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Harry Truman Masonic Archive Collection of Four Items
HARRY S. TRUMAN (1884-1972). Thirty-Third President of the United States, who Authorized Dropping of the First Atomic Bomb on Japan to End World War II.
This Remarkable "Harry" Truman Archive, Masonic Collection includes:
1. Rare Autograph Letter Signed, "Harry" as U.S. Senator, 1 full page, 8.5" x 11". Cape Girardeau, Missouri, November 27, 1940. To John W. Snyder, on his rare personal stationery as Grand Master, Grand Lodge of Missouri, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons. Truman was Grand Master from 1940-1941. Imprinted in upper left: "Harry S. Truman / Grand Master / 240 Senate Office Bldg. / Washington, D.C." Two file holes in upper edge. Fine condition. This Letter reads, in full:
"Just had a telegram from Bess saying that the experts have decided not to operate on momma. It sure took a load of bricks off my head. I had another leg & foot specialist look at her and he said 'not now.' I am wiring you today asking you to see Lou Holland. He's a real big man and my friend. You can trust him and he really wants to do something for Missouri. No ax to grind himself. I'm doing a little 'high hatting' down here. Hope to see you soon."
2. Ornate Partly Printed Document Signed, "John Wesley Snyder," countersigned by the Sovereign Grand Commander 33 and Grand Secretary General 33 of the Supreme Council Sovereign Grand Inspectors General of the Thirty Third and Last Degree of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite for the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction of the United States of America, one page, 16" x 20.75", Boston, Massachusetts, September 28, 1966. Two-inch diameter embossed gold seal affixed at bottom center. Signed in the upper left, "Harry S. Truman 33 / P G-M / 8-25-67 / Mo." (Harry Truman was made a Sovereign Grand Inspector General, 33, and Honorary Member, Supreme Council on October 19, 1945.) On Parchment, small spot in upper blank area; two tape remnants on verso lightly show-through on recto in blank areas, Very Fine. It reads, in part:
"To the Illustrious Sublime Masons of all degrees of the Ancient Accepted Rite over the surface of the Globe, Health, Stability, Power. Know Ye, that our Illustrious Brother John Wesley Snyder whose name is written with his own hand in the margin hereof, was on the twenty-eighth day of September, 1966 (E.V.) created a Sovereign Grand Inspector General 33 and Honorary Member of our Supreme Council..."
3. Typed Letter Signed, "Harry S. Truman" to John Snyder, dated November 16, 1965, 7.25" x 10.5", small rust stain at upper left, on his personal stationery, which reads:
"Dear John: I sincerely hope that the 33 situation will develop as you anticipate. I wish I could be there for the ceremony. It is a lovely ceremony and one that you would like. It is still too far in advance for me to know what my situation will be next fall but, if it is at all possible for me to make the trip I would certainly want to be there. Sincerely yours, - (Signed) Harry S. Truman".
4. Typed Letter Signed, "Harry S. Truman" to John Snyder, dated October 25, 1966, 7.25" x 10.5", also included is an envelope addressed to Snyder, with a printed "Frank" of Truman, on his personal stationery, which reads:
"Dear John: I am happy to know that you are now way up there on the 33rd with the 'chosen few'. Congratulations! I agree with you that the outlook does not appear too good - and as you may have read, I have said so publicly. When you are out this way, come to see me and we will talk about it. Sincerely yours, - (Signed) Harry S. Truman".
A wonderful, specialized archive. (4 items).
In 1911, Truman was among the organizers of Masonic Lodge 618 in Grandview. "I have the big head terribly," he wrote proudly to Bess Wallace on June 16, 1911,when he was elected its first Master. After World War I, Truman focused his efforts on serving the entire Masonic district that included Jackson County outside of Kansas City.
In 1925, he was appointed District Deputy Grand Master and Lecturer and for about five years he gave courses of instruction in lodges throughout the district. In 1940, Senator Truman was elected Grand Master for the Grand Lodge of Missouri. His last duty in this position was to preside over the lodge's annual meeting, held in St. Louis, September 30-October 1, 1941. "Well my tour of duty as Grand Master ended up in a blaze of glory," Truman wrote to Bess after the meeting. "My good friends were the happiest men you ever saw and I felt like it was worth all the effort and time."
On October 19, 1945, President Truman was given the 33rd degree of the Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite for the southern jurisdiction. Of 14 U.S. Presidents who were Masons, President Truman is the only one to be given the 33 of the Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite which he considered with satisfaction to be the culmination of his Masonic career. "Freemasonry," Truman wrote Frank Briggs in 1939, "is a system of morals which makes it easier to live with your fellow man, whether he understands it or not."
John W. Snyder. Executive Vice-President and Director, Defense Plant Corporation (1940-1943) and Assistant to the Director of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (1940-1944) and later Truman's Secretary of the Treasury (1946-1953). Truman and Snyder had been close friends since 1928.
"Momma," Martha Ellen Young Truman, had celebrated her 88th birthday on November 25, 1940, two days before her son wrote this letter. Elizabeth Churchill, in "The Washington Post," April 15, 1945, three days after FDR died and Truman was sworn in as President, described the new President's mother as "91 years of dynamite. They call her 'peppery' in Grandview. Ever since her son entered politics, that subject enjoyed her complete and undiluted interest. She not only read the papers from cover to cover, but also the Congressional Record. In reading the Record at the time her son was Senator, she always looked to see if Harry was present for the roll coll. When he wasn't, she wrote to him right away and asked the reason why. The former Senator's mail often contained newspaper clippings of political interest to the little lady, to which she added her own comments and ended up with 'Do something about this.'" She lived to see her son elected President in his own right in 1948. Martha Ellen Young Truman was 96 when she died on July 26, 1949.
Lou Holland (1978-1960) founded the Holland Engraving Company in Kansas City in 1916. President of the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce (1925-1927), From 1927-1931, Holland had worked with Truman to encourage the approval of $10 million in bonds to finance road construction in Jackson County, Missouri. Holland later served as Chairman of the Smaller War Plants Corporation (1942-1943) and President of the American Automobile Association (1949-1951).
According to the Truman Library's Neil M. Johnson in an interview with John R. Steelman, the Assistant to the President (1946-1953), Truman would use terms such as "high hats, stuffed shirt and Prima Donnas" for Washington people and upper class people. In a handwritten manuscript found in Truman's desk after he died, titled "Definition of the Democratic Party," Truman wrote "I've just been informed that the Democratic Party ... has gone high hat and is charging one thousand dollars for the privilege of sitting with the President of the United States at a dinner!"