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  • Mr. Citizen

    "So, 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

    Back In Independence

    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.

    President Truman and President JohnsonThe Old Campaigner

    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.

    Grandpa Truman

    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 an autograph.

    "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 walk
    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 best
    exercise you can get . . .. [S]ome aging exhibitionists try to
    prove that they can play tennis or handball or anything else
    . . . And every once in a while one of them falls dead of a
    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 Europe.

    Truman's Library

    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."

    Visitors

    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.

    Farewell

    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.

    Collections

    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.