150 Harry S. Truman Quotes

If you ever wondered about the man who decided to drop the atomic bomb on Japan to end the Second World War, then this collection of Harry S. Truman quotes might just be the perfect fit.

Wars and things like atomic bombs sure are a big deal. However, Harry Truman only learned about the bomb and specifics of the on-going war after he was sworn in as the president. In fact, the former President Roosevelt largely kept him—then as Vice President—out of the loop when it comes to plans about the war.

Continue to the list below to find out more.

Best Harry Truman Quotes

1. “If you can’t convince them, confuse them.”

2. “Never kick a fresh turd on a hot day.”

3. “Tact is the ability to step on a man’s toes without messing up the shine on his shoes.”

4. “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”

5. “The only thing new in the world is the history you do not know.”

6. “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.”

7. “You want a friend in this city? Get a dog!”

8. “Fame is a vapor, popularity is an accident, riches take wings; those who cheer today may curse tomorrow, and only one thing endures—character.”

9. “Selfishness and greed, individual or national, cause most of our troubles.”

10. “Once a decision was made, I didn’t worry about it afterward.”

11. “The Republicans believe in the minimum wage—the more the minimum, the better.”

12. “We must remember that the test of our religious principles lies not just in what we say, not only in our prayers, not even in living blameless lives—but in what we do for others.”

13. “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.”

14. “They think the American standard of living is a fine thing—so long as it doesn’t spread to all the people.”

15. “Suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were a Republican; but I repeat myself.”

16. “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.”

17. “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.”

18. “We should resolve now that the health of this nation is a national concern; that financial barriers in the way of attaining health shall be removed; that the health of all its citizens deserves the help of all the nation.”

19. “I never did give them hell. I just told the truth, and they thought it was hell.”

Harry Truman Quotes on Man’s Faith and Beliefs

20. “I believe that we must assist free peoples to work out their own destinies in their own way.”

21. “I had faith in Israel before it was established, I have in it now. I believe it has a glorious future before it—not just another sovereign nation, but as an embodiment of the great ideals of our civilization.”

22. “Here, we now have the freedom of all religions, and I hope that never again will we have a repetition of religious bigotry, as we have had in certain periods of our own history. There is no room for that kind of foolishness here.”

23. “Our religious faith gives us the answer to the false beliefs of Communism. I have the feeling that God has created us and brought us to our present position of power and strength for some great purpose.”

24. “Religious and racial persecution is moronic at all times—perhaps the most idiotic of human stupidities.”

25. “This nation was established by men who believed in God. You will see the evidence of this deep religious faith on every hand.”

26. “We have gone a long way toward civilization and religious tolerance, and we have a good example in this country. Here, the many Protestant denominations, the Catholic Church, and the Greek Orthodox Church do not seek to destroy one another in physical violence just because they do not interpret every verse of the Bible in exactly the same way.”

27. “The fundamental basis of this Nation’s law was given to Moses on the Mount. The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings which we get from Exodus and St. Matthew, from Isaiah and St. Paul.”

28. “Of course, there are dangers in religious freedom and freedom of opinion. But to deny these rights is worse than dangerous. It is absolutely fatal to liberty.”

29. “The external threat to liberty should not drive us into suppressing liberty at home. Those who want the government to regulate matters of the mind and spirit are like men who are so afraid of being murdered that they commit suicide to avoid assassination.”

30. “Believe, and you’re halfway there.”

31. “Men often mistake notoriety for fame, and would rather be noticed for their vices than not be noticed at all.”

32. “I never did give them hell. I just told the truth, and they thought it was hell.”

33. “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.”

34. “The reward of suffering is experience.”

35. “We must have strong minds ready to accept facts as they are.”

36. “If you can’t dance, then you are a loser.”

37. “Actions are the seeds of fate. Deeds grow into destiny.”

38. “Since childhood at my mother’s knee, I have believed in honor, ethics and right living as its own reward. I find a very small minority who agree with me on that premise.”

39. “There is a lure in power. It can get into a man’s blood just as gambling and lust for money have been known to do.”

Harry Truman Quotes on Country and Leadership

40. “All the president is, is a glorified public relations man who spends his time flattering, kissing, and kicking people to get them to do what they are supposed to do anyway.”

41. “The human animal cannot be trusted for anything good except ‘en masse.’ The combined thought and action of the whole people of any race, creed or nationality, will always point in the right direction.”

42. “Leadership is the art to have people do something they dislike, and have them enjoy it.”

43. “The legislative job of the president is especially important to the people who have no special representatives to plead their cause before Congress, and that includes the great majority.”

