Harry H. Vaughan Papers

Dates: 1777-1973; Bulk Date Span: 1942-1973

Military Aide to the President, 1945-1953

The Harry H. Vaughan Papers consist of correspondence, newspaper and magazine articles, a diary, an unpublished memoir, legal documents, and other items relating mostly to Vaughan’s service in the White House as Military Aide to President Truman.

See also Harry H. Vaughan oral history.

[Administrative Information | Biographical Sketch | Collection Description | Series Descriptions | Folder Title List]

ADMINISTRATIVE INFORMATION

Size: 1.6 linear feet (approximately 3,200 pages).
Access: Open.
Copyright: Upon the donor’s death, all literary property rights in his writings in the collection passed to the United States of America. Documents created by U.S. government officials in the course of their duties are in the public domain. Copyright interest in other documents presumably belongs to the creators of these documents, or their heirs.
Processed by: Erwin J. Mueller (1964).
Updated by: Lee Williams (2006) as part of the Truman Library Internship Program.
Supervising Archivists: Randy Sowell and David Clark.


[ Top of the page | Administrative Information | Biographical Sketch | Collection Description | Series Descriptions | Folder Title List ]

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

1893 (November 26)

 

Born, Glasgow, Missouri

1916

 

Received a bachelor's degree from Westminster College, Fulton, Missouri

1917

 

Met and befriended Harry S. Truman during Army training in Oklahoma

1918

 

Promoted to the rank of captain in the field artillery; served as liaison officer and battery commander in France; awarded the Silver Star and the Croix de Guerre

1926-1934

 

Plant manager and salesman for the T. J. Mass Tie Company

1928

 

Promoted to major on reserve duty

1935

 

Promoted to lieutenant colonel on reserve duty

1940

 

Treasurer for Senator Truman's reelection campaign

1941-1942

 

Secretary to Senator Truman

1942-1943

 

Recalled to active duty, served as provost marshal in Brisbane, Australia

1943-1944

 

Liaison officer to the Truman Committee

1945-1953

 

Military Aide to Mr. Truman as Vice-President and President

1945

 

Promoted to temporary rank of brigadier general

1946

 

Promoted to temporary rank of major general

1947

 

Awarded permanent rank of major general

1949

 

Testified before Senate subcommittee regarding his involvement in the “five-percenter” scandal

1953

 

Retired from military service

1981 (May 20)

 

Died, Fort Belvoir, Virginia

[ Top of the page | Administrative Information | Biographical Sketch | Collection Description | Series Descriptions | Folder Title List ]

COLLECTION DESCRIPTION

The papers of Harry H. Vaughan mostly pertain to his work as White House Military Aide during the Truman administration. A longtime friend of the President, General Vaughan served as Truman’s official liaison to the U.S. Army. Truman relished Vaughan’s sense of humor, enjoyed his companionship on social occasions, and valued his unquestioned loyalty. Vaughan’s papers include references to military affairs and personnel matters, but they reflect minimal involvement in policymaking. Much of his correspondence is personal in nature, dealing with gifts and requests for official favors from friends and acquaintances. Most of the collection documents the public controversies in which Vaughan became embroiled while serving on the White House staff.

In the summer of 1949, a Senate Investigations Subcommittee known as the “Hoey Committee,” chaired by Senator Clyde Hoey (D-North Carolina), conducted an investigation of influence peddlers—dubbed “five-percenters”—who allegedly gained government contracts and favors through General Vaughan. Vaughan was never charged with a crime, but his acceptance of deep-freezes as gifts for himself and others in the administration was denounced as improper. Hostile journalists and members of Congress made Vaughan a symbol of “cronyism” and corruption in the Truman administration.

The Vaughan papers are arranged in three series: the Alphabetical File, the Subject File, and the Five Percent Investigation File. Included in the collection are many newspaper and magazine articles by Drew Pearson and other journalists who were critical of Vaughan; drafts of Vaughan’s unpublished memoir, “Whipping Boy—First Class”; his statement in his own defense before the Hoey Committee; and extensive information concerning the “five-percenter” investigation. Vaughan also collected some derogatory material concerning Pearson, his principal nemesis in the press.

The rest of the collection includes a diary from 1942, documenting Vaughan’s service as provost marshal in Brisbane, Australia during World War II; material relating to the redesign of the Presidential flag and seal during the Truman administration; and microfilmed scrapbooks mostly containing personal information about Vaughan.

