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Part VI - Exclusive Trade Unionists

After Truman left office, the two men were on equal terms; members of "that most exclusive trade union," as Hoover called being a former president of the United States. During these years they became more than acquaintances -- they became friends. What bonded the two men was their respect for the history and office of the presidency and for one another.

It was not immediately apparent that the two would become friends. In fact there was little communication between them from January 1953 and October 1955 -- a period of two and a half years. A letter from Hoover to James A. Farley in March 1954 gives hints, but little more.

It was not until Truman asked Hoover for help in raising money for the Truman Library that the two renewed contact. After October 1955, they saw or wrote one another several times each year. The nature of the contacts was fairly routine, especially for two men who had held the most powerful elected office in the nation, if not the world. They spoke at the dedications of their respective libraries, and coordinated their work as joint chairmen of causes. They wished one another well on their birthdays, consoled one another over their various illnesses and operations, and exchanged books. Most important, as years passed they remembered each other with fondness. By the end of the decade they were true friends.

146. HOOVER TO JAMES A. FARLEY, MARCH 27, 1954

For whatever reason, the two men who had worked together so closely, went their separate ways at the conclusion of the campaign for government reorganization. Hoover may have been bitter over the way he had been treated by Truman over the years and he alluded to Truman's attacks on him in a 1954 letter to Farley. With Truman's knowledge, Farley had asked Hoover to be the honorary chairman of a dinner to begin the fund-raising campaign for the Truman Presidential Library. Much to Farley's surprise, Hoover refused.


Key Largo, Florida
March 27, 1954
/s/Confidential

My dear Jim:

Aside from the enclosed note, I feel I can write you frankly and confidentially as to the Truman Dinner.

My presence there would cause a mass of gossip and ventilation of old issues, more especially in this case, in view of Mr. Truman's many personal attacks upon me. I have never made a personal attack upon him, and I gave much of my energies for nearly four years to aiding his Administration. We have differed on public policies, but that is the legitimate and necessary process of American life. I have had a higher opinion both of Mr. Truman personally and of many of his policies than many of my political colleagues.

I have no desire to avoid meeting him. Indeed, I am confident the time will yet come when he and I can join to forward matters of public interest.

Yours faithfully,
/s/HERBERT HOOVER

147. TRUMAN TO HOOVER, OCTOBER 4, 1955

After only incidental correspondence for two and one half years, the former presidents renewed their acquaintance in October 1955. Truman wrote to Hoover to ask for help with a dinner in San Francisco to raise funds for a Truman Library. This time Hoover said yes.


Kansas City 6, Missouri
October 4, 1955

Dear Mr. President:

My good friends, Mr. Lurie and Mr. Killion, have been trying to organize a program for a Library dinner in San Francisco. They have written me that you might be interested.

I would be highly pleased and very greatly honored if you were interested and willing to act in what Mr. Lurie and Mr. Killion are trying to do.

I hope this finds you in good health.

With warm regards.

Sincerely,
/s/HARRY S. TRUMAN

148. HOOVER TO TRUMAN, OCTOBER 6, 1955

Hoover promptly accepted Truman's invitation. "I have a fellow feeling," he wrote Truman about his library, "for I have one of those burdens of my own."


The Waldorf Astoria Towers
New York, New York
October 6, 1955

Dear Mr. President:

I have your note of October 4th as to the dinner program for your Library to be given in San Francisco.

I am writing Mr. Lurie that I would be glad to be one of its sponsors.

I have a fellow feeling for I have one of those burdens of my own.

With kind regards.

Yours faithfully,
/s/HERBERT HOOVER

149. TRUMAN TO HOOVER, OCTOBER 20, 1955

Truman stopped in to see Hoover while on a visit to New York on October 13. Truman's note following the meeting was cordial. The two stayed in regular contact over the next nine years.


Kansas City 6, Missouri
October 20, 1955

Dear Mr. President:

I appreciate your letter of October 6th more than I can tell you. It caught up with me at the Waldorf after I had talked with you.

I enjoyed the visit with you very, very much.

Sincerely yours,
/s/HARRY S. TRUMAN

/s/Thanks very much for your attitude on the Library meeting.

150. TRUMAN TO HOOVER, JANUARY 27, 1956

On December 11, 1955, Hoover appeared on "Meet the Press" to discuss findings of the second Hoover Commission. During the telecast, he praised Truman for his support of the first Hoover Commission. To make sure Truman learned of the comments, Hoover's secretary, Bernice Miller, wrote to Truman's secretary. "In case Mr. Truman did not see the performance," she wrote, "Mr. Hoover is anxious to have him know that in discussing the work of the Commission of 1947-49, he paid high tribute to Mr. Truman. He felt that this was merited by Mr. Truman's unfailing and able support, which brought so much of the recommendations of that Commission into action during the administration and the Congress during the five years following." Truman responded with a note of thanks and a request for Hoover's participation in an event in East Tennessee.


Kansas City 6, Missouri
January 27, 1956

Dear Mr. President:

I thought your statements on "Meet The Press" were excellent and I can't tell you how very much I appreciated them.

I value your friendship very highly and am sure that you and I will continue in the same vein even though we may not agree all the time as to policy. I don't think a man has to make a personal matter out of things of that sort and I never did.

I have had a letter from my good friend the Governor of Tennessee and his Road Commissioner, Donald McSween, telling me that they had invited you to address the Ramp Festival in East Tennessee this summer. I was there last year and while it was raining there were thirty-five thousand good Republicans there and I spoke to them on a Biblical subject because it was Sunday. I didn't try to make a political speech.

