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Welcome to our collection of quotes by Harry S. Truman.

Wikipedia Summary for Harry S. Truman

Harry S. Truman (May 8, 1884 – December 26, 1972) was the 33rd president of the United States, serving from 1945 to 1953, succeeding upon the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt after serving as the 34th vice president. He implemented the Marshall Plan to rebuild the economy of Western Europe, and established the Truman Doctrine and NATO to contain communist expansion. He proposed numerous liberal domestic reforms, but few were enacted by the Conservative Coalition that dominated Congress.

Truman grew up in Independence, Missouri, and during World War I fought in France as a captain in the Field Artillery. Returning home, he opened a haberdashery in Kansas City, Missouri and was later elected as a Jackson County official in 1922. Truman was elected to the United States Senate from Missouri in 1934 and gained national prominence as chairman of the Truman Committee aimed at reducing waste and inefficiency in wartime contracts. Soon after succeeding to the presidency, he authorized the first and only use of nuclear weapons in war. Truman's administration engaged in an internationalist foreign policy and renounced isolationism. He rallied his New Deal coalition during the 1948 presidential election and won a surprise victory that secured his own presidential term.

After the onset of the Cold War, Truman oversaw the Berlin Airlift and Marshall Plan in 1948. When North Korea invaded South Korea in 1950, he gained United Nations approval to intervene in the Korean War. He did not ask for Congressional approval and as the war stalemated his popularity fell. His administration successfully guided the U.S. economy through the post-war economic challenges; the expected postwar depression never happened. In 1948, he submitted the first comprehensive civil rights legislation. It did not pass but he instead issued Executive Orders 9980 and 9981 to begin racial equality in federal agencies and the military.

Corruption in the Truman administration became a central campaign issue in the 1952 presidential election. He was eligible for reelection in 1952 but with weak polls, he decided not to run. Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower attacked Truman's record and won easily. Truman went into a financially difficult retirement, marked by the founding of his presidential library and the publication of his memoirs. When he left office, Truman's presidency was heavily criticized, though critical reassessment of his tenure has been favorable.

If you can't convince them, confuse them.

--Harry S. Truman

I have found the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it.

--Harry S. Truman

Nixon is one of the few in the history of this country to run for high office talking out of both sides of his mouth at the same time and lying out of both sides.

--Harry S. Truman

Study men, not historians.

--Harry S. Truman

Men make history and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better.

--Harry S. Truman

You can't get rich in politics unless you're a crook.

--Harry S. Truman

If I want to be great I have to win the victory over myself... self-discipline.

--Harry S. Truman

I doubt if there is any problem in the world today -- social, political or economic -- that would not find a happy solution if approached in the spirit of the sermon on the mount.

--Harry S. Truman

The buck stops here!

--Harry S. Truman

It sure is hell to be president.

--Harry S. Truman

The White House is the finest prison in the world.

--Harry S. Truman

If I'd known how much packing I'd have to do, I'd have run again.

--Harry S. Truman

I remember when I first came to Washington. For the first six months you wonder how the hell you ever got here. For the next six months you wonder how the hell the rest of them ever got here.

--Harry S. Truman

When you have an efficient government, you have a dictatorship.

--Harry S. Truman

This administration is going to be cussed and discussed for years to come.

--Harry S. Truman

When you get to be President, there are all those things, the honors, the twenty-one gun salutes, all those things. You have to remember it isn't for you. It's for the Presidency.

--Harry S. Truman

A president either is constantly on top of events or, if he hesitates, events will soon be on top of him. I never felt that I could let up for a moment.

--Harry S. Truman

A President needs political understanding to run the government, but he may be elected without it.

--Harry S. Truman

You know that being an American is more than a matter of where your parents came from. It is a belief that all men are created free and equal and that everyone deserves an even break.

--Harry S. Truman

We shall never be able to remove suspicion and fear as potential causes of war until communication is permitted to flow, free and open, across international boundaries.

--Harry S. Truman

Carry the battle to them. Don't let them bring it to you. Put them on the defensive and don't ever apologize for anything.

--Harry S. Truman

A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties.

--Harry S. Truman

Longer Version:

A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties. Harry S.


A President cannot always be popular.

--Harry S. Truman

Intense feeling too often obscures the truth.

--Harry S. Truman

If I hadn't been President of the United States, I probably would have ended up a piano player in a bawdy house.

--Harry S. Truman

The President is always abused. If he isn't, he isn't doing anything.

--Harry S. Truman

Upon books the collective education of the race depends; they are the sole instruments of registering, perpetuating and transmitting thought.

--Harry S. Truman

My father was not a failure. After all, he was the father of a president of the United States.

--Harry S. Truman

Any man who has had the job I've had and didn't have a sense of humor wouldn't still be here.

--Harry S. Truman

When even one American -- who has done nothing wrong -- is forced by fear to shut his mind and close his mouth -- then all Americans are in peril.

--Harry S. Truman

It is understanding that gives us an ability to have peace. When we understand the other fellow's viewpoint, and he understands ours, then we can sit down and work out our differences.

--Harry S. Truman

Richard Nixon is a no good, lying bastard. He can lie out of both sides of his mouth at the same time, and if he ever caught himself telling the truth, he'd lie just to keep his hand in.

--Harry S. Truman

I never did give anybody hell. I just told the truth and they thought it was hell.

--Harry S. Truman

Actions are the seed of fate deeds grow into destiny.

--Harry S. Truman

It's a recession when your neighbor loses his job; it's a depression when you lose yours.

--Harry S. Truman

There is nothing new in the world except the history you do not know.

--Harry S. Truman

Longer Version:

There is nothing new in the world except the history you do not know. Harry S.


The reward of suffering is experience.

--Harry S. Truman

It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.

--Harry S. Truman

Longer Version:

It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit. Harry S.


America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand.

--Harry S. Truman

Quotes by Harry S. Truman are featured in:


Courage Quotes
Funny Quotes
Leadership Quotes

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