Defense Waste Exposed
When Truman was sworn for his second term in 1941, the nation was preparing for war, and the letting of defense contracts was surrounded with rumors of favoritism and influence. Deeply concerned, Truman got into his automobile for a 30,000-mile tour of major defense plants and projects.
"The trip was an eye-opener, and I came back to Washington convinced that something needed to be done fast," he said. "I had seen at first hand that grounds existed for a good many of the rumors. . .concerning the letting of contracts and the concentration of defense industries in big cities."
The result was the Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program, soon shortened to the Truman Committee after the name of its chairman. It saved the country many millions of dollars by curbing waste and discouraging graft. And it made Truman a minor national figure, conspicuous for his firmness and his fairness.
Truman prepared his investigation by making a thorough study of similar committees in the past, especially of the records of the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War Between the States. Defining his approach, the Senator said:
"The thing to do is to dig up the stuff now and correct it. If we run the war program efficiently, there won't be an opportunity to undertake a lot of investigations after the war and cause a wave of revulsion that will start off the country on the downhill road to unpreparedness and put us in another war in 20 years."
The committee got under way slowly, with $15,000 appropriated for its tasks. Truman invested $9,000 of this in the salary of Hugh Fulton, the group's investigator and counsel. The committee quickly turned up disquieting evidence of waste in military-camp construction and equipment. And once its first reports--sober, factual and damning--were issued, more money for its operations was forthcoming.
The dollar-a-year man came under its scrutiny, and the committee was able to produce evidence that between June 1, 1940 and April 30, 1941, Army and Navy contracts totaling almost $3-billion had gone to 65 companies whose officials or former officials were serving in Washington and elsewhere as unpaid advisers to Federal agencies.
Truman also inquired into aluminum production, the automobile industry, the aviation program, copper, lead, zinc and steel; into labor, plant financing, defense housing, lobbying, ordnance plants, small business and Government contracts. Scarcely any aspect of procurement escaped his attention. The committee's hearings were orderly, remarkably free of partisanship, but they produced news and, more important, correction of the abuses that the Senators had brought to light.
Truman was as unsparing of industrialists as he was of union leaders. He criticized William S. Knudsen, director of the Office of Production management, for "bungling"; he was just as harsh with Sidney Hillman, the union leader, who was associate director of the office.
The Senator was himself a zestful investigator and a keen questioner. He said later that the committee's watchdog role "was responsible for savings not only in dollars and precious time but in actual lives" on the battlefield.
In the course of the committee's work, Truman was in touch with President Roosevelt, but there was no immediate serious thought of him as Vice-Presidential material. When early in 1944 some friends mentioned the possibility to him, Truman "brushed it aside."
"I was doing the job I wanted to do; it was the one I liked, and I had no desire to interrupt my career in the Senate," he said.
Indeed, Truman had so far removed himself from consideration that he had agreed in July, on the eve of the Democratic Convention in Chicago, to nominate James F. Byrnes for Vice President, after Byrnes told him that Roosevelt had given him the nod. Meantime Roosevelt had decided to drop Vice President Henry A. Wallace and also, it turned out, to pass over Byrnes.
The choice fell on Truman. He was not so closely identified with labor as Wallace, although he was acceptable, nor was he a Southern conservative, as was Byrnes. He was without fierce enemies, had an excellent reputation, was moderate on civil rights and was a Midwesterner. Truman, however, was almost the last to know of Roosevelt's decision.
"On Tuesday evening of convention week," he recalled, "National Chairman Bob Hannegan came to see me and told me unequivocally that President Roosevelt wanted me to run with him on the ticket. This astonished me greatly, but I was still not convinced. Even when Hannegan showed me a longhand note written on a scratch pad from the President's desk which said, 'Bob, it's Truman. F.D.R.,' I still could not be sure that this was Roosevelt's intent."
It took a long-distance call to Roosevelt, then on the West Coast, to convince Truman.
"Bob," Roosevelt said, "have you got that fellow lined up yet?"
"No," Hannegan replied. "He's the contrariest Missouri mule I've ever dealt with."
"Well, you tell him," Truman heard the President say, "if he wants to break up the Democratic party in the middle of a war, that's his responsibility."
"I was completely stunned," Truman remarked afterward. After walking around the hotel room, he said, "Well, if that is the situation, I'll have to say yes, but why the hell didn't he tell me in the first place?"
