Did You Know?
The famous saying "The buck stops here" was not coined by Truman himself. However, he had a sign with the quotation on his desk and referred to it often enough so that it became his unofficial motto. The sign was a gift from a friend, a U.S. Marshal in Missouri, who saw a similar sign at the Federal Reformatory at El Reno, Oklahoma, and had one made for the president. "The buck stops here" is derived from the expression "to pass the buck," meaning to pass responsibility on to someone else. According to the Truman Library, the phrase may have developed among poker players, who could pass a marker made from buckhorn -- which became known as a "buck" -- to the next player if they did not wish to deal during a game.
First Daughter of Mystery
Truman's daughter Margaret has not only written biographies of both of her parents, but she has also become a leading writer of mysteries. Her whodunits all take place in Washington, D.C., including such locations as the Smithsonian Institution, the Capitol Building, the Supreme Court, and, of course, the White House.
A Lincoln Bedroom Controversy
Because she was a Confederate sympathizer and apparently still had deep feelings about the outcome of the Civil War, Truman's mother would not sleep in Lincoln's bed during a visit to the White House.
The Long and Winding Road
One of the alternative parties that split off from the Democrats in 1948 was the Dixiecrat party. Their presidential candidate was Strom Thurmond, who was then governor of South Carolina. He received over 1 million votes in the election. Thurmond, who remained a U.S. senator from South Carolina into his 90s, served as president pro-tem of the Senate.
Coincidentally, Harry Truman roomed with Dwight Eisenhower's older brother Arthur in a boardinghouse in Kansas City, but there is no evidence that the two future presidents met each other at the time.
Harry Truman wasn't the only future president to make his living in the clothing business. Andrew Johnson, the man who succeeded Lincoln after his assassination, was a tailor until he, too, found that politics was more to his liking.
President Truman was the first president to address the nation on television. In his inaugural speech on January 20, 1949, he asked Americans to conserve food in order to aid starving peoples of the world.
What's in an Initial?
Truman did not have a middle name, but he did have a middle initial. Truman explained that the S was a compromise tribute to his grandfathers, Anderson Shipp Truman and Solomon Young. For years there has been a controversy over whether or not the S should have a period after it -- the Harry S. Truman Library does use the period, as does the Government Printing Office, but many people don't, because the initial doesn't stand for a name.
To find more film resources and classroom activities, visit the Teacher's Guide for Truman.
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?