Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Harry S. Truman

33rd President of the United States

"These polls that the Republican candidate is putting out are like sleeping pills designed to lull the voters into sleeping on election day. You might call them sleeping polls."

"This is the day we have been waiting for since Pearl Harbor. This is the day when Fascism finally dies, as we always knew it would."

"There's nothing better than cake but more cake."

"Those who want the Government to regulate matters of the mind and spirit are like men who are so afraid of being murdered that they commit suicide to avoid assassination."

"To hell with them. When history is written they will be the sons of bitches - not I."

"This administration is going to be cussed and discussed for years to come."

"Today, America has become one of the most powerful forces for good on earth. We must keep it so. We have achieved a world leadership which does not depend solely upon our military and naval might. We have learned to fight with other nations in common defense of our freedom. We must now learn to live with other nations for our mutual good. We must learn to trade more with other nations so that there may be — for our mutual advantage — increased production, increased employment and better standards of living throughout the world. May we Americans all live up to our glorious heritage. In that way, America may well lead the world to peace and prosperity. [on bombing of Hiroshima]"

"Washington is a very easy city for you to forget where you came from and why you got there in the first place."

"To me party platforms are contracts with the people"

"We are going to continue to fight communism. Now I am going to tell you how we are not going to fight communism. We are not going to transform our fine FBI into a Gestapo secret police. That is what some people would like to do. We are not going to try to control what our people read and say and think. We are not going to turn the United States into a right-wing totalitarian country in order to deal with a left-wing totalitarian threat."

"We are in a troublesome period and some "nonsense" as you term it — but this is a great nation with a high purpose, and we shall come to our senses and resume our course."

"We are now prepared to obliterate more rapidly and completely every productive enterprise the Japanese have above ground in any city. We shall destroy their docks, their factories, and their communications. Let there be no mistake; we shall completely destroy Japan's power to make war. It was to spare the Japanese people from utter destruction that the ultimatum of July 26 was issued at Potsdam. Their leaders promptly rejected that ultimatum. If they do not now accept our terms they may expect a rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth."

"We believe that all men are created equal because they are created in the image of God."

"We must build a new world, a far better world - one in which the eternal dignity of man is respected."

"We know now that the basic proposition of the worth and dignity of man is not a sentimental aspiration or a vain hope or a piece of rhetoric. It is the strongest, most creative force now present in this world. Now let us use that force and all our resources and all our skills in the great cause of a just and lasting peace! The Three Great Powers are now more closely than ever bound together in determination to achieve that kind of peace. From Teheran, and the Crimea, from San Francisco and Berlin — we shall continue to march together to a lasting peace and a happy world!"

"We must have strong minds, ready to accept facts as they are."

"We have discovered the most terrible bomb in the history of the world. It may be the fire destruction prophesied in the Euphrates Valley Era, after Noah and his fabulous Ark. Anyway we "think" we have found the way to cause a disintegration of the atom. An experiment in the New Mexico desert was startling - to put it mildly. Thirteen pounds of the explosive caused the complete disintegration of a steel tower 60 feet high, created a crater 6 feet deep and 1,200 feet in diameter, knocked over a steel tower 1/2 mile away and knocked men down 10,000 yards away. The explosion was visible for more than 200 miles and audible for 40 miles and more. This weapon is to be used against Japan between now and August 10th. I have told the Sec. of War, Mr. Stimson, to use it so that military objectives and soldiers and sailors are the target and not women and children. Even if the Japs are savages, ruthless, merciless and fanatic, we as the leader of the world for the common welfare cannot drop that terrible bomb on the old capital or the new. He and I are in accord. The target will be a purely military one and we will issue a warning statement asking the Japs to surrender and save lives. I'm sure they will not do that, but we will have given them the chance. It is certainly a good thing for the world that Hitler's crowd or Stalin's did not discover this atomic bomb. It seems to be the most terrible thing ever discovered, but it can be made the most useful."

"We must remember that the test of our religious principles lies not just in what we say, not only in our prayers, not even in living blameless lives but in what we do for others"

"When they told me yesterday what had happened, I felt like the moon, the stars and all the planets had fallen on me. [on being elected President]"

"When you get to be President, there are all those things, the honors, the twenty-one gun salutes, all those things. You have to remember it isn't for you. It's for the Presidency."

"We represent a fraternity which believes in justice and truth and honorable action in your community men who are endeavoring to be better citizens[and] to make a great country greater. This is the only institution in the world where we can meet on the level all sorts of people who want to live rightly."

"We owe our troops the opportunity to serve in the best-planned, best-equipped, and best-led military force in the world, and we owe them the peace of mind that comes from knowing that they and their families will be taken care of if they sacrifice life, limb or the ability to sleep without war s nightmares. We owe them not just thanks and best wishes, but action, and action in our nation s capital."

"We should resolve now that the health of this nation is a national concern; that financial barriers in the way of attaining health shall be removed; that the health of all its citizens deserves the help of all the nation."

"We're going to be buried out here. I like the idea because I may just want to get up some day and stroll into my office. And I can hear you saying, Harry-you oughtn't!"

"When a High Explosive shell bursts in fifteen feet and does you no damage, you can bet your sweet life you bear a charmed life and no mistake. I didn't have sense enough to know what was going on until the next day and then I was pretty scared. The men think I am not much afraid of shells but they don't know. I was too scared to run and that is pretty scared."

"When Kansas and Colorado have a quarrel over the water in the Arkansas River they don’t call out the National Guard in each state and go to war over it. They bring a suit in the Supreme Court of the United States and abide by the decision. There isn’t a reason in the world why we cannot do that internationally."

"When a fellow tells me he's bipartisan, I know he's going to vote against me."

"When a leader is in the Democratic Party he is a boss, and when he is in the Republican Party he is a leader."

"Whenever a man does the best he can, then that is all he can do."

"Whenever the press quits abusing me I know I'm in the wrong pew. I don't mind it because when they throw bricks at me-I'm a pretty good shot myself and I usually throw 'em back at 'em."

"When you've done the best you can, you can't do any better."

"Why, this fellow don't know any more about politics than a pig knows about Sunday."

"Whenever you put a man on the Supreme Court he ceases to be your friend."

"Within the first few months I discovered that being a president is like riding a tiger. A man has to keep riding or be swallowed."

"Whenever a fellow tells me he is bipartisan, I know he's going to vote against me."

"Whenever I make a bum decision, I just go out and make another."

"Whenever you have an efficient government you have a dictatorship."

"Without a strong educational system democracy is crippled. Knowledge is not only key to power. It is the citadel of human freedom."

"You and I are stuck with the necessity of taking the worst of two evils or none at all. So-I m taking the immature Democrat as the best of the two. Nixon is impossible."

"You can't get rich in politics unless you're a crook."

"You want a friend in this city? [Washington, DC.] Get a dog!"

"You know that being an American is more than a matter of where your parents came from. It is a belief that all men are created free and equal and that everyone deserves an even break."

"You can never get all the facts from just one newspaper, and unless you have all the facts, you cannot make proper judgments about what is going on."

"You don't set a fox to watching the chickens just because he has a lot of experience in the hen house."

"You know, the United States Government turns its Chief Executive out to grass. They're just allowed to starve… If I hadn't inherited some property that finally paid things through, I'd be on relief now."

"Your old friend Congressman Hartley of the Taft Hartley team ... has written a book ... The title of this book is Our New National Labor Policy, the Taft-Hartley Act and the Next Steps. Get that: "The Next Steps" ... They're going even further! ... The Republicans favor a minimum wage — the smaller the minimum the better."