Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum


Merle Miller Papers

Dates: 1863-1976. Bulk Date Span: 1961-1976.

Novelist; writer for Talent Associates television series and interviewer of Harry S. Truman;
author of Plain Speaking: An Oral Biography of Harry S. Truman (1974).

The papers of Merle Miller at the Harry S. Truman Library are copied from original materials that are part of a larger collection in the custody of the Lyndon B. Johnson Library. This collection mostly documents the writing of Plain Speaking (1974), Miller's best-selling oral biography of Harry S. Truman, which was based partly on interviews he had conducted with Truman in 1961-62. The collection includes seven hours and forty minutes of tape recorded interviews with Truman; a manuscript and manuscript fragments of Plain Speaking; interview transcripts; research notes; related correspondence; printed reviews of the book; and other printed material.

[Administrative Information | Biographical Sketch | Collection Description | Series Descriptions | Folder Title List | Appendix]


ADMINISTRATIVE INFORMATION

Size: About 4 linear feet (approximately 8,000 pages) of textual material, and seven hours and forty minutes of recorded conversation (tapes in the audiovisual collection).
Access: Open.
Copyright: Merle Miller donated his copyright interest in his papers and tape recordings to the government of the United States. Documents created by U.S. government officials in the course of their duties are in the public domain. Other copyright interests are presumed to belong to the creators of documents or their heirs.
Processed by: Raymond H. Geselbracht, Carol Briley, Randy Sowell, Daphne Shelton, Michelle Loveall, and Mary Sue Luff (1993-2001).

[ Top of the page | Administrative Information | Biographical Sketch | Collection Description | Series Descriptions | Folder Title List | Appendix]


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

1919 (May 17) Born, Montour, Iowa
1935-40 Student, University of Iowa and London School of Economics
1942-45 Served in the U.S. Army Air Corps as an editor of Yank magazine
c. 1945-49 Editor, Time and Harper's magazines
1948 That Winter (first published novel)
1949 The Sure Thing
1961-62 Interviewed Harry S. Truman as writer for television series on Truman, to be produced by David Susskind's company, Talent Associates
1964 Only You, Dick Daring! (with Evan Rhodes)
1974 Plain Speaking: An Oral Biography of Harry S. Truman
1980 Lyndon: An Oral Biography
1986 (June 10) Died, Danbury, Connecticut

[ Top of the page | Administrative Information | Biographical Sketch | Collection Description | Series Descriptions | Folder Title List | Appendix]


COLLECTION DESCRIPTION

The papers of Merle Miller at the Harry S. Truman Library relate mostly to his book, Plain Speaking: An Oral Biography of Harry S. Truman (1974). Published shortly after Mr. Truman's death and in the midst of the Watergate scandal, Plain Speaking became a bestseller and contributed to a wave of retrospective public enthusiasm for President Truman as a man of simple integrity and forthright honesty.

Miller was an unlikely protagonist in the enshrinement of Harry S. Truman as an American folk hero. When he first met the former President in 1961, Truman (by Miller's own admission) "..hadn't been anywhere near the top of my list of favorite ex-Presidents." Miller had been hired as writer and "general organizer" for a series of television films on Truman's life and Presidency, which were to be produced by David Susskind's company, Talent Associates. At the time, Miller was forty-two years old, and the author of several well-regarded novels. "The Truman Program" (as it was tentatively called) was one of a number of ill-fated television enterprises on which he worked during this period, in association with Susskind or another producer, Robert Alan Aurthur, who was also involved in this project. (An amusing account of Miller's misadventures in television writing during the early 1960s can be found in Only You, Dick Daring! (1964), a book which he co-authored with Evan Rhodes.)

"The Truman Program" enjoyed the full cooperation of Mr. Truman, who was very interested in presenting the story of his Presidency to young people. The television series was to feature extensive interviews with the former President and others, along with film of the historic events they were describing. In conducting research for the series, Miller spent hours talking with Mr. Truman, usually in the former President's office at the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri, and usually in the company of Truman's friends and literary associates, David Noyes and William Hillman. About seven hours and forty minutes of these conversations were recorded on audiotape.

When the television networks displayed little interest in a series on Truman's life, Susskind abandoned the project after completing only two films (one on Truman's life and career, and the other on the Korean War). This ended Miller's association with the former President. Subsequently, Screen Gems took over the television project and produced a twenty-six part documentary series, Decision: The Conflicts of Harry S. Truman (1964). Still later, relying in part on the tape recordings of his conversations with Truman, Miller prepared an "oral biography" of the ex-President. At various times entitled "The Last Roman," or "Voices," it was ultimately published as Plain Speaking in early 1974. (Advance excerpts from the book were published in late 1973.) It consisted mostly of an extended dialogue between Miller and Truman, filled with the former President's colorful and sometimes profane comments on his life and times, and interspersed with snatches of narrative describing the circumstances surrounding the interviews and comments from other persons whom Miller had interviewed for the television project.

Plain Speaking was a spectacular success, selling hundreds of thousands of copies and spending months on various bestseller lists. This "oral biography" of the nation's thirty-third President brought Miller the wealth and recognition that had eluded him through his long career as a novelist and freelance writer. The book received generally positive reviews, although various critics over the years have questioned the authenticity and accuracy of some of the statements Miller attributed to Truman in Plain Speaking.

With the success of his Truman biography, Miller promptly undertook a second project of a similar nature, and in 1980 published Lyndon: An Oral Biography, a study of President Lyndon B. Johnson that was based on extensive interviews with people who had known Johnson. Miller then began work on an oral biography of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, but died in 1986 before completing it. The portion of the Eisenhower biography that he had finished was published posthumously as Ike the Soldier.

The papers of Merle Miller are organized into five series: a Tape Recordings of Interviews with Harry S. Truman File; a Manuscript File; a Research File; a Correspondence File; and a Review Article File. The Tape Recordings of Interviews with Harry S. Truman File consists of seven hours and forty minutes of recorded conversations between Mr. Truman, Merle Miller, William Hillman, David Noyes, and others who cannot be identified. The tape recordings of these conversations have been transferred to the Truman Library's audiovisual collection, and have been open to researchers since 1993.