Further information concerning Harry H. Vaughan is available at the Truman Library in his oral history interview, and in the papers of Cornelius J. Mara (Vaughan’s subordinate at the White House) and Harry S. Truman (especially in President’s Personal File 2115, the President’s Secretary’s Files, and the Post-Presidential Papers).

[ Top of the page | Administrative Information | Biographical Sketch | Collection Description | Series Descriptions | Folder Title List ]

SERIES DESCRIPTIONS

Container Nos.

 

Series

1-2

  ALPHABETICAL FILE, 1945-1962 (Bulk Date Span, 1945-1953)
Correspondence, memoranda, printed materials, and other items mostly relating to military personnel matters, gifts, and requests for favors or assistance from friends and acquaintances. Arranged alphabetically.

2-3

  SUBJECT FILE, 1777-1973 (Bulk Date Span, 1942-1973)
Correspondence, memoranda, printed materials, a diary, an unpublished memoir, and other items mostly relating to the redesign of the Presidential flag and seal, Vaughan’s military service during World War II, his service in the White House, and President Truman’s support for Vaughan. Arranged alphabetically.

3-4

  FIVE PERCENT INVESTIGATION FILE, 1947-1955
Legal documents, printed materials, correspondence, and other items mostly relating to the Senate investigation of “five-percenters” and allegations against Vaughan by the journalist Drew Pearson. Arranged alphabetically.
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FOLDER TITLE LIST

ALPHABETICAL FILE, 1945-1962 (Bulk Date Span, 1945-1953)

Box 1

  • A
  • Atomic Bomb—Draft of Statement by Winston Churchill, July, 1945
  • B
  • C
  • D
  • E
  • F
  • G
  • Gifts
  • H
  • I
  • J
  • K
  • L
  • M
  • Mc
  • N

Box 2

  • O
  • P
  • Poling, D.
  • R
  • S
  • T
  • Truman, H. S.—1952 Senate Campaign [and military pension]
  • U
  • V
  • Vaughan, Harry H.—Personal
  • W
  • X, Y, Z

SUBJECT FILE, 1777-1973 (Bulk Date Span, 1942-1973)

  • Audiovisual
  • Books
  • “Challenge to the Proud”—United States Show
  • Desk Diary, 1942
  • Documents and Designs Used in the Redesign of the Presidential Flag [A-S]
  • Documents and Designs Used in the Redesign of the Presidential Flag [AA-ZZ]
  • Documents and Designs Used in the Redesign of the Presidential Flag [miscellaneous]
  • Hayden, Sen. Carl—Letter on Federal Department Budgets, August 4, 1952
  • Land Grant College Act, 1862
  • Log of the President’s Trip to the Berlin Conference, July 6, 1945 to August 7, 1945
  • Scrapbooks on Microfilm
  • 35th Division Reunion Speech—September, 1973

Box 3

  • Truman, Harry S.—Miscellaneous [speeches, clippings, programs]
  • Truman, Harry S.—“S.O.B.” Speech
  • Truman Masonic Biography
  • Vaughan v. Curtis Publishing Co.
  • “Whipping Boy—First Class”
  • “Whipping Boy—First Class” [typewritten draft]
  • “Whipping Boy—First Class”—Materials Quoted
  • Winchell, Walter

FIVE PERCENT INVESTIGATION FILE, 1947-1955

  • Affidavits
  • Allied Molasses Company
  • Atlantic Maritime Company
  • Burton Tax Case
  • Campaign Funds
  • Costello, Frank

Box 4

  • Fan Mail [1 of 2]
  • Fan Mail [2 of 2]
  • FBI Investigation of Harry Vaughan
  • Gould, Robert—Case
  • Grain Quotas
  • Hoey Committee
  • Home Freezers
  • Hunt, James V.
  • Lee, Col. William L.
  • Maragon, John
  • Maragon, John—Washington, D.C. Police File
  • Miscellaneous [clippings, correspondence]
  • Pearson, Drew—Columns on Harry H. Vaughan
  • Pearson, Drew—Miscellaneous
  • Pearson, Drew—Pamphlet by Gerald L. K. Smith
  • Report of the Hoey Committee
  • Statement Before the Hoey Committee Prepared by Presidential Press Secretary Ross
  • Summary of Testimony
  • Tanforan Race Track
  • Travel Priorities
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