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Item 8042 - Harry S. Truman Typed Speech With Autograph Note Signed Catalog 461 (Sep 2015)

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Typescript of a speech Senator Harry S. Truman delivered in Hannibal, Missouri, on October, 25, 1935, entitled “’Mark Twain and the Presidency,’” five pages, 5.25 x 8, signed and inscribed on the title page in black ink, “Dear Governor: This came from my mother's old scrap book—a clipping from either the Cincinnati Inquirer or the St. Louis Republican of May 1880. It is not included in his published works. Harry S. Truman.” The speech, in part: “If any congressional committee is disposed to prowl around my biography in the hope of discovering any dark and deadly deed that I have secreted, why–let it prowl…In the first place, I admit that I treed a reumatic [sic] grandfather of mine in the winter of 1850. He was old and inexpert in climbing trees, but with the heartless brutality that is a characteristic of me I ran him out the front door in his night shirt at the point of a shot-gun, and caused him to bowl up a maple tree, where he remained all night, while I emptied shot into his legs. I did this because he snored. I will do it again if I ever have another grandfather.

I candidly acknowledge that I ran away at the battle of Gettysburg. My friends have to smooth over this fact by asserting that I did so for the purpose of imitating Washington who went into the woods at Valley Forge for the purpose of saying his prayers. It was a miserable subterfuge…I wanted my country saved, but I preferred to have somebody else save it…My financial views are of the most decided character…I do not insist upon special supremacy of rag money or hard money. The great fundamental principal of my life is to take any kind I can get. The rumor that I buried a dead aunt under my grape vine was correct. The vine needed fertilizing; my aunt had to be buried, and I dedicated her to this high purpose. Does that unfit me for the presidency?” Stapled within its original presentation folder. A central vertical fold (passing through a portion of the last name of the signature) and the centerfold detached from bottom staple, otherwise fine condition.

As part of Hannibal’s ongoing celebrations for the Mark Twain Centennial, Truman—in his first year as senator of his native Missouri—delivered this decidedly witty and darkly humored speech at the dedication banquet for the Mark Twain Zephyr passenger train. First published in 1879 as ‘Mark Twain as a Presidential Candidate,’ Clemens’s short essay playfully mocks the American political process and its scrutiny of candidates through its wry usage of reductio ad absurdum, conjuring the deadpan style made famous in Jonathan Swift’s ‘A Modest Proposal.’ Playing the part of the unnaturally candid nominee, Truman demonstrates the ingenuous charm that would eventually earn him his own presidential moniker: the plain-speaking man of Missouri. Pre-certified PSA/DNA.

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