Following the nomination, Truman stumped the nation for Roosevelt and himself; for the President campaigned almost not at all. The Roosevelt-Truman slate won with ease over Gov. Thomas E. Dewey of New York and Senator John W. Bricker of Ohio, the Republican choices for President and Vice President. The popular vote was 25,602,555 to 22,006,278, and the Electoral College tally was 432 to 99.
On Jan. 20, 1945, a snowy Saturday, Harry S. Truman stood on the South Portico of the White House and was inaugurated. The man he was about to displace, Vice President Henry A. Wallace, administered the oath.
The Glorious Comeback of 1948
"A gone goose" was how Clare Boothe Luce described Harry S. Truman in 1948. With that Republican assessment of the President's chances for election on his own, many Democrats agreed--Frank Hague of Jersey City and Mayor William O'Dwyer of New York among them. Truman had his own views.
"There was no doubt of the course I had to take," he said. "I felt it my duty to get into the fight and help stem the tide of reaction, if I could, until the basic aims of the New Deal and the Fair Deal could be adopted, tried and proved."
The Republicans' exultancy and the Democrats' pessimism seemed well founded. Early in 1948 Truman, who had always opposed discrimination, submitted to Congress a series of moderate civil rights proposals that included anti-lynching and anti-segregation measures. Southern Democrats were disconcerted. They organized a States Rights party, with Senator J. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina as its Presidential candidate, to sunder the Democrats' traditional Solid South.
At the other end of the political spectrum, pacifist and leftist groups, alarmed over the Cold War with the Soviet Union, and dissident labor groups rallied around Henry A. Wallace and formed a Progressive party to challenge the Democrats in the big Northern and Western cities.
Popularity Hits Bottom
Added to those seemingly fatal Democratic rifts was a generalized voter discontent over inflation, high taxes, the presence of Truman's Missouri friends in the White House and in preferred administrative jobs.
Furthermore, some sophisticates thought ill of a President who relaxed at Key West, Fla., in brightly hued sports shirts, whose words lacked scholarly elegance and who was inclined to be snappish with his Republican Congress.
Truman himself conceded the dismal outlook for his fortunes. "Almost unanimously the polls taken before the 1948 Democratic Convention showed my popularity with the American people to have hit an all-time low," he said.
He was convinced nonetheless that this "resulted from the efforts made by the American press to misrepresent me and to make my program, policies and staff appear in the worst possible light." His complaint had some merit; most publishers were staunchly Republican, and frequently their news columns gave more space to Truman's opponents than to his defenders.
"I knew I had to do something," the President recalled, and that "something" was to "go directly to the people in all parts of the country with a personal message."
The consequence was a "nonpolitical" train trip in May to the West Coast and back. On it Truman delivered 76 speeches, many at whistle stops, and the bulk of them extemporaneously. They were plain, earnest talks that expounded his domestic and foreign program, and they created a favorable impression. Indeed, even those Democrats who were considering drafting Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, because of his aura as a war leader, now warmed up to Truman.
He was thereupon nominated with ease, and selected to run with him was Senator Alben W. Barkley of the border state of Kentucky.
Earlier, expectant Republicans had chosen Gov. Thomas E. Dewey of New York as their Presidential candidate and Gov. Earl Warren of California as his ticket mate. Their platform emphasized that "it is time for a change," and it pledged action to halt rising prices, meet the housing shortage, promote civil rights and aid education. The party exuded confidence; the campaign appeared to be little more than a formal prelude to inauguration.
Truman, however, took the offensive, starting with his acceptance speech before the Democratic Convention. It was a rousing talk given from notes, and it foreshadowed his campaign strategy and his style.
"I made a tough, fighting speech," he recalled. "I recited the benefits that had been won by the Democratic Administrations for the people."
He singled out farmers and workers, telling them that "if they don't do their duty by the Democratic party, they are the most ungrateful people in the world."
Then, to use his words, he "tore into the 80th Congress" and the Republican party, building to his climax--an announcement that he would recall the Congress into special summer session to enact the recently adopted Republican platform.
It was a masterly tactic, for the special session accomplished nothing. Its Republican leaders were awaiting what seemed to them an assured Dewey victory in November, and they had no desire to give Truman credit for legislation that might better go to Dewey. In the meantime Truman took himself to the country.
"I am going to fight hard; I am going to give them hell," he assured Barkley as he prepared to denounce again and again "that no-good, do-nothing 80th Congress."