I understand that Congressman Carroll Reece has been in touch with you on the subject and I am sure that he is very anxious for you to come for it is in his District. You won't receive a more cordial greeting anywhere in the United States than you will in that section of Tennessee. I don't know when I enjoyed a visit any more.

Sincerely yours,
/s/HARRY S. TRUMAN

151. HOOVER TO TRUMAN, JANUARY 29, 1956

Hoover did not say no to a "debate" with Truman in Tennessee, but he did not say yes. He changed the subject to his proposal for an "administrative vice president" to handle some of the daily burdens of government. The proposal was controversial. Both Truman and President Dwight D. Eisenhower were said to oppose the idea. To explain his views to Truman, Hoover sent the former president his testimony before the Senate Subcommittee on Government Operations.

 

The Waldorf Astoria Towers
New York, New York
January 29, 1956

Dear Mr. President:

I was glad to have your letter of the 27th. I am giving consideration to the east Tennessee event, but I have a crowded calendar already.

I agree thoroughly with you that debate in a friendly atmosphere between us can only do good.

I am sending you the statement I made to the Senate Subcommittee on Government Operations on the problem of relieving unnecessary burdens on the President. I hope you will look over the seven pages of my testimony. I think you may have misinterpreted my proposals, perhaps contributed to by a misunderstood published letter of Governor Sherman Adams. You will see I was doing no violence to the Constitution, nor making any suggestion of relieving the President of his Constitutional responsibilities. I sought no more delegation of power than already exists in the case of every Cabinet officer.

Yours faithfully,
/s/HERBERT HOOVER

152. TRUMAN TO HOOVER, FEBRUARY 9, 1956

Truman responded with an acknowledgment on February 9, commiserating over the failure of Congress to "take some action" on Hoover's proposal for an administrative vice president. Truman also used his response to encourage Hoover to find the time for the Tennessee trip.


Kansas City 6, Missouri
February 9, 1956

Dear Mr. President:

You don't know how very much I appreciated your letter of January 29th, which caught up with me in New York at a time when I didn't have an opportunity to come and see you, which I wanted to do very much.

I was somewhat worried about the last paragraph in your letter. I can't for the life of me see why some action hasn't been taken on your recommendations. As you know I tried my best to cooperate on that.

I will more than appreciate it if you can find it convenient to make that Tennessee trip and if it meets with your approval the representative of the Governor of Tennessee and Congressman Carroll Reece will come and talk with you about it.

Sincerely yours,
/s/HARRY S. TRUMAN

153. TRUMAN TO HOOVER, MAY 8, 1957

More than a year passed before the two men were again in touch. By spring of 1957, Truman was reaching the end of a two-year effort to build his presidential library in Independence, Missouri. Justifiably proud, he asked Hoover to attend the dedication along with Chief Justice Earl Warren and other dignitaries.


Kansas City 6, Missouri
May 8, 1957

Dear Mr. President:

On July sixth my library in Independence will be dedicated for public use. Chief Justice Warren will make the dedicatory speech, and I would be greatly complimented if it were possible for you to be present.

A more formal announcement is being sent to you, but because of my high regard for you and our common interest in the proper care and use of Presidential papers, I want to add my personal invitation.

The leaders of the House and Senate on both sides of the aisle have accepted, and it would make the day really memorable if you could join us. Mrs. Truman and I sincerely hope that you can.

Yours very truly,
/s/HARRY S. TRUMAN

154. HOOVER TO TRUMAN, MAY 10, 1957

Noting he would be in California at the time of the dedication, Hoover accepted Truman's invitation provided he could clear his schedule.


The Waldorf Astoria Towers
New York, New York
May 10, 1957

My, dear Mr. President:

I have your most kind invitation to be at the dedication of your Library.

I will be in California at that time but I am going to try to be there if other commitments can be gotten out of the way.

One of the important jobs of our very exclusive Trade Union is preserving libraries.

With my kind regards to both Mrs. Truman and yourself.

Yours faithfully;
/s/HERBERT HOOVER

155. TRUMAN TO HOOVER, MAY 20, 1957

Truman was very pleased with Hoover's response to his invitation and he responded with the following note. Of special interest is Truman's handwritten reference to the "closed union" of former presidents. At the time, Hoover and Truman were the only former presidents still living. Hoover, in turn, answered with a note dated May 30. "I will be at the dedication," he wrote, "except for acts of God or evil persons."


Kansas City 6, Missouri
May 20, 1957

Dear Mr. President:

You do not know how very pleased I am that you plan to be here for the library dedication.

Yours was one of the nicest letters I have received, and, as we say in Missouri, I am all swelled up about it.

Sincerely yours,
/s/HARRY S. TRUMAN

/s/We'll maintain that closed "Union."

156. HOOVER ADDRESS, JULY 6, 1957

Hoover traveled into the sweltering heat of a Missouri summer to pay tribute to Harry S. Truman and his presidency. His remarks were brief and philosophical, and he hardly mentioned Truman. Yet his very presence on the dais won praise from Republicans and Democrats alike. More important, he won the unwavering gratitude of Harry S. Truman.



Mr. Truman's generosity has opened a large and important contribution to a period of American history to our people.

There is great reason why the documentation of these special epochal periods in American history should not be concentrated in Washington. In recent years man's quest into the fundamental laws of nature has no doubt opened great vistas of benefit to mankind. But also man has not risen to the moral levels of their control for peace purposes, nor have governments been able to assure their control. The dispersal of the precious records of our history into local communities has greatly added to their safety.