44. “The president is the representative of the whole nation and he’s the only lobbyist that all the one hundred and sixty million people in the country have.”

45. “People are very much wrought up about the Communist bugaboo.”

46. “I have little patience with people who take the Bill of Rights for granted. The Bill of Rights, contained in the first ten amendments to the Constitution, is every American’s guarantee of freedom.”

47. “To me, party platforms are contracts with the people.”

48. “If you want to get elected, shake hands with 25, 000 people between and until November 7.”

49. “There has been a lot of talk lately about the burdens of the Presidency. Decisions that the President has to make often affect the lives of tens of millions of people around the world, but that does not mean that they should take longer to make.”

50. “Some men can make decisions and some cannot. Some men fret and delay under criticism.”

51. “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.”

52. “I wonder how many times you have to be hit on the head before you find out who’s hitting you? It’s about time that the people of America realized what the Republicans have been doing to them.”

53. “I’m the ultimately responsible person in this organization. Other people can pass the buck to me, but I can’t pass the buck to anyone else.”

54. “The United States has become great because we, as a people, have been able to work together for great objectives even while differing about details.”

55. “I sit here all day trying to persuade people to do the things they ought to have the sense to do without persuading them. That’s all the powers of the President amount to.”

56. “Most of the time, most people know the right thing to do. It’s the doing of it that gives them trouble.”

57. “All through history, it’s the nations that have given most to generals and the least to the people that have been the first to fall.”

58. “For reasons of national security and out of consideration for some people still alive, I have omitted certain material. Some of this material cannot be made available for many years, perhaps for many generations.”

59. “Despite his unimpressive appearance and manner, he was a brilliant fellow with a crystal-clear mind. It was just that, when it came time for him to act like an executive, he was like a great many other people. When the time comes to make decisions, they have difficulty doing it.”

60. “Democrats work to help people who need help. That other party, they work for people who don’t need help. That’s all there is to it.”

61. “Given the choice between a Republican and someone who acts like a Republican, people will vote for the real Republican all the time.”

62. “Nixon is one of the few in the history of this country to run for high office talking out of both sides of his mouth at the same time and lying out of both sides.”

63. “I do not believe there is a problem in this country or the world today which could not be settled if approached through the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount.”

64. “I have no desire to crow over anybody, or to see anybody eating crow, figuratively or otherwise. We should all get together and make a country in which everybody can eat turkey whenever he pleases.”

65. “A man who is influenced by the polls or is afraid to make decisions which make him unpopular is not a man to represent the welfare of the country.”

66 “I should like to remind the gentlemen who make these complaints, that if events had been allowed to continue as they were going prior to March 4, 1933, most of them would have no businesses left for the government or for anyone else to interfere with—and almost surely we would have socialism in this country—real socialism.”

67. “Brave men don’t belong to any one country. I respect bravery wherever I see it.

68. “I’ve said many times that I think the Un-American Activities Committee in the House of Representatives was the most un-American thing in America.”

69. “A man who is not interested in politics is not doing his patriotic duty toward maintaining the constitution of the United States.”

Harry Truman Quotes on War, Politics, and Peace

70. “We shall never be able to remove suspicion and fear as potential causes of war until communication is permitted to flow—free and open, across international boundaries.”

71. “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.”

72. “Experience has shown how deeply the seeds of war are planted by economic rivalry and social injustice.”

73. “We are trying to prevent a third world war.”

74. “The absence of war is not peace.”

75. “He’ll sit there and he’ll say, ‘Do this! Do that!’ and nothing will happen. Poor Ike—it won’t be a bit like the army.”

76. “It will be just as easy for nations to get along in a republic of the world as it is for you to get along in the republic of the United States. Now, when Kansas and Colorado have a quarrel over the water in the Arkansas river they don’t call out the national guard in each state and go to war over it. They bring suit in the Supreme Court of the United States and abide by the decision. There isn’t a reason in the world why we can’t do that internationally.”

77. “If we do not want to die together in war, we must learn to live together in peace.”

78. “I believe that it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures.”

79. “I believe that our help should be primarily through economic and financial aid which is essential to economic stability and orderly political processes.”

80. “He wanted to know what assurance we could give the American people that we aren’t getting the tar licked out of us by the North Korean army. It has never happened to us. It won’t happen this time.”

81. “If we let Korea down, the Soviets will keep right on going and swallow up one place after another.”

82. “I suppose that history will remember my term in office as the years when the Cold War began to overshadow our lives. I have hardly a day in office that has not been dominated by this all-embracing struggle. And always in the background, there has been the atomic bomb. But when history says that my term of office saw the beginning of the Cold War, it will also say that in those eight years we have set the course that can win it.”

