Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Truman, Bess Wallace, 1885-1982; Jackson, Andrew, 1767-1845
Presidential protection; Presidential schedules; Presidential advisors; White House staff

Longhand Note of President Harry S. Truman, February 20, 1952. President's Secretary's Files - Longhand Notes.

February 20, 1952

Today has been one to read about. I was up at 5:40 A.M. Shaved and dressed by 6:05. Listened to a news broadcast at 5:55 and at 6:10 was reading documents by the wholesale-so many of them and so much "fine print" I missed my 7 o'clock walk.

The "Boss" and I had breakfast at 8:30 and about 8:50 I went to the White House office. Since the assault on the police and the secret service, I ride across the street in a car the roof of which will turn a grenade, the windows and sides turn a bullet and the floor will stop a land mine! Behind me in an open car ride six or seven men with automatics and machineguns. The uniformed police stop traffic in every direction-and I cross the street in state and wonder why anyone would want to live like that. When I take my morning walk at 7 A.M. a guard walks beside me and he's always a fine man and a congenial conversationalist. Behind me are three more good men, athletes and good shots, across the street is another good man and a half block behind me is a car with maybe five or six well equipped guards. It is a hell of a way to live. But after the assault on the Blair House I learned that the men who want to keep me alive are the ones who get hurt and not the President. I'd always thought that I might be able to take care of an assassin as old Andy Jackson did but I found that the guards get hurt and not the President. So now I conform to the rules without protest.

Well, we get across the street and I begin to dictate answers to my personal mail, to my dictation secretary. When that is done I sit for an artist who is making a model for a medallion. But I read documents all the time too.

Then I send for the Chief Clerk of the White House and sign whatever documents have accumulated. Sign on an average 600 a day, 365 days in the year. It is 10 o'clock by now and I call in the staff. The press secretary tells me what he expects to be asked at his 10:30 press reception, gives me articles and editorials to read.

The Assistant to the President then gives me the results of Senatorial and Congressional interviews and requests; tells me what the boards and bureaus are doing and makes recommendations for decisions.

The Appointment Secretary submits requests for appointments and recommendations as to which ones should come to see me. He hands me invitations to make speeches and public appearances and the whole staff takes part in the discussion.

The Legal Counsel to the President discusses interviews with the Atty. Gen. Counsels of the Depts. suggest the signing or rejection of executive orders, discuss the legal aspects of legislation etc.

The executive assistants report one at a time on special matters, appointments to office, disgruntled minority groups, labor problems and whatever else needs the attention of the President.

The able correspondence Secretary makes suggestions on messages to be sent to various meetings over the country, birthdays and special days to be remembered and remarked. Heads off eager beavers who want to use the White House for personal promotion. He is indispensable to the President.

Then the Army Aide is consulted. He reports on selective service medals and citations, complaints of mammas, court martials etc. The Naval and Air Aides follow the same procedure. Sometimes the aides have special duties assigned to them and then they make reports and recommendations.

The Chief Clerk presents more documents and papers to be signed.

Soon as the staff is dismissed the Intelligence service reports what goes on all round the world. It is all "Top Secret" and most interesting. It helps the President to make decisions on foreign and domestic policy.

Then comes the appointment list, Senators, Congressmen, visiting preachers, prize winners, Cabinet members and anyone else who can get by the Appointment Secretary. There is from one to forty every fifteen minutes until 1 P.M. Then lunch, a thirty minute nap, and at 3 P.M. more appointments, maybe a press conference, sometimes a swim in the White House pool-but not often-then the armored car and across the street to spend the evening on papers getting ready for another day.

It really is a great life-if you like it.


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