ALS, two pages, 7.25 x 10.5, personal letterhead, August 19, 1958. Letter to his former secretary of state, Dean Acheson. In part: “I’m glad you liked my speech to the Eagles in Chicago…I’ve made that speech twice before and the smart news men never seem to recognize it. William J. Bryan made the ‘Cross of Gold and Crown of Thorns’ speech three or four times before he had the chance to make it in Chicago in 1896. I’m of the opinion that the repetition of what’s right is just as important to the minds of men as perhaps the lies of Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin and Krusie are. Sometimes I’m not so sure about that. You are right about Ike’s speech. It is in the same case situation as was Sherman Adams. The plan to take Sherm off the front page was Lebanon. I wonder if Korea was in that class also? I’ve never thought so. It seems now that ‘my war’ in Korea may have been necessary! This President doesn’t know where he is going nor why. Allen Dulles…wanted me to read the President’s speech before he made it to the U. N. I refused to look at it. I had no right to pass on his innocuous remarks and then give him hell about them. I wonder just where we are going and what we’ll do after we arrive, if we ever get there. Guess I’m becoming a pessimist. Hope I’m not.” In fine condition, with staple holes to the upper left corner.
Although oratory did not come easy for Truman, he became an increasingly able speaker throughout his political career and by the time of his presidential campaign he was drawing massive crowds. Here he offers some insight into his rhetorical philosophy—the importance of repetition. He goes on to criticize his successor to the presidency, Dwight D. Eisenhower, who had recently dispatched American troops to Lebanon in what was the first application of the ‘Eisenhower Doctrine.’ Truman, well known for his candor, goes on to cynically speculate that the Lebanon crisis was merely a political ploy used to distract the public from an ongoing scandal involving Ike’s chief of staff, Sherman Adams. Adams came under scrutiny for accepting gifts of an expensive fur coat and oriental rug from a businessman being investigated by the FTC, and was forced to resign from his White House position in October. A fascinating letter filled with significant observations on affairs foreign and domestic.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.