83. “This is the first time in my experience that I ever heard of a senator trying to discredit his own government before the world. Your telegram is not only not true and an insolent approach to a situation that should have been worked out between man and man, but it shows conclusively that you are not even fit to have a hand in the operation of the Government of the United States.”

84. “I can deal with Stalin. He is honest, but smart as hell.”

85. “We were well aware that the end of the fighting would not automatically settle the problems arising out of the war. The establishment of peace after the fighting is over has always been a difficult task.”

86. “We must earn the peace we seek just as we earned victory in the war; not by wishful thinking, but by realistic effort. At no time in our history has unity among our people been so vital as it is at the present time. Unity of purpose, unity of effort, and unity of spirit are essential to accomplish the task before us.”

87. “The United States should not, under any circumstances, throw away our gun until we are sure the rest of the world cannot arm against us.”

88. “If wars in the future are to be prevented, the nations must be united in their determination to keep the peace under law.”

89. “The seeds of totalitarian regimes are nurtured by misery and want.”

90. “But all of us—at home, at war, wherever we may be—are within the reach of God’s love and power. We all can pray. We all should pray. We should ask for the fulfillment of God’s will.”

91. “Our efforts have brought new hope to all mankind. We have beaten back despair and defeatism. We have saved a number of countries from losing their liberty. Hundreds of millions of people all over the world now agree with us, that we need not have war—that we can have peace.”

92, “Having found the bomb, we have used it. We have used it against those who attacked us without warning at Pearl Harbor, against those who have starved, and beaten, and executed American prisoners of war, against those who have abandoned all pretense of obeying international laws of warfare. We have used it in order to shorten the agony of war, in order to save the lives of thousands and thousands of young Americans.”

93. “As soon as the war was over, they had to justify what was done.”

94. “The atomic bomb was no great decision.”It was used in the war, and for your information, there were more people killed by fire bombs in Tokyo than dropping of the atomic bombs accounted for. It was merely another powerful weapon in the arsenal of righteousness. The dropping of the bombs stopped the war, saving millions of lives.”

95. “Unless Russia is faced with an iron fist and strong language, another is in the making. Only one language they understand, ‘How many divisions do you have?’ I’m tired of babying the Soviets.”

96. “Sixteen hours ago, an American airplane dropped one bomb on Hiroshima. The force from which the sun draws its power has been loosened against those who brought war to the Far East.”

97. “We have to get tough with the Russians. They don’t know how to behave. They are like bulls in a china shop. They are only 25 years old. We are over 100 and the British are centuries older. We have got to teach them how to behave.”

98. “But Quantrill and his men were no more bandits than the men on the other side. I’ve been to reunions of Quantrill’s men two or three times. All they were trying to do was protect the property on the Missouri side of the line.”

99. “At this time, we should renew our faith in God. We celebrate the hour in which God came to man. It is fitting that we should turn to Him, but there are many others who are away from their homes and their loved ones on this day.”

100. “They said we were soft—hat we would not fight, that we could not win. We are not a warlike nation. We do not go to war for gain or for territory; we go to war for principles, and we produce young men like these. I think I told every one of them that I would rather have that medal—the Congressional Medal of Honor—than to be President of the United States.”

101. “The responsibility of the great states is to serve, and not to dominate, the world.”

102. “If we do not abolish war on this earth, then surely one day war will abolish us from the earth.”

103. “Ignorance and its hand-maidens—prejudice, intolerance, suspicion of our fellowman—breed dictators and breed wars.”

104. “There is some risk involved in action, there always is. But there is far more risk in failure to act.”

105. “We must face the fact that peace must be built on power, as well as upon good will and good deeds.”

106. “The Marshall Plan will go down in history as one of America’s greatest contributions to the peace of the world.”

107. “I’m just a politician from Missouri and proud of it.”

108. “I hope for some sort of peace—but I fear that machines are ahead of morals by some centuries and when morals catch up there’ll be no reason for any of it.”

109. “Politics sure is the ruination of many a good man.”

Harry Truman Quotes on Wisdom and Humor on Being the President

110. “Being too good is apt to be uninteresting.”

111. “Art is parasitic on life, just as criticism is parasitic on art.”

112. “Study men, not historians.”

113. “Well, I wouldn’t say that I was in the great class, but I had a great time while I was trying to be great.”

114. “This administration is going to be cussed and discussed for years to come.”

115. “Most of the problems a president has to face have their roots in the past.”

116. “Upon books, the collective education of the race depends; they are the sole instruments of registering, perpetuating and transmitting thought.”