The Long Campaign Trail
His campaign covered 31,700 miles, and it included 256 speeches--16 in one day once. More than 12 million people turned out to see him. "I simply told the people in my own language," he said later, "that they had better wake up to the fact that it was their fight."
He appealed to farmers not to jeopardize their prosperity. To labor he vowed a fight to repeal the Taft-Hartley Act. To Negroes he promised more civil rights. And to everyone he said he would carry on his domestic program "for the benefit of all the people."
The response, mild at first, grew in late September and October, and at the end, wherever he appeared, the crowds were large and friendly, and there were yells of "Give 'em hell, Harry," and the throngs applauded and cheered when he did just that. Owing to bipartisanship, however, foreign policy was not an active issue; the concentration was on domestic affairs.
Dewey, for his part, was speaking in polished and euphonious generalities, virtually ignoring his opponent. He pleaded for "unity" among the voters, much like a man who had already won an election. The polls and the commentators all predicted he would win, and he did not see how he could lose.
But Truman sensed something else. A homespun man without guile, he believed that he had touched the common man with simple, hortatory speeches, whose theme was, "Help me."
Dewey 'Election' Reversed
Election eve, Truman was in Missouri. He took a Turkish bath, ate a ham sandwich, drank a glass of milk and went to bed. He awoke twice during the night, both times to listen to Hans von Kaltenborn's clipped, slightly Teutonic-voiced radio analyses of the returns. These showed Truman ahead in the popular vote--but he couldn't possibly win, the commentator insisted. (For years afterward Truman delighted in imitating Kaltenborn's remarks that night, just as he enjoyed poking fun at The Chicago Tribune, which "elected" Dewey in its early-edition headline.)
At 6 A.M. on Nov. 3, when the California vote came in, Truman was elected in what many experts called a stunning upset. The tally gave him 24,105,695 votes to Dewey's 21,969,170; in the Electoral College the vote was Truman, 303; Dewey, 189, and Thurmond, 39. Wallace received no electoral votes, though his popular vote, a little more than a million, equaled Thurmond's.
"I was happy and pleased," the President said, not only for himself but also for the Democratic Congress that was elected with him.
The President opened his new term with characteristic audacity, by using his Inaugural Address on Jan. 20, 1949, to call for fulfillment of his domestic plans and to urge reinforcement of the Western alliance against Soviet power.
But the high spot of his foreign program was a proposal that the United States share its tremendous scientific and industrial experience with nations emerging from colonialism into freedom. He summed up the plan (quickly shortened to Point Four, because it was the fourth point in the foreign program) in these words:
I believe we should make available to peace-loving people the benefits of our store of technical knowledge, in order to help them realize their aspirations for a better life."
Help to Weaker Nations
Point Four captured the imagination of the peoples in the underdeveloped world, and more than 34 nations eventually signed up for technical assistance. By 1953 Truman was able to report that the program "had relieved famine measurably in many portions of the world, had reduced the incidence of diseases that keep many areas poverty-stricken, and had set many nations on the path of rising living standards by their own efforts and by the work of their own nationals."
Truman detailed his domestic proposals in a State of the Union message. These included controls on prices, credit, wages and rents to fight inflation; priorities and allocations of essential materials; new civil-rights laws; a 75-cent-an-hour basic wage; health insurance; expanded Social Security; low-cost housing and a tax increase.
"Every segment of our population and every individual has the right to expect from our Government a fair deal," he declared. The "fair deal" phrase was picked up and became the shorthand name for his program.
Meanwhile the President was confronted with a fearful and insecure Europe, uncertain anew of the extent of Soviet bellicosity after the Communist take-over of Czechoslovakia in 1948. The response Truman framed was military: the mutual security system of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The treaty embracing Western Europe and the United States was signed April 4, 1949, and ratified Aug. 14 by the Senate.
The pact, which placed this country's allies under its military umbrella, was a milestone in American foreign relations, for it dramatized United States determination to block any Soviet westward thrust by force of arms.
To head the NATO command, Truman had one man in mind--Dwight D. Eisenhower, whose organizational skills the President admired. With the general in charge, NATO quickly shaped common defense measures for Europe, and by early 1950 its nations were receiving the first of many hundreds of shipments of American arms. Military might was reinforcing the economic recovery fostered through the Marshall Plan and the Truman Doctrine.
