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50 Harry Truman Quotes From The Unpopular President

These Harry S. Truman quotes reveal what one of the most unpopular presidents thought about government, politics, and life in general.

Harry S. Truman was one of the few US vice presidents who became President because they had to take over when the previous president died or resigned. He was the 34th vice president and the 35th president from 1945-1953. He grew up in Missouri and then went to France during World War I, where he served as a captain in the Field Artillery.

He would end up being the first, and only, president to use nuclear weapons during a war. Truman also obtained NATO approval to aid in what would end up being the Korean War.

The Cold War also began brewing during his presidency. These war issues were not the only reason he left office with a 22% approval rating, in fact, several controversies swirled around him while in office. Enjoy reading these Harry Truman quotes!

Don’t forget to also check out these Dwight D. Eisenhower quotes on life, politics and progress.

Harry S. Truman quotes about government and the economy

1. “Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.” ― Harry S. Truman

2. “Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a Republican. But I repeat myself.” ― Harry S. Truman

3. “The Republicans believe in the minimum wage — the more the minimum, the better.” ― Harry S. Truman

4. “Whenever you have an efficient government you have a dictatorship.” ― Harry S. Truman

5. “Republicans don’t like people to talk about depressions. You can hardly blame them for that. You remember the old saying: Don’t talk about rope in the house where somebody has been hanged.” ― Harry S. Truman

6. “A bureaucrat is a Democrat who holds some office that a Republican wants.” ― Harry S. Truman

7. “Give me a one-handed Economist. All my economists say ‘on one hand…’, then ‘but on the other.” ― Harry S. Truman

8. “Dictatorship, by whatever name, is founded on the doctrine that the individual amounts to nothing; that the State is the only one that counts; and that men and women and children were put on earth solely for the purpose of serving the state.” ― Harry S. Truman

9. “America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination, and unbeatable determination to do the job at hand.” ― Harry S. Truman

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10. “Experience has shown how deeply the seeds of war are planted by economic rivalry and social injustice.” ― Harry S. Truman

11. “I doubt if there is any problem in the world today – social, political, or economic – that would not find a happy solution if approached in the spirit of the sermon on the mount.” ― Harry S. Truman

Harry S. Truman quotes for when life is a struggle

12. “It’s a recession when your neighbor loses his job; it’s a depression when you lose your own.” ― Harry S. Truman

13. “Selfishness and greed, individual or national, cause most of our troubles.” ― Harry S. Truman

14. “Fame is a vapor, popularity is an accident, riches take wings, those who cheer today may curse tomorrow and only one thing endures – character.” ― Harry S. Truman

15. “I never did give them hell. I just told the truth, and they thought it was hell.” ― Harry S. Truman

16. “Once a decision was made, I didn’t worry about it afterward.” ― Harry S. Truman

17. “The reward of suffering is experience.” ― Harry S. Truman

18. “A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties.” ― Harry S. Truman

Harry S. Truman quotes on life advice

19. “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” ― Harry S. Truman

20. “If you can’t convince them, confuse them.” ― Harry S. Truman

21. “Tact is the ability to step on a man’s toes without messing up the shine on his shoes.” ― Harry S. Truman

22. “I have found the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it.” ― Harry S. Truman

23. “Never kick a fresh turd on a hot day.” ― Harry S. Truman

24. “There’s nothing better than cake but more cake.” ― Harry S. Truman

25. “I come to the office each morning and stay for long hours doing what has to be done to the best of my ability. And when you’ve done the best you can, you can’t do any better.” ― Harry S. Truman

If you’re enjoying these quotes, make sure to read our collection of The Office quotes from the iconic hit show.

