as I empty the drawers of this desk, and as Mrs. Truman
and I leave the White House, we have no regret. We feel
we have done our best in the public service. I hope and
believe we have contributed to the welfare of this Nation
and to the peace of the world."
Harry S. Truman
From the Farewell Address to the American People
January 15, 1953
When Harry Truman's Presidency ended in January 1953, he
was proud to go home to Independence and take his place
as an "ordinary citizen." However, he found that
a former President can never be ordinary. Truman drew attention
wherever he went. He was pleased to be recognized and happily
stopped to converse with people or give his autograph to
admirers during his daily walks in Independence and in the
course of his daily activities.
After finishing his Memoirs in 1956, Truman campaigned for
Democratic Presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson and other
Democratic candidates around the country. Following the
election of John F. Kennedy in 1960, the Trumans were invited
to attend the Inauguration and to visit the White House
for the first time in eight years. In 1965, although not
feeling well after a fall at home, Truman came to the Library
to see President Lyndon Johnson sign the Medicare bill into
law. Truman had first proposed federal health insurance
twenty years earlier.
Margaret's engagement to E. Clifton Daniel, Jr., assistant
foreign news editor at The New York Times, was announced
in March 1956. In a letter to good friend Dean Acheson,
Truman expressed approval. "He strikes me as a very
nice fellow and if Margaret wants him I'll be satisfied."
But he couldn't help but worry a bit over his Margie, confiding
in Acheson, "As every old man who had a daughter feels,
I'm worried and hope things will work out all right."
Margaret and Clifton were married in the same church in
which Harry and Bess were married in 1919. Clifton Truman
Daniel, Truman's first grandson, was born in 1957. Margaret
gave birth to three more sons: William, Harrison, and Thomas.
At Home With The People
Back in Independence, the former President continued his
daily walks. Reporters, photographers, and even Secret Service
men sometimes had difficulty keeping up. However, Truman's
quick pace didn't deter the public. People often approached
the fast-paced former President to ask his opinion or request
"As part of my daily routine, I usually take a walk
of a mile
and a half, at a pace of 120 steps a minute . . . If you
120 paces a minute, your whole body gets a vigorous
workout. You swing your arms and take deep breaths as
you walk . . . After you are fifty years old, this is the
exercise you can get . . .. [S]ome aging exhibitionists
prove that they can play tennis or handball or anything
. . . And every once in a while one of them falls dead of
heart attack. I say that's not for me."
Harry And Bess Abroad
Following Margaret and Clifton's wedding in 1956, the Trumans
took a two-month European vacation. They went to Paris,
where Truman revisited places he had seen while on leave
during World War I. In Rome they had an audience with the
Pope. They also visited Pompeii, Venice, Florence, Salzburg,
Brussels, and Amsterdam - seeing all the historical places
Truman had read about since childhood. Their trip concluded
in England, where Truman received an honorary doctorate
from Oxford University. They also spent a day with the Churchills
at their Chartwell estate and had lunch with the Queen at
Buckingham Palace. This was the first time Bess visited
After leaving the White House, one of Truman's goals was
to establish his Library. Truman felt strongly that this
Library should be a center for the study of the Presidency,
and he helped raise more than one million dollars for the
project. The Harry S. Truman Library was dedicated on July
6, 1957. Truman could be found at his Library office nearly
every day, including weekends. He frequently arrived before
the staff and would often answer the phone to give directions
and answer questions, telling surprised callers that he
was the "man himself."
Truman's celebrity gave him the opportunity to meet famous
people and popular artists. In 1959 comedian Jack Benny
brought his TV show to the Library, giving millions of Americans
a televised tour. During the show Truman exchanged oneliners
with the comedian. In one segment they teamed up for a duet
with Truman on piano and Benny playing his trademark violin.
President Truman died at Kansas City's Research Hospital
on December 26, 1972, at the age of 88. The next day thousands
of citizens filed past his flag-draped coffin in the Library's
lobby. Following the funeral on December 28, his body was
interred in the Library's courtyard. Truman did not want
to lie in state in the nation's capital, but he approved
the plans for his funeral. After attending several of the
planning sessions, he jokingly expressed regret that he
would have to miss such a "fine show." The funeral,
simplified from the original plan, was more in keeping with
what his family wanted.
Harry Truman donated his Presidential papers and memorabilia
to the American people to be preserved at the Truman Library.
He envisioned this Library as a place where people of all
ages could study the American Presidency and government.
The Library's collections continue to grow, with new acquisitions
regularly added to the holdings. Researchers, curators,
educators and others use materials including original documents,
artifacts, films, and audio recordings to educate the public
about the life and times of Harry Truman and the issues
that shaped his Presidency.