The Buck Stops Here
“The buck stops here” is a phrase that was popularized - although not originated - by United States President Harry S. Truman who had a sign placed on his desk to tell visitors that he alone accepted personal responsibility for how the country was governed and that he would not pass the back to anyone else.
President Truman felt that the sign appropriately represented his views on how he would run his administration. That ultimate responsibility was his and Responsibility would not passed on beyond this point. There would be no excuses.
The sign was prominently displayed on President Truman’s desk during his term in office. Truman also referred to the design sign in several speeches. One such occasion was an address at the National War College on December 19, 1952. During his speech President Truman said, "You know, it's easy for the Monday morning quarterback to say what the coach should have done, after the game is over. But when the decision is up before you -- and on my desk I have a motto which says The Buck Stops Here' -- the decision has to be made."
In his January 1953 farewell address to the as President Eisenhower took over as President, Truman said: "The President--whoever he is--has to decide. He can't pass the buck to anybody. No one else can do the deciding for him. That's his job.”
The phrase passing the buck is derived from the slang expression “pass the buck” which means the opposite of The Buck Stops Here, as it passes responsibility on to someone else. In the game of poker it meant “passing blame” or absolving oneself of responsibility.
The original sign was made at the Federal Reformatory at El Reno, Oklahoma. It was patterned after a sign that a United States Marshal Fred A. Canfil and a friend of President Truman saw while visiting the facility and he asked the Warden if a sign could be made for President Truman. He felt it would appeal to the down to earth plain speaking President. It was send to Truman October, 2, 1945.
Some believe, although it has not been proven, that the sign was seen by Caanfil on the desk of retired army officer Colonel A. B. Warfield. Warfield was quartermaster supply officer and general superintendent of the US Army Transport Service of the New York General Army Depot.
During WWII, Warfield was an officer at a Reconsignment depot at Stockton, California and he had such a sign on his desk. The photograph ran along with a story in October 1942 for a story in the Reno Evening Gazette, which certainly was before Truman’s use of the sign. .
Interestingly, both Truman and the Warden in Oklahoma were said to be avid poker players. In Poker, a player would relinquish his or her responsibility to deal by passing the “buck” which is what the marker was called.
The original sign, measuring approximately 2-1/2" x 13" in size was mounted on a walnut base, the painted glass sign. It has been on display at Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum since 1957.
At Lori Ferber Collectibles we are proud to offer a professional produced replica of the iconic Buck Stops Here design plaque, available for $59.95. It makes a great addition to your collection, office or den and an incredible gift for a boss or corporate executive who wants to make a statement to eveyrone who enters their office.