Correspondence: 1953-60
    Commentary by Steve Neal

On leaving the presidency Truman remained friendly with Mrs. Roosevelt. As the grand figures of their party, they campaigned across the country for younger Democratic hopefuls. Truman was his party's first active former president since Grover Cleveland. "Democrats have come to look on Truman as a character, sometimes amusing, always indomitable, certainly admirable, almost always lovable," Time magazine observed in a 1956 cover article.

Throughout the Eisenhower era, Eleanor led the Gallup Poll as the most admired woman in the world. Career diplomats at the State Department had hoped that Mrs. Roosevelt would be retained as a delegate to the United Nations. But Eisenhower, who disliked her, told Secretary of State John Foster Dulles that she would have no role in the new administration. It was a loss to this country and to the world when Eisenhower took this attitude.

Bernard Baruch, a mutual friend, confided to her that Eisenhower had been told by Perle Mesta, the ambassador to Luxembourg, that Mrs. Roosevelt had alleged that Mamie Doud Eisenhower, the general's wife, was an alcoholic. "Now, I haven't the faintest idea if Mrs. Eisenhower has a problem," Eleanor told the Reverend William Turner Levy. "I know I never spoke of it, and I'm shocked that he could believe I would gossip, especially when I and my family have suffered for so many years from maligning rumors! My own father and only brother died from drinking too much-it's not a matter I could react to other than with pain and deep sympathy. But I've been told he was infuriated by what Mrs. Mesta told him-and he's famous for his temper."

As Democratic partisans, Truman and Mrs. Roosevelt waged the good fight for national health insurance, affordable housing, civil rights, and the protection of public lands and forests from greedy special interests. Both stood up for decency and fair play during Senator Joseph McCarthy's witch-hunts.

On several occasions, most notably at their party's 1956 convention and at a 1959 Democratic dinner, the former president and Mrs. Roosevelt had public disagreements. He supported New York governor Averell Harriman while she backed Stevenson for the 1956 presidential nomination. "I was dismayed by the idea of publicly pitting my political judgment against his," she later wrote. "I could only reflect that sometimes one had to do things one does not like to do."

But when they were on opposite sides, it was never personal. "I hope you will understand that whatever action I take is because I think I am doing the right thing," Truman told her.

"Of course," Mrs. Roosevelt replied. "I know you will act as you believe is right and I know you will realize that I must do the same." When Stevenson won renomination, Truman promptly endorsed him and made numerous campaign appearances in his behalf.

As the 1960 Democratic convention approached, the former president and Mrs. Roosevelt were part of the movement to stop John F. Kennedy from winning the presidential nomination. In their opposition, there was an element of anti-Catholic bias, which reflected their backgrounds as Protestants born in the late nineteenth century. Once Kennedy won the nomination, both campaigned for him out of loyalty to their party and also because of their intense dislike of Republican presidential nominee Richard M. Nixon.

Both Democratic elders cheered their party's return to power.



    Dear Mr. President:

    I had thought that because my work was finished as a delegate to the General Assembly of the United Nations, and as I was only appointed for this session, that you would not require a special resignation. I find that as there is to be an adjourned session we must all write you formal letters of resignation, so this is to resign as a delegate to the General Assembly which is still in session.

    Very sincerely yours,




    Dear Mr. President:

    There seems to be a jinx on my getting to Washington! I have completely lost my voice and decided that the weather was not propitious for going down to Washington today.

    This means I will not see you and Mrs. Truman before the twentieth, I am afraid, and so I want to send you this line to tell you how grateful I am for all you have given me in the way of opportunities for service in the UN in the last few years and to wish you relief from the burdens of state which I know have been overwhelming and an interesting and happy life from now on with many satisfactions.

    Very cordially yours,




    Dear Mrs. Roosevelt:

    Your letter of resignation as a Delegate to the General Assembly of the United Nations has been received, and I regret that I must accept it, effective January 20,1953.

    I cannot leave the White House without thanking you for your unfaltering service to our country and your very real help to me. Since that evening in 1945 when you responded to my offer of assistance with, "What can we do for you?", you have done many things for me. In your work on the Human Rights Commission, you brought honor to all of us. Your poise and patience and good will have been valuable in sessions of the United Nations General Assembly as well. The reports you have brought to me have been stimulating and useful. You have been a good ambassador for America.

    At home, I am sure that your efforts begun long ago to make people take an interest in affairs of their own communities have borne fruit in the public support of many of our advances in housing, health facilities, social security, civil rights, and conservation of natural resources. Your continued support of the Democratic party and its program has been important.

    I have heard that you will continue your work for the United Nations as a volunteer in a non-governmental organization. You believe with me, I know, that our starting point toward world peace remains in the UN, and I am glad you will continue to build support of its aims.

    I feel confident, too, that you agree that we have much to do at home in beating back fear, renewing our confidence in each other, and in building our moral power.

    Again I thank you. Mrs. Truman joins me in wishing you the very best of everything.

    Sincerely yours,


In January of 1953, former attorney general Francis Biddle nominated Truman for the Nobel Peace Prize. Mrs. Roosevelt wrote this seconding letter to the Nobel Committee.




    I take pleasure in seconding the Honorable Harry S. Truman of the United States of America for the award of the Nobel Peace Prize.

    Mr. Truman has performed a great service in preserving peace by a continuing and closely integrated policy of building the economic, political and spiritual strength of the Western World to meet, contain, and eventually to overcome the threat to Western independence, and to Western religion and culture, from Soviet imperialism. His record on the aggression in Trieste and in Teheran; his aid to Greece and his cooperation with the United Nations; his action on the Berlin air-lift; and his support of the Marshall Plan; his stand in regard to Korean Communist aggression are all things that need no elaboration by me.

    Mr. Truman patiently and successfully directed the United States in its new foreign policy of Western unity I think President Truman played a great role in promoting cooperation among nations and presenting measures that lead to peace.

    Sincerely yours,


Truman, who proposed General Marshall for the 1953 Peace Prize, was elated when the Nobel Committee honored the former secretary of state. "I hope you will share this distinction with me," Marshall wrote Truman, "because it was through your guidance and leadership that the European Recovery Plan was made possible."

In November 1964, two years after Eleanor's death, Truman wrote Gunnar Jahn, chairman of the Nobel Prize Committee, with another recommendation:

"I understand that there are regulations in your committee that rule out an award of the Peace Prize to Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt because she has passed away.

"The award without the financial prize that goes with it can be made. You should make it. If she didn't earn it, then no one else has.

"It's an award for peace in the world. I hope you'll make it."

The committee of the Norwegian Parliament, which awards the prize, declined to change the rules. The 1965 peace prize was awarded to the United Nation's Children's Fund, a choice that Mrs. Roosevelt would have endorsed with enthusiasm.



    Dear Mr. Truman:

    Thank you very much for your kind letter of January 19th.

    I find there is a great deal of work in connection with the American Association for the UN. I expected to spend two mornings a week at the national office, and now find it is a full time job.

    Please remember that it would be a great pleasure to be able to welcome you and Mrs. Truman at Hyde Park.

    Very cordially yours,




    Dear Mrs. Roosevelt:

    I appreciated your letter of February second very, very much. Mrs. Truman and I will remember the invitation to Hyde Park.

    I know you can sympathize with us because we have records, papers, furniture, clothing and what not piled up in every room in the house at home, in two storage places in Kansas City and in an office in the Federal Reserve Bank Building. I don't know whether we will ever get out of it or not.

    I've had more than sixty thousand letters-ninety-nine and nine-tenths of which are just as fine as anybody would want to receive. I am trying to find some way to get them answered.

    Whenever there is anything I can do that is of interest to you don't fail to call on me.

