THE PRESIDENCY: The Valedictory

Harry Truman worked hard on his eighth and last message to Congress on the State of the Union, determined to speak his valedictory in the calm, reasoning voice of the statesman. At 11:15 one night last week—late by Truman standards—he finished going over the fifth draft, left his speechwriters working well past midnight to buff the rough edges.

Next morning, a White House messenger dropped off copies at the Capitol for reading by clerks in the Senate and House.

After enumerating what he regarded as the triumphs of his years in office, Harry Truman got down to Topic A: the present...

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