The conversations occurred between the summer of 1961 and the winter of 1962. According to Miller's account in the preface of Plain Speaking, "Mr. Truman and I had days, sometimes weeks, of conversations, interviews if you insist, many of them on tape, many not." For those conversations that were taped, the two recording venues that can be identified with some confidence from evidence in the recordings are Mr. Truman's office at the Truman Library and some location in New York City. The conversations suggest that all the participants understood that what they said was being recorded. David Noyes, who speaks in a strong, deep, confident voice, occasionally explicates (sometimes at length) things that Truman has said. William Hillman, who speaks in a softer, gravelly voice, enters the conversation infrequently, usually to clarify some factual detail.

The recordings have a haphazard quality to them, and seem to begin and end without much technical finesse. The sound quality is not very good. Some of the recordings are at three-and-three-quarter inches per second, others at seven-and-one-half inches per second; one recording changes in mid-course from one speed to the other. The eleven individual tapes carry, with one exception, letter designations: A, 2A, C, D, E, F, G, H, J, and K. It is not clear what these letters meant to Miller, other than that they gave identities to the tapes. They do not seem to establish any meaningful order among the tapes. The interview that Miller identifies in Plain Speaking as being his first with Truman, for example, is recorded on the tape marked "H." Because Miller's letter markings do not seem to convey much meaning, the tapes have been given numbers, from one to eleven, and then the designation A and B in instances where one of Miller's tapes has been copied onto two tape reels.

The eleven tapes include a considerable amount of apparently haphazard duplication. About half of tape 1A, for example, is duplicated on tapes 4B and 10B, and the remainder of tape 1A is duplicated on tape 8A. A scheme showing the relationships among individual recordings is attached as an appendix to this finding aid, along with logs of the individual tapes. These tape logs are intended to guide researchers through the recordings and are not intended as complete descriptions. They include counter markings and elapsed time indications for specific topics discussed during the interviews.

The Manuscript File consists of two nearly complete typewritten manuscripts of Plain Speaking (one of them entitled "Voices"), along with manuscript fragments, outlines of programs for the Talent Associates television series, an introduction written by Miller for a book of Truman quotations, the manuscript of an article dealing with Miller's novel, The Sure Thing (1949), and other items.

The Research File comprises approximately two-thirds of the collection. It is organized into three subseries: an Interview Subseries; a Subject Subseries; and a Notecard Subseries. The Interview Subseries consists mostly of transcripts and summaries of interviews conducted with Mr. Truman and others in preparation for the planned television series. Included in this subseries are transcripts of some of Miller's tape recorded interviews with the former President, as well as transcripts and summaries of interviews with a wide variety of persons, ranging from such prominent figures as Dean Acheson and Omar Bradley to Mr. Truman's relatives and friends in Independence. Photographs of some of the persons interviewed are also included. The Subject Subseries consists of research notes, manuscript material, interview transcripts, newspaper clippings, printed material, and other items relating to a variety of topics connected with Truman's life and Presidency. Also included in this subseries are copies of two large charts listing various Truman-related topics, which were apparently used during the writing of Plain Speaking to help Miller organize his notes and subject matter. The Notecard Subseries consists mostly of typed research notes for the book, derived from published sources or from the interviews with Truman.

The Correspondence File includes many letters to Miller from friends and readers expressing their admiration for Plain Speaking and congratulating him on the book's success, along with a few negative letters, and copies of a few of Miller's replies to this mail from the public. The series also includes correspondence regarding public appearances by Miller to promote the book, as well as brochures and other promotional materials prepared for the hardcover and paperback editions of Plain Speaking.

The Review Article File consists mostly of newspaper clippings and other printed material featuring reviews of Plain Speaking; articles about Miller; bestseller lists on which Plain Speaking appeared; reviews of a television adaptation of Plain Speaking which appeared on the Public Broadcasting System in 1976; and German-language reviews of the book's German edition, Offen Gesagt.

More information about Merle Miller and his association with Mr. Truman can be found in the Secretary's Office File and the Television File of Truman's Post-Presidential Papers, and in the Truman Library's Vertical File. The Library's audiovisual collection includes the Decision series of television films which Screen Gems completed after Talent Associates was forced to abandon the project.

[ Top of the page | Administrative Information | Biographical Sketch | Collection Description | Series Descriptions | Folder Title List | Appendix ]


SERIES DESCRIPTIONS

Container Nos. Series
1 TAPE RECORDINGS OF INTERVIEWS WITH HARRY S. TRUMAN FILE, 1961-1962
Cross reference sheet for eleven tapes recording about seven hours and five minutes of conversation with Harry S. Truman, and about thirty-five minutes of a presentation that Truman made to a group of military officers. Topics covered include Truman's early life and political career, his accession to the Presidency on April 12, 1945, the campaign of 1948, the Korean War, hysteria in American history, the politician's role, and Truman's views about past Presidents and events in American history. The tape recordings have been transferred to the audiovisual collection of the Truman Library. They are arranged according to a numerical order assigned to them by the Lyndon B. Johnson Library, which has possession of the original tapes.
1-3 MANUSCRIPT FILE, 1961-1975
Two nearly complete typewritten manuscripts of Plain Speaking, manuscript fragments, outlines of television programs, and other items. Arranged in alphabetical order.
3-8 RESEARCH FILE: consisting of three subseries as follows:
3-4
    INTERVIEW FILE, 1961-73: Transcripts and summaries of interviews, and photographs of persons interviewed for the Truman television project. Arranged in alphabetical order.
5-7
    SUBJECT FILE, 1863-1976 (Bulk Date Span, 1961-73): Research notes, manuscript material, interview transcripts, newspaper clippings, printed material, charts, and other items concerning various topics relating to Truman's life and Presidency. Arranged in alphabetical order.
8
8-9 CORRESPONDENCE FILE, 1955-1976 (Bulk Date Span, 1973-1976)
Correspondence, newspaper clippings, and printed material mostly documenting the public response to Plain Speaking and the efforts of Miller and his publishers to promote the book. Arranged alphabetically in variously identified correspondence folders and a folder of "promotional materials," and thereunder in chronological order.
9-10 REVIEW ARTICLE FILE, 1948-1976 (Bulk Date Span,1973-1976)
Newspaper clippings and printed material mostly containing reviews of Plain Speaking and information about its position on bestseller lists, with other items. Arranged alphabetically in variously identified "Articles" folders, "Best Seller Lists" folders, and a "Books by Merle Miller" folder, and thereunder in chronological order.