    Mrs. Truman joins me in very best wishes and kindest regards to you.

    Sincerely yours,


On his return to Independence, Truman settled into the white Victorian house at 219 North Delaware. In those days, former presidents did not receive a pension and were not protected by the Secret Service. Truman declined to commercialize on his fame by going on corporate boards and enjoyed his new role as "Mr. Citizen."



    Dear Mrs. Roosevelt:

    I appreciated very much your note of the first enclosing the letter from Bilimora. I read it with a lot of interest.

    Mrs. Truman and I were certainly sorry to hear of Mrs. Thompson's death. We didn't learn of her death in time to write you when it happened. You must miss her very very much.

    I hope everything is going well with you and that you will let me hear from you once in awhile. I think the people are just now beginning to understand how important it was for you to be a member of the United. Nations Organization.
    Sincerely yours




    Dear Mr. Truman:

    It was good of you to write me about Miss Thompson. She was a devoted and loyal friend as well as a great help to me in my work and I miss her more and more every day.

    At the moment I am very busy preparing for my departure on May 19th. When I return in August, I hope it will be possible for you and Mrs. Truman to visit me at Hyde Park.

    My warm thanks for your thoughtfulness in writing and kindest regards to you and Mrs. Truman.

    Cordially yours,


Malvina Thompson, who had been Mrs. Roosevelt's secretary for twenty-nine years, died in April 1953 after a long illness. Known to her friends as Tommy, she lived in the former first lady's cottage at Hyde Park and was her closest friend. "I am quite sure that no one ever lived a more selfless life," Mrs. Roosevelt wrote in her column on April 12. "She had a tremendous sense of responsibility about her work and a great sense of dignity. But because to her what she did was so important, whether the task was little or big or whether it was menial or intellectual made no difference whatever. She did every job to the best of her ability, and her greatest satisfaction lay in helping me to do whatever work I was doing as well as she thought it should be done. Her standards were high for me, as well as for herself, and she could be a real critic."



    Dear Mrs. Roosevelt:

    I have been a long time answering your good letter of September twenty-first but I have had some difficulty in getting things lined up so I would know just exactly what is facing me.

    I certainly will be glad to attend the National Board Meeting of ADA on February sixth at the Waldorf. I don't know when I've had a happier meeting than the one I had in Washington with ADA a year ago.

    I hope everything is going well with you. Dave Noyes has been here with me and your ears should have burned with the nice things we have been saying about you.

    I appreciate very much your writing me about this meeting and I certainly want to attend.

    Sincerely yours,




    Dear Mr. President:

    Your letter accepting the invitation to speak for ADA was delayed in reaching me because it was directed to an old address. I am very happy that you are able to accept.

    Many thanks for telling me about Mr. Noyes' visit. It is good to know that you both think well of me and I am deeply appreciative.

    With kind regards to Mrs. Truman, Margaret and yourself.

    Very sincerely yours,


Mrs. Roosevelt maintained residences at Val-Kill Cottage in Hyde Park and in Manhattan. Following her husband's death, she had apartments at 29 Washington Square West (1945-49); the Park Sheraton at 202 West Fifty-sixth Street (1949-53); and 211 East Sixty-second Street (1953-59). Truman's office apparently had difficulty keeping current with Mrs. Roosevelt's address.



    If I am not misinformed you are to be in New York City on the eighth of March. We are having a dedication of a room in the American Association for the United Nations Office in memory of Philip Murray and his interest in international affairs. We wonder if you could attend at four o'clock on March the ninth. The money to equip this room is given by the Philip Murray Foundation on whose advisory board I serve as do you. I hope very much that you may be able to join us and say a few words.

    Eleanor Roosevelt




    Dear Mrs. Roosevelt:

    In reply to your telegram of the twenty-fifth I will be in New York on the seventh and it is necessary for me to go to Boston on the eighth.

    I regret very much that I can't be with you for the dedication of the room in the American Association for the United Nations Office in memory of Philip Murray. I wish you would express my regret and tell the people there that I would like very much to have been present.

    Sincerely yours,


Philip Murray (1886-1952), president of the Congress of Industrial Organizations from 1940 until his death, was an important labor ally of Presidents Roosevelt and Truman. Murray's political action committee provided critical organizational support to Truman in the '48 campaign. In the wake of Truman's victory, Murray expelled ten communist-led unions that had supported Henry A. Wallace's third-party candidacy. When Truman needed help the most, Murray came through. Truman never forgot it.



    Dear Mrs. Roosevelt:

    I have just received a note from Dave Lloyd telling me that you have made two donations to my Library Fund. I can't tell you how very much I appreciate it.

    I am somewhat in a quandary now because two universities in this part of the country are bringing pressure on me to build a building on their campuses. I don't know what is the best way to handle it but I do want to be sure that my Presidential papers are safe and are in the hands of the Government just as President Roosevelt's are.

    Mrs. Truman wants to be remembered to you.

    Sincerely yours,


Truman had at first hoped to build his presidential library on the family farm at Grandview. The University of Missouri at Columbia and University of Kansas City both offered land for a site. Edwin W. Pauley, a major donor to UCLA, sought the Truman Library for its Westwood campus. But Truman chose his hometown of Independence, where he lived in the Victorian home at 219 Delaware. The town donated a park and adjoining residential property for the library site. Basil O'Connor, FDR's former law partner, who launched the March of Dimes campaign that provided funding for Dr. Jonas Salk's polio vaccine, began the Harry S. Truman Library Corporation, a nonprofit foundation, to raise money for construction of the library. Other members of the executive committee included Mrs. Roosevelt, former secretary of state Dean Acheson, former vice president Alben Barkley, and W. Averell Harriman. The HSTL Corporation would raise more than $1.7 million. Truman expressed his gratitude to Mrs. Roosevelt for $200 in early contributions to the fund.



    Dear Mrs. Roosevelt:

    I've sent a letter to Henry Morgenthau to be read at your dinner on Oct. 11. I am sorely disappointed that I can't be present. I'll have to admit that I haven't fully recovered from my hospital experience last June.

    The Doctor's orders are all that prevent my being present.

    This letter enclosed is for your files. May you have many more happy birthdays. Mrs. Truman and Margaret join me in that wish.


    Dear Mr. Morgenthau:

    I am disappointed that I cannot be with you tonight to join in the tribute to Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt on her seventieth birthday.

    But for my recent illness, nothing could have kept me from being with you. My doctor insists that I not risk the trip and Mrs. Truman and Margaret support the doctor.

    I had hoped to be able to express in person to Mrs. Roosevelt my thanks for the contributions she has made during this critical era to the cause of peace and better human relations.

    May I ask you to tell Mrs. Roosevelt for me that her work in and for the United Nations has done much to strengthen this great organization so urgently needed to preserve the peace, freedom, and civilization of the world.

    Mrs. Roosevelt has represented this nation to the world with imagination, grace, charm, good humor and realistic good sense. And from her wide travels she has brought us in closer contact with other nations, giving us a wise and compassionate insight into the thinking of those peoples.

    Few have understood, as she has, America's new role of leadership and the new burdens of our responsibility.

    She has been one of our most effective forces against Communist propaganda in many vulnerable spots of the world. The Communist conspirators of the Kremlin know this well. And that is why they vilify her at every opportunity. Unhappily some of our own extremists here at home parallel the Communists in bitter and venomous attacks.

    In all ages, men and women who have had the courage to do things for the benefit of all the people have been attacked by those whose lives and living were devoted to character assassination. This quotation from Plutarch's "Life of Pericles" could have been written today:

    "How can one wonder at any number of strange assertions from men whose whole lives were devoted to mockery, and who were ready at any time to sacrifice the reputation of their superiors to vulgar envy and spite, as to some evil genius."