Moreover, the creation of such institutions assures that somebody will be interested in their expansion with collateral material. And they come nearer to the people themselves.

The inspiration and lessons of the up building of our nation have received a real contribution through Mr. Truman's gift.

157. TRUMAN TO HOOVER, JULY 12, 1957

The two presidents exchanged several letters in the immediate weeks following the dedication of the Truman Library. On the 12th, Truman wrote to thank Hoover for his visit, expressed the hope that Hoover's return to San Francisco had been pleasant, and expressed the hope that he could visit the Hoover Institution in the not too distant future.


Independence, Missouri
July 12, 1957


Dear Mr. President:

You do not know how very much I appreciated your kindness in coming to Independence on the sixth for the dedication of the library.

Mrs. Truman was highly pleased that you were able to drop by the house, and I hope that your plane trip to San Francisco was as pleasant as General Crabbe assured me it would be.

If circumstances someday permit it, I want to see your library in Palo Alto. Your statement on the subject of its contents has excited my curiosity.

Sincerely yours,
/s/HARRY S. TRUMAN

158. HOOVER TO TRUMAN, JULY 17, 1957

Hoover responded on the 17th to thank Truman for his letter. He also took the opportunity to note a change in the name of his library.



The Mark Hopkins
San Francisco
July 17, 1957

Dear Mr. President:

I have your gracious note of the twelfth. I would have written earlier thanking you -- and especially Mrs. Truman -- for the many courtesies at Independence, but I have been off in the mountains.

The name of our place has been changed to comport more with its purposes. It is now the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace. So you can have the future any way you wish.

Yours faithfully;
/s/HERBERT HOOVER


159. TRUMAN TO HOOVER, FEBRUARY 23, 1958

It would be another seven months before the two men corresponded again. After reading Hoover's comments on the cover of This Week magazine, Truman wrote to express his agreement and appreciation.


Independence, Missouri
Feb. 23, 1958

/s/Dear Mr. President:

I have just had an opportunity to read the four paragraphs on the cover of This Week's Magazine headed "Words to Live By" -- The Way to Greatness."

I certainly appreciate them. I'm looking forward to a visit with you the last week in April at Albany. Hope you are in good health.

Sincerely,
HARRY S. TRUMAN

160. HOOVER TO TRUMAN, FEBRUARY 26, 1958

Hoover quickly responded to Truman's note with one of his own. As a gesture of friendship, Hoover singled out a Truman quote that he particularly liked. Hoover also looked forward to their joint appearance in Albany on April 25.


The Waldorf Astoria Towers
New York, New York
February 26, 1958

My dear Mr. President:

I have yours of the twenty-third. It was a most gracious note.

Today I ran across this statement of yours made in 1950, which seemed to me most fitting for hysterical people in these times.

It was clear that an eventual adjustment was inevitable before we would have a firm basis for stability and steady economic growth.

It will be a pleasure to be with you in Albany in April.

Yours faithfully,
/s/HERBERT HOOVER

161. TRUMAN TO HOOVER, MAY 7, 1958

Hoover suffered a gall bladder attack at 2 p.m. on April 10. Although the illness was not life-threatening, Hoover's doctors decided to operate and the former president was admitted to the Harkness Pavilion of Columbia Presbyterian Hospital on April 17. After tests the following day, Hoover had surgery on the 19th and remained there until May 3. Allan Hoover stood in for his father at the Regents convocation in Albany. After returning to Independence from Albany, Truman wrote the following letter of commiseration to Hoover.


Independence, Missouri
May 7, 1958

Dear Mr. President:

You do not know how pleased I am at your startlingly rapid recovery.

At the time I wired you, I was very much afraid that the same situation might develop in your case as developed in mine, when I had to stay in the hospital three or four weeks longer than expected. I can only conclude that you are a lot tougher than I am.

The next time I am in New York I hope I will have an opportunity to visit with you.

Sincerely yours,
/s/HARRY S. TRUMAN

162. TRUMAN TO HOOVER, MAY 14, 1958

During his stay in the hospital, Hoover received an invitation to a special party to celebrate Truman's 74th birthday. Writing his regrets to the chairman of the event on May 5, Hoover wished to be "present in spirit" at the party for Truman. "He and I being the only two men with completed experience in the joys and sorrows of the White House," Hoover added, "cannot have other than mutual respect." Truman responded with a thoughtful note on May 14 and closed with a postscript that must have pleased Hoover: "I'm reading your biography of Wilson," Truman wrote, "and like it."


Independence, Missouri
May 14, 1958

Dear Mr. President:

I cannot tell you how pleased I was to hear your letter of the fifth read at my birthday luncheon. You were very kind and thoughtful to write, and I am deeply appreciative.

A well-known newsmagazine said that you "strode" out of the hospital, which I am sure was its usual misuse of the English language, but I was very glad to read further that your complete recovery is assured.

I am still looking forward to the possibility of seeing you the next time I am in New York.

Sincerely yours,
/s/HARRY S. TRUMAN

/s/I'm reading your biography of Wilson and like it.

