Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Contact: Stacy McCullough
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Scott Roley
Truman Presidential Museum & Library


Papers Shed Light On Eisenhower's Views Regarding
His Heart Attack And Possible Successors As President

Independence, MO - February 1, 2002 - The Truman Presidential Museum & Library has opened additional papers of Milton Katz, a Harvard Law School professor who served as a U.S. Special Representative, with the rank of Ambassador, in Europe for the Economic Cooperation Administration from 1950 to 1951.

The recently opened papers include correspondence and reports relating to Katz's work with the Economic Cooperation Administration and his earlier service in other government posts during the 1930s and 1940s. The papers also document Katz's participation in Dwight D. Eisenhower's 1952 presidential campaign and his subsequent meetings and correspondence with President Eisenhower.

Of particular interest are two memoranda by Katz describing his meetings with President Eisenhower on April 27, 1956 and on January 21, 1960. During their 1956 meeting, Eisenhower spoke about his recent heart attack and the danger of a recurrence: "From a purely personal point of view, he was not in the least disturbed. On the contrary, he rather inclined to the view that an abrupt death while in harness was by all odds the most satisfactory way to go." But the President admitted that the question of succession was his "constant anxiety." He spent much of the meeting discussing Vice President Richard M. Nixon and his qualifications for the Presidency. In response to a question from Katz, the President acknowledged "he was not -more-entirely sure just what made Nixon tick." He went on to say that if Nixon had voluntarily withdrawn as a candidate for reelection, Governor Christian Herter of Massachusetts would have been his first choice for a running mate in 1956.

During Katz's 1960 meeting, Eisenhower discussed the leading candidates to succeed him in that year's election. He thought Nixon was "a decent man" who could be counted upon to continue the major foreign and domestic policies of the Eisenhower administration. However, the President stated that it was impossible to tell how Nixon would respond to "real responsibility." Eisenhower believed Nelson Rockefeller lacked Nixon's experience, but could make a good President in the future.

Of the Democrats who might be elected President in 1960, Eisenhower said that he would "feel least unhappy about [Adlai] Stevenson," who "might make a pretty good President," although he was overly addicted to "phrase-making." Eisenhower dismissed John F. Kennedy as "a man of no real stature or weight." He regarded Lyndon Johnson as "an able man in a number of ways, but almost never direct and forthright, typically devious." At the mention of Hubert Humphrey's name, the President "shrugged and threw up his hands in a gesture of mock horror," adding "that he felt the South would never accept him." Eisenhower also expressed little enthusiasm for the candidacy of Senator Stuart Symington.

More information about the addition to the Milton Katz papers can be found on the Truman Presidential Museum & Library's website, at /hstpaper/katzimages.htm.

The Truman Presidential Museum & Library is located at U.S. Highway 24 and Delaware Street in Independence, Missouri. The Museum is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. The Museum is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. Admission is $5 for adults, $4.50 for seniors and $3 for children 6-18 years old. For more information, call the 1-800-833-1225 or the web site at www.trumanlibrary.org.

The Harry S. Truman Library is one of ten Presidential Libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration.

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