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"A Nervous Chill"

Excerpt from the Untold History of the United States Young Reader's Edition about Truman's extremely serious bout with the flu and strep throat, and White House efforts to cover it up:


"A Nervous Chill"

On Friday, July 11, 1952, Truman woke up with a sore throat and terrible stomach pain. He felt extremely tired and lethargic all day. Two days later, a “nervous chill” came over him. He was exhausted, sweat poured down his hot skin. His heart was racing. He had to sit down. He had never felt like this before. He called his doctor, General Wallace Graham. Then he called Bess in Independence and Margaret in London. By evening, his temperature had risen to 103.6 degrees. The next morning, he was transported to Walter Reed Army Medical Center where doctors examined him, took blood, and ran test after test.


The results revealed that the president was very sick. He had strep throat, the flu, and a respiratory infection all at once. At one point, his lungs became so congested that one doctor didn’t think he would be able to survive his term.


Though the sixty-eight-year-old president had already exceeded the life expectancy for an American male and though strep throat was a major cause of death at the time, the public was never made aware of the president’s condition.


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Photos below courtesy of Prologue Magazine. Thanks to Samuel Rushay for your scholarship.



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