Lyndon Johnson, Harry Truman

President Johnson: Mr. President I’m so glad to hear you.

Harry Truman: Well, I’m glad to hear you. How are you doing?

President Johnson: I’m just fine. You just got a spry in your voice. I'm just wonderful. I didn’t know whether you were feeling well or not. And I didn’t want to bother you. And I just took on your wife to tell her how much we loved you.

Harry Truman: You couldn’t do anything that I wouldn’t approve of.

President Johnson: [Laughs] Well, that’s the way I feel about you.

Harry Truman: Well, I think you’re doing a good job.

President Johnson: Well, I just hope you are taking care of yourself and—

Harry Truman: Well, I am.

President Johnson: —and you know that [if] there is anything in the world that would make you happy, let me know it [and] I will try to do it.

Harry Truman: I'll feel just like that. I’ll do it and do it too.

President Johnson: God—

Harry Truman: I don’t know of anything right now.

President Johnson: Well, you take care of yourself, and God bless you. And I want you to know we’re thinking of you.

Harry Truman: Well, thank you and I—

President Johnson: I was talking to your friend Jim Webb and he was—he told me a story, said he came in to see you the morning after Philadelphia and he had been nominated and he handed you a letter to sign the impounding of funds for the 70-Group Air Force that they had appropriated that you hadn’t asked for and they had run over you.1 And he said, “Now, Mr. President take your time on signing that one because that’s showing the executive can impound the money of the Congress, and it’s a pretty important precedent." He said you took your pen and very firmly signed "Harry S. Truman" and handed it back to him and said, “Jim, I want you to remember this: there never was a more independent man sat in this chair, and even if I have got a campaign ahead of me, I’m not going to give any quarter to these sons of bitches been talking about me and Margaret.” [Laughs]2

Harry Truman: That suits me fine.

President Johnson: [Laughing] So I thought that’s pretty good. I said, “I want to hear his voice again.”

Harry Truman: I'll [unclear] talked to me. 

President Johnson: I—we all love you, and goodbye.

Harry Truman: Goodbye.

President Johnson: Bye.

  • 1. James Webb had been director of the Bureau of the Budget during Truman's presidency.
  • 2. In a notorious incident during his presidency, Harry Truman had objected vigorously to one music critic who had written an unfavorable review.

Original tape courtesy of LBJ Library. This transcript is a working draft. Please let us know if you find important errors.