Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum


Records of the District Courts of the United States:
Transcript of Trial in the Case of United States vs. Oscar Collazo
(Record Group 21)

Dates: 1951.

The Records of District Courts of the United States (RG 21) at the Truman Library consist of the transcript of proceedings in the trial of Oscar Collazo. In 1951, Collazo was convicted of murder in connection with the attempted assassination of President Truman.

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ADMINISTRATIVE INFORMATION

Size: Less then one linear foot (about 900 pages).
Access: Open.
Copyright: Documents prepared by the United States Government employees in the course of their official duties are in the public domain. Copyright interests in other documents are presumed to remain with the authors of the documents or their heirs.
Processed by: Rosemary Lantz (2007) as part of the Truman Library Internship Program.
Supervising Archivists: Randy Sowell and David Clark.


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HISTORICAL NOTE

On November 1, 1950 Oscar Collazo and Griselio Torresola attempted to attack President Truman who was then in residence at the Blair House, across the street from the White House. In the shooting that followed, Leslie Coffelt, a White House policeman, and Torresola were both killed, while two other White House policemen and Collazo were wounded. Collazo and Torresola were Puerto Rican nationalists who were opposed to the control of Puerto Rico by the United States.

Collazo was indicted by a grand jury on four counts, including the murder of Coffelt and the attempted murder of the two other policemen. His trial began in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on February 26, 1951, with Judge T. Alan Goldsborough presiding. On March 7, the jury found Collazo guilty on all counts and he was subsequently sentenced to death. In 1952, President Truman commuted the sentence to life in prison. Collazo was freed from prison by President Jimmy Carter in 1979, and died in Puerto Rico in 1994.

The trial transcript is included among the records of District Courts of the United States (Record Group 21). The transcript was given to the Truman Library by John Bainbridge, Jr., co-author (with Stephen Hunter) of American Gunfight: The Plot to Kill Harry Truman and the Shoot-out that Stopped It (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2005).

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COLLECTION DESCRIPTION

The Records of District Courts of the United States (Record Group 21) at the Truman Library consist of the trial transcript in United States vs. Oscar Collazo. Collazo was charged with murder and attempted murder in connection with the attempted assassination of President Harry S. Truman at Blair House in Washington D.C. on November 1, 1950. The transcript documents the following legal proceedings in Collazo’s case, in chronological order: the motion by the defense to dismiss the indictment; the selection of the jury; the testimony of witnesses for both sides; the closing arguments; the instructions to the jury; its verdict; and a motion by the defense for a new trial.

Futher information about the attempted assassination of President Truman can be found in the Papers of Ken Hechler and in the President’s Secretary’s Files: Subject File: Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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SERIES DESCRIPTIONS

Container Nos. Series
1 UNITED STATES VS. OSCAR COLLAZO FILE, 1951
Transcript of proceedings in the trial of Oscar Collazo. Arranged chronologically.

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FOLDER TITLE LIST
Box 1
  • January 5, 1951
  • February 26, 1951
  • February 27, 1951
  • February 28, 1951
  • March 1, 1951
  • March 2, 1951
  • March 5, 1951
  • March 6, 1951
  • March 7, 1951 - Closing Arguments
  • March 7, 1951 - Instructions to the Jury and Verdict
  • March 22, 1951

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