Domestically business slumped in 1949, swelling the jobless rolls to 3.7 million and creating a Federal deficit of $3.7 billion. Despite vigorous prodding from the White House, Congress was not, on the whole, responsive to appeals for social legislation or economic pump-priming; nor did it repeal the Taft-Harley Act, as Truman had urged. Much of its mind, instead, was on the loyalty of Federal employes, a question raised acutely by the Soviet explosion of an atomic device in 1949 and by revelations in the Alger Hiss case.
A former high State Department officer, Hiss was convicted of perjury in 1949. Testimony at his trial alleged that he had been involved in giving classified information to Soviet agents. This, and similar charges involving other former and current Federal employes, aroused demands for a finer screening of Government workers and for restraint of Communist and leftist groups.
Although Truman objected pungently to what he termed "the witch-hunting tactics" of Congressional inquiries, and although he stoutly defended witness invocations of the Fifth Amendment, he did tighten loyalty-security procedures in an effort to bar Communists and subversives from Federal jobs.
Nonetheless he was never entirely convinced that these programs were in the American tradition, because, he argued, virtually any such program gave "Government officials vast powers to harass all of our citizens in the exercise of their right of free speech."
"There is no more fundamental axiom of American freedom," he declared at the time, "than the familiar statement: 'In a free country, we punish men for the crimes they commit but never for the opinions they have.'"
It was in that vein that the President vetoed the Internal Security Act of 1950--a law designed to curb and punish "subversive" political expression. It was a courageous move, but an ineffective one, for Congress overrode the veto within 24 hours.
Internal security problems preoccupied legislators and the public for the remainder of Truman's term, becoming acute when Senator Joseph R. McCarthy, Republican of Wisconsin, began to accuse the State Department of harboring Communists and to charge that the Administration was "soft" on party members and sympathizers.
Truman, of course, was not "soft" on Communists, but neither was he "soft" on McCarthy, whom he scorned as a demagogue. He was especially bitter about McCarthy's attacks on Marshall and the imputation that the general, who had headed a mission to China, was responsible for the Nationalist debacle there. Later the President condemned Eisenhower for his failure, in 1952, to disavow McCarthy publicly for having criticized Marshall.
Beset on the home front, Truman was soon fatefully involved again in the Far East. As one result of the peace settlement there, Japan was obliged to give up her 40-year suzerainty over Korea. The peninsula was divided for occupation purposes between the United States and the Soviet Union, with American forces supervising the area south of the 38th Parallel.
Shortly, however, a Communist regime was established in the Soviet zone, and it became North Korea. In the American zone a government headed by Syngman Rhee had been set up in 1948, after elections watched over by a United Nations commission. To this new republic the United States extended military and economic aid.
Nonetheless pockets of discontent persisted in South Korea, and these were exploited by Communists in the North. By 1950 it seemed to North Korea that the Republic of Korea could be readily obliterated and the peninsula united in a single Communist regime.
The War in Korea
Throughout the spring Central Intelligence Agency reports indicated to Truman that the North Koreans might attack, but these reports, the President noted later, were vague on timing. Besides, he said, "these same reports also told me repeatedly that there were any number of other spots in the world where the Russians 'possessed the capability' to attack." Moreover, at that time, America's first-line defense perimeter did not include Korea, as Secretary of State Dean Acheson had made clear.
So it was that on Saturday, June 24, 1950, the President was in Independence, Mo., on a family visit. "It was a little about 10 in the evening, and we were sitting in the library of our home on North Delaware Street, when the telephone rang," he recalled. "It was the Secretary of State calling from his home in Maryland. 'Mr. President,' said Dean Acheson, 'I have very serious news. The North Koreans have invaded South Korea.'"
Truman's reaction was swift: to request an immediate special meeting of the United Nations Security Council and to seek from it a declaration that the invasion was an act of aggression under the United Nations Charter.
The next day Truman flew back to Washington for a Blair House conference with his diplomatic and military advisers. As they were meeting, the Security Council (which the Soviet Union was boycotting at the moment) approved, 9 to 0, a resolution ordering the North Koreans to halt their invasion and to withdraw their forces. (Yugoslavia abstained on the roll-call.)
"As we continued our discussion," Truman wrote later, "I stated that I did not expect the North Koreans to pay any attention to the United Nations. This, I said, would mean that the United Nations would have to apply force if it wanted its order obeyed.
