Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Forrestal, James, 1892-1949; Johnson, Louis Arthur, 1891-1966; Pearson, Drew, 1897-1969; Alsop, Joseph, 1910-; Alsop, Stewart; Fleeson, Doris, 1901-1970
Cabinet officers; Journalists

Longhand Note of President Harry S. Truman, September 11, 1950. President's Secretary's Files - Longhand Notes.

Sept. 11, 1950

Today I had a most unpleasant duty to do. For some time I've known that Louis Johnson could not continue as Secretary of Defense. I've known him for thirty years personally-helped make him National Commander of the American Legion, appointed him Treasurer of the National Democratic Committee in 1948, in which position he did a bang up job. Then I appointed him Secretary of Defense when I saw Jim Forestal was going to crack up. Mr. Johnson did a good job with Forestal and the unification of the armed forces. Then he came forth with a complex. I don't understand what happened to him. He talked out of turn to the press, the Senate and the House-and kept it up. He talked to the lying, crazy columnists-Pearson, the Sop sisters (Alsops), Doris Fleeson, and others. He succeeded in making himself an issue both publicly and in Congress.

He is inordinately ambitious and an egotist. When I told him that for the good of the country he'd have to quit, he said "You are ruining me." That answers the question of what comes first-my sentimental attachment to Johnson or the country.

I had to tell him he'd have to quit. I felt as if I'd whipped my daughter which I've never done. Johnson's done. Too bad. He had a grand opportunity.


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