163. HOOVER TO TRUMAN, OCTOBER 20, 1958

Hoover and Truman received many invitations and appeals to serve as honorary chairmen of various causes. For the most part these requests were made of them separately, but in autumn of 1958 Hoover and Truman received two invitations to serve as co-chairmen. In September, Stanley Rumbough proposed that they serve on the United States Committee for the United Nations. The following month Eleanor Roosevelt proposed that they join her on the American Committee of the Anne Frank Foundation. But at the age of eighty-four, Hoover was not inclined to take on any new assignments and he wrote Truman at length of his reasons for declining Rumbough's invitation. Truman did not acknowledge the letter until December 15, but he also declined both invitations.


The Waldorf Astoria Towers
New York, New York
October 20, 1958

Dear Mr. President:

On September ninth I received an invitation from Mr. Stanley Rumbough, Jr., requesting me to become an honorary co-chairman with you on his "United States Committee for the United Nations". I replied as follows:

Dear Mr. Rumbough:

Our mutual friend Joe Binns has handed me your most kind letter of September ninth. I do appreciate your thinking of me.

I am simply too overburdened to take on any further responsibilities. I have found that being an "honorary chairman" is not just an expression of approval. To the public it implies a responsibility for the conduct of the association.

I may add in regretting your kind proposal that I have great hopes for the "United Nations".

On October seventeenth I received a further letter from Mr. Rumbough most urgent that I accept, stating, "I can promise you unconditionally that if you become one of our two honorary chairmen you will have no duties."

I want you to know fully my reasons for declining.

I have, over the years, accepted such requests to be an "honorary chairman". In almost every case, I have found myself involved in the activities of such organizations despite their assurances otherwise, because the public attaches to me both a responsibility for the activities and publications of the organizations and for their successful issue.

At the present moment, as the result of accepting the "honorary chairmanship" in the past with the usual assurances of "no work", I have had to take an active part in (a) raising an annual fund of $4,000,000 for medical education; (b) raising $20,000,000 for a new medical school; (c) not only helping raise $12,000,000 a year but I have had to take the active management of a slum movement for boys; (d) raising $8,000,000 for an Engineering Societies' building; (e) raising the money and taking a hand in the direction of the Hoover Library; (f) raising $8,000,000 for one engineering school; and to complete a relief organization which fell flat, I had to raise about $700,000.

As if these were not sufficient labors at my time of life, I may mention that I am a trustee of two universities, one college, one scientific research institution, one international educational fund; one Kindergarten trust, and carrying on the work of the Reorganization Commissions, of which I was Chairman, by meetings and in appearances before Congressional Committees and Government Departments. And also periodically give advice to the American people generally and directing my office to reply to tens of thousands of letters from citizens asking for information and advice on a thousand subjects.

I think you will agree that at eighty-four years of age, I must curtail joining any further organization, no matter how worthwhile.

With kind regards.

Yours faithfully,
/s/HERBERT HOOVER

164. HOOVER TO TRUMAN, APRIL 15, 1959

Eisenhower's 1958 nomination of Hoover's friend Lewis L. Strauss to serve as Secretary of Commerce proved to be controversial with the Senate. Many Democratic senators, led by Senator Clinton P. Anderson of New Mexico, were angered by Strauss's performance on the Atomic Energy Commission. During his years as chairman from 1953 to 1958, Strauss had come in frequent conflict with the Senate over the control of domestic atomic energy policy. He had ignored the wishes of Senate Democrats too often and they sought their revenge in rejecting his cabinet appointment. As substantial opposition grew, Hoover sought Truman's endorsement of the nomination.


The Waldorf-Astoria Towers
New York, New York
April 15, 1959

Dear Mr. President:

As you know I seldom indeed bother you over public questions.

But I feel a great injustice is being done to the most non-political and one of the greatest public servants the country has -- Lewis Strauss.

He served under me in the First World War, under Mr. Roosevelt and yourself in the Second World War, and under you and under President Eisenhower in the postwar period.

The statements being bandied about in opposition to his confirmation as Secretary of Commerce are to my knowledge and the public record absolutely atrocious.

This opposition is apparently misconstruing a letter of yours as reflecting upon him. I believe you were properly replying to assertions of other people, not those of Lewis, who has always credited you with that decision.

Also, it is an extraordinary thing to raise opposition to Cabinet proposals of a President. I can recollect only one case in nearly fifty years, and that was on proved immoral transactions, for which there is no basis here.

I believe it would aid in preventing an injustice, and would be in accord with what I believe are the views of the majority of the Democratic members of the Senate, if you could see your way clear to saying something.

Yours faithfully,

/s/With Kind Regards, I am

/s/HERBERT HOOVER

165. TRUMAN TO HOOVER, APRIL 20, 1959

Truman responded with a brief but unqualified letter of endorsement for which Hoover was grateful. "If for no other reason," he wrote back, "I treasure your letter as proof of the character of one Harry Truman." Unfortunately for Strauss, neither former president had much of an effect on the Senate and the nomination went down to defeat by a vote of 49 to 46. It was one of the few times in the twentieth century that the Senate rejected a president's nomination to his cabinet.


Independence, Missouri
April 20, 1959

Dear Mr. President:

It is always a happy occasion when I hear from you, on any subject.

Of course, you are on solid historic and traditional grounds when you suggest that a President ought not to be capriciously opposed in his cabinet proposals.

Admiral Strauss served during my administration faithfully and capably, and I have said so publicly. I hope to have an opportunity to reaffirm this judgment.

