FACT CHECK: ‘Buy A Dog’ – Did Harry Truman Give People This Advice On Making Friends In Washington?

Trevor Schakohl | Fact Check Reporter

A Facebook post claims that former President Harry Truman once said, “If you want a friend in Washington, buy a dog.”

Verdict: False

There is no evidence that Truman authored this statement.

Fact Check:

Truman, the 33rd president, took office after the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1945. During his presidency, he presided over the decision to drop the atomic bomb on Japan and the end of World War II for U.S. forces.

Though Truman wrote and spoke extensively on a variety of subjects, there is no evidence that the quote originated with him. The Harry S. Truman Presidential Library has no record of the expression in its collection of Truman’s writings. A search of the National Archives didn’t turn up any matching phrases either.

“We have never been able to confirm or verify that President Truman ever wrote or said, ‘If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog,’ a quote that is often attributed to him,” said Samuel Rushay, an archivist at the Truman Library, in an email to the Daily Caller.

According to the website Quote Investigator, the false attribution to Truman may come from Samuel Gallu’s 1975 play “Give ’em Hell, Harry,” in which a fictional Harry Truman character said, “You want a friend in life, get a dog!”

The source of the quotation is unknown but, according to etymologist Barry Popik, it has been in print since at least 1911.

Trevor Schakohl

Fact Check Reporter
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