16 June 2016
PROPERTY FROM THE FORBES COLLECTION
TRUMAN, Harry S (1884-1972). Typed letter signed ("Harry S. Truman"), as President, to Emil Hurja (1892-1953), Washington, 19 April 1946. 2 pages, 4to, White House stationery.
TRUMAN GRIPES ABOUT THE "OBSTRUCTIONISTS RATHER THAN THE CONSTRUCTIONISTS"
Truman thanks Hurja for the gift of a volume inscribed by President Arthur to Missouri Senator George G. Vest. "I am going to read it with a lot of pleasure. Senator Vest never received his proper place in the history of the country," Truman gripes. "He and Vice-President Tom Marshall were of the same piece of cloth, as public men--they really did excellent jobs and received very little notice." Marshall, Truman reminds Hurja, was best remembered for the oft-quoted line: "What the country needs is a good five cent cigar." He made that comment as a brush-off to reporters "when terrific pressure was being placed on him to assume control of the Government while Woodrow Wilson was in bed from his Wichita stroke. He absolutely refused to overstep the bounds of priority as Vice-President, and refused to comment on the national and international situation while he was Vice-President. If that is not self-control, I never saw it demonstrated."
He takes a swipe at high-brow historians when he says he hopes "these brain trust researchers will pick out such men as Marshall and Vest and give them their true place in our American system." Too often it was "the ballyhoo artists" like "Daniel Webster, old Tom Benton and Jim Reed" who "make the pages of history--obstructionists rather than constructionists. Borah is in that same class..." But "it has been the hard working silent men in the Congress...who have really made our government what it is." Truman hopes that historians will give these men their proper due, "instead of building up the destructionists." Hurja was a pioneer in polling, who worked for the Democratic National Committee during the 1932 and 1936 campaigns. He was also an avid book and manuscript collector.
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