    Mrs. Roosevelt's untiring energy and devotion to the cause of peace and a more enlightened day for mankind have endeared her to us for all time. History will give major recognition to her services.

    May I add a personal note. I shall never forget that at the moment tragic fate shifted the awesome burdens of the Presidency from the shoulders of that very great man, Franklin D. Roosevelt, to mine, she said to me, when I asked her what I could do: "Mr. President, you are the one in trouble. Is there anything we can do for you?"

    "A Happy Birthday to you, Mrs. Roosevelt, and many more of them," is a wish in which Mrs. Truman and Margaret join me.

    Yours sincerely,




    Dear Mr. President,

    Thank you so much for your very thoughtful message which I received on the occasion of my seventieth birthday.

    Your good wishes added greatly to the event, and I was so happy to hear from you.

    With every best wish,
    Very sincerely yours,


Though Truman did not attend, he was a member of the 70th Birthday Committee, along with Albert Einstein; contralto Marian Anderson; civil rights leaders A. Philip Randolph, Thurgood Marshall, and Walter White; Justices William O. Douglas and Felix Frankfurter; General Marshall; UN diplomat Ralph Bunche; labor leaders Walter Reuther and George Meany; and the actress Cornelia Otis Skinner.



    Dear Mr. and Mrs. Truman:

    I find that I shall be in Kansas City for a meeting of the American Association of the United Nations on Wednesday, January fifth, which will be the first stop on a week-long trip for the Association.

    If it is convenient for you both, I would be enchanted to know that you might be present at some part of the day's session, or that you might dine with Mr. Eichelberger and myself and a small group just before the evening meeting. It would be good to see you again.

    Sincerely yours,




    Dear Mrs. Roosevelt:

    Replying to yours of the sixteenth, we shall certainly be happy to see you when you are in Kansas City and I am sure that we shall be delighted to have dinner with you and Mr. Eichelberger.

    That was wonderful maple sugar which you sent us. I fear very much that I'll get very little of it, because Margaret is at home.

    Sincerely yours,


Clark M. Eichelberger (1896-1980), executive director of the American Association for the United Nations (AAUN), had served as a consultant to the U.S. delegation at the 1945 San Francisco Conference at which the United Nations was established. In the winter o f 1953, Mrs. Roosevelt had surprised Eichelberger by showing up at his office across from the United Nations and offering to do volunteer work. She began working out of a small cubicle in the AAUN offices at 345 East Forty-sixth Street and, in her extensive travels, would help establish new chapters of the organization around the country. Mrs. Roosevelt became chairman of the AAUN's Board of Governors.



    Dear Mrs. Roosevelt:

    We have a country editor over in Platte County, about twenty miles from Kansas City, who is a rabid Roosevelt and Truman Democrat. He wrote a little editorial while you were here and is anxious for me to forward it to you. I am doing so at his request.

    Sincerely yours,

    [handwritten] "The Boss" and I surely enjoyed the short visit with you very much.




    Dear Mr. President:

    Many thanks for your letter and the enclosed clipping which I appreciate your bringing to my attention.

    I very much enjoyed my visit to Kansas City and I was delighted to have a chance to see you and Mrs. Truman.

    The country editor is indeed kind and I hope you will thank him for me.

    With every good wish,



James Grover Cleveland Tibbetts, publisher of the Platte County Gazette in Parkville, Missouri, who greeted the former president as "Sir Harry," had written a tribute to Mrs. Roosevelt and wanted her to see it.



    Dear Mr. President:

    I wanted to tell you that in Israel I was shown the village which was named after you and which is now a thriving settlement, and everywhere I heard the hope expressed that you would be coming over here before long. I think you would find it an extremely interesting country with many problems.

    While here I have been constantly reminded of the fact that my husband told me at one time that these Eastern countries had so many problems he would like to come here after he retired and try to help solve them. I protested at the time that we had enough problems of our own but I felt I would find myself traveling to this part of the world and spending a good deal of time here. I think Franklin would have found Israel a rather exhilarating spot.

    Hoping you are feeling well and my best wishes to Mrs. Truman and Margaret.

    Cordially yours,




    Dear Mrs. Roosevelt:

    I appreciated very much your good letter of March twenty-sixth from Tel-Aviv, Israel.

    I wish I could take the trip and see Israel from one end to the other and someday I hope to be able to do it.

    I feel just as the President did when he said he would like to go there and help settle their problems but I am of the same opinion that you are, that we have enough problems at home to keep us busy.

    I hope you had a grand trip and that I will see you again sometime in the not too far distant future.

    Sincerely yours,


Truman is greatly admired among Israelis for granting instant recognition to the Jewish state. A village and a forest were named in his honor. The Israelis also issued a postage stamp with Truman's image. In 1966, the Harry S. Truman Center for the Advancement of Peace was established in Jerusalem. "Those Israelites have placed me on a pedestal alongside o f Moses, "Truman once wrote. At the dedication ceremony for the HST Center, Hebrew University president Eliahu Elath said that Truman's May 14,1948, act of recognition would be engraved "in golden letters in the four thousand years' history" of the Jewish people. If Truman had ever visited Israel, he would have been warmly received. Much to his regret, he never made it. Mrs. Roosevelt visited Israel on three occasions.



    Dear Mrs. Roosevelt:

    I haven't received a birthday remembrance or a library contribution that I appreciated more than yours. It was wonderful of you to remember me on this occasion.

    I believe that the statements of policies which President Roosevelt and I endeavored to establish will be of great historical value to scholars of the future, and I hope that future Presidents will see to it that their papers are properly housed, not all in one place.

    Again, I want to say I'm just as sorry as can be that I won't be able to be with you on May 30th.

    Sincerely yours,




    Dear Mrs. Roosevelt:

    Your appearance on Margie's program was certainly heartwarming to her mother and to her father. We both appreciated it most highly.

    I have a special edition of my memoirs which I am mailing to you under separate cover. As soon as the second volume is published, I will send you that also.

    Sincerely yours,




    Dear Mr. President:

    Thank you very much for your nice note.

    I ordered a copy of your book sometime ago but I will give it to one of my children and I shall be enchanted to have a copy from you.

    I enjoyed being with Margaret and I think she is doing a wonderful job.

    My warm good wishes to you and Mrs. Truman for Christmas and the New Year.

    Cordially yours,


Year of Decisions, the first volume of Truman's White House memoirs, chronicled the end of World War II, including his decision to drop the atomic bomb, the Potsdam conference, and the organization of the United Nations. "Mr. Truman's personal recollections and observations are the stuff of which history is made," the New York Times editorialized. "It is an extraordinary thing that he has done to write down so fully and so candidly his impressions of his own Presidency so soon after he has left office. No other President has done anything quite like this before."



    Dear Mr. President:

    I am sure that you feel as I do that the situation in the Near East is highly critical, largely brought about through Soviet planning and action, and if they succeed in getting rid of our bases in North Africa and getting rid of Israel which is the only democratic area in the Near East which can make a stand against them, they will have a bridge to Pakistan, India, and the rest of Asia. Because I feel this way, I have listened to the suggestion from some of my friends in the Jewish community that a significant statement by a few people would carry more weight than some of the statements which are being made today with a great many signatures attached.

    The enclosed statement has been carefully worked out and I am sending it to you, to Walter Reuther and to George Meany hoping that you might all be willing to sign it if you think it is a wise move at this time. If there are any changes which you think wise, we would of course want you to make them. If you don't think it wise, you must, of course, also let me know. I have great faith in your judgment and therefore would like to feel that I was not moving without your agreement in this matter.

