Archive for February, 2016

A Florida Heritage Landmark

Monday, February 29th, 2016

Built in 1890 as quarters for Navy officers, the Little White House later was used by American Presidents William Howard Taft, Harry S. Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton. Truman used the facility as a vacation home and functioning White House between 1946 and 1952. National Legislation was drafted and official government business was conducted daily from the site. Perhaps the most important of these actions occurred on December 5, 1951, when Truman enacted a Civil Rights Executive Order requiring federal contractors to hire minorities. The house is considered the birthplace of the Department of Defense and the U.S. Air Force as a result of the Key West Accords of 1948. President Eisenhower used the site  in 1956 while recuperating form a heart attack. In 1961, the house was the venue for a summit between President Kennedy and British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan during the Bay of Pigs incident. Kennedy returned in 1962 after the Cuban Missile Crisis. Secretary of State, Colin Powell, and foreign leaders held an international summit here in 2001. The Little White House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.

Our 33rd President

Monday, February 22nd, 2016

Harry S. Truman was born in Lamar, Missouri on May 8, 1884. He was the son of John Anderson Truman and Martha Ellen (Young) Truman, and had a brother, Vivian, and sister, Mary Jane. In 1887,  the Truman’s moved to a farm near Grandview, in 1890, to Independence, and finally, in 1902, to Kansas City. Harry attended public schools in Independence, graduating from high school in 1901. After leaving school, he worked briefly as a timekeeper for a railroad construction contractor, then as a clerk in two Kansas City banks. In 1906 he returned to Grandview to help his father run the family farm. He continued working as a farmer for more than ten years.

From 1905 to 1911, Truman served in the Missouri National Guard. When the United States entered World War I in 1917, he helped organize the 2nd Regiment of Missouri Field Artillery, which was quickly called into Federal service as the 129th Field Artillery and sent to France. Truman was promoted to Captain and given command of the regiment’s Battery D. He and his unit saw action in the Vosges, Saint Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne campaigns. Truman joined the reserves after the war, rising eventually to the rank of colonel. He sought to return to active duty at the outbreak of World War II, but Army Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall declined his offer to serve.

On June 28, 1919, Truman married Bess Wallace, whom he had known since childhood. Their only child, Mary Margaret, was born on February 17, 1924. From 1919 to 1922 he ran a men’s clothing store in Kansas City with his wartime friend, Eddie Jacobson. The store failed in the postwar recession. Truman narrowly avoided bankruptcy, and through determination and over many years he paid off his share of the store’s debts.

Truman was elected in 1922, to be one of three judges of the Jackson County Court. Judge Truman whose duties were in fact administrative rather than judicial, built a reputation for honesty and efficiency in the management of county affairs. He was defeated for reelection in 1924, but won election as presiding judge in the Jackson County Court in 1926. He won reelection in 1930.

In 1934, Truman was elected to the United States Senate. He had significant roles in the passage into law of the Civil Aeronautics Act of 1938 and the Transportation Act of 1940. After being reelected in 1940, Truman gained national prominence as chairman of the Senate Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program. This committee, which came to be called the Truman Committee, sought with considerable success to ensure that defense contractors delivered to the nation quality goods at fair prices.

In July 1944, Truman was nominated to run for Vice President with President Franklin D. Roosevelt. On January 20, 1945, he took the vice-presidential oath, and after President Roosevelt’s unexpected death only eighty-two days later on April 12, 1945, he was sworn in as the nations’ thirty-third President.

Truman later called his first year as President a “year of decisions.” He oversaw during his first two months in office the ending of the war in Europe. He participated in a conference at Potsdam, Germany, governing defeated Germany, and to lay some groundwork for the final stage of the war against Japan. Truman approved the dropping of two atomic bombs on Japan on August 6 and 9, 1945. Japan surrendered on August 14, and American forces of occupation began to land by the end of the month. This first year of Truman’s presidency also saw the founding of the United Nations and the development of an increasingly strained and confrontational relationship with the Soviet Union.

Truman’s presidency was marked throughout by important foreign policy initiatives. Central to almost everything Truman undertook in his foreign policy was the desire to prevent the expansion of the influence of the Soviet Union. The Truman Doctrine was an enunciation of American willingness to provide military aid to countries resisting communist insurgencies; the Marshall Plan sought to revive the economies of the nations of Europe in the hope that communism would not thrive in the midst of prosperity; the North Atlantic Treaty Organization built a military barrier confronting the Soviet-dominated part of Europe. Truman’s recognition of Israel in May 1948 demonstrated his support for democracy and his commitment to a homeland for the Jewish people. The one time during his presidency when a communist nation invaded a non-communist one — when North Korea invaded South Korea in June 1950 — Truman responded by waging undeclared war.

In his domestic policies, Truman sought to accomplish the difficult transition from a war to a peace economy without plunging the nation into recession, and he hoped to extend New Deal social programs to include more government protection and services and to reach more people. He was successful in achieving a healthy peacetime economy, but only a few of his social program proposals became law. The Congress, which was much more Republican in its membership during his presidency than it had been during Franklin Roosevelt’s, did not usually share Truman’s desire to build on the legacy of the New Deal.

