Mayor Richard J. Daley and our 33rd president

Today, May 8, marks the birthday of Harry Truman (b. 1884 – d. 1972), the thirty-third president of the United States. Truman served as vice president to Franklin Delano Roosevelt for only a few weeks when Roosevelt passed away unexpectedly.

Upon becoming president, Truman faced numerous challenges. He prosecuted the end of World War II and shepherded the United States during the difficult years that immediately followed the war. Under his watch, the United States continued its engagement with international affairs, subsidizing western European economic recovery under the “Marshall Plan” and leading United Nations forces during the Korean War (1950 – 1953). Domestically, he oversaw the U.S.’s conversion from a wartime to a peacetime economy and took steps to advance the cause of civil rights, such as creating a presidential committee to study the issue and ordering the desegregation of the armed forces.

Former President Harry Truman shaking hands with Richard J. Daley

Former President Harry Truman shaking hands with Richard J. Daley. Truman inscribed this photo, “A most pleasant meeting with a great mayor.” RJD_04_01_0044_0007_001

Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley met frequently with the former president.

Former President Harry S. Truman, John H. Sengstacke of the Chicago Defender, and Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley in an open car during the Bud Billiken Parade,

Former President Harry S. Truman, John H. Sengstacke of the Chicago Defender, and Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley riding in an open car during the Bud Billiken Parade, 1956. RJD_04_01_0044_0007_003

Truman had a reputation for a feisty personality. Kay Quinlan, personal secretary for Mayor Daley, recalls that one Saturday morning, Truman showed up.

And he came in by himself. And he was staying over at the Sherman, I guess. Vince Leddy was the policeman’s name at the desk, and he came back and he said to me, “You won’t believe who’s here.” And I said, “Who?” He said, “Truman.” I said, “Well, bring him in.” Vince Leddy was sitting at the desk reading something, and Truman came in, had a cane, hit him on the head and said, “Young man, is your mayor in?” So of course the mayor was. “Bring him in, you know, right away.”

Kay Quinlan, Richard J. Daley’s Personal Secretary, interview excerpt, August 7, 2014