[ Top | Administrative Information | Biographical Sketch | Collection Description | Series Descriptions | Folder Title List | Appendix]


FOLDER TITLE LIST
    TAPE RECORDINGS OF INTERVIEWS WITH HARRY S. TRUMAN FILE, 1961-1962 (See Appendix for descriptive logs of the tape recordings)

Box 1

  • Cross Reference Sheet for Tape Recordings Transferred to the Audiovisual Collection
    MANUSCRIPT FILE, 1961-1975
  • Introduction by Merle Miller to The Quotable Harry S. Truman, and "The Liberal Novelist in the McCarthy Era" by Ruth Prigozy
  • Manuscript Fragments
      [1 of 3]
      [2 of 3]
      [3 of 3]
  • Outlines of Television Programs
  • Plain Speaking Manuscript: pgs. 1-40
  • Plain Speaking Manuscript: pgs. 42-69
  • Plain Speaking Manuscript: pgs. 70-171
  • Plain Speaking Manuscript: pgs. 172-289
  • Plain Speaking Manuscript: pgs. 290-378
Box 2
  • Plain Speaking Manuscript: pgs. 379-473
  • Plain Speaking Manuscript: pgs. 474-563
  • Plain Speaking Manuscript: The Bomb and the 1940 Campaign
  • Plain Speaking Manuscript: The Cause and Cure of Hysteria
  • Plain Speaking Manuscript: The Korean Decision
  • Plain Speaking Manuscript: General Marshall and the Marshall Plan
  • Plain Speaking Manuscript: McCarthy Footnote and Pendergast
  • Script Fragments and Confidential Memo
  • Script of Television Program: "Plain Speaking" by Merle Miller, adapted by Carol Sobieski
  • Suggestions and Recommendations
  • Voices [early draft of Plain Speaking] Manuscript: Introduction and pgs. 4-125
  • Voices Manuscript: pgs. 126-289
Box 3
  • Voices Manuscript: pgs. 290-430
  • Voices Manuscript: pgs. 297-378, Chapters 20-23
  • Voices Manuscript: pgs. 509-564, and Footnotes
    RESEARCH FILE: Interview File, 1961-1973
  • Acheson, Dean
  • Bradley, Omar
  • Bronson, Mrs.
  • Brown, Robert
  • Burrus, Rufus
  • Chiles Family
  • Donnelly, Eugene
  • Duncan, Richard
  • Evans, Tom
  • Flynn, Mike
  • Gould, Sgt.
  • Graham, Wallace
  • Grandma Moses of Ex-Presidents [description of conversation with Harry S. Truman about his piano-playing]
  • Gross, Ernest
  • Hinde, Edgar [and Edgar Hinde, Jr.]
  • Jacobson, Mrs. Eddie [Bluma]
  • Lembcke, Rev.
  • Meisburger, Eddie
  • Miscellaneous Interviews [with Harry S. Truman and others]
  • Muccio, John
Box 4
  • Murphy, Tom
  • Noland, Ethel
  • Palmer, Mrs. W.L.C.
  • Perry, Dexter
  • Peters, Mize
  • Porter, Bud
  • Richards, Lew
  • Ridge, Judge Al
  • Script Fragments for Susskind Program
  • Spina, Frank
  • Susskind Interview [with Harry S. Truman]
  • Truman, Gen. and Mrs. Ralph
  • Truman Interview Fragments [Harry S. Truman]
  • Truman Interview: Tape 2
  • Truman Interview: Tape 2A
  • Truman Interview: Tape 3
  • Truman Interview: Tape 4 [partial duplicate of Tape 8]
  • Truman Interview: Tape 5
  • Truman: Outline
  • Westwood, Paul [Mike]
    RESEARCH FILE: Subject File, 1863-1976 (Bulk Date Span, 1961-1973)
Box 5
  • A-Bomb, Merle Miller Memo on
  • Acheson
  • Acting
  • Adams Papers
  • Architecture
  • Arthur, Chester
  • Assassination
  • Autograph Hunters
  • Baruch
  • Battery D
  • Berenson, Bernard
  • Bibliography
  • Birth in Lamar
  • Boyhood-Mary Jane [Truman]
  • Boyhood Sickness
  • Bryan Tape [Truman's recollections of William Jennings Bryan]
  • Castro, Fidel
  • Character
  • Charts [listing various topics for Plain Speaking]
  • Children
  • Chiles Family
  • Churchill
  • Churchill's Address for Peace ["Iron Curtain" speech]
  • Civil Rights
  • Civil War-Missouri-Kansas Border and Order No. 11
  • Clark, Tom
  • Clifford, Clark
  • Clinton's Drug Store
  • Clippings, 1948
  • Connelly, Matt
  • Constitution
  • Conway, Rose
  • Courtesy
  • Courthouse and Jackson Statue
  • Crisp on Sincerity and Counterfeits [Truman comments]
  • Cronies
  • Crowds
  • Decisions
  • Democratic Convention
  • Dewey, Thomas E.
  • Drinking
  • Driving
  • Education
  • Eisenhower
  • Family Closeness
  • Farmers
  • Fields on Truman [Alonzo Fields, White House butler]
  • First Tour of Library-Manuscript
  • Food-HST's Tastes
  • Generals
  • Gentry, Sue
  • German Surrender
  • Grandview
  • Greatness
Box 6
  • Haberdashery
  • Hersey [excerpts from John Hersey's New Yorker profile of the President]
  • Hinde, Edgar
  • History, Good
  • Hitler
  • Hoover, Herbert
  • Hoover, J. Edgar
  • Hope, Bob
  • Hopkins, Harry
  • Hume Letter
  • Humor
  • Independence History
  • Independence and Rejects [mostly material left out of the book]
  • Independence, 219 N. Delaware
  • Intellectuals
  • Introduction-Book Teaser
  • Jackson, Andrew
  • Jacobson, Eddie
  • James, Jesse
  • Johnson, Andrew
  • Johnson, Lyndon
  • Kennedys, Truman on
  • Korea
  • Korea-Leavenworth [filming of television program at Fort Leavenworth, December 15, 1961]
  • Last Roman, The
  • Leadership
  • Letters to Mother and Mary Jane
  • Lewis, Ham-Senate
  • "Life with Grandfather"-McCall's, January, 1967 [article by Margaret Truman Daniel]
  • Lincoln and Johnson, Andrew
  • Lippmann
  • Long, Huey
  • Luce, Clare Boothe
  • Loyalty and Hysteria
  • MacArthur-Truman the Jew ["The Late General MacArthur, Warts and All," by Faubion Bowers, Esquire, January, 1967]
  • Margaret-Look Piece [profile of Margaret Truman Daniel, April 18, 1967]
  • Margaret's Book [Harry S. Truman]
  • Marks, Ted
  • Marshall, George
  • Marshall Plan
  • Masons
  • Maxims
  • Mexico-Visit to Chapultepec Castle
  • Miller's Last Meeting with Truman Before Leaving for Spain
  • Millionaire
  • Miscellaneous
  • "Mr. Speaker"-Congressional Magazines [profile of Sam Rayburn in Atlantic Monthly, October, 1942, and other printed materials]
  • Mormons [RLDS]
  • Music
  • 1948 Campaign
  • Nixon
  • Noland, Ethel
  • Nominating Conventions of 1860
  • Oppenheimer-Look Article ["With Oppenheimer, on an Autumn Day," by Thomas B. Morgan, December 27, 1966]
Box 7
  • Palmer, Mrs. W. L. C.
  • Pendergast, Tom
  • Plutarch
  • Point 4
  • Poker
  • Political Campaign, 1944
  • Politics
  • Politics, Early
  • Post-Presidency
  • Presidents-Good and Bad
  • President's Personal Library
  • Problems of the Presidency [printed materials and portion of the transcript of David Susskind's interview with Mr. Truman]
  • Rayburn, Sam
  • Reading-Pure Truman
  • Rejects [mostly material left out of the book]
  • Religion
  • Roosevelt [Franklin], Comparison With
  • Roosevelt [Franklin], Death of
  • Roosevelt [Franklin], Truman Relationship With
  • Roosevelt, Theodore
  • Ross, Charlie
  • Senate
  • Short Biography
  • Sleep and Sleeping-Truman
  • Society
  • Speeches
  • Stevenson, Adlai
  • Summersby, Kay
  • Susskind on Character
  • Tapes, Miller's Notes From
  • Tiernan on Truman
  • Truman, Bess Wallace
  • Truman Doctrine
  • Truman Library
  • Truman's 83rd Birthday and the Celebration of the 25th Anniversary of His Taking Office
  • Truman's Eyesight
  • Truman's Father
  • Truman's Mother
  • Turnip Day
  • Twain, Mark
  • U.S. News and World Report
  • Wake Island
  • Walking
  • Wallace, Madge
  • White House ["Ghosts in the White House," by John Hersey, New Yorker, April 28, 1951]
    RESEARCH FILE: Notecard File, c. 1961-1973
Box 8
  • Notecards
      [1 of 3]
      [2 of 3]
      [3 of 3]
    CORRESPONDENCE FILE, 1955-1976 (Bulk Date Span, 1973-1976)
  • Correspondence, Harry S. Truman and Irving Caesar, 1955
  • Correspondence with Merle Miller on Plain Speaking, Etc.
      [1 of 3]
      [2 of 3]
      [3 of 3]
  • Plain Speaking Correspondence, 1974
      [1 of 5]
      [2 of 5]
Box 9
      [3 of 5]
      [4 of 5]
      [5 of 5]
  • Promotional Materials
    REVIEW ARTICLE FILE, 1948-1976 (Bulk Date Span, 1973-1976)
  • Articles and Reviews-Plain Speaking
      [1 of 10]
      [2 of 10]
      [3 of 10]
      [4 of 10]
      [5 of 10]
      [6 of 10]
      [7 of 10]
Box 10
      [8 of 10]
      [9 of 10]
      [10 of 10]
  • Articles on Merle Miller
  • Articles on Plain Speaking, German
      [1 of 2]
      [2 of 2]
  • Articles on the Plain Speaking PBS Special
  • Best Seller Lists
      [1 of 5]
      [2 of 5]
      [3 of 5]
      [4 of 5]
      [5 of 5]
  • Books by Merle Miller [list]