Sincerely yours,
/s/HARRY S. TRUMAN

166. HOOVER TO TRUMAN, MARCH 6, 1960

Hoover traveled annually to Florida's Key Largo for a few weeks of relaxation and bone fishing. Harry Truman was fond of nearby Key West, the home of his "Little White House," and both men happened to be in the area during the first week of March, 1960. After learning that Hoover was staying at the Key Largo Anglers Club, Truman dropped in unannounced at 9:45 on the morning of March 2. It was a very brief social call -- so brief, in fact, that Mrs. Truman stayed in the car. Four days after Truman's visit, Hoover reciprocated with a cordial note. "Your call was my intellectual stimulant of the month," he wrote to Truman.


Key Largo, Florida
March 6, 1960

Dear Mr. President:

I mentioned to you a short speech of mine to clergymen which you said you would like to see. I cannot be "pugnacious" with Presbyterians.

I learn that you had Mrs. Truman in your car -- and I was deprived of seeing that fine lady.

Your call was my intellectual stimulant of the month.

With my kind regards to Mrs. Truman and yourself.

Yours faithfully,
/s/HERBERT HOOVER

167. TRUMAN TO HOOVER, MARCH 15, 1960

In his note of March 6, Hoover had sent Truman a copy of an address that he had recently delivered to a regional meeting of the National Council of United Presbyterian Men. Truman responded with a letter of his own, thanking Hoover for the address and expressing the hope that the two men might be able to visit with one another more often.


Independence, Missouri
March 15, 1960

Dear Mr. President:

You do not know how very pleased I was to receive your note of March 6, with the enclosure of "Some Observations on Our Current American Life" from your address on February 13. As I told you when we had our interview on Key Largo, I would appreciate your sending me the copy.

I did not feel it was proper for me to intrude too long on your time because I knew you were busy with affairs which you were anxious to get completed, but I did enjoy the visit with you and I hope we will be able to have many more such visits.

Mrs. Truman joins me in best wishes to you and we hope that we will have a chance the next time when we can all get together.

Sincerely yours,
/s/HARRY S. TRUMAN

168. HOOVER TO TRUMAN, MARCH 27, 1960

Hoover wrote to Truman that they should discuss the increasing number of requests to use their names to promote various causes. Hoover was concerned they not be trapped into action without prior consultation. Truman responded with a brief note on April 4 noting agreement. "The first time I am in New York," he wrote, "you and I will have a conversation on the subject."


Key Largo, Florida
March 27, 1960

Dear Mr. President:

That was a gracious note from you on the fifteenth.

I hope we can have occasional meetings to ruminate again privately over the doings in the world.

Also, I think we need an agreement that we will not allow promoters of causes to trap us into joint actions for their schemes without our having a prior consultations.

With kind regards to Mrs. Truman and yourself.

Yours faithfully,
/s/HERBERT HOOVER

169. HOOVER TO TRUMAN, APRIL 15, 1960

As if to give evidence of the need for a joint policy, Hoover wrote to Truman about an offer the two received from the Ford Motor Company. As expected, Hoover declined and Truman followed suit, as he stated in a note of April 22.


The Waldorf Astoria Towers
New York, New York
April 15, 1960

Dear Mr. President:

I have had and no doubt you have had pressures to go on a Ford Motor Company T.V. presentation on American political methods.

I have declined.

Yours faithfully,
/s/HERBERT HOOVER

170. TRUMAN TO HOOVER, JUNE 14, 1960

After learning from friends at Stanford that Harry Truman was expected on campus sometime in June, Hoover wrote expressing his pleasure that Truman would visit the Hoover Institution. "All library founders must stand together," Hoover added. Truman responded on June 14, reiterating his hope that the two men could get together in New York City the next time he was in town.


Independence, Missouri
June 14, 1960

Dear Mr. President:

You do not know how very much I appreciated your note of June 6.

I am hoping to make an appearance at Stanford along the lines of ones which I have been making at other universities in regard to the Chief Executive of the nation and what the office means.

Of course, I hope I will be able to go through your Library at Stanford because I am most interested in institutions of this sort. I will never forget your help in setting up mine here in Independence.

I hope everything is going well with you and that I will have an opportunity to see you the first time, in the not too distant future I trust, I happen to be in New York City.

Sincerely yours,
/s/HARRY S. TRUMAN

171. TRUMAN MEMOIR, 1960

In the autumn of 1960, Truman published Mr. Citizen, a collection of post-presidential reflections put together with the assistance of William Hillman and David M. Noyes. "One of the reasons I have written this book," Truman noted in the preface, "is to point out the long neglect in not making available to our country the counsel and knowledge of former Presidents." As if to show how a current president could use the "counsel and knowledge" of a former president, he recalled his work with Hoover. Although flattering to both men, the account contains inaccuracies. (For the complete text of the chapter "What to Do with former Presidents," see Harry S. Truman, Mr. Citizen [New York, 1960], pp. 117-127.)



. . . Within the first few weeks of my succession to the Presidency, I saw an opportunity to put to use the special experiences of a former President. In the closing stages of the war in Europe, we faced the responsibility of feeding millions of victims of that war. I naturally turned to Herbert Hoover, who had demonstrated in the First World War that he had the skill and the humanity to save millions of people threatened with starvation. The services of former President Hoover in this instance were timely and important, and there was no starvation in many countries as a result of his efforts.

I shall never be able to understand the long neglect of Herbert Hoover, no matter what the events and circumstances of his Administration were. How history may eventually assess his Administration we ought to leave to history.

Politically and economically, Hoover and I are on opposite sides on basic issues. But I hold him in high esteem as a man of character and capacity and talent, and he deserved better treatment at the hands of his own party. I thought, too, that President Roosevelt might have invited him to join the bipartisan group that Roosevelt so wisely set up to administer the war effort.

