Truman stepped on the world stage with two of the century's greatest figures: Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin.
Narrator: He had been to Europe only once before - as a soldier on the western front. Now he was President of the United States, preparing to meet two of the legends of the twentieth century, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin -- "Mr. Great Britain" and "Mr. Russia," Truman called them.
David McCullough: Truman had to step onto the world stage with two of the most colossal figures of the century, two consummate performers, consummate actors who are very accustomed to commanding the stage. And who is he?
Narrator: "Dear Bess, The Prime Minister came to see me this morning."
David McCullough: Truman is suffering from a considerable amount of stage fright. He knows that Churchill had been 1st Lord of the Admiralty when Harry Truman was still plowing fields back in Missouri. He knows also the affection, the bond between Roosevelt and Churchill. And wonders if ever he can attain that kind of respect.
Narrator: Churchill liked Truman, but the man from Missouri was not impressed by the Prime Minister's flattery:
"Churchill gave me a lot of hooey," Truman wrote in his diary. "Well, I'm sure we can get along if he doesn't try to give me too much soft soap."
My American Experience
Who is your favorite 20th-century American president? Was it FDR? Reagan? Clinton? Or one of the other 14 men who helped usher the United Sates through the 1900s? Who do you think was the most influential?