[ Top of the page | Administrative Information | Biographical Sketch | Collection Description | Series Descriptions | Folder Title List | Appendix ]


APPENDIX

 

Counter
Time
Conversation Topics

Tape 1, Side A
27 minutes, 14 seconds
7 1/2 inches per second

45
- the witchcraft hysteria in seventeenth century Massachusetts

- Jefferson accused of being a "Jacobin"

27
1:20

- Anit-Masonic movement in the campaign of 1832

- Know-Nothing movement

50
2:10
- these two movements were the foundation for the Ku Klux Klan

- description of the origin of the Anti-Masonic movement

75
3:30
- the Know-Nothing and Anti-Masonic movements became anti-Catholic, and then became anti-everything -- the Ku Klux Klan, "the orneriest outfit the country every produced"
    - Nathan Bedford Forest organized and then tried to disband the Ku Klux Klan
    - Reconstruction was in fact "Redestruction"
127
5:45
- Alien and Sedition Laws
- post World War I hysteria
    - not as bad as earlier hysteria
173
7:46
- Joe McCarthy
    - "a no-good son-of-a-bitch"
    - only Senator in history who was almost unanimously censured
    - "I cussed him out every time I got a chance"
    - he was afraid of Truman
    - a coward
212
9:25
- something in the American character prevents hysteria from carrying on too long
- vast majority of Americans are people of common sense
- some hysteria in agricultural areas during depression of 1930s
    - common sense returned and things calmed down
- reasons why people became hysterical
    - common sense always returns
310
13:32

- John Birch Society

334
14:30
- the politician's role in a time of hysteria
    - he must have guts and do what's right
    - he must make government work
    - 1948: a time when a politician had to lead the people in the right direction
- if the people see that a politician is trying to do what's right, they will stay with him
    - Americans have good common sense
412
17:32
- Truman was not a "made up" person
    - 1960 campaign: a public relations quality
    - counterfeits never last long
    - the people can see through counterfeits
    - people can see the truth, they are moral and well brought up
    - Eisenhower as synthetic figure
      - his office went to his head
515
21:20
- the 1930s
    - a period of demagoguery
    - the Pearl Harbor attack finally brought the country together
    - decent people always take charge eventually
- this is not a special time
    - there are always problems in the world
598
24:24
- lessons in history
- one generation does not learn the previous ones until the lessons are brought home with a hammer blow
615
25:00
- youngsters today think they know how to do things better, but they will learn eventually that they are part of a continuum
634
25:35