Like all men who occupied the office of President, Mr. Hoover was just like the rest of us. He wanted to do exactly what was right. I might say that I think one of his difficulties was that in a political way he started at the top instead of at the bottom. It would be just like my starting an engineering career without knowing anything about engineering.

A man has to know politics the same as he does any other business, and I think the principal cause of Mr. Hoover's troubles and the cause of the troubles of a great many men who started at the top, including Henry Wallace, was that they did not know the political set-up from the ground up.

Early in 1945, when I had succeeded to the Presidency in the midst of the world's most terrible war, the food situation in Europe became alarming. I knew what I had to do and I knew just the man I wanted to help me. I had read in the Washington newspapers a small item saying that former President Hoover was in town and staying at the Shoreham Hotel.

I immediately picked up the telephone on the desk of the Oval Room at the White House and asked the chief operator, Mrs. Hackmeister, to connect me with the hotel. Hackie, as she is called, was a little taken aback. She asked whom I wanted to reach, since it was customary for the White House switchboard to get through to the person the President wanted to talk to before putting the President on.

I asked Hackie just to put me through to the Shoreham. After I got the Shoreham Hotel switchboard, I asked to be connected with Mr. Hoover. When a voice answered, I said: "How are you, Mr. President?"

There was a pause and then the voice said, "Who is this?"

"This is Harry Truman," I answered. Again there was a pause.

Finally, Mr. Hoover said: "Oh, Mr. President. How are you?"

"I heard you were in town, Mr. President;" I said, "and I called to ask if you would care to come over and see your old home."

There was another pause. Then Mr. Hoover said: "I would not impose on your time in days like these, but I do appreciate your kindness in telephoning me and inviting me over."

I quickly replied: "I'd be glad to come over to see you."

At this, Mr. Hoover said: "I cannot let you do that, but I would be glad to come over if you will fix the time."

"Well," I answered, "I took the liberty of anticipating you. I already have a car on the way over to your hotel to bring you to the White House."

Within the time that it took for the car to bring Mr. Hoover to the White House, I arranged to have him received by the staff at the entrance of the executive wing where my office was located. But Mr. Hoover had arrived at the main entrance of the White House, where he was recognized only by the chief usher. Someone asked, "Who was that tall man rushing through the corridor to the executive office?"

"That was President Hoover, " the chief usher said, "and he didn't need anyone to show him how to get to the Oval Room." Mr. Hoover had gone down the corridor and up the stairs to where we were waiting for him.

We had a very cordial meeting, and then I told him I had something that I wanted to discuss with him which I thought was for the welfare of the world. I told him about the reports of starvation in Europe and the crop failures in South Africa, South America, Indonesia and other rice-raising countries. I asked him if he would not try to help organize an effort to get food to all the needy, for we could not allow anyone anywhere to starve if we could possibly avoid it.

Mr. Hoover immediately volunteered to help me do something about it. He said that he would return the following day with Dr. Julius Klein, who had been his assistant at the White House, to plan whatever was needed.

As he left, I told the former President that I would be glad to have him stay at the White House if he would care to, but he declined, saying that he would rather stay at the hotel. This is the same answer I would have given if I had been in his place. The former President was always welcome to come to the White House, and I saw to it that every time he came to Washington he was extended every courtesy and that a White House car would always be at his disposal.

Herbert Hoover did a magnificent job for this country, and for other nations, in helping to prevent the starvation of millions of people. And when this work was launched and eventually taken over by the relevant government agencies, Mr. Hoover expressed a readiness to assume any other tasks I thought he could perform for the government of the United States.

I did want him later for another very important task, and that was to help streamline the executive departments and the new agencies that had been created to meet the various war needs. The government of the United States had grown so rapidly during the war that duplication and waste were inevitable and needed correction. Such a streamlining would require, of course, new statutes and Congressional action.

This streamlining operation, now known as the Hoover Commission, made a great contribution then, as well as in the following years, to the operation and organization of the government. Only a man of Hoover's talents, with the very important experience he had as President, could have achieved so difficult a task with such marked results.

President Hoover's contributions again impressed me with the fact that a man who has had the experience of a President, or a Vice President, or a Speaker of the House, gets a chance to become much more familiar with our government than any one else. These are the men to whom we must look for help and counsel. That is why we must not shelve or thrust into obscurity men with such unique experience. And least of all, our former Presidents . . .

172. HOOVER TO TRUMAN, APRIL 25, 1961

In the early days of the Kennedy presidency, Hoover received repeated requests from George S. McGovern, then an assistant to the president, to discuss the administration's Food-for-Peace Program. Hoover reluctantly agreed to meet McGovern on April 21, but asked that the meeting be private. Much to Hoover's irritation, McGovern issued a press release about the meeting on April 24. The following day, Hoover wrote to McGovern summarizing their conversation and declining McGovern's request that he become honorary chairman of a program advisory committee. Hoover sent a blind copy to Truman with the following cover note. McGovern made two more efforts to enlist Hoover and Truman as program advisers, but to no avail. Neither would lend his name to the Food-for-Peace Program.


The Waldorf Astoria Towers
New York, New York
April 25, 1961

My dear Mr. President:

I have been asked to be a joint Honorary Chairman with you to the Advisory Committee of the Food-For-Peace organizations of which Mr. George McGovern is the Director.

I enclose a copy of my letter to Mr. McGovern.