    Very cordially yours,




    Dear Mrs. Roosevelt:

    I was very pleased to receive your letter of the thirteenth enclosing the suggested statement on the Near East, and I am in complete accord with your view that something must be done.

    While I was President of the United States, I had a survey made of the whole Near East. Gordon Clapp went to the Valley of the Tigris and the Euphrates and came back with the report that it is perfectly feasible to restore those old canals constructed and used by the ancient Babylonians and the people of Ninevah under Sennacherib. With that irrigation the land could support from twenty to thirty million people. He said that there are 160 billion barrels of oil in sight in the Arabian desert and also that it is quite possible to run a syphon from the Mediterranean to the Dead Sea Valley which would create enough power to make Israel a completely industrial nation.

    Dr. Bennett of Oklahoma A. & M., who worked with me on the Point IV program, spent the previous year in Ethiopia where he found a plateau of about 62,000 square miles at from six to eight thousand feet above sea level where the soil is as rich and black as it is in the Iowa corn belt. His estimate was that it could raise enough corn for a hundred million people.

    As you know, we succeeded in getting Turkey to raise a surplus of food stuffs. The last year I was in the White House that country raised a surplus of four million tons of wheat. Before that, it had to import wheat from Russia.

    That shows what proper development could do for the whole area, from the Adriatic Sea right around the Mediterranean to Libya, and Israel would be its industrial center.

    The Nile River is being developed now, and eventually the Egyptians, who haven't had enough to eat since the first Pharaoh, will be able to feed another twenty million people.

    I hope you will forgive me for taking up your time with this long dissertation, but I am extremely interested in that part of the world.

    Whenever you are ready, send me the document, and I will be very happy to sign it.

    Sincerely yours,


In the winter of 1956, Israel looked particularly vulnerable. For months, the British had been withdrawing troops from around the Suez Canal. Arab guerrillas began making hit-and-run attacks on Israel. The Israelis retaliated in Gaza. Egypt's President Nasser, turned down by the Eisenhower administration when he sought military aid, obtained arms from the Soviet Union. By the spring, UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold negotiated a cease-fire along the Israeli-Egyptian border. But the shooting soon resumed. When the United States reneged on an offer to build a $1 billion high dam on the Nile, Nasser seized the canal. When Israel attacked the Sinai, the French and British invaded the canal. Eisenhower threatened sanctions unless Israel and the European forces withdrew from occupied territory. The UN General Assembly supported Ike.



    Dear Mr. President:

    Would it be possible for you to be the speaker at the annual Convention banquet of Americans for Democratic Action in Washington on May 12th?

    ADA delegates from all over the country will be gathered to lay plans for the elections. It would be wonderfully inspiring if they could hear you. You may remember that you spoke to the ADA Convention in 1952. No one who heard you then has forgotten your good advice. We need more of it now.

    The other officers of the ADA join with me in extending this invitation most cordially and hope very much that you will be able to accept. We would like to make it sort of a birthday party for you.

    Cordially yours,




    Dear Mrs. Roosevelt:

    I appreciated your note of the tenth and I only wish that I could say yes to the suggestion you make for I would very much like to do it.

    Confidentially, I have been invited to Oxford University for a Degree. This invitation has been renewed for the last three years and I had just promised to go to England to accept it this spring.

    I shall be leaving New York for Europe on the 11th of May. For reasons that are well known to you, I am asking all concerned that my plans to go to Europe be kept in confidence.

    I don't know when we have enjoyed a luncheon as much as we did the one with you. Mrs. Truman and I still talk about it. She received the recipe the other day for that wonderful dessert and I am looking forward to tasting it again.

    Sincerely yours,


On June 20, 1956, Truman received a Doctorate of Civil Law from Oxford University, its highest honorary degree. The citation noted Truman's leadership in the Berlin airlift, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Marshall Plan, and his defense of South Korea against communist aggression. The public orator, noting the great upset of '48, evoked laughter when he told the former president, "The seers saw not your defeat, poor souls! Vain prayers, vain promises, vain Gallup Poll!" Truman later recalled, "It was a solemn affair and very impressive, particularly for the fellow getting the degree. I never saw such an aggregation of eggheads in my life. They admitted that Oxford was the factory for that sort of person, and it was highly satisfactory for me to be included."



    Dear Mr. President:

    I have a note from Sir Campbell Stuart which I am enclosing. I imagine you can't escape going to the Grosvenor Square statue, so perhaps you can manage to go there before going to dinner with the Pilgrims!

    I hope you have a most wonderful time in England. In the meantime, I hope Margaret's wedding is everything you could wish. It is a little hard to see one's only daughter married but you are really adding another member to your family.

    With affectionate greetings to you and Mrs. Truman.

    Very cordially yours,


On June 21,1956, Truman was the honored guest at the Pilgrims annual dinner. The organization, which promotes Anglo-American unity, attracted a record crowd for the HST tribute. Lord Halifax, Britain's former ambassador to the United States, presided over the dinner and toasted the former president. Sir Campbell Stuart, Mrs. Roosevelt's friend, was vice president of the Pilgrims.

In April of 1956, Truman played father of the bride. Margaret Truman married Clifton Daniel, then a correspondent for the New York Times, who would later become that newspaper's Washington bureau chief and managing editor. As the senior news executive of the Times, Daniel was widely credited with making the newspaper more lively and readable. "Mr. Truman was not only a great president but he was a great father-in-law," Daniel wrote in his 1984 memoir, Lords, Ladies, and Gentlemen.



    Dear Mr. President:

    How very thoughtful of you to send me an inscribed copy of your second volume! I am delighted to have it and want to thank you warmly.

    I was very happy to get the assurance of your support of the appropriation.

    I hope you and Mrs. Truman are enjoying the summer and I look forward with much pleasure to seeing you both at the Convention.

    Very cordially yours,


In Years of Trial and Hope, the second volume of his presidential memoirs, Truman covered the Berlin airlift, the Marshall Plan, forging the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Korean War, and his dismissal of General MacArthur. Life magazine, which published excerpts from the book, invited MacArthur to respond. "It was a vengeful reprisal," the old soldier said of his firing.



    Harry S. Truman press conference
    Grand Ballroom
    Blackstone Hotel

    I have always believed in free and open political conventions, and I hope the delegates of this convention will have the fullest opportunity to express their free choice without undue haste.

    I have little faith in the value of the band-wagon operation or the reliability of political polls.

    I know that each delegate will exercise freely and independently the right of choice which is his under the law.

    Following the election of 1952, we all hoped that by the time the 1956 convention came around there would be developed a number of Democratic national leaders for consideration at this convention. Today I am happy to see that this convention has many qualified men to choose from-each of whom would make a good President. I have at all times encouraged worthy candidates to enter the race and campaign vigorously, and I did so without in any way seeking to influence the political fortunes of any one man.

    I knew all along that eventually I would have to express my own choice. In making up my mind I have talked to many people in many parts of the country and in all walks of life. I have received and read thousands of letters from my fellow citizens. Since my arrival in Chicago a steady procession of delegates, candidates, public officials, political leaders, and representatives of workers, business and various minorities have called on me to express their views as to who would make the strongest and best qualified candidate.

    And now I have made up my mind.

    I realize that my expression of a choice at this time will cause disappointment in some and may cause resentment in others.

    But against the mounting crises in the world, I know that this convention must name a man who has the experience and the ability to act as President immediately upon assuming office without risking a period of costly and dangerous trial and error.

    In the light of my knowledge of the office of President, I believe that the man best qualified to be the next President of the United States is Governor Harriman of New York.

    He will make a fighting and successful candidate because he is dedicated to the principles of our party-the New Deal and the Fair Deal.