- the need for international law that can be enforced

 

Tape 1, Side B
24 minutes, 55 seconds
7 1/2 inches per second
- tomorrow's topics
    - Korean War
- interview method; creating a story
100
4:34
- Reconstruction period
    - Kansas and Missouri during the Civil War; raiding and destruction
      - Order Number 11, moving everyone in the area into "posts"
      - Independence was surrounded by Federal troops and the people confined
206
9:08
- Truman's family in the Civil War
220
9:33
- Andrew Johnson tried to prevent a punitive reconstruction -- "Redestruction"
    - the Radical Republicans
    - carpetbaggers
- compassion as an important quality in a leader
297
12:50
- when Truman realized he might become President, and how it affected him
340
14:40
- Point Four program
    - justification
    - possibility of graft, and how Truman responded to it
378
15:59
- examples of Truman's work on the Truman Committee identifying and combating graft and fraud
    - investigations
    - FDR's view of the Truman Committee
590
24:10
    - Stimson asked Truman not to investigate the atomic energy project

 

Tape 2, Side A
47 minutes, 47 seconds
7 1/2 inches per second
- decision to drop the atomic bomb
- letter from Mr. Price to Truman
29
1:05
- Miller's explanation of the purpose of the interview
    - to get a sense of what the television programs should be like
60
2:35
- Truman's return to Independence after the presidency
- Truman's school days
130
5:40
- the Independence public library
- reflections on education and on Truman's "destiny"
168
7:25
- the beginning of Truman's interest in American history
- the blackboard with the history of the country on the back
195
8:33
- wearing glasses and its consequences
    - inferiority complex
    - the need to fight for things
- bad boys in Independence
- early life in Independence
    - Truman's teachers
340
14:35
- Truman's parents
    - both parents influenced him
    - his father (a fighter)
    - his mother
400
16:55
      - her feelings when Truman became President
      - her trip to Washington
470
19:35
- reflections on "underdogs" in power
- problems in the modern world
521
21:17
- Truman's first job, in Clinton's drug store
    - serving whiskey to do-gooders
    - reflections on hypocrites
620
24:40
- Truman as railroad timekeeper
    - hoboes, and Truman's affection for them
    - anecdote about the old blacksmith
710
27:35
    - living away from home
    - learning about the underdog
    - Truman's weekend reading
- reflection on the reasons for reading
837
31:29
    - to learn about people
    - to learn what was not being taught in school
    - to learn different viewpoints
921
33:55
- a politician: "a man who understands free government"
- Truman' entry into politics
    - he needed a job
963
35:15
- Truman as County Judge
    - refinancing county warrants
    - paying off the county's debt
1035
37:00
- Truman as honest politician
    - "no man can get rich in politics unless he's a crook"
38:13
- President's have not gotten rich in office
- their children have sometimes been ashamed of their father's origins
1150
39:59
- Andrew Johnson
    - an Andrew Jackson democrat
    - mistreated by Republicans after Lincoln's death
1230
41:50
- There have been no corrupt President
    - they refused to make money from their office
    - Madison, Monroe, Jefferson died poor
    - all Presidents have been honorable men
1383
44:50

- the framers of the Constitution created an exceptionally good framework of government

 

Tape 2, Side B
17 minutes, 21 seconds
7 1/2 inches per second
- the Constitutional COnvention was composed of both rich and poor
    - Patrick Henry opposed the Constitution -- a "high hat"
75
2:37
- there was something special about the time when the COnstitution was written
- reflections on the Constitution
    - "they knew what they were doing"
175
5:22
- reflections on the twentieth century
    - religion
- the remarkable strength of the American government since 1789
255
7:45
- 1837 to 1860: a time of weak presidents
    - these weak presidents failed to lead the country
444
12:25
- U.S. Grant
    - a weak president and a crooked administration
- Presidents Hayes, Garfield, Arthur, Cleveland, Harrison
617
16:15

- Truman's memories of Williams Jennings Bryan

 

Tape 3
43 minutes, 3 second
3 3/4 inches per second
- where to go for lunch, and lunch companions
    - Tom Evans
47
3:47
- 1948 campaign
    - "Whistlestop" coined by Senator Robert Taft
60
4:36
    - Truman decided on character of campaign, drawing from his past experience
    - 1934 senatorial campaign
    - traveling around Missouri
    - meeting heads of local political organizations
    - 1940 senatorial campaign
117
8:52
- Truman talked to local political leaders everywhere in 1948
120
9:12
- his speech at Dexter, Iowa
- his speech at Cadillac Square, Detroit
136
10:11
- the people's enthusiasm for him
- the "non-political" train trip, June 1948
150
11:16
- Francis Myers published all Truman's campaign speeches
- Truman's most exciting campaign stops
    - Seattle, Washington
    - St. Paul, Minnesota
    - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
    - Cleveland, Ohio
    - Cincinnati, Ohio
    - St. Louis, Missouri
177
13:20
- "Give 'em Hell, Harry" started in Seattle
- the spontaneity of the campaign
    - Truman did not believe in "working things up"
195
14:25
- never mentioned his opponent's name
Eightieth Congress first attacked in Butte, Montana
205
15:20
- Dewey was a "stuffed shirt" who did not know how to meet people
230
16:56
- Truman mocked Dewey and his moustache
- Truman explained to farmers that Dewey was not for them
256
18:42
- a campaign day
    - up at 5:00 am
    - morning walk
269
19:34
    - first campaign stop "whenever it happened," whenever there were a few or many people waiting to hear him -- from 10 to 1000 people
    - stops not scheduled in advance, no program of stops
280
20:20
    - spoke to many small audiences
    stopped at many places where no train had stopped before
    - he told a horse's age from its teeth at one stop
300
21:50
    - made as many stops as were necessary in a day
    - never missed a stop where people were waiting
    - Truman got the day's schedule from the train's conductor each morning [distortion]
    - Truman studied railroad maps
    - speeches were as long as the schedule permitted the train to stop
    - Truman had background information about the town he stopped in
330
23:45
    - he never called a town by he wrong name
    - partisanship was limited; Truman would not speak ill of a local Republican solely to suit the needs of local Democrats
377
26:35
- Truman did not believe in polls
425
29:34
- the Louis Bean polls
433
30:01
- Les Biffle's personal poll, the "chicken peddler" poll
    - he told Truman the people were for him
- Truman had been through hopeless campaigns before, and he won all but one of them
- Truman's staff did not believe he could win
533
35:58
- Battery D -- "my boys"
    - his barber
    - how he enlisted his men
570
38:00
- the chaplain, Father Tiernan

