Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Fillmore, Millard, 1800-1874; Tyler, John, 1790-1862; Truman, Bess Wallace, 1885-1982; Wallace, Madge Gates, 1862-1952; Truman, J. Vivian (John Vivian), 1886-1965; Truman, Martha Ellen, 1852-1947; Graham, Wallace Harry, 1910-1996; Washington, George, 1732
Presidential family; Presidential residences; First ladies; Presidents

Longhand Note of President Harry S. Truman, November 24, 1952. President's Secretary's Files - Longhand Notes.

November 24, 1952, 5:00 A.M.

The White House is quiet as a church. I can hear the planes at the air port warming up. As always there is a traffic roar-sounds like wind and rain through the magnolias.

Bess's mother is dying across the hallway. She was 90 years old August 4th. Vivian's mother-in-law passed on Saturday at eleven thirty. She also was ninety just a month after or before Mrs. Wallace. When you are sixty-eight death watches come often.

In 1947 my mother lay for weeks on a rocking bed suffering no end. When she finally passed on I was over Cincinnati and instinctively knew she'd gone. I'd been dozing and dreamed she'd said "Goodbye, Harry. Be a good boy." When Dr. Graham came in to my room on the Sacred Cow I knew what he would say.

I'd stayed by her for days and then had to come back to the Capital. Public business has to be cared for when a man is President of the United States.

Since last September Mother Wallace has been dying-even before that, but we've kept doctors and nurses with her day and night and have kept her alive. We had hoped-and still hope-she'll survive until Christmas. Our last as President.

This old House is a most remarkable one. Started in 1792 by George Washington's laying of the corner stone. Burned in 1814, by the British. Occupied by John and Abigail Adams. Abigail left some most interesting stories about its bleak cold interior, the unfinished East Room. Using the East Room as a laundry dryer, complaining of lack of servants' bell pulls and other things.

Jefferson receiving diplomats in house slippers and a dressing gown. Dolly Madison loading pictures and books and documents into a wagon and escaping just two jumps ahead of the British when they applied the torch.

Then Monroe refinishing the rehabilitated old place with his own and some imported French furniture. And catching hell because he sent to Paris to buy things he could not obtain in the primitive U.S.A.!

Old John Quincy Adams who went swimming in the Chesapeake & Potomac Canal every morning. A certain eager lady sat on his clothes on the bank one morning and interviewed him? Rather embarrassing I'd think-especially to old John Quincy.

Then old Andy Jackson and his rough, tough backwoodsmen walking on the furniture with muddy boots and eating a 300 pound cheese, grinding it into the lovely Monroe and Adams carpets!

I've an idea that Martin Van Buren restored some of the Monroe and J.Q. Adams elegance. Then came William Henry Harrison and Tyler. Harrison lived only thirty days after his being sworn in. Another sad day in the old House. Then Tyler and his lovely second wife. She was Miss Gardiner. There is a lovely picture of her in the White House. Old Tyler had a lot of nerve. He established the precedent that the Vice President becomes the President in fact when he succeeds to the office. Tyler had his troubles with Congress, his cabinet and the country, but he succeeded in annexing Texas. Now whether that accomplishment was an asset or not I'm unable to say.

Texas walked out of the Union against the advice of Sam Houston in 1861. The State has become oil rich and supports some of the worst newspapers in the country. But it has a great many good patriotic people as citizens who do not own oil wells, cattle ranches or newspapers. Thank Almighty God they are in the vast majority.

Polk came along next. He was the first "dark horse" candidate nominated and elected. He announced that he only wanted one term and he kept that promise. Died a short time after he retired. Not much White House lore about him.

Then came Zach Taylor, a professional military man. The old man was not familiar with politics or government. He was not a good administrator. Died from eating cherries and watermelon at a 4th of July celebration on the monument grounds. Another White House tragedy.

Millard Fillmore took over. First President from Buffalo. Cleveland was the other one.

Then came the campaign of 1852. The 1952 campaign was a repeat, without the same result.


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