Happy Birthday, Pres. Harry Truman!
Did you know that today is Harry Truman’s birthday? To the good people of Key West, our 33rd President is somewhat of a legend. When most people think of Mr. Truman, they think of World War II and The Truman Doctrine, but the people of Key West revere Truman for his love and dedication to the little island we all adore. We hold a special place in our hearts for Key West and for legendary people, so we wanted to celebrate and honor “Key West’s President” on his 131st birthday.
President Harry Truman first vacationed in Key West in the second year of his presidency and the beauty of the island stuck with him. He was the first president to use air travel, and he certainly made the most of this new transport system by taking the three-hour flight from Washington, D.C., to Key West more than ten times. Over the course of these trips, Truman spent 175 days of his presidency on the island. The president stayed in the same white estate located in the Key West Air Naval Station during all of his visits. From there, Truman enjoyed swimming and sunning on the beach, and also went on various adventures, including: fishing, touring the everglades, and riding in a naval submarine.
The President came to love the keys so much that Mrs. Truman and his daughter Margaret starting making the trip down with him. The family even began hosting Thanksgiving dinners in Key West. It was not all fun and relaxation for the president, however. From the “Little White House,” Mr. Truman carried out all his normal duties, including holding press conferences, calling meetings with high officials, and even issuing executive documents from “The White House, US Naval Station, Key West.” Most famously, in 1947, James Forrestal (Truman’s Secretary of the Navy) and the Joint Chiefs of Staff met with the president in the white estate to construct the Key West Agreement, which created the Department of Defense.
Next time you visit Key West, make sure you visit The Little White House and stroll down Truman Avenue, you will be walking among one of the island's most beloved legends. Curious for more? Detailed logs of Truman’s trips to Key West were documented, including photos of him and his visitors, which you can find here. Happy Birthday, Harry!