Gerald Massie, Missouri Resources Division
Harry S. Truman returned to his native Missouri many times
while president. The Missouri State Fair was one of his favorite stops.
Some might argue that the Missouri mule and Truman had many
similar characteristics—strength, perseverance and stubbornness, ca.
Truman and Missouri
BY RICHARD S. KIRKENDALL0
Harry Truman, as everyone knows, was a Missourian, even
more of one than Mark Twain, as much of one as Don Faurot. To
be sure, the most significant events in Harry's life took place
outside the state, but, identifying closely with it, he hurried home
to it whenever he could, doing so in 1919 after wartime service in
France, doing so again in 1953 after fulfilling his White House
responsibilities in Washington. And he returned to the state in the
latter year even though Missouri had disappointed him.
In important ways, Truman was a nineteenth-century Missourian. Like many residents of his part of the state, his people, the
Youngs as well as the Trumans, had come from Kentucky, migrating
four decades before his birth in Lamar in 1884. ". . . the central
part of Missouri from St. Louis to Kansas City is just a cross section
of Kentuckians," he would point out during his presidency to an
audience in the adjoining state, "so I know exactly what you think
•Richard S. Kirkendall presented this paper at the State Historical Society of
Missouri's annual meeting in Columbia, October 25, 1986. It is based on his book, A
History of Missouri, Volume V, 1919 to 1953 (University of Missouri Press, 1986). Dr.
Kirkendall is the Henry A. Wallace Professor of History at Iowa State University,