There always will be comparisons between presidents, their modus operandi, lifestyles, personalities and overall style, and, of course, what they accomplished, what they didn’t, how they handled challenges, and their political actions as their places in history are molded. In most cases, it takes years for historians to rank presidents as to their overall standings.
One of the things that is unfolding now is the added respect for Harry Truman when he is compared to other presidents as to his style, beliefs and overall standard of living. What is promoting a comparison is because of the actions of former President Bill Clinton and his family. Clinton is cashing in on his eight years in the White House. He has made it a money machine. Not only Bill, but his wife Hillary and daughter Chelsea are receiving fat fees for speaking or just attending events. The Clintons have reaped millions of dollars from speeches and book deals. They aren’t the only ones who have used a high office such as the presidency to receive rewards by cashing in on their experience.
Truman did not “sell” himself because he was president for nearly eight years. He left the White House the way he went in — having hardly any money. Truman departed the White House without any Secret Service agents guarding him, boarded a train, and came home to Independence to live modestly in his wife’s home (the Clinton have two very expensive homes). Truman left the White House with no income, no pension other than $129 a month Army pension, and he had to obtain a loan since he was nearly broke.
Truman had offers to serve on corporation boards that would give him an income. He turned down all offers. He did not give speeches for money. He didn’t believe in selling the presidency. Truman felt to accept those offers would be to “commercialize” and sell his name as a former president. Truman did the fundraising for his library — the federal government did not pay for it.
He did agree to write his memoirs and over a five-year period was paid $600,000. Bill Clinton gets that much for two speeches, according to reports. Because he needed a staff to help write the book and do the research, Truman netted about $37,000 over five years. His taxes amounted to 67 percent, according to a column by Peggy Noonan in The Wall Street Journal. About five years after leaving the White House, Truman did sell the family farm, was sad about having to do so, but he said he needed money.
Harry Truman was not greedy. He was a man of principles. He believed in serving people. His milking was confined to the farm!