"The Buck Stops Here" (ca. 1930)

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU
Thu Apr 21 14:03:55 UTC 2005

On Thu, 21 Apr 2005 09:17:53 -0400, Douglas G. Wilson <douglas at NB.NET> wrote:

>> > N'archive has such a slogan on the desk of a colonel in a photo on p.
>> > "26" of the _Reno Evening Gazette_ dated 1 Oct. 1942.
>>How did you retrieve this?  I don't get it when I search for "buck stops
>I can't remember, but maybe search for "buck stops" or "the buck stops" or

Searching on "buck stops" pulls it up.  The colonel in the photo, by the
way, is one Col. A. B. Warfield, "commandant of the Lathrop Holding and
Reconsignment depot at Stockton." In 1931, according to a New York Times
blurb from that year, he was quartermaster supply officer and general
superintendent of the Army Transport Service of the New York General Army
Depot.  So it's possible that this is the same fellow with the plaque that
Jon Lighter found in "Our Army" in the early '30s, since he was a
prominent enough officer.

The earliest reference to Truman that I noticed actually gives a different
wording for the plaque.  Drew Pearson's syndicated "Washington
Merry-Go-Round" column in the Waterloo (Iowa) Courier, Oct. 21, 1945 (p.
4) said that Truman had recently acquired "a little wooden sign saying,
'The buck-passing stops here.'"  But I've seen pictures of Truman's plaque
with the expected "buck stops here" wording, so Pearson must have gotten
it wrong.

--Ben Zimmer

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