Missouri’s Own President: Harry S. Truman

As the last President who took office without a college education, Harry S. Truman is still noted as a common man who rose to the nation’s highest office. A Missouri native, Truman remains the sole president produced by the Show-Me State. President buffs and fans of Truman can plan a trip to Missouri that highlights his life and career.

In the small southwest Missouri town of Lamar, a six room frame house marks the birthplace of this American president. Now a historical site and museum, the simple frame home where Truman was born offers a look into his early life. Truman lived here during his first year of life. Many of the furnishings are original to the Truman family’s residence here. The Harry S. Truman Birthplace Historical Site is open Monday through Saturdays from 10am until 4pm and from noon until 4pm on Sundays. The site closes for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day, and Easter. There is no charge to tour the site, located near the intersection of U.S. Highways 71 and 160 in Lamar.

Travel up Highway 71 into the Kansas City metro region to find the town of Independence, Missouri where Truman made his home for most of his life. Often known as a jumping off place for wagon trains headed west, Independence offers many sites that focus on Truman.

At the Harry S. Truman National Historic Site on Delaware Street, just off Truman Road, visitors can tour the home where President and Mrs. Truman lived from their marriage in 1919 until their deaths. The sole exception was during his Presidency. The home remains filled with their personal possessions and furnishings. Admission is $3 for adults and children under age 16 are free. The site is open daily from Memorial Day through Labor Day from 9am until 5pm. It is also open during the other months.

Nearby, the Harry S. Truman Courtroom and Office can be found in the Jackson County Courthouse on Independence Square. A multimedia feature that includes a thirty minute sound and light program focuses on his early years and his retirement. The film is presented on request in the courtroom where Truman served as a county judge. A small admission is charged.

The Truman Presidential Museum and Library is also in Independence, near the intersection of Delaware and U.S. Highway 24. A replica of Truman’s Oval Office is here along with many pieces of memorbilia including the original “The Buck Stops Here” sign. One film chronicles Truman’s life from his Missouri childhood through his Inaguration as President. Two other audiovisual programs present a look at some of Truman’s most difficult decisions as a wartime president. After his death on December 29, 1972, Truman was laid to rest on the grounds of his Presidential library.

True Truman fans might want a look at the Union Pacific Train Station at Grand and Pacific. It’s the site where President Truman’s famous Whistle Stop Presidential Campaign began in 1948.

For more information, contact the Independence Department of Tourism at 1-800-748-7323 or the Truman Birthplace site at 417-682-2279.

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