May 8th Ought to Be a National Holiday

Harry Truman was born on May 8th, 130 years ago today (1884).

The Truman Library has the Truman diary online. The diary, which was just discovered in 2003, was kept intermittently by the President during 1947. It is fascinating reading.

The entry for January 3:

Byrnes & I discussed General Marshall’s last letter and decided to ask him to come home. Byrnes is going to quit on the tenth and I shall make Marshall Sec[retary] of State. Some of the crackpots will in all probability yell their heads off-but let ‘em yell! Marshall is the ablest man in the whole gallery.

Mrs. Roosevelt came in at 3 P.M. to assure me that Jimmy & Elliott had nothing against me and intended no disparagement of me in their recent non-edited remarks. Said she was for me. Said she didn’t like Byrnes and was sure he was not reporting Elliott correctly. Said Byrnes was always for Byrnes and no one else. I wonder! He’s been loyal to me[.] In the Senate he gave me my first small appropriation, which started the Special Committee to investigate the National Defense Program on its way. He’d probably have done me a favor if he’d refused to give it.

Maybe there was something on both sides in this situation. It is a pity a great man has to have progeny! Look at Churchill’s. Remember Lincoln’s and Grant’s. Even in collateral branches Washington’s wasn’t so good-and Teddy Roosevelt’s are terrible.

The entry for January 8:

The Senate took Marshall lock, stock and barrell [sic]. Confirmed him by unanimous consent and did not even refer his nomination to a committee. A grand start for him.

I am very happy over that proceedure [sic]. Marshall is, I think[,] the greatest man of the World War II. He managed to get along with Roosevelt, the Congress, Churchill, the Navy and the Joint Chief of Staff and he made a grand record in China.

When I asked him to take the extrovert Pat Hurley[‘]s place as my special envoy to China, he merely said “Yes, Mr. President I’ll go.” No argument only patriotic action. And if any man was entitled to balk and ask for a rest, he was. We’ll have a real State Dep[artmen]t now.

The entry for July 6:

Drove an open car from Charlottesville to Washington-starting at 9:15 Washington time.

Had a V[irgini]a Highway Policeman in a car ahead making the pace at exactly the speed allowed by V[irgini]a law. He forced all the trucks to one side as I always wanted to do. Made the drive in 3 hours. Had Sec[retary] of Treas[ury] Snyder, Adm[iral] Leahy, and Doctor Brig[adier] Gen[eral] Graham as passengers. All said they enjoyed the ride and felt they needed no extra accident coverage!

David McCullough’s Truman is superb.