September 23, 1952

President Harry Truman Refers to Life in the White House as “Jail”

Typed Letter Signed
2 pages
SMC 690
The day after assuming the Presidency, no one has ever said that the job was easier than imagined. The weight of the world, in fact, would seem to settle on presidential shoulders as surely as on Atlas’s. Then add to that a ceremonial life as strictly regulated as a prison lock-down, and (in modern times) a private one as zealously guarded as Fort Knox’s gold, and it is hardly surprising that Presidents generally come to regard the White House, at one point or another, to one degree or another, like a jail. Here Harry Truman, speaking plainly, calls it exactly that: wishing that he could make a trip with his dear friend and one-time aide, he says

I am just as sorry as you are that I won't be able to take the trip to Panama but as soon as I get out of "jail" you and I will work up a program that will include a trip down there.

McKim was then a member, appointed by Truman, of the Board of Directors of the Panama Canal Company – a job which, to Truman’s amusement, paid nothing. It also required McKim to travel to Panama at least twice a year. 
Typed Letter Signed, as President, 1 page, quarto, The White House, Washington, September 23, 1952. To Edward D. “Eddie” McKim. With transmittal envelope.
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