    I know there are several other men who could wage successful campaigns with much credit to their party and the nation and they are men for whom I have great admiration.

    But Governor Harriman has had long experience in top government positions at home. He has played an historic role in representing this country in Europe and Asia. He was a tower of strength all through the Roosevelt administration and all the years of my own.

    I know him and you can depend on him.


From Chicago, Mrs. Roosevelt wrote her friend David Gurewitsch: "Truman's decision to support Harriman threw Adlai's people into gloom but I'm not sure it is all bad. He himself knows now that if he wins he is free and owes no allegiance to Truman." At a press conference, she ridiculed Truman's characterization of Harriman as a "fighting candidate, "noting that he had ducked the primaries. As for Truman's suggestion that her candidate lacked experience, Mrs. Roosevelt said that Stevenson had a stronger background in foreign policy than Truman did on taking office.



    Twice before I have spoken to a national Democratic convention; once I came when you had nominated my husband to be your standard bearer and spoke with a message from him, and once I came at the invitation of President Truman to speak to you about the United Nations and what it meant to all of us.

    Tonight I come at the invitation of the national chairman of the Democratic party to speak to you as a fellow Democrat.

    I cannot talk to you about my choice as your standard bearer, but I do want to talk to you about our party and our duty. You here have a heavier responsibility than even I have, because you are delegates. You are going back into your communities all over the country, and you will tell your friends, your neighbors what you believe a Democratic victory should mean. I do not believe that victory in itself is enough. I want victory, and I believe we will have it in November-but I want even more, that each and every one of you, as you go back into your communities, take the message of what you want that victory to mean. We must be a united party.

    It is true we have differences, but everywhere in our country we know that today our differences must somehow be resolved, because we stand before the world on trial, really, to show what democracy means, and that is a heavy responsibility, because the world today is deciding between democracy and Communism, and one means freedom and one means slavery.

    You have seen a film tonight, which I think must have moved you, as it moved me, to pride in our record, to a recognition of what our party has meant to our country and to the world.

    Great leaders we have had, but we could not have had great leaders unless they had a great people to follow. You cannot be a great leader unless the people are great. That is what I want to remind every one of you tonight. You must be a great people with great objectives.

    I remember very well the first crisis that we met in '32, and I remember that we won out, because the people were ready to carry their share of the burden, and follow and carry through the words, "All you have to fear, the only thing you have to fear, is fear itself."

    You must have the action of the people or your leadership will not be true leadership.

    Now the world looks at us again, and what we do at home is going to be watched in the world. I have been around the world a number of times of late, and I know that much of the good will that was a reservoir for us in the world came from the fact that here at home we had decided that government had a real responsibility to make the pursuit of happiness an objective of government, and caring for the individual was a responsibility of government. That meant that we try to help all of our people to a better life, and it meant to the peoples of the world hope for the same kind of thing to happen to them as well.

    Now they look to us again for the meaning of democracy, and we must think of that very seriously. There are new problems. They must be met in new ways. We have heard a great deal, and we were fired with enthusiasm by the tradition of our party. Thus, the new problems we face cannot be met by traditions only, but they must be met by imagination. They must be met by understanding and the feel of the people, and not only the people at home, but the people of the world. And it is a foolish thing to say that you pledge yourself to live up to the traditions of the New Deal and Fair Deal-of course, you are proud of those traditions; of course, you are proud to have the advice of the elders in our party, but our party is young and vigorous. Our party may be the oldest Democratic party, but our party must live as a young party, and it must have young leadership. It must have young people, and they must be allowed to lead. They must not lean on their tradition. They must be proud of it. They must take into account the advice of the elders, but they must have the courage to look ahead, to face new problems with new solutions, and in so doing, we will not only meet our own difficulties at home and find ways to solve them, but we will also meet some of the difficulties that in that great speech you heard from Governor Clement, are those pointed out as being the issues between ourselves as the Democratic party, and the Republican party.

    We have great issues. I believe that it is absolutely imperative that the Democratic party come back to power, but they must come back with the right leader. They must come back with your considered and careful choice, and you must feel a very great individual responsibility when you choose your leader, when you have chosen your leaders, then to back them, then to go in and work.

    It isn't just fight. It is work, and some of it is dull work, but you must be ready to go in and work because that is the way that parties win victories at election time.

    The things that are done by each one of you and through you by each person in your community, that is what will win for you a victory on election day, and I personally hope that you will remember the things which have been said tonight, even those for which we prayed in the invocation for guidance and inspiration and courage. It will take all those things for us to remember the objectives for which we want a victory, for us to resolve difficult questions which will be hard for many of us to face.

    It will take understanding and sympathy to think of the problems of the world and to realize that today the world has narrowed, and that we feel very quickly the sufferings of other areas of the world, and they add to our sufferings.

    We might just have a vision, and I would like to give you the idea: You will remember that my husband said in one of his speeches that our job was not finished because we still had a third of our people who were ill-housed, ill-clothed, ill-fed. Twenty percent today is the figure they give us.

    We have lessened that group in our country that are ill-housed, ill-clothed, ill-fed, but we still have a job to do.

    Could we have the vision of doing away in this great country with poverty? It would be a marvelous achievement, and I think it might be done if you and I, each of us, as individuals, would really pledge ourselves and our party to think imaginatively of what can be done at home, what can make us not only the nation that has some of the richest people in the world, but the nation where there are no people that have to live at a substandard level. That would be one of the very best arguments against Communism, that we could possibly have.

    And if we do it at home, it will spread through the world, and we will have again that surge of hope from other peoples, that surge which brought us before good will and trust and confidence, and which will do it again, but it requires from every one of you the imagination and willingness to make a great leader and to do the work to put your leaders across in November.


Truman, a defender of the faith, wanted his party to uphold the liberal traditions of the New Deal and Fair Deal. He regarded Stevenson as insufficiently committed to these programs. In her address to the convention, Mrs. Roosevelt urged her party to move beyond its glory days and embrace a new generation of leadership.



    Dear Mr. President:

    I very much enjoyed seeing you in Washington but was sorry to hear of Mrs. Truman's accident. I am sending her a little note under separate cover.

    I hope you felt the meeting was worthwhile and that something constructive will come of it.

    With my warm good wishes,





    Dear Mrs. Roosevelt:

    I was just about to dictate a note to you when your letter of the 7th arrived.

    I felt that the meeting in Washington was a very satisfactory one and believe that it will do the Democratic party a lot of good.

    Mrs. Truman is getting along all right. Her left foot is in a very uncomfortable cast, but she manages to hobble around on a pair of crutches. She will be extremely pleased to hear from you.

    You were very kind to write me as you did, and I hope that 1957 will bring you everything you want.

    Sincerely yours,




    Dear Mr. President:

    You know we have talked several times about your coming on Memorial Day to the ceremonies that are always held in the Rose Garden at Hyde Park. I wonder if by chance you and Mrs. Truman could come and spend that weekend with me or as much of it as you can spare, arriving before lunch on the 30th as they usually hold the ceremonies right after lunch?

    I hope very much that this time we may be able to get you.

    With affectionate regards to Mrs. Truman and the hope that she is improving rapidly.

    Very cordially yours,




    Dear Mrs. Roosevelt:

    Mrs. Truman and I more than appreciated your kind letter of the 15th, and I sincerely hope that conditions will permit our being with you on Memorial Day.

    We have had some difficulty getting the library completed, and instead of having it ready by May 8th, as I had hoped, the dedication date will have to be postponed until the first week in July. In the meantime, I am trying to get all my papers moved into the building, so that they may be indexed and filed just as President Roosevelt's are at Hyde Park. I will keep in touch with you, and I hope most sincerely that I can join you in spite of all the tearing around that I have to do.