The sum of it is that I am willing to give advice, but experience has taught me to avoid honorary chairmanships where expenditure of money is involved. I want to be as helpful as I can.

With kind regards.

Yours faithfully,
/s/HERBERT HOOVER

173. TRUMAN TO HOOVER, APRIL 28, 1961

Truman responded quickly to Hoover's letter and concurred in his decision to decline an honorary chairmanship of the Food for Peace Program. It may have surprised Hoover that Truman was willing to reject so quickly an offer he had not yet received from a newly elected Democratic administration. Perhaps Truman was miffed that McGovern had gone to Hoover first. In any case, Truman was quick to follow Hoover's action. On May 2, Truman sent Hoover a copy of his rejection letter. Hoover wrote back on May 5: "Apparently we have avoided this one!"


Independence, Missouri
April 28, 1961

Dear Mr. President:

I can't tell you how very much I appreciated your letter of the 25th and the enclosures, because I am in complete agreement with the stand which you are taking.

I have always made it a point to avoid Honorary Chairmanships in organizations where I had no chance to find out exactly what they were doing.

I intend to tell them that I will not be able to do it and I am glad that we are in agreement.

Sincerely yours,
/s/HARRY S. TRUMAN

174. TRUMAN REMARKS, AUGUST 10, 1962

The two former presidents met again for the dedication of the Herbert Hoover Library-Museum in West Branch, Iowa. As Hoover had given a short address at the dedication of the Truman Library, Truman delivered extemporaneous remarks at the dedication of the Hoover Library. "I feel that I am one of his closest friends and he is one of my closest friends and that's the reason I am here," Truman told the crowd in Hoover's hometown.



Thank you very much: To his excellency, the Governor of the great state of Iowa, to our good friend Senator Hickenlooper who was with the Atomic Energy Commission when it started, to my good friend President Hoover who did a job for me as President of the United States that nobody else could do and for which I am and always will be grateful to him, and to all the distinguished guests who are here, and to Admiral Strauss who has expanded on me to the extent that I didn't even know who he was talking about. I am also glad to see the Chief Archivist here, who will see that the things that President Hoover has seen fit to turn over to the public are properly taken care of. He's done the same thing for me and it is a great thing, you know, to be a party to this celebration and to have the privilege of congratulating President Hoover on his birthday.

I have always been very much interested in the history of the Presidency. I have always been very much interested in the preservation of that history in a manner that can be properly taken care of and that can be available to the youngsters of this coming generation, in whom is imposed now the welfare of this great nation of ours -- the greatest republic in the history of the world.

The Presidency, and I don't say that because I have been President of the United States, is the most important office in the history of the world. And you don't get it by inheritance, you don't get it by any other way except by the people wanting you to be President of the United States, and then you have the greatest responsibility in the history of the world. Nobody knows that better than I do and I've had one hell of a time with it, I don't mind telling you.

My sympathies are always with the President. You don't know how much I appreciate the privilege of being invited to come here and take part in the opening of this great Library of President Herbert Hoover. I think the world of him, as I said before. He did a job for me that nobody else in the world could have done, he kept millions of people from starving to death after the Second World War just as he did after the First World War for Woodrow Wilson, and when I asked him if he would be willing to do the job he never hesitated one minute, he said "Yes, Mr. President, I'll do it" And he did a most wonderful job of keeping these people from starving, and what more can a man do? As the Admiral has told you about his record and his career, it is unequalled in the history of this country. I've always been fond of him, and of course after he saved all of these people from starving I feel that I am one of his closest friends and he is one of my closest friends and that's the reason I am here. I am here because I like him, I'm here because I think he's doing the right thing in turning his documents over to the public here in this Library, and I am as happy as I can be to be a part of the organization that's here celebrating the birthday of one of America's greatest men, and I speak advisedly because I know most of them, and he's one of them.

I talked to the President of the United States yesterday, I talked to his secretary and told him where I was coming, and he told me that he had sent that wonderful message that has been read, to you and that he was very happy that this situation had developed as it had. I didn't have a chance to go and see him personally for the simple reason that I wanted to be here first, and here I am. I'm enjoying the situation, I'm happy to be here and I know that it will do this community one of the greatest goods that has ever happened to any community in the history of the world. It's a great thing and I want to say to you, you youngsters, you'd better start studying the Presidency of the United States and how it works because one of you one of these days will be President of the United States, but I wouldn't advise you to try to be because if you ever get there you'll be sorry you were there -- the happiest day I ever spent in my life was the day I left the White House. They tried to kick me out but they didn't succeed in 1948; if they hadn't done that, I might have quit then, but whenever anybody tries to run over me he finds out he's got something to run over and that's all there is to it. I'm here on account of the former President of the United States, the able and distinguished President Herbert Hoover who is celebrating his birthday today and I'm glad to have a part in it.

Thank you very much.

175. TRUMAN TO HOOVER, DECEMBER 14, 1962

Late in 1962, Hoover published one of his last and most popular books On Growing Up was a light-hearted collection of letters Hoover had received from children and his answers to them. Truman was among a select group of Hoover's friends who received one of the first copies, and he quickly responded with a thank you note and a copy of Truman Speaks, a compilation of lectures he had given at Columbia University in 1959.


Independence, Missouri
December 14, 1962

Dear Mr. President:

You don't know how very much I appreciate your book "Herbert Hoover -- On Growing Up". I don't think I have had a more interesting book in my whole career than that one.

I am being egotistical enough to send you a copy of my lectures, which I gave at Columbia University and which they had printed. It is called "Truman Speaks". That booklet is in the mail and I hope you will like it.