117. “My father was not a failure. After all, he was the father of a president of the United States.”

118. “If I’d known how much packing I’d have to do, I’d have run again.”

119. “Any man who has had the job I’ve had and didn’t have a sense of humor wouldn’t still be here.”

120. “I remember when I first came to Washington. For the first six months, you wonder how the hell you ever got here. For the next six months, you wonder how the hell the rest of them ever got here.”

121. “A president either is constantly on top of events or, if he hesitates, events will soon be on top of him. I never felt that I could let up for a moment.”

122. “The buck stops here!”

123. “When you get to be President, there are all those things—the honors, the twenty-one gun salutes, all those things. You have to remember it isn’t for you. It’s for the Presidency.”

124. “The only things worth learning are the things you learn after you know it all.”

125. “You can never get all the facts from just one newspaper, and unless you have all the facts, you cannot make proper judgements about what is going on.”

126. “It is understanding that gives us an ability to have peace. When we understand the other fellow’s viewpoint, and he understands ours, then we can sit down and work out our differences.”

127. “Intense feeling too often obscures the truth.”

128. “You can always amend a big plan, but you can never expand a little one. I don’t believe in little plans. I believe in plans big enough to meet a situation which we can’t possibly foresee now.”

129. “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 Truman Quotes on Justice and the World

130. “There is nothing new in the world except the history you do not know.”

131. “The White House is the finest prison in the world.”

132. “I would rather have peace in the world than be president.”

133. “The Russians are liars—you can’t trust them. At Potsdam, they agreed to everything and broke their word. It’s too bad the second world power is like this, but that’s the way it is, and we must keep our strength.”

134. “At the present moment in world history, nearly every nation must choose between alternative ways of life. The choice is too often not a free one.”

135. “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.”

136. “It is organized as a fellowship of men, a system of morals, a philosophy taught by degrees through the use of symbol, story, legend, pictures, and drama. It has served as a center of union among differing backgrounds, cultures, and countries. It serves as the means of conciliating true friendship among persons, who, because of differences, must have otherwise remained at a perpetual distance.”

137. “It isn’t polls or public opinion at the moment that counts. It is right and wrong and leadership—men with fortitude, honesty, and a belief in the right that makes epochs in the history of the world.”

138. “You members of this conference are to be the architects of the better world. In your hands rests our future.”

139. “If you tell Congress everything about the world situation, they get hysterical. If you tell them nothing, they go fishing.”

140. “The atomic bomb is too dangerous to be loose in a lawless world.”

141. “For some time I have been disturbed by the way the CIA has been diverted from its original assignment. It has become an operational and at times a policy making arm of the government.”

142. “Although I hold the highest civil honour in the world, I have always regarded my rank and title as a Past Grand Master of Masons of the greatest honour that had ever come to me.”

143. “The ‘C’ students run the world.”

144. “There is enough in the world for everyone to have plenty, to live happily, and to be at peace with his neighbors.”

145. “No nation on this globe should be more internationally minded than America because it was built by all nations.”

146. “America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination, and unbeatable determination to do the job at hand.”

147. “Today, America has become one of the most powerful forces for good on earth. We must keep it so.”

148. “Canada’s eminent position today is a tribute to the patience, tolerance, and strength of character of her people—of both French and British strains. For Canada is enriched by the heritage of France as well as of Britain, and Quebec has imparted the vitality and spirit of France itself to Canada. Canada’s notable achievement of national unity and progress through accommodation, moderation and forbearance can be studied with profit by her sister nations.”

149. “The America to which these Swedish settlers came was a land that needed the hardy qualities they brought. It was not a land that was particularly soft hearted towards newcomers, but everyone believed that each should have a fair chance regardless of his origin.”

150. “We must build a new world, a far better world—one in which the eternal dignity of man is respected.”

Did These Quotes Serve as Powerful Eye Openers That Show You the Consequences of War?

Harry Truman was the 33rd President of the United States—and was the president during World War II and the Korean War. As president, he was under immense pressure. However, when it came to making decisions that he thought would benefit his people, he did not falter. Aside from deciding on using the atomic bomb as a finishing blow to end the war, he also established some policies that will help America rise again. Some of these policies included pushing for universal health insurance and increasing the minimum wage to almost double its original rate. Through these things, he was slowly able to help the country recover from the effects of war.

Do you think Harry Truman made the right decisions? What do you feel about topics like warfare, conflicts, and politics? Let us know in the comments section below.

Amy Finn

Hi. I'm Amy, the founder of this blog. I love quotes and enjoy sharing the best ones with you.

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