By Gary McKechnie
If Florida could ever lay claim to a president, one of the best would be Number 33: Harry S Truman.
Sure, he was born in Missouri, but he had a soft spot in his heart for Florida. In particular, Key West.
An interesting fact: Truman came to Key West because he was poor. In the 1920s, the haberdashery he owned with an Army pal had gone under and Truman spent decades trying to crawl out from under his debts.
Even when he was a county judge and, later, when he entered the U.S. Senate, he was so scrupulously honest he would never take a loan (much less a bribe), so he never had enough. It was during his Senate term that his family farm was lost in foreclosure.
So when his doctor advised the president to get some rest and relaxation, he looked at his bank account, and then looked at a place that had a naval base that would justify a presidential trip.
Along with Ernest Hemingway, Harry Truman helped put Key West on the map.
Initially, the house served as the naval station’s command headquarters during the Spanish-American War, World War I and World War II.
In 1946, it became Truman's escape, and later was the site for the Cold War response by following presidents.
Today, the Trumans' Key West Little White House is a living museum, and still a retreat and place of government business for our nation's leaders.
To learn more about this remarkable man and how his presence helped transform the island, visit Truman's Key West Little White House where, each winter during his 11 visits, the buck stopped at America’s southernmost island.
When you go...
Truman Little White House
111 Front Street, Key West