2,000 Pages of Love Letters
We’re pleased to announce that the Truman Library has finished scanning and describing all the letters that they have that Harry wrote to Bess before they were married. That’s 386 letters, over 2,000 pages!
Here’s page one of a letter from September 30, 1917, shortly after Truman arrived in Oklahoma to begin his training for World War I. You can see the rest of the letter, and find more at the Truman Presidential Library.
It’s National #HispanicHeritageMonth!
A portrait of revolutionary Latin American leader Simón Bolívar over the mantle in Harry S. Truman’s Oval Office, ca 1946. (via ourpresidents)
Photograph of the fireplace in the Oval Office of the White House, with a portrait of Simon Bolivar hanging over the mantelpiece, flanked by portraits of Franklin D. Roosevelt and George Washington., 11/05/1946
Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.
Find more Hispanic Heritage Month resources at the http://www.hispanicheritagemonth.gov/ web portal →
President Truman - Just Stopping By
On this day in 1947, President Harry S. Truman stopped by the U.S. Capitol unannounced. According to the President’s appointment calendar for the day:
"While at the Capitol, the President visited the Senate Chamber, took his old seat, was recognized by the President of the Senate and made a brief impromptu speech."
Addressing the senators around him, he said, “I get homesick for this seat. I spent the best 10 years of my life in this seat.”
Photo: Senator Harry S. Truman on the Capitol Steps, circa 1940.
It’s the Birthday of President Harry S. Truman
A brief timeline on what would have been Harry’s 130th birthday-
- 1884: Harry S. Truman is born in Lamar, Missouri on May 8. As a young man, he works briefly as a timekeeper for a railroad construction contractor, then as a clerk in two Kansas City banks.
- 1906: Harry begins working with his father to run the family farm. He continues working as a farmer for more than ten years.
- 1905-1911: Harry serves in the Missouri National Guard. When the United States enters World War I in 1917, he helps to organize the 2nd Regiment of Missouri Field Artillery, which is quickly called into Federal service as the 129th Field Artillery and sent to France.
- 1919-1922: Harry runs a men’s clothing store in Kansas City with his wartime friend, Eddie Jacobson. The store fails in the postwar recession. Harry narrowly avoids bankruptcy, and through determination and over many years he pays off his share of the store’s debts.
- 1922: Harry is elected to be one of three judges of the Jackson County Court.
- 1934: Harry is elected to the United States Senate.
- July, 1944: Harry is nominated to run for Vice President with President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
- January 20, 1945: Harry takes the vice-presidential oath. After President Roosevelt’s unexpected death only eighty-two days later on April 12, 1945, Harry is sworn in as the nations’ 33rd President.
- May 7, 1945: Germany surrenders unconditionally one day before Harry’s 61st birthday.
- 1948: Harry wins reelection despite a widely expected defeat.
- 1953: Harry leaves the Presidency and retires to Independence, MO.
- 1972: Harry S. Truman dies on December 26, 1972.
Photo: President Truman on the celebration of his 61st birthday, the day after the unconditional surrender of Germany in World War II. May 8, 1945.
-from the Truman Library
Happy 130th Birthday, Harry S. Truman! (5/08/1884 - 12/26/1972)
Abbie Rowe, photographer.
The photo of Truman smiling while he announces the end of the war in Europe (on his 61st birthday no less) is always one of our favorites. It was also a big hit with our “junior digital curator” who was helping out during our Take your Child to Work Day here at the National Archives—and who also shares a birthday with the 33rd President. In his words: “He’s probably thinking ‘This is an AWESOME birthday present!’”
Happy Birthday to John James Audubon!
Photograph of President Truman at the White House accepting ten paintings by John J. Audubon, a gift to the United States from Australian philanthropist E. J. Hallstrom., 07/18/1951
Abbie Rowe, photographer. From the series: Photographs Relating to the Administration, Family, and Personal Life of Harry S. Truman
The naturalist and painter was born in Haiti on April 26, 1785. Sent to America in 1803, he lived on the family farm outside of Philadelphia, where he proved that the same birds return to the same nesting sites each year by tying strings around their legs. After 10 years in business—painting all the while as his hobby—Audubon went into the wilderness on an epic quest to paint the birds of American. A few years later, he sailed to England where his work “The American Woodsman” was an overnight success.
A Future President Visits the White House, 1949
During his first year as a Congressman Gerald R. Ford was assigned to the House Committee on Public Works. He and the other committee members met with President Truman and toured the White House on April 2, 1949. Afterwards Ford wrote these reflections on the building that would become his residence 25 years later.
Ford’s notes on the White House visit from the Ford Congressional Papers, Committee on Public Works, October 1948-April 1949.
President Truman’s appointment calendar courtesy of the Harry S. Truman Library & Museum.
Captain Harry Truman
Officers, 129th Field Artillery, at regimental headquarters at Chateau de Chanay near Courcemont, France, March 1919. Captain Harry Truman, second row, third from right.
From the series: Signal Corps Photographs of American Military Activity, 1754 - 1954
The First French President to Formally Visit the United States
As French President Francois Hollande begins his visit to the United States today, our colleagues at the State Department’s historyatstate tumblr take us back to the first formal visit by a President of France in 1951.
(Find more photos from President Vincent Auriol’s 1951 visit in our online catalog.)