Again, I want to say I have never read anything that interested me more than your correspondence with the youngsters. My program has been with high school and college students on the education of the youngsters in the Government of the United States. Yours has been a fundamental one which has been more important.

Sincerely yours,
/s/HARRY S. TRUMAN

176. HOOVER TO TRUMAN, DECEMBER 19, 1962

On December 19, 1962, Herbert Hoover wrote one of the most personal letters of his long life. In a few short paragraphs, Hoover captured the essence of his productive friendship with Truman. It is an extraordinary letter, especially from a man as private and formal as Hoover.


The Waldorf-Astoria Towers
New York 22, New York
December 19, 1962

Dear Mr. President:

I have received your book. It is a real contribution to the American people, and I greatly treasure its inscription. Indeed, it goes into the file of most treasured documents.

This is an occasion when I should like to add something more, because yours has been a friendship which has reached deeper into my life than you know.

I gave up a successful profession in 1914 to enter public service. I served through the First World War and after for a total of about 18 years.

When the attack on Pearl Harbor came, I at once supported the President and offered to serve in any useful capacity. Because of my varied experiences during the First World War, I thought my services might again be useful, however there was no response. My activities in the Second World War were limited to frequent requests from Congressional committees.

When you came to the White House within a month you opened the door to me to the only profession I knew, public service, and you undid some disgraceful action that had been taken in the prior years.

For all of this and your friendship, I am deeply grateful.

Yours faithfully,
/s/HERBERT HOOVER

177. TRUMAN TO HOOVER, JANUARY 5, 1963

Hoover's letter overwhelmed Truman. In fact, he was so proud of Hoover's comments that he had the letter framed and placed on a credenza behind his desk at the Library. In a brief, handwritten note, he wrote of his appreciation.


Independence, Missouri
Jan. 5, 1963

/s/Dear Mr. President:

You'll never know how much I appreciated your letter of Dec. 19, '62. In fact I was overcome, because you state the situation much better than I could.

I'll quote you, "For . . . your friendship, I am deeply grateful."

Most sincerely,
HARRY S. TRUMAN

178. HOOVER TO TRUMAN, OCTOBER 14, 1964

The last communication came in the form of a telegram. Truman had fallen against the sink and bathtub in the upstairs bathroom in his home and fractured two ribs. A maid found him lying on the floor unconscious and summoned an ambulance. It was a serious accident from which he never fully recovered. Although he spent only a few days in a Kansas City hospital, his balance was uncertain until his death in 1972. In an effort to cheer up his friend, Hoover sent the following telegram.


October 14, 1964

Honorable Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman Presidential Library
Independence, Missouri

Bathtubs are a menace to ex-Presidents for as you may recall a bathtub rose up and fractured my vertebrae when I was in Venezuela on your world famine mission in 1946. My warmest sympathy and best wishes for your speedy recovery.

HERBERT HOOVER

179. TRUMAN TO ALLAN AND HERBERT HOOVER, JR., OCTOBER 20, 1964

On October 17, Hoover suffered massive internal hemorrhaging and went into what was called at the time "a mild coma." Although the bleeding was stopped, he never regained consciousness and died shortly before noon on October 20. News of Hoover's death traveled quickly across the country and within an hour, Truman sent his condolences via telegram to Hoover's two sons. Due to his own injuries, he could not attend Hoover's funeral and in his place he sent his daughter and son-in-law. Truman wrote to Herbert Hoover, Jr., on November 9: "Your father and I enjoyed a rare kind of relationship. I was very fond of him and our mutual admiration was founded on the understanding we had of each other."



[October] 20 1151A CST
Honorable Herbert Hoover Jr. and Honorable Allan Hoover
Waldorf Astoria Towers, NYK

I was deeply saddened at the passing of your father. He was my good friend and I was his. President Hoover was a devoted public servant and he will be forever remembered for his great humanitarian work. Please express my sympathy to all the family.

HARRY S. TRUMAN

180. TRUMAN EULOGY, JUNE 1965

Eight months after the death of his friend, Truman published the following eulogy as the preface to a pictorial biography entitled Herbert Hoover's Challenge to America, His Life and Words (Waukesha, Wisc., 1965). It was a personal and moving tribute to an extraordinary partnership and friendship.

My warm and close friendship with President Herbert Hoover dates back to the day he visited Washington, shortly after I succeeded to the Presidency.

I was never among those who held President Hoover accountable for the economic disaster of the late 20's. And, while I did not see eye to eye with him on many of the basic domestic and foreign issues, I have held him in high respect as a devoted public servant and a great humanitarian.

It was in this higher calling that I was moved to invite him back into public service in the hope that he might resume the task of again feeding the hungry, in the wake of the frightful devastation visited on so many human beings in many parts of the world. I wanted to help restore as quickly as possible friend and foe alike to their normal lives and to peaceful pursuits.

President Hoover did not hesitate, nor did he weigh the matter of personal convenience and even hardships. He accepted at once. The meeting between him and me at the White House is now history. His work in feeding the hungry expressed the care and generosity of all Americans, regardless of political differences.

President Hoover and I have visited each other frequently and whenever either of us happened in the neighborhood of the other, we felt free to just drop in.

President Hoover helped in the dedication of the Library in Independence, Missouri, and I was glad to take part in the dedication of his Library at West Branch, Iowa. Briefly put, he was my friend and I was his.

HARRY S. TRUMAN
Independence, Missouri
June 1965

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