January 09, 1953
President Harry Truman Says “It Will be a Relief to Get Out of Washington” At The End of His Term
Around the time his approval ratings hit 23%, Harry Truman decided not to seek a “third” term as president. “In my opinion,” he wrote in his diary, “eight years as President is enough and sometimes too much for any man to serve in that capacity. There is a lure in power. It can get into a man’s blood just as gambling and lust for money have been known to do.” All that remained, then, was for his handpicked candidate, Adlai Stevenson, to lose to General Eisenhower in a landslide, and Truman, like Cincinnatus, could go home to his plow.
Almost on his way out the door, Truman responded to the nicest letter, he said, he’d received in the White House; it came from the mother of one of his young, first-rate staffers, speechwriter Dave Bell. Praising “that good boy of yours," whom he is about to leave behind, Truman confesses that although he wants out of Washington, he hates to say goodbye... to some:
It will be a relief to get out of Washington. The only thing I regret most seriously is the fact that I will not have the association with the young men like Dave. One of the reasons I hesitated about not running again was because I had to leave them.
Remarkably, Truman returned home to Independence exactly as he had left it: with no Secret Service, no salary, no pension, and no income aside from his Army pension of $112.56 a month.
Typed Letter Signed, as president, 1 page, quarto, The White House, January 9, 1953. To Mrs. Reginald Bell.