First Lady Elizabeth "Bess" Truman wasn't fond of the lack of privacy that accompanied her life with President Harry Truman, but nonetheless handled the social obligations of her post with aplomb.
Harry Truman became president after serving just 82 days as Vice President, on April 12, 1945, following the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Truman Library said Bess Truman
was considered one of the "hardest-working" of the White House hostesses, and she attended many events held in her honor.
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Bess Truman restarted the formal White House social season, which had stopped during World War II, planning everything from formal state dinners to teas and musicals. Enamored with tradition, she observed the protocol and customs begun by her predecessors.
Attempting to keep some privacy, she ended Eleanor Roosevelt's practice of holding weekly meetings with female reporters but answered a large percentage the mail she received. Bess Truman also spent a great deal of time at the family home in Missouri, coming to Washington only during the social season.
In her eight years, Mrs. Truman supported many charities and causes that were important to First Ladies prior to the game-changing Eleanor Roosevelt, though she kept up Roosevelt's fundraising for the March of Dimes, according to The National First Ladies' Library.
Truman would allow herself to be photographed promoting various causes and attended charity lunches to help sell tickets.
She also signed a "housewife's pledge" in August 1945, which promised to ration food in the White House. This inspired other Americans to consume less food and donate to the many suffering people in war-ravaged Europe.
According to the Truman Library, Bess Truman served as Honorary President of the Girl Scouts, the Washington Animal Rescue League, and the Womens' National Democratic Club. She was Honorary Chairman of the American Red Cross. She also was selected for honorary membership by many groups, including the American Newspaper Women's Club, the Daughters of Colonial Wars and the Women's National Farm and Garden Association.
The Miller Center at the University
of Virginia reported that Bess Truman was a trusted confident to Harry, though it's unclear how much they consulted about crucial decisions. Still, the president referred to her as his "chief adviser" and "full partner in all transactions – politically and otherwise."
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