 

Tape 4, Side A
1 hour,36 minutes
3 3/4 inches per second

- William Jennings Bryan as orator
- other good orators
17
1:30
    - Joe Robinson
    - a Senator from Mississippi
28
2:30
- Huey Long
35
3:12
- Truman's first political speech, Lee's Summit, Missouri, August 15, 1922
    - the last speech of the same campaign
52
4:50
- the importance of friends in politics
- reflections on the art of politics
    - Col. Crisp, an example of a counterfeit
    - counterfeit people seldom rise very high in politics
106
9:45
    - the "front porch" campaign of 1920
      - Gov. Cox of Ohio
145
13:06
- Theodore Roosevelt
    - Truman saw him in Kansas City in 1904
168
15:14
- the election of 1912
- national political conventions
    - they haven't changed very much
210
18:52
- Adlai Stevenson
219
19:35
- people who are electable do not always make good presidents
    - Zachary Taylor, U. S. Grant, Dwight D. Eisenhower
253
22:37
- 1928 Republican National Convention in Kansas City
284
25:00
- Al Smith
    - the religious issue
    - his identity as New Yorker
311
27:12
- Truman's role in the 1928 campaign
333
28:58
- 1932 campaign
340
29:47
    - Franklin D. Roosevelt
    - a great orator
    - Truman' role in the 1932 campaign
359
31:24
- 1936 campaign
365
31:56
- reflections on political techniques
    - meeting with and speaking with people
    - campaigning at the local level
428
36:38
- campaigning through media
    - radio and television make counterfeits of candidates
    - Truman preferred to meet as many people face-to-face as he could
468
39:48
- 1944 campaign
    - Truman's selection as vice presidential candidate
      - Truman tells the story at length. "That's the worst time I've ever spent in my life in any political organization."
536
44:50
    - Truman's campaigning
      - his meeting with Joseph Kennedy
        - his later statement, 1960, Richmond, Virginia: "It's not the Pope I'm afraid of, it's pop."
580
47:52
    - Truman thought his ticket would win in 1944
    - Truman knew Roosevelt's health was very bad
600
49:17
- the importance of believing in what one is saying and conveying that belief to others
- the importance of personal campaigning
698
55:55
    - George Washington

[the remainder of this tape duplicates Tape 3]

 

Tape 4, Side B
33 minutes, 50 seconds
3 3/4 inches per second [continuing apparently the conversation from tape 4A]
- meeting Father Tiernan in Paris in 1945
25
1:48
- Truman: he never cared about a man's religion or politics if he liked him
[break for lunch]
[noise]
[counting]
[crew chatter]
[the venue is in New YOrk City]

[the following apparently precedes the conversation on Tape 1, Side A]
- Truman and New York City
93
6:19
- hysteria in America
    - the Mormons in Independence
      - Truman tells the early history of the Mormons
145
9:56
      - the prejudice of the people in Independence
      - "The people in Independence haven't changed a darned bit"
149
10:12
      - prejudice against African American
      - continuing prejudice against Mormons in Independence
155
10:40
    - the Ku Klux Klan
      - its revival in the 1920s
      - its relationship to the Republican Party
      - its activity in Jackson County
165
11:19
      - in 1922, Truman went to one of their meetings in Eastern Jackson County and "told them exactly what I thought of them"
175
11:50
      - he persuaded his armed Democratic friends not to attack them
      - "I licked 'em"
180
12:15
      - he told them what he thought of them, and half of them voted for him anyway
        - they knew what they were doing was not right
        - they worked behind sheets and were "off the beam"
202
13:33
- the witchcraft hysteria in seventeenth century Massachusetts
[the rest of this tape duplicates Tape 1, Side A, which also contains additional conversation following what is recorded on this tape.]

 

Tape 5
25 minutes, 18 seconds
7 1/2 inches per second

[noise]
- the Korean War
    - the term "police action"
    - a United Nations action
18
52
    - troops from several nations
27
11:15
- world government
    - no single world power
    - potential in the Untied Nations
      - Korea
      - the Congo
58
2:37
    - Truman's speech in the Kansas City Municipal Auditorium, ca. 1953
[noises]
    - progress toward world government
105
4:50
- the Soviet Union does not carry out its agreements
127
5:40
    - they want to control the world
- discussion about the filming project
177
7:52
- the Korean War
    - Truman tried to protect the prisoners of war, to allow them to go where they wanted
    - origin of the division at 38th parallel
    - troop concentrations at the end of World War II
270
11:48
- the Russians were kept out of occupied Japan
281
12:12
- the United States' primary desire at the Potsdam Conference was to commit the Soviet Union to entering the war against Japan
    - the success of the atomic bomb explosion did not affect American policy in this respect
325
14:00
- the morale of American troops
339
14:35
- "brainwashing"
    - as old as the Roman Empire, at least
374
16:00
- reflections on learning from the lessons of history
393
16:35
- Mark Twain
    - the Drew Pearson of his time
    - U. S. Grant's memoirs
      - Twain helped to write them
489
20:15
- U. S. Grant and campaign of 1880
560
- 1960 election
    - Eisenhower could have won
625
24:30
- Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn
    - Truman was a "sissy" and could not identify with them when he was a boy
[noise]

 

