Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Acheson, Dean, 1893-1971; Snyder, John W. (John Wesley), 1895-1985; Lodge, Henry Cabot, 1902-1985; Eisenhower, Dwight D. (Dwight David), 1890-1969; Lovett, Robert A. (Robert Abercrombie), 1895-1986; Dodge, Joseph M. (Joseph Morrell), 1890-1964; Steelman,
White House staff; Presidential advisors; Presidential transitions

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

November 20, 1952

The President Elect came to see me day before yesterday, Nov. 18'52. When he came into the President's office he had a chip on his shoulder. Only one photographer was allowed to take pictures in the office. He made three exposures. Two were good, one looked grim. The grim one was used by the N.Y. Times and one or two other Ike papers. The two good ones were used by some of the metropolitan dailies.

The press is still in a bad fix. Only attacks on the administration sell papers. When Ike has to take unjustified attacks by his fair weather friends I wonder what effect it will have.

I told him when he came into the Presidential office that all I had in mind is an orderly turnover to him. I gave him the world globe that he gave to me at Frankfort on my way to the conference at Potsdam. I offered to leave the pictures of Hidalgo, the Mexican Liberator, given to me for the Presidential office, San Martin, given to me by the Argentine Government and Bolivar, given to me by the Venezuelan Government, in the President's office. I was informed, very curtly, that I'd do well to take them with me-that the governments of these countries would, no doubt, give the new President the same pictures! Then I gave him the world globe that he used in World War II which he had given me at Frankfurt when I went to Potsdam. He accepted that-not very graciously.

I told him that I wanted to turn the administrative branch of the government over to him as a going concern and that I had instructed my White House Staff and all Cabinet Officers to cooperate in this undertaking.

Ike asked me if I had a chief of staff in the White House. I told him that there is an assistant to the President, Dr. John Steelman, who coordinates the differences between Cabinet Officers and between the President's Secretaries, but that any member of the Cabinet and any secretary or administrative assistant is at liberty to see the President at any time on any subject.

I advised him that his appointment secretary would be his personal contact with the public. I told him that this man must be a real diplomat, able to say "No" nine tenths of the time and make no one angry. I told him that his press secretary must be able to keep press and radio-television in line. He must be familiar with reporters' problems and be able to stand between the President and the press & radio. I advised him to obtain a correspondence secretary who could suggest answers to 75% of the mail, keep track of birthdays, special days, proclamations and be able to write letters he could sign after reading the first paragraph.

I told him he must has assistants who could talk to State, Treasury, Commerce and Labor, that he must have one to act as personnel officer to head off job hunters and to investigate and make recommendations for all positions filled by Presidential appointment. I informed him that he should have a "minority group" assistant to hear complaints and assuage the hurt feelings of Negroes, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Indians and any other groups, including Poles, Lithuanians, Irish and what have you. I think all this went into one ear and out the other.

Then I took him back to the Cabinet Room and had the Sec. of State, the Sec. of the Treasury, the Sec. of Defense and Averill Harriman brief him and answer questions. Gen. Eisenhower was overwhelmed when he found what he faced.

He had Sen. Lodge and Mr. Dodge with him. Dodge is an able, honest man.

I also told him in my office that he must have a counselor who knows legislative procedure and who could write bills and analyze laws which came up to him to sign.


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