    I read in the paper that you are making a trip to Spain. I would give anything in the world for a confidential letter from you telling me what you think of that country. As you know, I have never trusted Franco and dislike his attitude toward this great republic of ours.

    May you have a very pleasant trip, and when you come back, I should be able to tell you definitely what my situation will be during the latter part of May.

    Yours very truly,




    Dear Mr. President:

    I am home from Morocco and delighted to hear that you will try to come to Hyde Park for the weekend of May 30th. It would be a great joy to have you and Mrs. Truman and I hope things will work out well so that I may have the pleasure of having you both.

    With my warm good wishes and affectionate greetings to Mrs. Truman.





    Dear Mrs. Roosevelt:

    You do not know how very much I appreciated your kind letter of the 4th.

    I am enclosing a copy of the telegram I sent you yesterday. The situation is a regrettable one, and if it is possible for us to meet in Washington at the time of the National Committee meeting, I'll tell you about my difficulties.

    My schedule seems to become bulkier every day that I live. I know that you are in the same fix and that we can understand each other when things do not go as we want them to.

    Sincerely yours,




    Dear Mr. President:

    Of course I understand your schedule. My own often gets out of hand and I find I am unable to do the things I want to do.

    With appreciation for your kind letter and my good wishes to you and Mrs. Truman.





    ["My Day" column]

    I journeyed out to Kansas City, Mo. a week ago to attend a reception given by Basil O'Connor, president of the Truman Library Association. Mr. O'Connor and former President and Mrs. Harry Truman stood in line while hundreds of people who had worked with Mr. Truman, besides his old friends who had known him and loved him, came to shake his hand and congratulate him on the dedication of the library in Independence.

    We started bright and early last Saturday morning, when the weather was beautiful, if a little warm. Everything was remarkably well planned, everyone taken care of by his or her particular host. My hosts were Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Sosland, whom I had known before and who were kindness itself.

    Mr. Truman drove out to the library with me and Mrs. Truman greeted us on arrival. The building is modern and beautifully adapted to the use of both the public and the students who may come there to study this period of American history.

    The landscaping, of course, is not done yet, but there will come a day when outside the President's study window there will be a lovely rose garden. It is so arranged that there are two entrances which will permit the President to come into his own office without going through the lobby or museum area.

    The whole building is air conditioned and his office is well protected from surprise callers. On the other side of the stack rooms is the room for students. They strike me as being particularly attractive and comfortable. One nice touch is a little anteroom to Mr. Truman's office containing a grand piano so that he can sit down and play whenever he wishes. And right out of his study is a small kitchen which Mrs. Truman said he told her she would be frequently called upon to use.

    The dedication ceremonies took exactly an hour and five minutes and I don't think I ever saw things move so smoothly and quickly. The speeches were short and to the point, and the Chief Justice made an excellent dedication address.

    For me, at least, the two days were rewarding, and I hope that the library will prove to be all that Mr. Truman hopes it to be. It certainly should be a valuable addition to the educational opportunities of that area of our country.

    Former president Herbert Hoover and Mrs. Roosevelt headed the list of distinguished guests for the library dedication. Chief Justice Earl Warren, who had been the 1948 Republican nominee for vice president, gave the dedication speech at Truman's invitation. Senate Majority Leader Lyndon B. Johnson, Minority Leader William F. Knowland, House Speaker Sam Rayburn, Minority Whip Charles A. Halleck, former secretary of state Dean Acheson, and New York's Governor W. Averell Harriman were among Truman's guests. "A highly nonpartisan affair with Knowland making a speech for Lyndon Johnson & himself as the Senator from Texas had to leave early for Washington," Mrs. Roosevelt reported to the Lashes. "Mr. Hoover was most affable but much older I thought. Mr. Truman beamed all day & we were most friendly."




    Dear Mrs. Roosevelt:

    I have just received a copy of your article on the dedication of the library, and I wish it were possible for words to express my very deep appreciation.

    Mrs. Truman and I were very happy to have you here with us, but we were disturbed by our inability to offer you the hospitality you would have had under other circumstances.

    Some day in the not too distant future you must come back and pay us a real visit.

    Sincerely yours,




    Dear Mr. President:

    It was a joy to see you in Norman and I think you were wonderful to join us.

    I am so glad you enjoyed the Post articles and you were thoughtful to tell me so.

    Your family will, I am sure, find it difficult to "harness" you. It is better that way because life would be dull for both of us, I fear, if we had to stay in one place.

    I was delighted to find you looking so well and vigorous.

    My warm and affectionate greetings to Mrs. Truman. Tell her I am looking forward with much pleasure to having all of you with me the weekend of May 30th.





    April 23,1958

    Dear Mrs. Roosevelt:

    Again, I am in trouble. Beginning last October, my engagements have numbered almost as many as yours. As you know, I have also turned columnist, and while my schedule is not as rigorous as yours, it bothers me every time I have to make a date or write a column.

    I have been urged by family and friends to get out of the country for a while and just sit and rest a bit. The strenuous last two or three weeks have made me realize that I need rest, and I am sorry to admit it.

    If plans work out, Mrs. Truman and I will leave the country on May 26th for about forty-five days. I regret this situation very much, because I have been looking forward to this Memorial Day visit with you, but I feel compelled to break loose for at least a few weeks.

    Sincerely yours,




    Dear President Truman:

    I can quite understand your need for a rest and though I shall miss you and Mrs. Truman on Memorial Day weekend, I shall hope that your holiday will be a pleasant and refreshing one.

    With many thanks for your thoughtful letter and my warm good wishes to both of you,

    Very cordially yours,




    Dear Mrs. Roosevelt:

    You do not know how much I appreciated your very considerate note of April 23rd. While I was in New York this last time, they almost pulled me apart. Of course, I was quite willing to be pulled around by my friend, but I was unfortunate enough to pick up some kind of bug which upset me physically, and I have not yet been able to get rid of it.

    During my visit there, Mrs. Charles Ulrick Bay, the widow of our former Ambassador to Norway, and our mutual friend Sam Rosenman persuaded me to get on a ship for a south Atlantic cruise. Mrs. Truman and my daughter give me the same advice you receive from your family, and that is to slow up and try to quit. The cruise starts about the 25th of this month, and I have been convinced that it is the right thing to do, particularly after this vicious little bug's attack.

    I would not blame you if you never invited me again. If I remember correctly, this is the third attempt we have made to get together on a
    May 30th. I hope I will have a chance soon to make a world-wide statement on President Roosevelt. That is what I had planned to do on this occasion, but if I keep the same pace at which I have been going, I won't be able to do anything. I am cancelling date in Chicago and several other places in order to get this rest program started.

    I feel certain that you will understand my position, because you face the same problems.

    Sincerely yours,




    Dear Mr. President:

    Many thanks for your kind letter of the first.

    I am only sorry that I will not have the pleasure of seeing you and Mrs. Truman this month but of course I understand your need for rest. I hope you are completely recovered from the effects of the bug which plagued you in New York.

    Do let me hear later that you will come for Memorial Day next year.

    With affectionate good wishes to you and Mrs. Truman.





    Dear Mrs. Roosevelt:

    You do not know how very much I appreciated your letter of the sixth.

    You are more than kind, and if the good Lord shows me similar consideration, I will join you at Hyde Park on Memorial Day 1959.

    Sincerely yours,




    Dear Mrs. Roosevelt:

    As I wrote you a few days ago, I received a letter from Mrs. Louis S. Gimbel, Jr., telling me that you were to be presented with the Woman of the Year Award by the American Friends of the Hebrew University in New York on November fifth.

