Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Presidential transitions; Presidential advisors; White House staff; Cabinet officers

Longhand Note of President Harry S. Truman, Not dated. President's Secretary's Files - Longhand Notes.

Memo for the President of the United States

Select Secretaries for the White House Staff very carefully.

The Appointment Secretary is very important. He is the direct personal contact with people who want to see and talk to the President. He talks to people by phone sometimes answering 100 to 175 calls a day. He sees many people and disposes of them. He must have judgment, tact and the complete confidence of the President.

The Press Secretary must understand press, radio and television problems. He must know how to talk to reporters, columnists and commentators. He must know the counterfeits and the honest men in these public relations fields. He briefs the President for press conferences. He also must have the confidence of the President.

The Correspondence Secretary takes care of Special Day and Special Week Proclamations, Wedding Anniversaries. He heads off eager beavers who know how to save the world. He sends messages to all sorts of meetings and organizations. He must be a genius at word handling, intellectually honest and the President must have confidence in him and trust him completely. These three Secretaries are vitally important.

Legal Councilor to the President

This man passes on and usually writes executive orders, a most important law making function. He has a staff of two executive assistants who gather the facts for Presidential speeches. This man must be the ablest in his line.

Presidential Assistant

He handles Labor Relations for the President. Must be a diplomat able to help the Secretary of Labors recommend board members to the President in labor disputes, make public appearances for the President and work on all sorts of problems. He must not be subject to Potomac fever. This is a most important position in the White House Staff.

Executive Assistants

Two of these young men are assigned to the Councilor and one to the Assistant to the President. They do all sorts of odd jobs.

Military Aides

Aide for the Army

Aide for the Navy

Aide for the Air Force

These men are the direct liaison of the President with the Chiefs of Staff and the Defense Command. All Defense communications come to the President by way of the Aides except certain special ones which come directly from the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff.

Chairman of the Munitions Board

He reports to the President at stated intervals on the stock piles of strategic materials. This is most important in the emergencies.

Chairman of the National Security Resource Board

The Board is a planning agency for defense both civil and military. It is an adjunct to the Presidential Office and has been effective and very useful. A chairman with resourcefulness and diplomacy is absolutely necessary.

The Director of the Central Intelligence Agency is a vital part of the Presidents official staff family. This agency assembles all the information of State, Defense, Treasury, commerce of the governments around the world. This information is presented to the President every day immediately after the White House Staff meeting. It enables him to understand the problems of the departments dealing with foreign countries as related to domestic affairs. It is one of the President's most important agencies.

The Cabinet

The Secretary of State carries out the Presidents Foreign Policy. He must be in complete accord with the President. Then the President delegates his authority to the Secretary and things run smoothly.

The Secretary of the Treasury carries out the Presidents monetary and fiscal policy. He should unstand finance, be able to line up the Federal Reserve system, the Export Import Bank, the International Bank & Fund and all the financial agencies. He keeps the President informed in all these areas and keeps him in complete control of financial structure of the nation-which now means the whole world.

The Secretary of Defense

The Defense Department is made up of Army, Navy and Air, which was in times past, War and Navy Departments. The Secretary must be a man familiar with all three arms of defense, an administrator and one who can keep the Congress in line. Men in Congress are forever trying to take the President's powers as Chief Executive, Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, and Foreign Policy Chief away from him place the Constitutional Powers of the President in some Committee of Congress. It takes vigilance on the part of the President to prevent that. He must have members of his Cabinet who will fight these battles.

The Attorney General is the principal law officer of the Government. He must be in accord the the President's program, but he should not be a "yes" man. He and the Solicitor General argue the cases of the United States in the Supreme Court.

They must be top lawyers both in the office and in the court room. They must possess judgment and be intellectually honest.

Postmaster General

In former times a political office; now a career one. Postmasters in former times were political appointment. They should be civil service merit appointments.

Secretary of the Interior

Has charge of public power, irrigation and conservation programs; is in control of the public domain containing mineral and oil deposits. He is the Petroleum Administrator in times of emergency. It takes a real man.

Secretary of Agriculture

He is the President's farm agent. He must understand agricultural problems from Maine to Florida, from Maryland to California, from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico and from Pittsburgh to Denver. Most important in the general economy and he must know the whole picture.

Secretary of Commerce

He should be a business man and he should understand economics. He should not be under the thumbs of the National Chamber of Commerce or the National Association of Manufacturers. He should be in sympathy with the Presidents program and absolutely loyal to him.

Secretary of Labor

He is the Presidents labor relations man. He and the Asst. to the President should be in complete accord. He should also be a public relations expert.

The Board of Economic Advisors should be men who understand the economics picture both foreign and domestic. They furnish the President weekly reports on economic conditions. They must be able to recognize trends and to advise the President what the trends mean and how to meet them.

Congressional Liaison

All Cabinet Officers, the Asst. to the President and certain staff assistants should have cordial relations with the Congress. Senators and Congressmen must be seen and talked to by these men and by the President also. Once a week the President sees the "Big Four"-the Vice President, the Speaker of the House, the Majority Leader of the Senate and the Majority Leader of the House. These meetings take place when the Congress is in session.

The Vice President attends or should attend Cabinet and Security Council meetings so as to be thoroughly informed if he should have to take over.

The Mutual Security Agency is headed by an Assistant to the President is Ambassador at Large to all the North Atlantic Treaty Countries. It is his business to allocated the funds appropriated for the mutual defense of Western Europe and the Mediterranean Area. He also controls funds for China and the Far East. He sits with the Cabinet as does the other Presidential Assistant.

Executive Assistant

This Assistant is on a special assignment to the minority groups. He talks to the Association for the Advancement of Colored People. He looks after the Porto Rican groups in New York. Hears complaints from Jews, Italians, Japanese Americans, Mexican Americans and other minority groups. He is of vital & important assistance in keeping these groups reasonably satisfied. They can never be satisfied, but they must be listened to!


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