DescriptionThe ultimate Harry Truman Archive containing more than 30 letters. Also included is 17 pages of eyewitness accounts of a close friend during most crucial times of Truman's Presidency. Topics covered in the archive include reaction to the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the firing of MacArthur, and Truman's disdain for commie hunting McCarthy.
Over the years he spent both in and out of the White House, Harry Truman formed a special friendship with a Chicago Sun-Times Editor named Russ Stewart. Truman, who was in the White House during times of controversy and War, delivers candid responses to the young editor who was also a staunch Truman supporter. The correspondence is lively and humorous as the two are obviously very comfortable and trusting of one another. This archive is a rare look at a President.
One letter in particular to Russ Stewart, Managing Editor of the Times in Chicago dated, September 29, 1945, a little over a month after Hiroshima reads, "Dear Russ: You don't know how very much I appreciated your good letter of the twenty-fifth, enclosing the prize piano cartoon of Lichty's. Please tell him that I am having it framed and put in the center of my collection I read [Dick] Finnegan's editorial on the Trib's Alibi for the Japs with a lot of interest. He certainly hit the nail on the head with a sledgehammer. It is a pity we can't prosecute the traitors, as we should. Glad Fritz told you the story about the Prince of Wales. I did remind him of it when he called on me, although I didn't use quite the coarse language that the Battery did. Wish we could get together once more. I'd give anything in the world if I could some to a Times luncheon but I guess that is out for the time being. Sincerely Yours, Harry."
The mocked photo of Truman also appears in the archive accompanying the letter. The photo shows a man laying on the piano singing with Lynn Bermot, a receptionist at the Daily Times. The man in the picture is really Borrie Kantor, a Time's photographer. Truman's head was pasted on Kantor's body. The back of the photo is a an explanation from Russ Stewart which reads, "This statement is in explanation of this picture: In March of 1945, Harry S. Truman, then Vice President of the United States, visited Chicago for a speech before the Irish Fellowship Club. That evening I arranged a small dinner party at the Tavern Club for Mr. Truman. To enliven the affair I had made several composite pictures showing Mr. Truman in various humorous poses. This picture was one of these faked in the Daily Times Photographic department. The girl in the picture is Lynn Bermot, receptionist at the Daily Times. The man in the picture is Borrie Kantor, a photographer Mr. Truman's head was pasted over Mr. Kantor's head to produce this result. Russ Stewart."
In a reporter's eyewitness account undoubtedly Russ Stewart's, included in this archive dated, August 10, 1950, the reporter writes, "He said he might have to call upon 'newspapermen he could trust - such as you' to assist in setting up a voluntary censorship similar to Byron Price's organization in the last war. He said they did a 'wonderful job.' This gave me the opportunity to say that I thought the newspapers of the century in general were as loyal and as patriotic as any single group. He said he thought they were, and that the only paper that violated the bonds of patriotism in the last war was the Tribune. All the others he said 'lived up to the censorship code' and if the Trib does it again, he won't be as 'soft1 as FOR - he'll have McCormick shot 'if they ever do a thing like that again.'"
The letters between Stewart and Truman are often of a personal nature. In a letter dated, August 5, 1947, Truman responds to Stewart's letter expressing his sorrow on the passing of Truman's Mother. Truman responds, "Dear Russ: I certainly appreciated very much your letter of August fifth and your going in with Mr. Finnegan on the Memorial to my mother. I know that would have pleased her highly because she always believed in helping the living and not wasting money on contributions for people who had passed on. I sincerely hope that the Marshall Field purchase of The Times will not change its policies or its management - it is the only paper in Chicago that I had any confidence in. If you and Finnegan are to manage both papers I am sure they will become "newspapers". I certainly wouldn't want The Times to pass out of the picture by having it dominated with the Sun policies. Sometime 111 talk with you about the whole situation when we are within reach of each other. Sincerely yours, Harry Truman."
On October 11, 1949, Truman writes to Stewart about situations in Congress. "Dear Russ: I certainly appreciated very much your sending me the cartoons - one for Vaughan and one for the Vice President. I'll see that they get them with all the trimmings. I read the editorial about Leland Olds with much interest. That is one of the most peculiar situations I've ever seen develop in the Congress. They go back twenty or twenty-five years and dig up a lot of foolish statements that Olds made in his youth but they never have yet gone into his record as a public official - he served in New York eight years and he has been ten years on the present Commission. I don't know what we are coming to when one of the top Committees of the Congress takes that attitude. Sincerely yours, Harry Truman"
In another letter dated April 11, 1950, Truman writes to Stewart, "Dear Russ: Again, accept my thanks for the Lichty cartoon. It certainly is a honey. I shall have it framed and hang it with my collection. Your articles on "Two-Job-Joe" interested me very much. I am coming into Wisconsin on this proposed tour West if I make it and I am highly pleased with the information contained in the articles which you sent me. I'd suggest that you get in touch with Matt Connelly and Charlie Ross with regard to the proposal for a reception. One of the difficulties with a thing of that kind is that local politicians are exceedingly jealous of the personal friends of the President and we have to be very careful in handling such programs. You discuss the matter with matt and Charlie and we will see what can be worked out. Sincerely yours, Harry Truman."
