Harry S. Truman Marries Bess Wallace

On this day in 1919, future President Harry S. Truman marries his longtime Missourian sweetheart, Bess. When the two met, Truman told a friend that she had the “most beautiful golden curls and blue eyes” and that she was the “one girl in the world” for him.

Although they had known each other since the fifth grade, Harry and Bess did not marry until their mid-30s. The very practical Truman did not want to marry until he could make a decent living, so it took many years and a stint in the military before Truman proposed.

The Trumans’ relationship and his political beliefs are well-documented in the many letters Harry wrote to Bess. For example, six months before their wedding, he wrote from the front in World War I in his inimitable no-nonsense manner: “We’ll stay there until Woodie [Woodrow Wilson] gets his pet peace plans refused or okayed?–I don’t give a whoop whether there’s a League of Nations or whether Russia has a Red government or a Purple one…we came over here to help whip the Hun. For my part I’ve had enough vin rouge and frogeater victuals to last me a lifetime.”

The Trumans had one daughter, Margaret, upon whom they doted. Truman had an explosive temper and was fiercely loyal to his family. When Margaret received an unfavorable review of her 1950 signing debut in the Washington Post, then-President Truman was so furious that he wrote a letter to the paper’s editor the next day in which he threatened to give the reviewer a black eye and a broken nose. Although Truman was known as “Give ‘em Hell Harry” for doggedly pursuing political aims, he did not follow up on that particular non-political threat.

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