out of the coat pockets, his freed hands chopped the air in unison, the familiar gesture, as he stressed each word, “peace and prosperity for the world as a whole.”] We want to see the time come when we can do the things in peace that we have been able to do in war. If we can put this tremendous machine of ours, which has made victory possible, to work for peace, we can look forward to the greatest age in the history of mankind. That is what we propose to do.

We worship money instead of honor. A billionaire, in our estimation, is much greater in these days in the eyes of the people than the public servant who works for public interest. It makes no difference if the billionaire rode to wealth on the sweat of little children and the blood of underpaid labor. No one ever considered Carnegie libraries steeped in the blood of the Homestead steelworkers, but they are. We do not remember that the Rockefeller Foundation is founded on the dead miners of the Colorado Fuel & Iron Company and a dozen other similar performances.

When a bill was put before the state legislature in Jefferson City that would have prohibited anyone who owned a saloon from holding elective office and reporters asked what he thought of it, Alderman Jim said probably the bill was intended as a way of improving the reputation of saloonkeepers.

When a general complained about the morale of his troops, observed George Marshall, the time had come for the general to look to his own morale.

You must be frank with the world; frankness is the child of honesty and courage. Say just what you mean to do on every occasion, and take it for granted you mean to do right. . . . Never do anything wrong to make a friend or keep one; the man who requires you to do so, is dearly purchased at a sacrifice. Deal kindly, but firmly with all your classmates; you will find it the policy which wears best. Above all do not appear to others what you are not.

. . The Democratic Party puts human rights and human welfare first. . . . These Republican gluttons of privilege are cold men. They are cunning men. . . . They want a return of the Wall Street economic dictatorship. .