Harry & Bess, We Will Never See This Again
This one you want your Children and Grandchildren to read. They may not believe this happened, but it did. Harry Truman was a different kind of President. He probably made as many, or more important decisions regarding our nation’s history as any of the other 42 Presidents preceding him.
However, a measure of his greatness may rest on what he did after he left the White House.
The only asset he had when he died was the house he lived in, which was in Independence Missouri. His wife, Bess, had inherited the house from her mother and father and other than their years in the White House, they lived their entire lives there.
When he retired from office in 1952, his income was a U.S. Army pension reported to have been $13,507.72 a year. Congress, noting that he was paying for his stamps and personally licking them, granted him an “allowance” and later, a retroactive pension of $25,000 per year. In 1953 he sold his memoirs to Life magazine for $600 thousand dollars to be paid out over the course of 5 to 6 years lending him a more comfortable life with a steady income.
After the inauguration of President Eisenhower, Harry and Bess drove home to Missouri by themselves. There was no Secret Service following them, no administrative help or cushy pension.
When offered corporate positions at large salaries, he declined, stating “You don’t want me, You want the office of the President, and that doesn’t belong to me, It belongs to the American People, and it’s not for sale.”
Even later, on May 6, 1971, when Congress was preparing to award him the Medal of Honor on his 87th birthday, he declined to accept it, writing, “I don’t consider that I have done anything which should be the reason for any award, Congressional or otherwise. “
As President he paid for all of his own travel expenses and food.
Modern politicians have found a new level of success in cashing in on the Presidency, resulting in untold wealth. It certainly begs the question, how else would you explain president Obama ( presidential salary $400 thousand per year) owning an 11 million dollar waterfront mansion in Martha’s Vineyard and an 8 million dollar home in Washington, DC. Today, many in Congress also have found ways to become quite wealthy while enjoying the fruits of their offices. President Biden for example,( Vice President salary $235 thousand per year, Senator, $174 thousand per year) has a 2 million dollar home in Delaware and a 2.74 million dollar beach house in Rehoboth. Political offices are now for sale.
Harry Truman was correct when he observed, “My choices in life were either to be a pano player in a whorehouse or a politician. And to tell the truth, there’s hardly any difference. “
Slice it any way you like, President Trump was probably a lot closer to Harry regarding monetary gain than many of the others past and present in DC.
*** Special thanks to GC & FR for this submission***