President Truman and President Eisenhower transition letters, 1952

November 10, 2020

The Bush-Obama transition is widely seen as the gold standard of smooth transitions, one that took place during two wars and a financial crisis. Not every handoff has been smooth. This exchange of letters between President Truman and Republican presidential candidate Eisenhower show a more heated transfer of power.

August 16, 1952 

Dear Ike:- I am sorry if I caused you embarrassment. What I’ve always had in mind was and is a continuing foreign policy. You know that it is a fact, because you had a part in outlining it. 

Partisan politics should stop at the boundaries of the United States. I am extremely sorry that you have allowed a bunch of screwballs to come between us. You have made a bad mistake and I’m hoping it won’t injure this great Republic. There has never been one like it and I want to see it continue regardless of the man who occupies the most important position in the history of the world. 

May God guide you and give you light. 

From a man who has always been your friend and who always wanted to be! 

Sincerely, 

Harry Truman 

Truman, Harry S. “Message to Dwight D. Eisenhower regarding President Truman’s invitation to a luncheon and briefing at the White House,” Aug. 16, 1952. Retrieved from The Harry S. Truman Presidential Library, President’s Secretary’s Files, General File, Eisenhower, Dwight D. (2 of 2: 1950 – 1953), Box 101.

Aug 19. 1952

Dear Mr. President, 

My sincere thanks for the courtesy of your note of the 16th. I assure you that your invitation caused me no personal embarrassment. 

My feeling merely was that, having entered this political campaign, I would have become involved in the necessity of making laborious explanations to the public, if I had met with the President and Cabinet. Since there was no hint of national emergency conveyed by the telegram of invitation, and since I belong, no longer, to any of the public services, I thought it wiser to decline. 

I repeat my gratefulness for the invitation and for the offer to send me weekly CIA Reports. Through these I shall keep familiar with the foreign situation. Further, I assure you of my support of real bi-partisanship in foreign problems. 

With renewed assurances of my respect and esteem. 

Sincerely

Dwight Eisenhower 

Eisenhower, Dwight D. “Response to President Truman’s invitation to a luncheon and briefing at the White House,” Aug. 19, 1952. Retrieved from The Harry S. Truman Presidential Library, President’s Secretary’s Files, General File, Eisenhower, Dwight D. (2 of 2: 1950 – 1953), Box 101

Publication Tags: Historical