TRUMAN, Harry S. Autograph letter signed ("Harry Truman"), to his former Secretary of State Dean Acheson, "Coconut Island, Kaneohe Bay, Territory of Hawaii", 18 April 1953. 4 full pages, 4to (10½ x 7¼ in.), on rectos only of Truman's personal Hawaii stationery, very small staple holes in upper left corner, otherwise in fine condition. [With:] ACHESON, Dean. Autograph draft letter signed, n.p., 14 April 1953. 4 pp., 4to.
TRUMAN PROUDLY EXPRESSES CONFIDENCE THAT HIS PRESIDENCY WILL BE REDEEMED, INSURING ACHESON THAT THE ACTIONS OF "IKE AND SMELLY FOSTER DULLES WILL HELP"
Just three months after his retirement from the Presidency, Truman writes a friendly letter to his former Secretary of State and friend, in which he refers to the dilemmas of a recently retired President and comments upon the political situation in Washington. Early in 1952, Truman announced that he would not run for another term. After a farewell speech that moved many Americans to tears and a farewell luncheon at the home of the Achesons, the Trumans returned to Missouri. At the end of March, Truman and wife Bess departed for a long-awaited vacation in Hawaii. They enjoyed a month-long stay at the home of Ed Pauley on Little Coconut Island: "It was one of the most enchanting experiences of their lives" (McCullough, Truman, p. 932).
Here, responding to a politically charged but friendly letter, Truman playfully responds to Acheson's flattery: "Your letter was highly appreciated because it is a good letter and because it bolstered my ego! The 'boss' [Truman's affectionate nickname for his wife Bess] says I already have too much of that commodity and it needs no outside cultivation. Sometimes I'm not so sure." He humorously notes that their stay in Hawaii was a very pleasant one: "We had a grand time here if you can call it a grand time to attain a bad case of Hawaiian fever. It is a worse disease than Mexican Manana but not so bad as Potomac." Referring to a social gathering at the Hawaiian Governor's Mansion, Truman compares the condition of the home to the White House: "The legislators wont furnish the money to rebuild the house. Mrs. King says it will fall down some day. Termites are its trouble. I told her that you and I had trouble with termites in Congress and that Ike seemed to have more of them." Referring to a military luncheon that he attended with Admiral Radford followed by a review of a marine battalion, Truman addresses a question of post-White House propriety: "The old Marine Lt. Gen. gave me 21 guns when I appeared...I told him that 21 guns for a private in the citizen ranks was going pretty far. Reply was that they wished they had a civilian C. and C. now." Truman also expresses uncertainty about his proper role: "What shall I do? Been going over a book on what former Presidents did in times past. Maybe I can get some ideas."
With his typical outspoken style, Truman openly criticizes the Eisenhower administration while insuring Acheson that his administration will ultimately be praised: "It looks as if Acheson will be appreciated much sooner than [William] Seward was. I guess if the Fates had us by the hand maybe Ike and Smelly foster Dulles will help." Referring to an article written by Eisenhower's chief opponent at the Republican Convention, he concludes that things are looking brighter for the Democrats: " I read a review of an article by Mr. Republican [Robert A. Taft] in Look. 'Looks' as if he's badly scared if the review is correct. It makes me want to keep stiller than ever. We just don't need to say a word. Events are taking care of things...I am hoping to see you not long after I return so we can discuss things as 'nonpartisan' onlookers."
Truman attempted to convince Eisenhower to run as the Democratic candidate for President in 1952. The General was a lifelong Republican, however, and refused to switch parties. Truman liked Eisenhower as the campaign began, but Eisenhower's frequent attacks upon his foreign policy and criticism of his handling of the Korean War soured the President and turned him irreversibly away from his eventual successor.