Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

FAQ: Is the letter on display that Truman wrote in defense of his daughter's singing?

In response to Washington Post Music Critic Paul Hume's December 6, 1950, review of Margaret Truman's singing performance at Constitution Hall, stating,

"Miss Truman is a unique American phenomenon with a pleasant voice of little size and fair quality … (she) cannot sing very well … is flat a good deal of the time—more last night than at any time we have heard her in past years … has not improved in the years we have heard her … (and) still cannot sing with anything approaching professional finish."

President Truman responded with the following letter to Hume:

THE WHITE HOUSE

WASHINGTON

Dec. 6, 1950

Mr. Hume:

I've just read your lousy review of Margaret's concert. I've come to the conclusion that you are an "eight ulcer man on four ulcer pay."

It seems to me that you are a frustrated old man who wishes he could have been successful. When you write such poppy-cock as was in the back section of the paper you work for it shows conclusively that you're off the beam and at least four of your ulcers are at work.

Some day I hope to meet you. When that happens you'll need a new nose, a lot of beefsteak for black eyes, and perhaps a supporter below!

Pegler, a gutter snipe, is a gentleman alongside you. I hope you'll accept that statement as a worse insult than a reflection on your ancestry.

H.S.T.

Since the letter was sent by President Truman to Mr. Hume, the original letter was in Mr. Hume’s possession, not President Truman’s, and consequently did not come to the Library as part of the President’s papers. Hume sold the letter in 1951, for $3,500. The original letter continued to reside in private hands as part of the Malcom Forbes Estate, where it hung in the family’s New York corporate art galleries. The Estate purchased the letter in 1983, from an unnamed individual for an unnamed, but "substantial" sum. A copy of the letter also hung in the office of President Bill Clinton. In 2002, the letter was puchased by the Harlan Crow Library, a private library at the Highland Park, Texas, estate of Harlan Crow, a real estate businessman.