"Gen. [Omar] Bradley said we would have to draw the line somewhere. Russia, he thought, was not yet ready for war, but in Korea they were obviously testing us, and the line ought to be drawn now.
"I said most emphatically I thought the line would have to be drawn."
With North Korean forces rapidly penetrating southward, the President ordered Gen. Douglas MacArthur, in Tokyo, to use American air and naval forces to aid the South Koreans. Simultaneously, with United States backing, the Security Council called on all members of the United Nations to help South Korea.
Within the next few days, under nominal United Nations command, American ground troops entered the conflict. This decision to intervene, Truman said later, "was probably the most important of all" that he made in his years of office.
In succeeding weeks Truman was immersed in the conflict and its incessant demands for decisions that only he could make. From the start, he did not regard the United Nations effort as a war but rather as a "police action" to punish aggression; as an armed struggle with clearly limited objectives.
"Every decision I made in connection with the Korean conflict," he said, "had this one aim in mind: to prevent a third World War. . . . This meant that we should not do anything that would provide the excuse to the Soviets and plunge the free nations into full-scale, all-out war."
On the battleground itself, the North Koreans pushed the battered South Koreans and American forces into a pocket, and disaster seemed imminent until MacArthur, in a brilliant maneuver, landed troops at Inchon, behind the North Korean lines. Slowly the American forces regained the initiative. In October American troops were sweeping up the neck of the peninsula, deep into North Korea.
In Washington the President explained his objectives in Korea to Congressional leaders and to Dewey, as the titular head of the Republican party, and received their support. Then he set about to put the nation on a semiwar footing.
He asked Congress to remove limitations on the size of the armed forces, authorize priorities and allocation of materials to prevent hoarding, raise taxes, restrict consumer credit and add $10-billion for armaments. The proposals, most of which were adopted, gave rise to grumbling later on, in 1952, when the conflict became stalemated.
Early in the conflict there were two developments that, as they matured, deeply affected the fighting and brought Truman into collision with MacArthur. These were indications that the Communist People's Republic of China might intervene in North Korea and that the general was not hewing to the Truman policy that called for a neutral Taiwan.
(MacArthur doubted the likelihood of Red Chinese intervention, and he wanted to bring Chiang Kai-shek into the fighting. His public disagreement with Truman on that point almost cost him his command in August, 1950.)
Truman decided that the best way to handle his differences with MacArthur was in a face-to-face talk. "Events since June had shown me that MacArthur had lost some of his contacts with the country and its people in the many years of his absence," the President wrote. "He had been in the Orient for nearly 14 years then. . . . I had made efforts through [W. Averell] Harriman and others to let him see the worldwide picture as we saw it in Washington, but I felt that we had little success. I thought he might adjust more easily if he heard it from me directly."
The two men met for the first time on Wake Island in the Pacific on Oct. 15, 1950. The general was optimistic: The Chinese Communists would not enter Korea and the fighting would end by Thanksgiving, he predicted. Truman was pleased, and again he emphasized that the "police action" had strictly limited objectives, a prime one being the containment of the fighting to Korea.
Strategists differ as to what prompted the action, but on Oct. 25 the Chinese did enter the conflict, sending thousands of "volunteers" across the Yalu River into North Korea. Thus reinforced, the Communist forces eventually beat back the American and United Nations troops to the 38th Parallel, where a front was established that lasted until the truce of 1953.
Truman's policy in the face of the Chinese intervention was to continue to confine the fighting to Korea, to avoid escalation, a policy in which other members of the United Nations concurred. MacArthur, on the other hand, wanted to strike directly at the Chinese by air action in Manchuria across the Yalu River.
Matters came to a head in March, 1951, when MacArthur wrote to Representative Joseph W. Martin Jr., the House Republican leader, criticizing the President's policy. Truman believed that he had no choice but to relieve the general of his command.
"If there is one basic element in our Constitution, it is civilian control of the military," he explained. "Policies are to be made by elected political officials, not by generals or admirals. Yet time and again General MacArthur had shown that he was unwilling to accept the policies of the Administration. By his repeated public statements, he was not only confusing our allies. . .but, in fact, was also setting his policy against the President's."
