I have recently been reading the book Truman by David McCullough. It is a biography about the life President Harry S. Truman. He initially was known as the man who followed Franklin Roosevelt as President but created his own legacy through decisions regarding the atomic bomb, the rebuilding of the nation after World War II, and the fight against communism throughout the world. I was fascinated by the story of Truman, the man.
I wanted to share with you some of the quotes from the book about President Truman that describe some of his greatest attributes as a leader. I encourage you to pick up a copy of the book. It’s a long book but well worth it. The part of the book on his presidency is a wonderful reading.
“The responsibility of a great state is to serve and not to dominate the world.”
McCullough, David. Truman (p. 360). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.
The President they worked for, the Harry Truman they saw day to day, bore almost no resemblance to the stereotype Harry Truman, the cocky, profane, “feisty little guy.” Rather it was a quiet-spoken, even-tempered and uncommonly kind-hearted person, whose respect for the office he held enlarged their appreciation not only of him but of their own responsibilities. “He was, as I’m sure you know, an extremely thoughtful, courteous, considerate man,” George Elsey would tell an interviewer years later. “He was a pleasure to work for . . . very kindly . . . never too busy to think about members of his staff. . . . He had a tremendous veneration and respect for the institution of the Presidency. He demanded at all times respect for the President of the United States. . . .”
McCullough, David. Truman (p. 556). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.
President Truman was a prodigious reader, and each night he would carry home a portfolio, often six or eight inches thick. The next morning, he would have gone through all that material and taken such action as was needed. He had a desk folder labeled for each of his staff members, and at this staff meeting, he would pass out to them documents in their area of responsibility, or on which he wished their advice or recommendations, or on matters he wanted to be raised with the various departments and agencies. In this way, each staff member knew basically what the others were doing, knew to whom the President had given which responsibility — whether it was to respond to a certain request or to follow through on the preparation of an Executive Order or a speech, or things of that nature.
McCullough, David. Truman (p. 557). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.
“In many ways, President Truman really was as tough as a boot, but with his personal staff he was extremely gentle . . . and his staff returned his kindness with an extraordinary amount of loyalty.
McCullough, David. Truman (p. 559). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.
The loyalty of those around Truman was total and would never falter. In years to come not one member of the Truman White House would ever speak or write scathingly of him or belittle him in any fashion. There would be no vindictive “inside” books or articles written about this President by those who worked closest to him. They all thought the world of Harry Truman then and for the rest of their lives, and would welcome the chance to say so. For Charlie Ross, the senior member of the staff and the one who had known Truman the longest—longer than anyone in the administration—serving with him, for all the strain of the job and the drastic cut in income it had meant, was the privilege of a lifetime, as Ross would write privately to Truman later that year, on Christmas Day, 1947: Dear Mr. President: There is nothing in life, I think, more satisfying than friendship, and to have yours is a rare satisfaction indeed. Two and a half years ago you “put my feet to the fire,” as you said. I am happy that you did. They have been the most rewarding years of my life. Your faith in me, the generous manifestations of your friendship, the association with the fine people around you—your good “team”—all these have been an inspiration. But the greatest inspiration, Mr. President, has been the character of you-you as President, you as a human being. Perhaps I can say best what is in my heart by telling you that my admiration for you, and my deep affection, have grown steadily since the day you honored me with your trust.
McCullough, David. Truman (pp. 559-560). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.