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Harry S. Truman

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Harry S. Truman, 1884-1972.  33rd President of the United States.  Rare Typed Letter Signed, Harry S. Truman, one page, 8” x 10˝, on stationery of the United States Senate, Committee on Interstate Commerce, Washington, D.C., January 22, 1941.

This is a rare letter in which Senator Truman, seeking to influence politics at home, refers to the Pendergast political organization in Kansas City. Writing to Rufus Burrus, his hometown lawyer, Truman writes, in part:  “I appreciated your note of the Twentieth, and I see now what the difficulty is.  I was under the impression that Roger and Jim were working along the same lines.  I will see what I can do about it.”

“Jim” was James M. Pendergast (1896-1966), then the head of what remained of the formerly powerful Pendergast political machine.  He served with Truman in World War I and was the nephew of Trumans benefactor and political mentor, Thomas J. Pendergast (1872-1945), the Kansas City boss who ran the machine until he went to prison for tax evasion in 1939.  “Roger” was Roger T. Sermon (1890-1950), who served 26 years as the mayor of Independence during the Pendergast era and was closely allied with the machine until 1942.

Truman owed his political career to the machines support—so much so that, when he went to the United States Senate in 1935, others derisively dubbed him the Senator from Pendergast.”  Still Truman almost never mentioned the Pendergasts in writing.  Hence the rarity of this letter.

The letter is in very fine condition, with only two routine file holes at the top keeping it from being extra fine.  It has two normal mailing folds, neither of which affects the signature.  Truman has boldly signed in black with a large 3 1/8” signature.

Unframed.

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