Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Harry S. Truman

33rd President of the United States

"All the president is, is a glorified public relations man who spends his time flattering, kissing, and kicking people to get them to do what they are supposed to do anyway."

"All through history it's the nations that have given most to generals and the least to the people that have been the first to fall."

"America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand."

"Always do right - it will gratify some people, and astonish the rest."

"Always be sincere, even if you don't mean it."

"Any denial of human rights is a denial of the basic beliefs of democracy."

"An expert is a fellow who is afraid to learn anything new because then he wouldn't be an expert anymore."

"Any man who sees Europe now must realize that victory in a great war is not something you win once and for all, like victory in a ball game. Victory in a great war is something that must be won and kept won. It can be lost after you have won it — if you are careless or negligent or indifferent. Europe today is hungry. I am not talking about Germans. I am talking about the people of the countries which were overrun and devastated by the Germans, and particularly about the people of Western Europe. Many of them lack clothes and fuel and tools and shelter and raw materials. They lack the means to restore their cities and their factories. As the winter comes on, the distress will increase. Unless we do what we can to help, we may lose next winter what we won at such terrible cost last spring. Desperate men are liable to destroy the structure of their society to find in the wreckage some substitute for hope. If we let Europe go cold and hungry, we may lose some of the foundations of order on which the hope for worldwide peace must rest. We must help to the limits of our strength. And we will."

"At the present moment in world history nearly every nation must choose between alternative ways of life. The choice is too often not a free one."

"Any man who has had the job I've had and didn't have a sense of humor wouldn't still be here."

"Art is parasitic on life, just as criticism is parasitic on art."

"Being a President is like riding a tiger. A man has to keep on riding or he is swallowed."

"Boys, if you ever pray, pray for me now. I don't know whether you fellows ever had a load of hay fall on you, but when they told me yesterday what had happened, I felt like the moon, the stars and all the planets had fallen on me. I've got the most terribly responsible job a man ever had."

"Being too good is apt to be uninteresting."

"Brave men don't belong to any one country. I respect bravery wherever I see it."

"Believe and you're halfway there."

"Democracy is, first and foremost, a spiritual force, it is built upon a spiritual basis - and on a belief in God and an observance of moral principle. And in the long run only the church can provide that basis. Our founder knew this truth - and we will neglect it at our peril."

"Dictatorship, by whatever name, is founded on the doctrine that the individual amounts to nothing; that the State is the only one that counts; and that men and women and children were put on earth solely for the purpose of serving the state."

"Children and dogs are as necessary to the welfare of the country as Wall Street and the railroads."

"Every segment of our population and every individual has a right to expect from our Government a fair deal."

"Experience has shown how deeply the seeds of war are planted by economic rivalry and social injustice."

"Give me a one-handed economist! All my economics say, ''On the one hand… on the other."

"Fame is a vapor, popularity is an accident, riches take wings, those who cheer today may curse tomorrow and only one thing endures - character."

"Given the choice between a Republican and someone who acts like a Republican, people will vote for the real Republican all the time"

"Have fired 500 rounds at the Germans, at my command, been shelled, didn't run away thank the Lord and never lost a man. Probably shouldn't have told you but you'll not worry any more if you know I'm in it than if you think I am. Have had the most strenuous work of my life, am very tired but otherwise absolutely in good condition physically mentally and morally."

"He wasn't used to being criticized, and he never did get it through his head that's what politics is all about. He was used to getting his ass kissed."

"He who cannot stand the heat should stay out of the kitchen."

"Herbert Hoover once ran on the slogan, “Two cars in every garage”. Apparently, the Republican candidate this year is running on the slogan, “Two families in every garage”."

"He was a windbag. He made a great many orations, and I imagine he did a very good job, but he was still a windbag."

"He’s one of the few in the history of this country to run for high office talking out of both sides of his mouth at the same time and lying out of both sides. [on Richard Nixon]"

"Here in America, we have labored long and hard to achieve a social order worthy of our great heritage. In our time, tremendous progress has been made toward a really democratic way of life. Let me assure the forward-looking people of America that there will be no relaxation in our efforts to improve the lot of the common people."

"How do you live a long life? "Take a two-mile walk every morning before breakfast."

"How far would have Moses gone if he had taken a poll in Egypt?"

"Here lies Jack Williams. He done his damndest."

"Human life is something that comes to us from beyond this world, and the purpose of our society is to cherish it and to enable the individual to attain the highest achievement of which he is capable"

"How many times do you have to get hit over the head until you figure out who’s hitting you."

"I always remember an epitaph which is in the cemetery at Tombstone, Arizona. It says: 'Here lies Jack Williams. He done his damnedest.' I think that is the greatest epitaph a man can have - When he gives everything that is in him to do the job he has before him. That is all you can ask of him and that is what I have tried to do."

"I always considered statesmen to be more expendable than soldiers."

"I am not worried about the Communist Party taking over the Government of the United States, but I am against a person, whose loyalty is not to the Government of the United States, holding a Government job. They are entirely different things. I am not worried about this country ever going Communist. We have too much sense for that."

"I believe that it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures."

"I come to the office each morning and stay for long hours doing what has to be done to the best of my ability. And when you've done the best you can, you can't do any better. So when I go to sleep I turn everything over to the Lord and forget it."

"Humility is to make a right estimate of oneself."

"I didn’t fire him [General MacArthur] because he was a dumb son of a bitch, although he was, but that’s not against the law for generals. If it was, half to three-quarters of them would be in jail."

"I do not believe in shooting anything that cannot shoot back."

"I do not understand a mind which sees a gracious beneficence in spending money to slay and maim human beings in almost unimaginable numbers and deprecates the expenditure of a smaller sum to patch up the ills of mankind."

"I do not believe there is a problem in this country or the world today which could not be settled if approached through the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount."

"I don’t give a damn about “The Missouri Waltz” but I can’t say it out loud because it’s the song of Missouri. It’s as bad as “The Star-Spangled Banner” so far as music is concerned."

"I don't believe in anti-anything. A man has to have a program; you have to be for something. Otherwise, you will never get anywhere."

"I don't feel qualified to be president either, but I've got the job."

"I don't give them hell. I just tell the truth and they think it is hell."