Tape 6, Side A
34 minutes
3 3/4 inches per second

[Truman answering questions put to him by an audience of military officers]
[hum; voice: "Truman show, test one."]
- Korean war
    - intervention: no one was against it
13
:49
    - possible use of atomic weapons
[hum; "test two"]
22
1:29
    - use of guided missiles
[hum; voice: "end of test. Harry S. Truman show number two, questions four through ten."]
38
2:33
    - intervention: no one was against it [repeat of above questions]
    - recall of World war II veterans to active duty
68
4:27
    - complaints of reservists at being called to active duty
    - giving special awards to individual South Korean soldiers
92
6:00
    - purpose of visits of high ranking government officials to Korea
[interruption; voice: "Beginning of question twelve."]
120
7:44
    - commitment of ground forces in Korea
[voice: Questions fifteen and sixteen."]
133
8:30
    - the small number of US forces in Japan
[voice: "Continuation of questions fifteen and sixteen."]
144
9:10
    - the power of the President to employ troops
[voice: "Questions twenty-two to thirty."]
165
10:29
    - public support for the Korean War
180
11:19
    - the importance of American troops fighting under the United Nations flag
195
12:12
    - troops from other nations used in the Korean War
    - a proposed United Nations army
211
13:13
- the Korean War
    - the authority given to the commander in the field during the Korean War
224
13:54
    - American planes could not pursue beyond the Yale River
230
14:17
    - the importance of the Department of Defense and the National Security Council in the conduct of the Korean War
      - the origins of the Central Intelligence Agency
257
15:44
- a police force distinguished from an army
- a policy action defined
273
16:37
- effect of calling the Korean War a police action
[voice: "end of question thirty."]
[fragment of question; voice: "Questions thirty-two to thirty-four."]
[noise]
- the Korean War
    - origin of the 38th parallel as a demarcation line in Korea
    - possible use of the atomic bomb in Korea
343
20:25
    - the role of the Untied Nations in the intervention in Korea
- the importance of United Nations police actions
371
21:53
    - instances from 1930s when a policy action was needed, but did not occur
    - why a police action was undertaken in Korea
[voice: "Question thirty-six"]
404
23:33
- influence of Truman' World War I experience on his decision making when President
[voice: "Reel ran out...Continuation of question thirty-six...Correction the last question was question thirty eight...Questions forty and forty-one."]
446
25:35
- the Korean War
    - proposed use of Nationalist Chinese troops in Korea
      - Truman would not commit five million men to China to save Chiang Kai-shek's regime
467
26:40
- the battlefield of the future
    - battlefield conditions are always changing
    - atomic war will practically destroy the civilized world
[voice: "End of question forty-one. Test play of questions forty-three and forty-four."]
523
29:12
- the role of the President in a policy action undertaken by the United Nations
552
30:40
    - the President has to think both about the United States and the rest of the world
[voice: "...Question forty-six."]
595
32:22
- the Korean War
- weapons used by the North Koreans
- military procurement
[voice: "...Question forty-eight."]
639
34:12
- the North Korean invasion was a surprise to everyone
    - one must be ready for whatever comes
[voice: "...Questions fifty-one and fifty-two."]
669
35:25
- possibility of future police actions
680
35:45
- the role of the press at the time of national emergencies
700
36:38
- Truman's closing words to the audience
[voice: "Repeat of questions nine."]
714
37:08
- the Korean War
    - what Truman was doing when he learned of the North Korean invasion

[voice: "...End of selected questions." Whistle]

 

Tape 6, Side B
37 minutes, 15 seconds

[duplicate of Tape 6, Side A]

 

Tape 7, Side A
47 minutes, 43 seconds
7 1/2 inches per second

- William Jennings Bryan
    - radishes for lunch
    - a great orator
38
1:46
- the United States survived the five weak Presidents before the Civil War
58
2:46
- Truman as an optimist
    - all leaders are optimists -- Churchill, Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt
92
4:10
    - Eisenhower probably did not know whether he was an optimist or a pessimist
    - the people who believed in the future will work things out and things will be all right
132
6:00
- discourtesy, and the importance of courtesy
170
7:39
- Truman's two personal grudges
    - Lloyd Stark, who forgot those who supported him
    - Richard Nixon, who called General Marshall a traitor
215
9:36
- why military men make bad president
270
11:53
- Roman emperors
    - Marcus Aurelius and other great emperors
335
14:35
- Truman's views on the military
- George Marshall
395
16:59
    - a great leader who understood men
464
19:26
- Truman wanted to go to West Point
485
20:17
- the midwest has produced many naval officers
536
22:05
- reflections on being in the Senate
    - story of Senators Ham Lewis and Huey Long
[interruption]
648
26:02
- the objectives of the interviews and of the television programs about Truman's presidency
    - reaching the people through the modern medium about what happened in the past
- the presidents and the press
721
28:23
    - development of the press conference
    - Truman's press conferences
750
29:24
- Truman's views on the press
    - in the long run, the facts come out
830
31:50
- Truman's experiences talking to people about American history
864
32:52
- Truman's years in the US Senate
    - the happiest time of his life
    - a senator may get things done that are in the public interest
1034
37:35
- the Senate Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program
    - its origins, establishment and purpose
1310
44:00
- Truman's liaison with President Roosevelt and General Marshall
1432
46:16
- this committee contrasted to its Civil War counterpart

 

Tape 7, Side B
32 minutes, 32 seconds
7 1/2 inches per second (from beginning to 2:01)
3 3/4 inches per second (from 2:02 to end)

- Truman's advice that young politicians should read about the country's past
26
:53
- reflections on local congressmen
[interruption: lunch break]
[crew talk]
[interruption]
76
3:35
- the date in August 29; venue in Truman's office at the Truman Library
- Alonzo Fields' book [My Twenty-One Years at the White House, New York, 1961]
90
4:39
    - the visit of Truman's mother to the White House
129
7:21
- Plans for future interviews
152
8:55
- the 1948 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia
    - the time which Truman spent on the train platform, waiting to be called into the convention
171
10:19
      -talking with Alben Barkley
    - an open convention
223
13:46
-call for the turnip day session
247
15:21
- cooking turnips and turnip greens
277
17:17
- origins of modern campaigns
    - election of 1876
    - election of 1880
345
21:37
    - political campaigns became a fight between the people and special privilege
    - the importance of oratory
370
23:00
- election of 1896
    - the first of which Truman was fully aware
    - Rutherford B. Hayes and "lemonade Lucy" Hayes
414
25:36
- election night in Independence
451
27:45
- Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first Presidential nominee to appear at the party convention to accept the nomination
485
29:39
- Truman's work in the early 1930s as employment director for the State of Missouri
511
31:04
    - Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins offered the job to him
    - the conditions Truman set
530
32:05
- the microphone has ruined oratory

