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

September 23, 1952

Add to History Board Share Print
Back to The Collection
Manuscript
See full images and transcript
President Harry Truman Refers to Life in the White House as "Jail"
Typed Letter Signed
2 pages | SMC 690

Quick Reference

      Background

      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.
      Read More

      all pages and transcript

      Page 1/2

      Page 1 transcript
      THE WHITE HOUSE
      WASHINGTON

      September 23, 1952

      Dear Eddie:

      I appreciate very much your letter of the nineteenth.  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.
       
      I suppose you will have the 102 pound sailfish mounted? You certainly should have that done because it would make a beautiful mount.
       
      I haven't seen the list of people who are to be present for the Inauguration of the President of Panama - but if you are on it I hope you can go. I had made the suggestion to the Secretary of State and I am very sure that he will follow through on it.  I'll be glad to see you when you come to Washington.

      Sincerely yours,

      Harry S. Truman [in manuscript]

      My best to the family [in manuscript]


      Mr. Edward D. McKim
      300 Karbach Building
      Omaha, Nebraska

      Page 2/2

      Page 2 transcript
      THE WHITE HOUSE

      Mr. Edward D. McKim
      300 Karbach Building
      Omaha, Nebraska

      RECEIVED
      SEP 26 1952

      Marcotte Ins Agency
      OMAHA, NEBR.