Amid mounting public speculation, Truman acted dramatically on April 10, 1951. In a concise order he discharged MacArthur for insubordination. To the American public, MacArthur was an almost legendary figure as a result of his Pacific War exploits--a general with superb aplomb who had turned the tide against Japan--and it was difficult at first to accept the possibility that he had overstepped the bounds of his role in Korea. It seemed logical, after all, for a general to want to win a clear-cut victory, and it was obvious to many that it must be frustrating for him to be forbidden the means to do it.
Realizing this, the President went on the radio to explain his action. The United States and the United Nations, he said, could not permit the Korean conflict to become a general war. Bringing China into that conflict directly, he warned, might unleash a third World War.
"That war can come if the Communist leaders want it to come," he said. "But this nation and its allies will not be responsible for its coming."
The deposed MacArthur returned to the United States, and to triumphal adulation. It appeared for a time that Truman, the Commander in Chief, was about to be outflanked by MacArthur, the dismissed general. Senate hearings were called in an air of expectancy, but after a few weeks the furor subsided, and the validity of Truman's step was generally accepted.
In the midst of the Korean conflict there was a crude attempt to assassinate the President. It occurred Nov. 1, 1950, when the Trumans were living in Blair House while the White House was under repair.
On the street below the President's window, guards kept vigil. At 2 P.M., as Truman was napping, a taxicab stopped nearby, and two men got out and walked toward Blair House. Suddenly one drew a pistol and fired at a guard. The other ran toward the front door of Blair House.
The guards sprang into action, and when the shooting ceased in a few minutes, Griselio Torresola, a Puerto Rican extremist, lay dead, and Leslie Coffelt, a guard, was mortally wounded.
The second would-be assassin, Oscar Collazo, was shot in the chest. He was subsequently convicted of murder and sentenced to die, but the President commuted the penalty in 1952 to life imprisonment.
Trumans' second term, like his first, was marked by greater harmony on foreign policy-- especially economic and military aid to Europe--than on domestic affairs. He found Congress reasonably willing to spend on foreign aid but reluctant to provide for social welfare, housing and education. This, in part, stemmed from home-front discontent over dislocations--taxes and a rise in living costs--caused by the Korean fighting.
Truman strove to keep the economy stable, a determination that he dramatized by seizing the steel industry on April 8, 1952, to avert a strike and a price rise in that basic commodity. Invoking his Korean conflict emergency powers, he put the industry under Government operation. The stunning move aroused the ire of the business community, but the President was prepared with an explanation.
"If we give in to the steel companies on this issue," he said, "you could just say goodbye to stabilization. If we knuckled under to the steel industry, the lid would be off, prices would start jumping all around us--not just the prices of things using steel but prices of many other things we buy, including milk and groceries and meat."
Steel challenged the seizure and was upheld by the Supreme Court on the ground the President had exceeded his authority. He was obliged to approve a price rise. He always insisted, however, that the seizure was justified and legal.
As far back as 1949 Truman had decided not to run for election in 1952, and as that year drew near, he cast about for a suitable candidate. Once, in 1945, he had impulsively told Eisenhower he would back him in 1948, but by 1952 the general had been courted by the Republicans.
Support for Stevenson
Trumans' initial choice for 1952 was Chief Justice Fred M. Vinson, but the latter declined on grounds of health in the fall of 1951. The President then turned to Gov. Adlai E. Stevenson of Illinois, who had been elected in 1948 by an impressively large vote. Stevenson rejected Truman's proffer at least twice. Then, after almost six months of uncertainty, he decided to seek the nomination.
Truman, always a loyal party man, helped him get the nomination and stumped for him vigorously. The President, however, did not like Stevenson's campaign tactics, and he was not greatly astonished when Eisenhower won.
Afterward Truman made elaborate arrangements to acquaint the President-elect with pending problems, but the White House meeting was stiff and unproductive. Truman felt that the general was still smarting from the partisanship of the campaign.
Truman's intimates and advisers, who had watched him mature in office, praised him above all for his forthrightness. He himself, reviewing his actions in December, 1952, said:
"The Presidents who have done things, who were not afraid to act, have been the most abused. . .and I have topped them all in the amount of abuse I have received."
If he had to do it all over again, he went on, he would not change anything.
On another occasion, he was more poignant. He said:
"I have tried my best to give the nation everything I had in me. There are probably a million people who could have done the job better than I did, but I had the job, and I always quote an epitaph on a tombstone in a cemetery in Tombstone, Arizona: 'Here lies Jack Williams. He done his damndest.'"