 

Tape 8, Side A
1 hour, 33 minutes, 30 seconds
3 3/4 inches per second

[duplicates the portion of Tape 1, Side A beginning "counterfeits never last long" and continuing to the end of the side]
[interruption, crew voices]
95
8:44
[duplicates Tape 1, Side B]
[interruption, noise]
395
33:57
- General Marshall
    - in World War I
    - he rejected Truman for service in World War II
419
35:35
    - Truman knew him slightly in World War I
      - he met him at an artillery school in France
    - Truman's work with him during the course of his work for the Truman Committee
    - the anecdote about his rejection of Truman for service in World War II
467
39:10
    - his appointment to head a mission to China
    - his appointment as Secretary of Defense
506
42:06
    - his relationship with Margaret Truman
      - his reaction to Truman's letter to music critic Paul Hume
534
44:05
- Chiang Kai-shek
    - Truman never met him
540
44:34
    - General Joseph Stilwell's opinion of him
    - his family's thievery of US assistance money
563
46:10
- General Marshall
    - Truman quickly recognized his special quality
[interruption]
585
47:35
- April 12, 1945, and the following morning
    - Truman's meeting with Sam Rayburn's "board of education"
    - Steven Early's telephone call
    - Truman's meeting with Mrs. Roosevelt
    - the swearing-in
633
50:57
    - Truman's first decision as President -- that the United Nations conference would occur as planned
640
51:25
    - his evening at home
    - Tony Vaccaro anecdote
    - his discussion with his family and neighbors about Roosevelt's death
689
54:42
    - the last report Truman had about Roosevelt's health, and Truman's last conversation with him
713
56:16
- Truman's relationship with Franklin D. Roosevelt while he was Vice President
    - Roosevelt told Truman about the atomic bomb, in a general way, and about the Yalta agreements
    - Roosevelt "did the best he could" to keep Truman informed
824
1:03:12
- the United States' relationship with the Soviet Union
    - distrust grew after the Potsdam conference
    - Truman's meeting with Molotov
    - Harriman's reports about the Soviet Union
860
1:05:20
- Harry Hopkins' work for Truman
    - his work with the Russians
911
1:08:30
    - his suggestion that new White House staff be hired
930
1:09:30
- the Bible that was used for Truman's swearing-in
- Truman's first cabinet meeting
1000
1:13:15
- April 13, 1945 -- arranging Roosevelt's funeral
- Roosevelt's funeral
    - the parade from the White House to the train
    - the people's grief
1081
1:17:23
- the Truman family's move into the White House
- Bennett Clark's visit
1140
1:20:15
- Truman's discussion with Henry Stimson
- announcement of the end of the war in Europe
1183
1:22:14
- discussion of interview methodology
    - Truman's desire to do the project well, and to help the people who are helping him
      - a Roger Maris anecdote
[jokes and laughter]
[interruption; voices]
1322
1:28:14
- 1940 campaign
    - Lloyd Stark
    - a narrow victory
    - very slender finances
1416
1:31:52
- the mortgage on Truman's mother's farm foreclosed
1429
1:32:10
- Roosevelt offered Truman a position with the Interstate Commerce Commission

 

Tape 8, Side B
35 minutes, 51 seconds
3 3/4 inches per second

- 1940 campaign [continued from Tape 8, Side A]
    - Roosevelt offered Truman a position with the Interstate Commerce Commission

9
:34
    - meeting at Sedalia with Truman's mother present
- Truman's mother did not say much to Truman about his political career
- the Korean War
    - the need, for the television program, to make the Korean War intelligible to someone who does not know anything about it
    - Truman will tell the facts, but he will not put on a show
76
5:00
    - background to the Korean War
      - the division of Korea following World War II
    - North Korean invasion of South Korea
113
7:29
        - meetings at Blair House
130
8:30
    - General MacArthur
      - the meeting at Wake Island
165
10:45
    - the Communist Chinese enter the war
      - Truman's dismissal of MacArthur
    - the reasons why the Korean War was fought
      - Korea's strategic location
265
16:30
    - background information from Truman's memoirs regarding the Korean War
299
18:37
    - Dean Acheson's speech before the National Press Club prior to the beginning of the Korean War
    - the North Korean invasion of June 25, 1950 was not anticipated by American intelligence
328
20:09
    - the Inchon landing
    - the Communist Chinese invasion
      - MacArthur had not anticipated it
350
21:77
    - the Yalu River
365
22:09
    - American readiness to fight the Korean War
381
23:25
    - the Constitutional provision for civilian control of the military
      - an instance from the War of 1812
      - an instance from the Mexican War
      - instances from the Civil War
485
28:04
    - Truman dismissed MacArthur because he disobeyed orders
    - Dwight D. Eisenhower
    - the President of the United States in Commander in Chief of the armed forces and must act the part
29:52
    - MacArthur's return to the United States
537
30:45
    - MacArthur's arguments against the Truman administration
557
31:40
    - the prisoner-of-war issue
573
32:25
    - the decision to enter the Korean war was the most important of Truman's presidency because it concerned the whole free world
586
32:57
- the decision to enter the Korean War was made by the United Nations
640
35:23
    - the term "police action"

 

Tape 9
1 hour, 4 minutes, and 43 seconds
3 3/4 inches per second

[duplicates Tape 2, Side A and Tape 2, Side B, with the exception that a very brief portion at the beginning of Tape 2, Side A is not present. This tape has some technical distortions.]

 

Tape 10
1 hour, 33 minutes, 40 seconds
3 3/4 inches per second

[duplicates Tape 4, Side A, which itself duplicates Tape 3. Three brief portions have been omitted, apparently inadvertently.]

 

Tape 10, Side B
34 minutes, 12 seconds
3 3/4 inches per second

[duplicates Tape 4, Side B, which itself duplicates part of Tape 1, Side A from the beginning to "counterfeits never last long."]

 

Tape 11
13 minutes, 50 seconds
7 1/2 inches per second

[duplicates a portion of Tape 8, Side A, beginning "General Marshal-in World War I," and ending "Truman quickly recognized his special quality."]

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