Margaret Truman Daniel, President Truman’s only child, dies

Tuesday, January 29, 2008 | 12:07 p.m. CST; updated 4:45 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Margaret Truman smiles happily in her dressing room after her concert appearance in Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 8, 1950, when she sang before her parents, President and Mrs. Truman, and British Prime Minister Clement Attlee, who were in the audience. The only child of former President Harry Truman died Tuesday. She was 83.

INDEPENDENCE — Margaret Truman Daniel, the only child of former President Harry Truman, died Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2007. She was 83.

Mrs. Daniel died in Chicago following a brief illness, according to the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum in Independence. She had been living in an assisted living facility there for the past several weeks and was on a respirator, the library said.


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Mrs. Daniel, a longtime resident of New York City, was also the author of mystery novels, many of them set in Washington D.C.; books on the White House; and biographies, including books on her father and her mother, Bess W. Truman.

The Truman Library said Mrs. Daniel was one of the eldest surviving children of an American president, second only to John Eisenhower, the son of former President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Before she began her writing career, Mrs. Daniel was a singer and appeared at Carnegie Hall, in Constitution Hall in Washington and on Ed Sullivan’s “Toast of the Town” television show.

Her singing also led to one of her father’s most famous outbursts. After she received an unfavorable review from Washington Post music critic Paul Hume, President Truman threatened to beat Hume and called him “an eight ulcer man on four ulcer pay.” Mrs. Daniel performed on stage, radio and television into the 1950s. She also worked for NBC.

Daniel was the wife of Clifton Daniel, the former Washington bureau chief of The New York Times. The couple had four children. Clifton Daniel died in February 2000.

She was born Feb. 17, 1924, in Independence and given the name Mary Margaret Truman. After her father was elected to the Senate in 1934, she split her school year between Independence and Washington D.C.

Mrs. Daniel graduated from George Washington University in 1946, one year after her father became the 33rd president of the U.S.

She was honorary co-chair of the Harry S. Truman Library Institute, the nonprofit partner of her father’s presidential library, and a governing board member of the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute.

Mrs. Daniel was instrumental in bringing former President Clinton to Independence for a keynote address in July 2007.

“Margaret was an extraordinary individual. Her legacy is as much a part of this presidential library as her parents’, and we are extremely grateful for her many contributions,” said Michael Devine, director of the Truman Library. “All of us at the Truman Library and Truman Library Institute extend our deepest condolences to her family.”

A public memorial service will be held at the library but details have not been determined, said Susan Medler, library spokeswoman.

Mrs. Daniel is survived by three of her four children and five grandchildren.

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