The Truman administration went considerably beyond the New Deal in the area of civil rights. Although, the conservative Congress thwarted Truman’s desire to achieve significant civil rights legislation, he was able to use his powers as President to achieve some important changes. He issued executive orders desegregating the armed forces and forbidding racial discrimination in Federal employment. He also established a Committee on Civil Rights and encouraged the Justice Department to argue before the Supreme Court on behalf of plaintiffs fighting against segregation.

In 1948, Truman won reelection. His defeat had been widely expected and often predicted, but Truman’s energy in undertaking his campaign and his willingness to confront issues won a plurality of the electorate for him. His famous “Whistlestop” campaign tour through the country has passed into political folklore, as has the photograph of the beaming Truman holding up the newspaper whose headline proclaimed, “Dewey Defeats Truman.”

Truman left the presidency and retired to Independence in January 1953. For the nearly two decades of his life remaining to him, he delighted in being “Mr. Citizen,” as he called himself in a book of memoirs. He spent his days reading, writing, lecturing and taking long brisk walks. He took particular satisfaction in founding and supporting his Library, which made his papers available to scholars, and which opened its doors to everyone who wished to have a glimpse of his remarkable life and career.

Harry S. Truman died on December 26, 1972. Bess Truman died on October 18, 1982. They are buried side by side in the Library’s courtyard.

Happy Birthday George Washington!

Monday, February 22nd, 2016

George Washington:

Born on February 22nd, 1732. If still alive today he would be 284 years old!

Presidential Term:1789-1797

Fun Facts:

-The first President unified the new nation and shaped the chief executive’s duties. He refused to run for a third term.

-On their wedding day, Martha Washington gave him a miniature portrait of herself. He wore it on a chain around his neck until his death 40 years later.


Harry S. Truman Legacy Symposium Registration

Monday, February 15th, 2016

How to Register

By Phone: We will be happy to register you by phone at 305-294-9911.
(Please have your credit card ready!)

By Mail: Download our registration form.

Mail it with your fee to:
111 Front Street
Key West, Fl 33040

Early Registration: Come early and register at either of our participating hotels and explore Key West! The day is open for you to discover historic Key West. Our island is only 2 miles by 4 miles. We are famous for our night life, but we have 450 years of history as well…from pirates and indians to writers Tennessee Williams and Ernest Hemingway to US Presidents from William Howard Taft to Bill Clinton. There is plenty of shopping, dining, water sports, tours and activities to keep you and your family busy. Our conference hotel, Beachside Resort, is one of Key West’s newest and finest resorts . Located just as you enter the island on US 1. We have arranged for the best accommodations at a very special price. Bringing the whole family? You can upgrade your king size accommodations to a suite. Luxury at its best!

Discounts: High school and currently registered college students under 25 years of age can receive a $50.00 scholarship discount off the $125 registration fee if they fax a copy of their student ID with their registration.

Happy President’s Day

Monday, February 15th, 2016

Have a happy and safe President’s day!


Happy Valentine’s Day!

Sunday, February 14th, 2016

Have a wonderful Valentine’s day!


Happy Birthday Abraham Lincoln!

Friday, February 12th, 2016

Abraham Lincoln:

Born on February 12, 1809. If still alive today he would be 207 years old!

Presidential Term: 1861-1865

Fun Facts:

-Lincoln led the Union into the Civil War to preserve the nation and end slavery. He was assassinated just five days after the Confederate armies surrendered.

-Polls show that Lincoln is the most admired President.


Happy Birthday William Henry Harrison!

Tuesday, February 9th, 2016

William Harrison:

Born on February 9, 1773. If still alive today he would be 243 years old!

Presidential Term: 1841

Fun Facts:

-Harrison delivered a marathon inaugural speech during which he caught a cold. He died a month later.

-Harrison was the first President to die in office and he served the briefest term.


Harry S. Truman Legacy Symposium

Monday, February 8th, 2016

Our 2016 Symposium will be held March 11th & 12th: This years topic will be Harry’s War… The Legacy of the Korean War. Kathy Stevens, former
US Ambassador to Korea, will be the keynote presenter.

Past Symposiums:

2015 – The Public Healthcare Legacy of Harry S. Truman: our 13th Annual Truman Legacy Symposium where we examined the history of healthcare in the United States.

Topics of discussion included:
“Historical Perspectives on America’s Healthcare”
“The Current State of Healthcare in the U.S.”


2014 – The Truman Legacy Symposium on Truman’s Nuclear Legacy: our 12th Annual Truman Legacy Symposium where we will examine the most controversial decisions of Truman’s legacy.

Topics of discussion included:
“The Decision to Use the Bomb”
“Truman’s Atomic Energy Legacy”


2013 – The Truman Legacy Symposium on National Security: our 11th annual Truman Legacy Symposium on May 17 and 18, 2013.

Topics of discussion included:
“The Institutional Structure of the National Security Establishment”
“The Long Societal Reach of the National Security Establishment”


Locals Day

Sunday, February 7th, 2016

Every first Sunday of the month is locals day- free admission for our Key West Resident’s at the Little White House!