Western Historical Manuscript Collection-Columbia
Stuart Symington and Harry S. Truman:
A Mutual Friendship
by DEBRA K. PITTS*
When Harry S. Truman assumed the presidency upon Franklin D.
Roosevelt's death on April 12, 1945, mail poured into the White House.
Among the letters was one sent by Missouri businessman Stuart Symington.
Symington, then the president and chief executive officer of Emerson
Electric Company in St. Louis, began the letter: "My Dear Friend: From here
on it is Mr. President, but perhaps this once I can be privileged to so address
you. The loss of Mr. Roosevelt was a shock to the world; but those of us who
know you have no apprehension about the future of our country. ... If at any
time you ever felt I could be of service in any way, you know what a great
privilege it would be."1 That letter began a long political and personal correspondence that lasted until Truman's death in 1972.
*Debra K. Pitts received the B.S. and M.A. degrees from Southwest Missouri State
1 Stuart Symington to Harry S. Truman, 24 April 1945, 1004 folder, President's Personal
File (hereinafter cited as PPF), Harry S. Truman Papers, Harry S. Truman Library,