The reference to "Two-Job-Joe" refers to Joe McCarthy as senator and hunting communists. In another account of a White House visit by Stewart, Truman makes no bones about how he feels about McCarthy even detailing the orders to fire MacArthur. Stewart who wrote the account on April 30, 1951 writes, "HST cordial as he has always been, with warm, affectionate greeting. We talked about how he felt - "fine" - Ben and Margaret, etc. He said it was good to see me and I said I was, at least, one visitor who did not bring him a crisis - nor was after anything - I only wanted to see him and pass the time of day. He said that was a great relief. We talked about Kefauver and his comments indicated he was greatly annoyed with him for the smearing of Burger and others. Then he launched into an attack on McCarthy and the fact that the only way the Republicans could legitimately criticize was by character assassination. McCarthy was a "pathological liar." He thanked S - T for the story Bill Kent wrote reporting McCarthy's "bourbon" charges. He said McCarthy would be sorry he had made that statement before it was over. I said: "Well, there's only one thing you can do, Mr. President," - paused and when he looked at me genuinely said - "You'll just have to stop getting drunk." There was a quick moment of surprise and, as I began laughing, the realization of the humor in my seemingly brash remark dawned and he threw back his head and laughed heartily. It was a tense moment and I was greatly relieved when he laughed . ..." I then asked him I he had heard about the McArthur speech by Col. Me Cormick Saturday night. He said, "no," so I told him of McCormick's advocacy of McArthur for President and Taft for V.P. He howled and said, "I'll bet Robert Alouso blew his top." I told him it was printed in that morning's Times -Herald and he said, "I never read that sabotage sheet." I urged him to read it - "just for laughs." I then told him the story I had corrected about McCormick and MacArthur. Halfway through the story (he began laughing almost from the outset) MC came in and lifted the phone receiver off the hook and handed it to him. He said, "hello" and then - "Dean I wanted to tell you -" and began bawling him out. It became slightly embarrassing for me to listen to the President Chastising the Secretary of State, so I got up and strolled away from the desk, presumably looking at the office curios. When he hung up I returned. He seemed to want to tell me about his conversation and explained that last week Dean Anderson and George Marshall had argued for and convinced him to sign an order sending some of our troops to Ireland. He said there had been a change in plans and "they1 - presumably DA and GM - had found it expedient to cancel the order. They did so without telling him. He said: "When I issue and order, I certainly ought to be told when it's cancelled." He then asked me to finish the story - when I did to his great amusement. He seemed to enjoy it so much I told him the story about the psychiatrist in heaven called upon to "straighten out God - who was acting like Mac Arthur -" He laughed.
He then began talking about the Mac Arthur situation - thanking me for sending me ... cartoon - which he said he was leaving framed. He said Mac A. wasn't fired and many people assumed for writing "that letter to Joe Martin." That was a bad break of etiquet [sic], he said, but not the reason for him being fires. He said that MacA. had been "insubordinate" for some time, disregarding orders etc. He had overlooked their "indiscretions." He said he had an ultimatum to the Chinese Commander I prepared and it was "making the rounds" being signed by the UN Nations. I asked: "A peace or else ultimatum" and he said "the kind of an ultimatum that might have led to peace if properly handled." Thirteen nations had already signed it, he said, and he thought MacArthur ought to know about it, so it was sent by state Dept. Code to MacA. With institutions to keep it top secret until ready for delivery. MacA, he said, proceeded to revise the long range slightly and then issued it under his - MacA's name - to the Chinese Commander. This was the straw that broke the camel's back and he said he felt he would have to relieve him. He called GM and DA and Bradley and then discussed. GM and Bradley thought he ought to go, DA was non-committal. They decided to think some more about it and agreed not to mention it at that day's cabinet meeting (Monday). HST then summoned Barkley, Vinson and Rayburn to Blair House that night (Monday) and the matter was thoroughly discussed and they agreed Mac A. would have to go. There was, he said lengthy discussion of the political impact, and HST said he would have to wish that. GM drafted the order relieving McA and the statement of explanation and gave it to HST the next day (Tuesday) HST said to leave it with him as he wanted to look it over. It was then decided to fire MacA by sending the order in State Dept. code to the U.S. Ambassador's at ... asking him to give to Pace with instructions for Pace to deliver to MacA. The following afternoon (Wednesday) at 3 p.m. Washington time. That night, HST said he was getting ready for bed when Bradley arrived at Blair House saying he was sure there had been a leak because of a question asked of him by Walter T. Graham of the Chi. Trib. MacA - Bradley said - had word of the order and was planning to quit. This led to the decision to release immediately.
"It has rallied the Democrats"
"I have fired more cabinet members than any other President. And I'll keep on firing them if they lay down on the job. -General's too."
In all, the archive includes 28 letters written by Truman as President, 1 as Vice President, 3 as Senator and 4 after he was retired. The friendship between Truman and Stewart was genuine, revealing and a very candid look at Truman's Presidency making this archive a unique gem among Presidential archives. As a point of reference in the last 25 years, only two Truman letters have ever been offered that refer to the Japanese or Hiroshima. A Truman LS to David J. Oestreicher dated November 21, 1961 defending the bombing of Hiroshima sold for nearly $30,000 at Sotheby's 25 years ago. A second Presidential letter sold for over $8,000 (roughly $40,000) in today's money.Accompanied by LOA from PSA/DNA.
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