    I certainly wish it were possible for me to be present on that occasion. I know of no one more deserving of the award than you.

    Sincerely yours,




    Dear Mr. President:

    Thank you so much for your letter of July 31st.

    I did not know the American Friends of the Hebrew University were making such a fuss and I am glad you don't have to put yourself out for November fifth!

    With my warm good wishes,





    Dear Mr. President:

    You will probably remember that last year you were unable to come to me for Memorial Day, and I wonder if this year you and Mrs. Truman would be able to come to Hyde Park and spend at least one night with me? I would be delighted if you could manage this.

    The 30th of May is on a Saturday, so if you can come on Friday night or early Saturday morning I could arrange to have a car pick you up in New York and drive you down to Hyde Park if this is convenient for you and Mrs. Truman. Then I could take you down on Sunday.

    I do hope I will have the pleasure this year of having you both with me.

    Very cordially yours,

    Mrs. Roosevelt added in a handwritten postscript that she would like the former president to speak at the Memorial Day ceremony.


Mrs. Roosevelt added in a handwritten postscript that she would like the former president to speak at the Memorial Day ceremony.



    Dear Mrs. Roosevelt:

    Your cordial invitation to visit with you on Memorial Day has just been received. Mrs. Truman and I appreciate it very, very much.

    We accept it with pleasure. A little later on we'll let you know about our arrival in New York. Your suggestion about transportation from New York to Hyde Park is all right with us.

    I'll be glad to speak if you want me to-and I'll do the best I can.

    Most sincerely,




    Dear Mr. President:

    I want to thank you very much for your letter and to tell you how pleased I am that you and Mrs. Truman will spend the Memorial Day weekend with me.

    With deep appreciation and my affectionate good wishes to Mrs. Truman.

    Very cordially yours,

    We count on you speaking.




    Dear Mrs. Truman:

    Your husband has very kindly promised that he would make the Memorial Day address at Hyde Park this year on May 30th, and I wrote that I would send my car for you the day before, May 29th, wherever you wished to be picked up. I think I will be going up myself that day, so perhaps I can pick you up around 3:30 or 4:00 wherever you wish?

    I hope you will stay over Saturday and let me send you back to New York on Sunday after lunch. It will give me very great pleasure to have you with us at last, and I hope we can make you comfortable and give you an enjoyable time.

    I believe that one of our Democratic clubs has asked Mr. Truman to speak at a dinner one of the nights he is in Hyde Park. I certainly hope he will feel able to do this.

    With affectionate good wishes,

    Very sincerely yours,

    The ceremonies in the rose garden on the 30th are at 2 p.m.




    Dear Mrs. Roosevelt:

    I hope that you will forgive this tardy acknowledgement of the letter you wrote on April 24th to Mrs. Truman regarding our visit to Hyde Park on Memorial Day.

    Unfortunately, I am in a state of some uncertainty at the moment. Mrs. Truman has been ill for several weeks, and I had to take her to the hospital for a complete checkup. It now looks as if she will have to have an operation. The doctor tries to assure me that it will not be a serious one and that she undoubtedly will be back home within two weeks. If that proves to be true, I expect to be with you on Friday evening, May 29th, and Saturday, May 30th.

    Because of the indefiniteness of the arrangements, Mr. Harold M. Clay of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Home Club has, rather wisely I think, postponed his plans for a celebration on Saturday evening of the 30th anniversary of his club. I would have enjoyed attending it, and if I can stay over until Sunday, perhaps an informal meeting with the members can be worked out.

    Just as soon as I know the results of Mrs. Truman's operation, you will hear from me again.

    Sincerely yours,




    May 25, 1959

    Situation has developed so I cannot come east. I am truly sorry. Letter follows.

    Harry S. Truman




    Dear Mrs. Roosevelt:

    That operation was a very severe one. While the tumor was not a malignant one, it was nearly as big as a basketball.

    Mrs. T is making progress toward recovery but I have to sit by her as much of the day as I can and every evening. She must stay in the hospital at least another ten days and I just can't leave her. She insists that I should because you have been so good to us.

    Please forgive me I just must stay here.



Mrs. Truman had discovered a lump in her left breast months earlier but had not consulted a doctor or told her family about it. "She seems to have decided she was going to die, "Margaret Truman wrote in her biography of her mother. Mrs. Truman wanted to live for her husband's seventy-fifth birthday on May 8, 1959, and for the birth of a second grandchild that same month. When her husband noticed the tumor, he knew that she needed surgery. Their daughter agreed. Mrs. Truman returned to Independence and underwent a mastectomy on May 18. Her grandson William Wallace Daniel was born the next day. Mrs. Truman lived for another twenty-three years.



    Dear Mr. President:

    Thank you so much for your wire and letter of explanation.

    Of course, I completely understand your wanting to stay with Mrs. Truman and I would not want you to do otherwise.

    I realize that an operation such as Mrs. Truman has had is a difficult one and she needs you near her.

    With my affectionate good wishes to Mrs. Truman for a speedy recovery and warm regards to you.





    Dear Mrs. Roosevelt:

    Thank you very much for your letters of May 27th and 28th. Both Mrs. Truman and I appreciate your thoughtfulness.

    We are sad, however, that circumstances prevented our being with you on Memorial Day, but if you still are willing, we will keep trying, and one of these days we will make it.

    Sincerely yours,




    Dear Mr. President:

    I have just been sent an extraordinary article by Julius Epstein which was published in the American Legion Magazine of December 1954 and which tells the rather horrible story of Americans forcing Russian prisoners who had surrendered to them because they were fighting with the Germans against the Russians, into trucks to be returned to Russia.

    I remember the long fight not to return the prisoners or any refugees in camps in Germany to their countries of origin against their will. This took place February 24, 1946 when the arguments were going on in the UN. Therefore, I cannot understand our government's allowing anything of this kind to happen, and I would like very much to know if this article is based on real facts.

    The article puts us in a very bad light, and I cannot bear that such an article should stand unanswered.

    I do not know how to answer Mr. Epstein's letter which demands that I acknowledge American guilt which, he says, both you and President Eisenhower are well aware of.

    Very cordially yours,




    Dear Mrs. Roosevelt:

    I was very much intrigued by your letter of July 3rd about Julius Epstein and his 1954 American Legion Magazine article about Russian prisoners of the Allies who had served in the Nazi German army.

    As you remember, in 1950 and 1951 we prevented the forceful return of prisoners who had been in the Red Chinese and North Korean armies, because we did not want them to be stood up against a stone wall and shot. I refused to sign an armistice agreement on that account, but as soon as I left the White House, that agreement was signed.

    The Russian prisoners to whom Mr. Epstein referred were those who were shooting not only at their own people but at us and all the rest of our World War II allies, and an agreement was made at Yalta for their return.

    The Korean prisoners were in an entirely different category, and I never did agree to their return.

    Sincerely yours,


Andrei Vlasov (1900-1946), a prominent general in the Red Army, was captured by the Germans in July 1942. He believed that Stalin had been a disaster as military commander and political leader. When the Germans invited him to organize an anti-Stalinist Russian Liberation Movement, he agreed. Vlasov was captured by the Red Army in May 1945 and hanged for treason in August 1946. Epstein's article was about four thousand of Vlasov's troops who had surrendered to Americans in the hope of gaining political asylum. Under the Yalta agreement, Soviet nationals who had fought on the German side were to be repatriated. With Truman's approval, the Americans sent back about 2 million Russians.



    Dear Mrs. Roosevelt:

    I found a book in our public library, and I assume it is available everywhere. It is by George Fischer and carries the title Soviet Opposition to Stalin: A Case Study in World War II. The book was published in 1952 by the Harvard University Press.

