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The Buck Stops Here : Phrases


Responsibility is not passed on beyond this point.



U.S. president Harry S. Truman had a sign with this inscription on his desk. This was meant to indicate that he didn't 'pass the buck' to anyone else but accepted personal responsibility for the way the country was governed.

Truman didn't originate the phrase, although it isn't likely that we would ever have heard of it had he not adopted it.

Fred M. Canfil, United States Marshal for the Western District of Missouri and a friend of Truman's, saw a sign like it while visiting the Federal Reformatory at El Reno, Oklahoma in 1945. He thought it would appeal to the plain-speaking Truman and arranged for a copy of it to be made and sent to him. It was seen on the President's desk on and off throughout the rest of his presidency.

On the reverse side, i.e. the side that Truman saw, it was inscribed, "I'm from Missouri". That's a short form of "I'm from Missouri. Show me". Natives of that state (a.k.a. the Show Me State), which included Truman, were known for their skeptical nature.

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