National Bank of Commerce


Truman worked at the National Bank of Commerce from April 24, 1903 to May 15, 1905, with a break of probably about a month in March and April 1905 during which he helped his parents move from Kansas City to a farm near Clinton, Missouri. The employment application that Truman filled out for the National Bank of Commerce in 1903 included a section entitled "Habits." "Have you any tastes or habits extravagant in proportion to your means?" the application asked. "Don't think so," was Truman's response. He listed his "forms of recreation or amusement" as "theaters and reading." He spent his evenings and Sundays "at home." When Truman reapplied for employment in April 1905, he added, "[My family] are depending on me to help meet expenses." Dr. G. T. Twyman of Independence provided a good reference. "I have known Harry Truman since his infancy," he wrote. "He is a modle [sic.] young man & worthy all confidence being strictly truthful sober & industrious."

At the end of Truman's first year at the bank, his supervisor, A. D. Flintom, wrote this of the young clerk: "He is a willing worker, almost always here and tries hard to please everybody. We never had a boy in the vault like him before. He watches everything very closely and by his watchfulness, detects many errors which a careless boy would let slip through. His appearance is good and his habits and character are of the best." Flintom's next report was equally as praising of his young clerk: "He is very accurate in the filing of letters and the boy is very ambitious and tries hard to please everybody he comes in contact with. I do not know of a better young man in the bank than Trueman [sic]." (Records of Commerce Bancshares, Inc., Truman Library.) Truman started at $20 a month and received raises to $40.

Truman didn't like the man who hired him, Assistant Cashier Charles H. Moore. "His job was to do the official bawling out. He was an artist at it…. All the boys in the Commerce Zoo [the vault staff] were afraid of him, as were all the tellers and bookkeepers. He was never so happy as when he could call some poor inoffensive little clerk up before him in the grand lobby of the biggest bank west of the Mississippi and tell him how dumb and inefficent he was…." (Handwritten autobiographical manuscript, 1945, President's Secretary's Files.)

Truman left the National Bank of Commerce in May 1905 to take a job with Union National Bank.

The National Bank of Commerce was located in the Journal Building, at 10th and Walnut Streets, which burned in 1906 and was replaced with the building that is today called the Commerce Tower.