In the afternoon of April 12, 1945, Vice President Harry Truman was sitting in the office of the spokesperson of the US House of Representatives, Sam Rayburn – who held this position for 17 years and was considered the most effective man to have this job – drinking whiskey and discussing politics. The conversation was interrupted by a phone call which immediately summoned Truman to the White House.
Everyone knew that Roosevelt’s health state was unstable. On his way to the White House, Truman had the darkest thoughts. Once he arrived there, he was led to Eleanor’s Roosevelt office, at the second floor, where the First Lady was waiting for him. “Harry, the president is dead”, she declared when Truman walked through the door. “Is there anything I can do for you?” “Is there something we can do for you? You’re the one in trouble now.” replied Eleanor.
That evening, around 7PM, Truman was sworn in as President of the United States. Later, he told the journalists: “Boys, if you ever pray, pray for me. I don’t know if a haystack ever fell on you, but when they told me what happened yesterday, I felt like the moon, the stars and all the planets had fallen on my head.”
A few months later, Truman met with some close friends and advisers and together they made a short trip on the presidential yacht on Potomac River.
June 17, 1945
Today I was on the Potomac River to discuss plans, problems and decisions. I took Charlie Rose with me, a right thinking man, a honest man who tells the truth, so that I will understand what he has to say; Matt Donnelly, a skillful Irish which raises the stake and shows me the errors, he is honest, fair and “diplomatic” with me; Judge Fred Vinson, a frank person, who knows the Congress and their way of thinking, a trustworthy man, Judge Rosenman, one of the best in Washington, a sharp man and a lucid pen, a man loyal to Roosevelt and as loyal to Truman; Steve Early, a fine observer, a wise politician and not only, he was my right arm, absolutely loyal and reliable, the same can be said about Rosenman.
We talked about public relations in Germany, Italy, France, Holland, Belgium, England and Russia. Food, fuel and transportation, everything that had to be done in this direction. The Japanese War and the relationship with China, Russia and England concerning this subject, the Supreme Commander and what to do with the “First Lady”, five-star Superior Officer McArthur (Truman misspelled the name of General MacArthur).
He is worse than Cabot and Lodge families – at least they talked to each other before telling God what they will do. Mc is telling God directly. It is a shame that we have such haughty people in key positions. I can’t understand why the hell Roosevelt didn’t order Wainwright to return home and didn’t leave McArthur to be a martyr, I guess he was afraid of the Press-McCormick-Patterson Sabotage Axe. We could have had a real general and a fighting man if we had Wainwright and not an actor and a cheater as we have now…
I do not see how a country that can give people like Robert E. Lee, John Pershing, Eisenhower, Bradley, can, at the same time, produce people like Custer, Patton and McArthur.
I must decide the Japanese Strategy – will we invade Japan properly or lock it and bombard it? This is the hardest decision ever. But I will take it after I have all the information.”