26. “Carry the battle to them. Don’t let them bring it to you. Put them on the defensive. And don’t ever apologize for anything.” ― Harry S. Truman

27. “If you can’t dance then you are a loser.” ― Harry S. Truman

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28. “How many times do you have to get hit over the head until you figure out who’s hitting you.” ― Harry S. Truman

Harry S. Truman quotes that are full of truth

29. “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” ― Harry S. Truman

30. “The only thing new in the world is the history you do not know.” ― Harry S. Truman

31. “Fame is a vapor, popularity is an accident, riches take wings, those who cheer today may curse tomorrow and only one thing endures – character.” ― Harry S. Truman

32. “In reading the lives of great men, I found that the first victory they won was over themselves… self-discipline with all of them came first.” ― Harry S. Truman

33. “The ‘C’ students run the world.” ― Harry S. Truman

34. “It is ignorance that causes most mistakes.” ― Harry S. Truman

35. “We must have strong minds, ready to accept facts as they are.” ― Harry S. Truman

36. “The most peaceful thing in the world is plowing a field. Chances are you’ll do your best thinking that way. And that’s why I’ve always thought and said, farmers are the smartest people in the world, they don’t go for high hats and they can spot a phony a mile off.” ― Harry S. Truman

37. “Human life is something that comes to us from beyond this world, and the purpose of our society is to cherish it and to enable the individual to attain the highest achievement of which he is capable.” ― Harry S. Truman

38. “Believe and you’re halfway there.” ― Harry S. Truman

39. “Men often mistake notoriety for fame, and would rather be noticed for their vices than not be noticed at all.” ― Harry S. Truman

40. “Mama and Papa are more to blame (for delinquency) than the kids; parents should stay home and raise their children and spend less time in taverns.” ― Harry S. Truman

41. “Actions are the seeds of fate. Deeds grow into destiny.” ― Harry S. Truman

42. “If you can read this, thank a teacher.” ― Harry S. Truman

Harry S. Truman quotes on America and politics

43. “The fundamental basis of this nation’s laws was given to Moses on the Mount…If we don’t have a proper fundamental moral background, we will finally end up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in rights for anybody except the State.” ― Harry S. Truman

44. “My choice early in life was either to be a piano player in a whorehouse or a politician. And to tell the truth, there’s hardly any difference.” ― Harry S. Truman

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45. “You want a friend in this city? [Washington, DC.] Get a dog!” ― Harry S. Truman

46. “I never would have agreed to the formulation of the Central Intelligence Agency back in forty-seven, if I had known it would become the American Gestapo.” ― Harry S. Truman

47. “In most of my campaigns, I find it is best not to mention my opponent by name because, by doing so, it just gives him a chance to get into the headlines.” ― Harry S. Truman

48. “When even one American – who has done nothing wrong – is forced by fear to shut his mind and close his mouth, then all Americans are in peril.” ― Harry S. Truman

49. “Show me a man that gets rich by being a politician, and I’ll show you a crook.” ― Harry S. Truman

50. “No nation on this globe should be more internationally minded than America because it was built by all nations.” ― Harry S. Truman

What did you learn from these Harry S. Truman quotes?

There was economic strife following WWII due in part to the military expense of war. Truman’s response to handling the post-war struggles led to opposition from Congress and public opinion was that it was ineffectual at best.

During the railroad strike, Truman took control of the railways in an attempt to solve the problem, but the unions still chose to strike. There was also a major steel strike.

He didn’t have much experience in foreign policy, so he listened mostly to his advisors. Truman’s response to civil unrest in China was viewed as a loss when the plan didn’t work as intended and we ended up being an enemy of Asia.

He also went against the advice given to him and recognized Isreal after it declared itself a nation, saying, “Hitler had been murdering Jews right and left. I saw it, and I dream about it even to this day. The Jews needed someplace where they could go. It is my attitude that the American government couldn’t stand idly by while the victims [of] Hitler’s madness are not allowed to build new lives.”

Truman also ordered an unpopular addition to the White House, and while it was being renovated moved into Blair House. Puerto Rican Nationalists attempted to assassinate him on his daily commute. There were also scandals involving corruption, which resulted in 166 employees being fired or resigning from their posts.

What’s your biggest takeaway from these Harry S. Truman quotes and sayings? Let us know your opinion. Feel free to also share any other quotes you like in the comments below!

Danielle Dahl, Lead Contributor
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