An Undiscovered Aphorism by Harry S. Truman

Harry S. Truman is one of America’s most accomplished aphorists in chief (see pp. 105-106 of Geary’s Guide). He had an unrivaled knack for coining blunt, energetic aphorisms. In 1973, Margaret Truman, the President’s daughter, published a memoir of her father. That book was ghost-written by Thomas Fleming, an author and historian who has penned dozens of novels and histories, specializing in the American Revolution and World Wars I and II. I had the pleasure of meeting Thomas Fleming last week at a book fair and we got to chatting about each other’s books, as authors are wont to do at book fairs. When I told him I wrote about aphorisms, he told me the story of interviewing President Truman for Margaret’s memoir. Fleming spent a couple of weeks with the 33rd President, who died in 1972, as part of his research for the book. When he asked the President about the pressures of presidential decision-making, Truman shot back with an aphorism that, according to Fleming, has never before been published. So here it is, with acknowledgment and appreciation to Mr. Thomas Fleming, Harry S. Truman’s undiscovered aphorism:

Any six-year-old’s hindsight is worth a President’s foresight.