Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Truman by David McCullough

  • "After three years on the farm, he joined the Masons...Harry was elected to receive degrees at the Belton Lodge on January 30, 1909. By March, having  become 'letter perfect' in the ritual, he passed to Master Mason." - 78
  • "It is a race prejudice I guess. But I am strongly of the opinion that negroes ought to be in Africa, yellow men in Asia, and white men in Europe and America." - Harry S Truman, 86
  • "To succeed financially a man can't have any heart. To succeed politically he must be an egoist or a fool or a ward boss tool." - HST, 90
  • "At Angers[, France], to his total surprise, he learned he had been made a captain months earlier. No one had bothered to tell him. He only found out when he saw it reported in The New York Times." - 116
  • "Harry had been ordered to take up a position about a mile closer to the German lines and prepare to fire a gas barrage. So his first action would be to shell the enemy with poison gas." - 121
  • "He had been more at home in the older era. He never learned to like the telephone, or daylight saving time, an innovation adopted during the war. He tried to use a typewriter for a while, but gave it up." - 141
  • as presiding judge of Jackson County[, Missouri], "He would build the best roads in the state, if not the country, he vowed, and see they were built honestly." - 176
  • during his 1934 Senate campaign, "He talked of the capitalist domination of government in bygone Republican times, praised the determination of FDR to end the 'rule of the rich' and give the average American a chance." - 206
  • "he voted with the Democratic majority time after time, helping to pass some of the most far-reaching legislation in the history of Congress. He never once spoke for a measure, never took part in debate. He just voted" - 218
  • December 20, 1937: "Senator Truman delivered the second of his assaults on corporate greed and corruption...he attacked the power of Wall Street and the larger evil of money worship, sounding at times not unlike his boyhood hero, William Jennings Bryan." - 231-2
  • "It is a pity that Wall Street, with its ability to control all the wealth of the nation and to hire the best law brains in the country, has not produced some statesmen, some men who could see the dangers of bigness and of the concentration of the control of wealth. Instead of working to meet the situation, they are still using the best law brains to serve greed and self interest. People can stand only so much and one of these days there will be a settlement." - HST, 233
  • "There is no indispensable man in a democracy...When a republic comes to a point where a man is indispensable, then we have a Caesar." - HST, 244
  • "Truman was by now a member of both the Military Affairs Committee and the Military Subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee. In September [1941] he had voted for the first peacetime draft." - 254
  • "Its formal title was the Senate Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program, but from the start it was spoken of almost exclusively as the Truman Committee." - 259
  • "If we see that Germany is winning we ought to help Russia, and if Russia is winning we ought to help Germany, and that way let them kill as many as possible, although I don't want to see Hitler victorious under any circumstances." - HST, 262
  • "Again at Chicago [during the DNC in 1944], as so consistently through the Truman career, it had been the system of politics, the boss system, that counted in deciding his fate." - 321
  • "Stimson [Secretary of War] told Truman what the committee had stressed, and what all his senior military advisers were saying, that it was the 'shock value' of the weapon that would stop the war. Nothing short of that would work." - 395
  • "'I am anxious to bring home to you that the world is no longer county-size, no longer state-size, no longer nation-size...It is a world in which we must all get along.' On July 2, he went before the Senate to urge the ratification of the United Nations Charter: 'It comes from the reality of experience in a world where one generation has failed twice to keep the peace.'" - 402
  • At Potsdam, "He, Churchill, and their combined Chiefs of Staff decided that Vietnam, or Indochina, would, 'for operational purposes,' be divided, with China in charge north of the 16th parallel and British forces in the southern half, leaving little chance for the unification or independence of Vietnam and ample opportunity for the return of the French." - 452
  • "He asked for national compulsory health insurance to be funded by payroll deductions. Under the system, all citizens would receive medical and hospital service irrespective of their ability to pay." - 473-4
  • July 25, 1947: "Congress passed Truman's sweeping National Security Act, legislation he had sent to the Hill in February and that would mean mammoth change for the whole structure of power in Washington. Its primary purpose was to unify the armed services under a single Department of Defense and a single Secretary of Defense...It also established the Air Force as a separate military service, set up a new National Security Council, and gave formal authorization to the Central Intelligence Agency." - 566
  • "He had faced the pressures of the Palestine issue, the increasing threat of war over Berlin, watched his popularity disintegrate in the polls, seen himself portrayed in the press as inept and pathetic. His party was broke. And now the New Dealers were abandoning him, and noisily. No President in memory, not even Herbert Hoover in his darkest days, had been treated with such open contempt by his own party." - 633
  • "If you can't stand the heat, you better get out of the kitchen." - HST, 633
  • "Truman liked to move fast. Roosevelt, because of his infirmities, had preferred a smooth, easy pace of no more than 35 miles an hour when travelling in the [Ferdinand] Magellan[, the presidential train car]. Truman liked to go about 80." - 656
  • "Republicans in Washington have a habit of becoming curiously deaf to the voice of the people. They have a hard time hearing what the ordinary people of the country are saying. But they have no trouble at all hearing what Wall Street is saying." - HST, 661
  • introducing the Point Four Program, "The material resources which we can afford to use for assistance of other peoples are limited. But our imponderable resources in technical knowledge are constantly growing and are inexhaustible....Democracy alone can supply the vitalizing force to stir the peoples of the world into triumphant action, not only against their human oppressors but also against their ancient enemies -- hunger, misery, and despair." - HST, 731
  • "as Winston Churchill noted in a speech in London, the full allied force of twelve divisions in Western Europe faced a soviet threat of eighty divisions. The NATO allies were exceedingly concerned lest the United States become too involved in distant Korea." - 790
  • "If 'victory' in Korea meant risking a world war -- a war of atomic bombs -- Truman would settle for no victory in Korea. That was the line he had drawn. There was a substitute for victory: it was peace. And he would stand by his policy of limited war for that specific objective." - 856
  • 1969: "His books became his life more and more...What would her father's idea of heaven have been, Margaret would be asked years later. 'Oh,' she said, 'to have a good comfortable chair, a good reading lamp, and lots of books around that he wanted to read.'" - 986
  • "Born in the Gilded age, the age of steam and gingerbread Gothic, Truman had lived to see a time of lost certainties and rocket trips to the moon. The arc of his life spanned more change in the world that in any prior period in history." - 991

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