Harry Truman Letter Written as Vice-President But Signed as President with "Terrible Responsibilities"

April 12, 1945

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Harry Truman Letter Written as Vice-President But Signed as President with "Terrible Responsibilities"
Typed Letter Signed
1 page | SMC 585

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      Background

      Until the late afternoon, almost evening, of that day, he was just “Harry”, with nothing to do but sit in the Senate and write little letters like this, thanking a club owner for baseball tickets to opening day. He’s planning on bringing a carload to the game, he said – and his only hope for the future, it seems, was that the weather would be fine. Then, called to the White House near five o’clock, arriving there at half past, taken upstairs to be met by Mrs. Roosevelt, the self-described “fifth teat on a cow” was told that he was now the most powerful man in the world. Roosevelt had died at Warm Springs, Georgia, less than an hour before, and Vice President Truman was now President. He felt, he recalled later, as if he had been struck by lightning.

      It was a mark of the man that a letter written as Vice-President on April 12, 1945, would be necessarily amended, as President, on April 12, 1945. Here, as President, Truman writes in longhand below the lighthearted typewritten message of earlier that day, this somber message: “We must postpone it [the game] now,” he said. “I’m in up to my neck and must think of my terrible responsibilities for some days to come.”

      Truman would, within the year, order the first and only atomic bomb attacks in history; end the largest war in history; and commence a Cold War with the Soviet Union that would, for fifty years, make history. He would, however, on April 16th, 1946, - almost a year to the day he assumed the presidency - manage to catch up with Clark Griffith again, and throw out the first pitch at the Washington Senator’s opening game. It was a strike.


      Typed Letter Signed, as Vice-President, with an autograph addendum written that same day, as President; 1 page, quarto, Office of the Vice President, April 12, 1945. To Clark Griffith in Washington.

      Of the greatest rarity.
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      OFFICE OF THE VICE PRESIDENT
      WASHINGTON

      April 12, 1945

      Mr. Clark Griffith, President
      Washington American League
      Base Ball Club
      Seventh Street and Florida Avenue, N.W.
      Washington 1, D.C.
       
      Dear Mr. Griffith:
       
      Appreciated very much the tickets for the opening game.
       
      We will have a carload on deck. Hope the weather is fine and everything goes off all right.
       
      Sincerely yours,

      HARRY
      Harry S. Truman


      We must postpone it now. I'm in up to my neck and must think of my terrible responsibilities for some days to come.