Harry Truman Reads John Nicolay and John Hay on Abraham Lincoln, As He Tries to Write History of Presidency

April 17, 1961

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Harry Truman Reads John Nicolay and John Hay on Abraham Lincoln, As He Tries to Write History of Presidency
Typed Letter Signed
1 page | SMC 1417

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      Background

      The Trumans of Missouri hadn’t, historically, much use for Abe Lincoln. When President Truman told his aged mother that she would sleep in Lincoln’s bed when visiting the White House, she told him in no uncertain terms that she’d sleep on the floor instead. Truman, as a Southerner, said he came to appreciate Lincoln gradually, all on his own, by reading about him. In the fullness of time, he even identified with him, as having also risen, surprisingly, from obscurity to the pinnacle of power. For plain Harry Truman, plain Abraham Lincoln was the epitome of leadership: a decent, straightforward, and honest man, who was first and foremost himself. Which was why, perhaps, during his stand-off with General MacArthur, Truman sent to the Library of Congress for books about Lincoln’s firing of General McClellan. This letter finds Truman eight years out of office, writing “a history of the presidency,” still reading about Lincoln…

      I’ll be glad to accept the set of the “Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln” by John G. Nicolay and John Hay. They will be exceedingly useful here for what we are trying to do, which is a history of the Presidency… I have all the other Lincoln biographies but this one.

      Truman, incidentally, rated Lincoln a great president – 4th on his list, after (Southerners) Washington, Jefferson, and Jackson.


      Typed Letter Signed, 1 page, quarto, with autograph addendum, on his personal letterhead, Independence, Missouri, April 17, 1961. To Paul Nachtman.

      With franked typewritten envelope.
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      HARRY S. TRUMAN
      INDEPENDENCE, MISSOURI

      April 17, 1961

      Dear Paul:

      Thank you very, very much for your good letter of the 13th.

      We had a very nice meeting on Saturday and I think everything worked out all right.

      I'll be glad to accept the set of the "Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln" by John G. Nicolay and John Hay .  They will be exceedingly useful here for what we are trying to do , which is a history of the Presidency .

      It certainly is good of you to send them to me.

      Sincerely yours ,

      HARRY TRUMAN

      I have all the other Lincoln biographies but this one.

      Mr. Paul Nachtman
      Cabell, Medinger, Forsyth & Decker
      375 Park Avenue
      New York 22, New York

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      Page 2 transcript
      HARRY S. TRUMAN
      INDEPENDENCE, MISSOURI

      HARRY S. TRUMAN

      KANSAS CITY
      APR 19
      1130 AM
      1961
      16
      MO.

      VIA AIR MAIL

      Mr. Paul Nachtman
      Cabell, Medinger, Forsyth & Decker
      375 Park Avenue
      New York 22, New York