Aide To Four Presidents


The President came to the Blue Room promptly on the stroke of seven-thirty, and made the rounds of his guests, shaking hands with each as custom prescribed. In spite of all that he had been through in the past seven years, I could see little change in his appearance or manner since I last saw him. He moved quickly and alertly from one guest to another and had a ready response for each. After an interval for cocktails, he led the way to the dining room and exerted himself to be an entertaining host. I said to him that I appreciated being included in this party. “Why shouldn’t you be included?” he said. “You started me off, didn’t you?” I said I felt I could hardly claim that, but that I was glad I had brought the Lend-Lease to Russia to his notice at the very start. “I remember that! I remember that very well!” exclaimed Mr. Truman. “And they never even said, ‘Thank you!’”

In the course of the dinner the President told me quite a lot about the problems of rebuilding the White House supports, the weaknesses they had uncovered, and other details that he repeated later in a brief speech of farewell. As he seemed so willing to talk, I said to him that I hoped he would write his memoirs while the circumstances of events, the knowledge available to him at the time he made important decisions, were still fresh in his mind. I told him that during the past years when he had been working so hard, I had had time to read practically all of the books written about the Franklin Roosevelt era and that few writers had a clear recollection of what the known facts were at the time decisions were made, and that the old human weakness of hindsight was apt to distort history. “Well of course I don’t know what history will say about me,” said President Truman. “But I can honestly say I did the best I could. No man can do more.”