The first formal visit by the President of a French Republic to the United States was Vincent Auriol in Spring 1951. The trip sought to convince U.S. lawmakers and the public that France was steadily recovering from wartime destruction, thanks to Marshall Plan aid, and reinforce the Fourth Republic’s commitment to the transatlantic alliance.
President Auriol took daily English lessons to prepare for his visit because, according to the New York Times, he wanted to “speak at least a few words of English in each of the many talks he expects to make in the United States, notably in an address he will make before a joint session of Congress.”1 In March 1951, Auriol sailed for New York from Le Havre aboard the Ile de France with his wife, son, and Robert Schuman, French Foreign Minister, among others.2 The French presidential party landed in New York then took a train to Washington D.C.’s Union Station on March 28.
Auriol made another notable “first” when he became the first French head of state to address a joint session of the U.S. Congress on April 2. He was also awarded the Legion of Merit, Degree of Chief-Commander, by President Harry Truman. Returning to New York on April 2, Auriol received an honorary doctorate from Columbia University. On Wednesday, April 4, the Auriols visited Eleanor Roosevelt in Hyde Park, NY, and presented her with the Order of Commander of the Legion of Honor before sailing for France that evening.
View the video retrospective of French presidential visits to the United States via France’s Institut National Audovisuel (INA).
Thanksgiving Menu Planning, From Soup to Nuts
In 1948 the Trumans dined on a traditional Thanksgiving menu that included consomme and Hollandaise sauce and was followed by a club sandwich with buttermilk later in the evening as supper.
White House Menu, 11/25/1948
While this may seem rather modest for a presidential Thanksgiving dinner, note that the President was responsible for his own food - all of this came out of the Trumans’ pocket. They did not have a large personal fortune to fall back on, so Mrs. Truman always went over the budget, food included, with a fine-tooth comb. President Truman had to have a fairly low-calorie diet, Mrs. Truman was on a restricted-salt diet because of her high blood pressure, and Mrs. Wallace (Bess Truman’s mother) was rather frail and couldn’t eat anything too exotic.
(Special thanks to our colleagues at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum!)
So here’s a new question - we were wondering if you have your menu set for tomorrow and what’s the first course?
LBJ Signs the Medicare Bill
On July 30, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Medicare into law. The event took place at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and LBJ told the nation that Medicare “all started with the man from Independence.”
Truman was the first president to publicly endorse a national health insurance program.
As a Senator, Truman had become alarmed at the number of draftees who had failed their induction physicals during World War II. For Truman these rejections meant that the average citizen could not afford visiting a doctor to maintain health. He stated “that is all wrong in my book. I am trying to fix it so the people in the middle-income bracket can live as long as the very rich and the very poor.”
Truman’s first proposal in 1945 provided for physician and hospital insurance for working-aged Americans and their families. A federal health board was to administer the program with the government retaining the right to fix fees for service, and doctors could choose whether or not to participate. This proposal was defeated after, among many factors, the American Medical Association labeled the president’s plan “socialized medicine” taking advantage of the public’s concern over communism in Russia.
Even though he was never able to create a national health care program, Truman was able to draw attention to the country’s health needs, have funds legislated to construct hospitals, expand medical aid to the needy, and provide for expanded medical research.
In honor of his continued advocacy for national health insurance, LBJ presented Truman and his wife Bess with Medicare cards number one and two in 1966.
Image: Harry S. Truman’s Medicare Card #1.
Photo: President Lyndon B. Johnson shakes hands with former President Harry S. Truman at the signing of the Medicare Bill. LBJ Library #34897-14.
“…it is essential that there be maintained in the armed services of the United States the highest standards of democracy, with equality of treatment and opportunity for all those who serve in our country’s defense..”
Executive Order 9981, July 26, 1948, in which President Harry S. Truman bans the segregation of the Armed Forces
As one of several actions taken to meet the recommendations of the President’s Commission on Civil Rights, President Harry S. Truman issued an executive order on July 26, 1948, abolishing segregation in the armed forces and ordering full integration of all the services. Executive Order 9981 stated that “there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed forces without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin.” The order also established an advisory committee to examine the rules, practices, and procedures of the armed services and recommend ways to make desegregation a reality. There was considerable resistance to the executive order from the military, but by the end of the Korean conflict, almost all the military was integrated.
via Our Documents
Sometimes an “S” is just an “S”
When Harry S. Truman was born on May 8, 1884, his parents decided to name him Harry, after his mother’s brother Harrison Young. But what about a middle name? Should it be Shipp, in honor of his paternal grandfather, Anderson Shipp Truman? Or should it be Solomon, in honor of his maternal grandfather, Solomon Young?
In the end, they entered his middle name as simply S, which led to a never-ending controversy about Harry S. Truman’s middle name. Read more.
Here’s President Truman behind his Oval Office desk sign - “The Buck Stops Here.”
Seventy years ago today on April 13, 1943, the Jefferson Memorial was dedicated in Washington, DC, on the 200th anniversary of Thomas Jefferson’s birth (4/13/1743).
Truman to MacArthur: “You’re Fired”
Proposed Orders and Statement on Dismissal of General Douglas MacArthur.
On April 11, 1951, President Truman dismissed General Douglas MacArthur as commander of United Nations forces in Korea due to insubordination, following several incidents in which MacArthur publicly criticized the Commander-in-Chief.
Formerly classified “Top Secret,” this document consists of orders from President Truman relieving General MacArthur of his commands and designating General Matthew Ridgway as his successor, along with a statement explaining MacArthur’s dismissal.
Read more at Prologue: You’re Fired