Harry Truman Typed Letter Signed as Vice President – “Sabotaged My Ambition To Stay Out Of The Vice Presidency”


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33rd President.  Typed letter signed (TLS) “Harry S. Truman” AS VICE PRESIDENT, presented matted with a black & white photo signed “Harry S. Truman“, both to T. L. Evans in Kansas City, Missouri.


The TLS is on “Office of the Vice President Washington” stationery, February 15, 1945, in full:  “I am enclosing you one of the pictures of the gang that sabotaged my ambition to stay out of the Vice Presidency” with Truman adding an autograph postscript: “Harry Jobes tells me to order you to keep still and your mouth shut for ten days. How about it? My best to your real boss [i.e., Evans’s wife].”

The photo, taken in a hotel room at the time of the Democratic National Convention in Chicago during the summer of 1944, shows a beaming Truman sitting surrounded by well-wishers clutching telegrams concerning his nomination for Vice-President. The boisterous group includes three longtime Missouri friends who were instrumental in getting a reluctant Truman to take the number two slot: Evans (kneeling at Truman’s right arm), Edward D. McKim (kneeling at Truman’s left arm) and Fred Canfil (center of the three standing). Truman was not being coy when he told the party bosses he didn’t want to be Vice President. He–and all those urging him to accept–knew full well that FDR’s failing health would likely result in the Vice-Presidential nominee becoming the President, and sooner rather than later. “1600 Pennsylvania is a nice address,” Truman wrote his daughter before the convention, “but I’d rather not move in through the back door….” (M. Truman, Harry S. Truman, 167). Just two months after this letter, Truman did indeed move into Roosevelt’s chair.

The letter is evenly browned.  Letter and photo are mounted and with matting adhered to all edges recto.  Overall size is 19.5×14.  Signature on photo is light.  Even with faults, this is a RARE example of Truman as VP with a direct mention of his initial concerns in serving as VP.

This item appeared in The Forbes Collection of American Historical Documents, Part V, at Christie’s Auction House on November 2, 2006.  It held a pre-sale estimate of $2,500-3,500.