    Mr. Fischer's statement of the situation to which you referred in your letter and about which I wrote you the other day covers the program very well. It seems that these deserters were ordered returned through the terms of the Yalta Agreement, and they were.

    As I told you, I never agreed to return the prisoners from Red China to be slaughtered after the difficulty in Korea, but such a surrender agreement was made after I left office, and I do not know what ever became of those people.

    I have been reading a lot of articles on the atomic bomb and why we dropped it. Mrs. Pearl S. Buck has written an article, part of which is published in the August, 1959 issue of the Reader's Digest. Hanson Baldwin, too, has talked on the subject, but the men who were on the ground doing their jobs share my opinion that their lives and the lives of a half million other youngsters were saved by dropping the bomb. I read an article only this morning about the man who actually dropped the bomb, and he feels as I do.

    I cannot recall ever hearing these other sob-sisters remember Pearl Harbor and the murders committed there by the Japanese. I can see no reason for their double standard of morality.

    Sincerely yours,




    Dear Mr. President:

    Thank you very much for the explanation which I shall pass on to the people who asked me.

    As you know, I have always said that you had no choice but to use the atomic bomb to bring the war to an end. For a time I was disturbed at our having used it in Nagasaki but after being in Japan and seeing the defenses and talking with one of our representatives who had been a prisoner of the Japanese and who explained that unless there had been a second demonstration the Japanese would have felt they could defend themselves which would have resulted in the destruction of the whole of Japan and the loss of millions of our own men, I realized that you had this knowledge and that you could make no other decision than the one you made. I have since written this publicly a number of times. I would give a great deal, however, if we could come to an agreement for stopping the whole use of atomic energy for military purposes. I know that certain experiments have to go on in order to continue the development for non-military purposes but they should be done in such a way, if possible,
    as to protect the human race from fall-out. I realize the differences in opinion among scientists as to how much is harmful and unharmful, but if we are going to advance, this is an area where we should succeed in getting this knowledge used for peacetime uses successfully.

    Your last paragraph touches on a point that I have thought on very often. We have such short memories that we now behave as though Germany and Japan had always been our best friends, and I sometimes wish we really remembered who was responsible for starting World War II. I have a feeling that we should have some fresh thinking on our whole peacetime situation.

    If you are in these parts, I hope you will let me know. I would still love to have a long talk with you.

    With kind regards to Mrs. Truman and the hope that she is feeling better.





    Would you have a free hour in New York this weekend in which to film an interview for the "UN in Action" television program? It would be very important for the AAUN if you could do this in your capacity as AAUN honorary national membership chairman. This will be the last opportunity as the series ends shortly. The interview could be based on the material in your, Lubbock, Texas UN Day speech. I would appreciate your answer by wire.

    Eleanor Roosevelt




    I will be glad to participate in United Nations broadcast. Will be at Carlyle Hotel Saturday morning.

    Harry S. Truman


Truman introduced Mrs. Roosevelt at a Democratic fund-raising dinner in the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. Most of their party's 1960 presidential hopefuls attended this gala, which honored Eleanor's seventy-fifth birthday. She was caught by surprise when Truman used this occasion to attack "the self-appointed guardians of liberal thinking." Mrs. Roosevelt, who thought Stevenson deserved a third presidential nomination, sensed that Truman was attacking her candidate. Senator Stuart Symington of Missouri was the former president's choice. Following his exchange with Mrs. Roosevelt, Truman said that he was referring to the New York Post in his comments. The afternoon tabloid, which was then owned by Eleanor's friend Dorothy Schiff, had criticized Truman's call for a resumption of underground nuclear weapons tests. When reporters asked the former president to name the other targets of his criticism, Truman declined. "At the dinner the Dem. Advisory Com. gave for me," Mrs. Roosevelt wrote her daughter, "Mr. Truman & I had 'a little difference' again. I think I was gentle but the papers played it up."

Excerpts from Truman's remarks at the dinner:

And now I would like to say something about those self-appointed guardians of liberal thinking who have become rather vocal lately.

I would like to ask this question of them: Where did they get their mandate?

For it would appear that unless you go along with these hot-house liberals and stand for everything they advocate, you are in for more abuse than you get even from the reactionaries and the opposition party.

Many a genuine working liberal has been a victim of their intolerance.

As a matter of fact, the acrimonious attitude of these self-styled liberals has hurt liberalism and in many instances has paved the way for reaction.

You have a newspaper in this town that does some remarkable gymnastics in its capriciousness and presumption as judge and jury of what is liberal. This newspaper-not noted for its careful reading of texts, and forgetful of some of its own past-has even tried to pin a reactionary label on me. What do you think of that?

I would say to those snobs who think that they have solutions for all our problems if we would but follow them in their infinite wisdom, that they ought to put an end to their pretensions and their insistence on an all or nothing formula and stop trying to distort the objectives of the Democratic party.

The fact that this or that leader of the Democratic party doesn't represent some particular shade of liberal thinking or doctrine should not expose them to abuse or rejection.

We know that a vigorous and united Democratic party is the only decisive force for liberalism, and there is no other choice.

And we know that we must get a liberal into the White House in 1960 if we are to make up for the time lost during the past seven years.

Let us, therefore, choose a liberal who meets the requirements of the people who know the difference between a working liberal and a talking liberal.

Let us not be thrown off balance by a vociferous minority which can only divide us and deliver us to reaction again.

Excerpts from Mrs. Roosevelt's talk:

I welcome every kind of liberal that begins to learn by coming in to our party what it is to work on being a liberal .
. . . We cannot exist as a little island of well-being in a world where two-thirds of the people go to bed hungry every night.

There is a great wave, a desire for freedom all over the world where people have not had it. Change is coming, whether we want it or not. And how it comes will depend on how, I believe, our leadership helps the world to meet the challenge of the next few years .

. . . I hope it will be the Democratic party that will have the opportunity that this challenge offers. But I think that we have to prove to our own people that we are cognizant of the qualities that it will require to meet the future years. The courage, the vision, the imagination, the honesty. We will make mistakes. But if we make them and are willing to acknowledge them and to change, that will mean that we will, in the end, succeed.

I know we need a united party, but it cannot be a united party that gives up its principles. It must be a party where the majority rules, and where the principles are the basis of the party.

I want unity, but above everything else, I want a party that will fight for the things that we know to be right at home and abroad.



    Dear Mrs. Truman:

    This is just to say again what a joy it was to see you and President Truman and how much I appreciated all your kindness during my visit to Independence. It was delightful to have an opportunity to chat with both of you and to find you looking so well.

    I loved the flowers and enjoyed them during my brief stay at the Muehlebach.

    With affectionate greetings to you both.



After lecturing in Boston, Mrs. Roosevelt's flight to Kansas City was canceled because of bad weather. She took an overnight train to New York and arrived just in time to make her connection to Kansas City. When Mrs. Roosevelt addressed the Independence Business and Professional Women's Club on November 14, Truman introduced her as "the First Lady of the World." During this visit, Truman gave her a tour of his presidential library. She had not been back since the dedication more than three years earlier.



    Dear Mrs. Roosevelt:

    I am enclosing you pictures of your visit here at the Library.

    You don't know how very much Mrs. Truman and I appreciated your willingness to come to Independence. It has been the talk of the town ever since you were here.

    Sincerely yours,




    Dear Mr. President:

    How thoughtful you were to send me the pictures taken during my visit to the Library! I am delighted to have them and want you to know of my deep appreciation.

    With warm thanks and my affectionate greetings to you and Mrs. Truman.



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The two Presidential Libraries are administered by the National Archives and Records Administration.