January 09, 1953

President Harry Truman Says “It Will be a Relief to Get Out of Washington” At The End of His Term

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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.

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Transcript

The White House
Washington

January 9, 1953

Dear Mrs. Bell:

I can't tell you how very much I appreciated your thoughtfulness in sending me the clipping from the San Francisco Chronicle - I certainly enjoyed it.

I don't think I've received a nicer letter since I've been in the White House than the one from you. That good boy of yours is one of my ablest Assistants and I don't know what I would have done without him. He has brains, energy and ability. That is all it takes to make a man if he has the right sort of background and Dave has that too.

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.

Sincerely yours,

HARRY S. TRUMAN

Mrs. Reginald Bell
23  Graden Lane
San Francisco 25, California