Harry Truman: the 33rd or the 32nd President?

Any official list of presidents will show Harry Truman as the 33rd President of the United States. Not everyone agrees with this, however. The most notable dissenter as to the number assigned to the Truman administration was none other than Harry Truman, himself.

Truman, who was not averse to sharing his thoughts on any subject, disagreed with counting Grover Cleveland’s two non-consecutive terms. “If you count the administrations of Grover Cleveland twice because another President held office between Cleveland’s first and second term,” said Truman, “you might try to justify the designation of me as thirty-third President. But then why don’t you number all the second terms of other Presidents and the third and fourth terms of President Roosevelt, and where will you be? I am the thirty-second President.”

Despite this argument, the official proclamation, dated April 13, 1945, issued by President Truman on the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt referred to Roosevelt as the thirty-second president:

April 13, 1945

By the President of the United States of America
A Proclamation

To the People of the United States:

It has pleased God in His infinite wisdom to take from us the immortal spirit of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States.

The leader of his people in a great war, he lived to see the assurance of the victory but not to share it. He lived to see the first foundations of the free and peaceful world to which his life was dedicated, but not to enter on that world himself.

His fellow countrymen will sorely miss his fortitude and faith and courage in the time to come.

The peoples of the earth who love the ways of freedom and of hope will mourn for him.

But though his voice is silent, his courage is not spent, his faith is not extinguished. The courage of great men outlives them to become the courage of their people and the peoples of the world. It lives beyond them and upholds their purposes and brings their hopes to pass.

Now, Therefore, I, Harry S. Truman, President of the United States of America, do appoint Saturday next, April 14th, the day of the funeral service for the dead President, as a day of mourning and prayer throughout the United States. I earnestly recommend the people to assemble on that day in their respective places of divine worship, there to bow down in submission to the will of Almighty God, and to pay out of full hearts their homage of love and reverence to the memory of the great and good man whose death they mourn.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States, to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, the 13th day of April, in the year of our Lord, one thousand nine hundred and forty-five, and of the independence of the United States, the one hundred and sixty-ninth.

Should there be a period after the S in Harry Truman’s middle name?

Read more fun facts about Presidents.

Read more fun facts about Harry Truman.

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