Harry S. Truman
thirty-third President of the United States
Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman was the 33rd President of the United States. The final running mate of President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1944, Truman succeeded to the presidency on April 12, 1945, when Roosevelt died after months of declining health. Under Truman, the United States successfully concluded World War II; in the aftermath of the conflict, tensions with the Soviet Union increased, the start of the Cold War. Truman was born in Missouri, and spent most of his youth as a farmer.
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Bruce's History Lesson: Stalin knew of atom bomb test - Appeal-Democrat
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One often-cited example occurred in 1945 at an Allied war conference in Potsdam, Germany, when President Harry Truman informed Stalin that the United States had successfully tested the world's first atomic bomb. Stalin showed no emotion
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American History: Truman's Second Term - Voice of America
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I'm Steve Ember (MUSIC) This week in our series, we continue the story of America's thirty-third president, Harry Truman. Truman was sometimes called an "accidental" president. He only became president because he was vice president when Franklin
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Bits and Pieces More recall Truman's visit to Wooster - Wooster Daily Record
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A recent column about President Harry Truman's visit to Wooster on Sept. 28, 1952, prompted local historian Harry McClarran to point out that Truman wasn't the first president to visit here. "Over the years," he wrote, "we've been visited by various
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American History: Truman Wins the Election of 1948 - Voice of America
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I'm Steve Ember HARRY TRUMAN: “I want to say to you, for the next four years, there'll be a Democrat in the White House, and you're looking at him.” (MUSIC) Presidential elections are exciting events in American politics. Few elections for the White
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Can Obama win by channeling Harry Truman? - Washington Post (blog)
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Cohn added that “It looks like President Obama really has found his inner Harry Truman, at least for the moment.” Harry Truman, who ran against an unpopular “do-nothing Congress” like the one we have today, is kind of the patron saint of unpopular ... - -
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Give 'em Hell Barack! - Huffington Post (blog)
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For Harry Truman the 1948 election was such a moment. It threatened his presidency, the existence of his party and the values of Liberal America." 2012 may be just such an election for Barack Obama. This has been a rough two weeks for the President
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Larger Truman district deemed better historically and economically - Kansas City Star
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Independence officials are applauding the recent expansion of a federal historic district that showcases Harry Truman's time in their town. “This reflects not just on our own history but also our nation's history,” City Manager Robert
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Nowak: Truman was my kind of president - Leavenworth Times
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Having attended the recent annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner at the National WW I Museum, former President Harry Truman is fresh on my mind. That's because the after dinner speaker was Clifton Truman Daniel, a grandson of the former
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Repealing the Great Society - Technorati
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Johnson enrolled former President Harry Truman as the first Medicare beneficiary at the bill-signing ceremony and presented him with the first Medicare card. Truman's boss, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR), signed the first Social Security Act
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Time to come together on our energy future - The Hill
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Harry Truman once said the only thing new in the world is the history we haven't read. Anyone who has worked on America's energy policy over the last several decades sure knows the feeling. Every president from Richard Nixon to Barack Obama has pledged
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When Harry met... - Philippine Star
Google News - over 5 years
The incredible life of Harry Truman can be culled from various sources. An email blast from “thebookofcletis.blogspot” prompted a fascination about this straight-talking politician, an astounding oxymoron. Admired for his outspoken common sense,
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July 8, 1950 | Truman Appoints MacArthur to Lead U.N. Forces in Korea - New York Times (blog)
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By THE LEARNING NETWORK On July 8, 1950, President Harry Truman appointed Gen. Douglas MacArthur commander in chief of United Nations forces in the Korean War. General MacArthur thus became the first leader of military forces fighting under a United
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Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Harry S. Truman
    CHILDHOOD
  • 1972
    On December 5, 1972, Truman was admitted to Kansas City's Research Hospital and Medical Center with lung congestion from pneumonia.
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  • OTHER
  • 1965
    In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Medicare bill at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum and gave the first two Medicare cards to Truman and his wife Bess to honor the former president's fight for government health care while in office.
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  • 1964
    After a fall in his home in late 1964, his physical condition declined.
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    Upon turning 80 in 1964, Truman was feted in Washington, and addressed the Senate, availing himself of a new rule that allowed former presidents to be granted privilege of the floor.
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  • 1957
    He testified before Congress to have money appropriated to have presidential papers copied and organized, and was proud of the bill's passage in 1957.
    More Details Hide Details Max Skidmore, in his book on the life of former presidents, noted that Truman was a well-read man, especially in history. Skidmore added that the presidential papers legislation and the founding of his library "was the culmination of his interest in history. Together they constitute an enormous contribution to the United States—one of the greatest of any former president."
    The former president was quoted in 1957 as saying to then-House Majority Leader John McCormack, "Had it not been for the fact that I was able to sell some property that my brother, sister, and I inherited from our mother, I would practically be on relief, but with the sale of that property I am not financially embarrassed."
    More Details Hide Details The following year, Congress passed the Former Presidents Act, offering a $25,000 yearly pension to each former president, and it is likely that Truman's financial status played a role in the law's enactment. The one other living former president at the time, Herbert Hoover, also took the pension, even though he did not need the money; reportedly, he did so to avoid embarrassing Truman. Truman's predecessor, Franklin D. Roosevelt, had organized his own presidential library, but legislation to enable future presidents to do something similar had not been enacted. Truman worked to garner private donations to build a presidential library, which he donated to the federal government to maintain and operate—a practice adopted by his successors.
  • 1956
    Truman supported Adlai Stevenson's second bid for the White House in 1956, although he had initially favored Democratic Governor W.
    More Details Hide Details Averell Harriman of New York. He continued to campaign for Democratic senatorial candidates for many years.
  • 1953
    When he left office in 1953, Truman was one of the most unpopular chief executives in history.
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    In 1953, however, there was no such benefit package for former presidents, and he received no pension for his Senate service.
    More Details Hide Details Truman took out a personal loan from a Missouri bank shortly after leaving office, and then set about establishing another precedent for future former chief executives: a book deal for his memoirs of his time in office. Ulysses S. Grant had overcome similar financial issues with his own memoirs, but the book had been published posthumously, and he had declined to write about life in the White House in any detail. For the memoirs, Truman received only a flat payment of $670,000, and had to pay two-thirds of that in tax; he calculated he got $37,000 after he paid his assistants. However, the memoirs were a commercial and critical success; they were published in two volumes in 1955 and 1956 by Doubleday (Garden City, N.Y) and Hodder & Stoughton (London): Memoirs by Harry S. Truman: Year of Decisions and Memoirs by Harry S. Truman: Years of Trial and Hope.
    The war remained a frustrating stalemate for two years, with over 30,000 Americans killed, until an armistice ended the fighting in 1953.
    More Details Hide Details In February 1952, Truman's approval mark stood at 22% according to Gallup polls, which was, until George W. Bush in 2008, the all-time lowest approval mark for an active American president.
  • 1952
    In response to a labor/management impasse arising from bitter disagreements over wage and price controls, Truman instructed his Secretary of Commerce, Charles W. Sawyer, to take control of a number of the nation's steel mills in April 1952.
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    To try to settle the question of Puerto Rican independence, Truman allowed a plebiscite in Puerto Rico in 1952 to determine the status of its relationship to the U.S. Nearly 82% of the people voted in favor of a new constitution for the Estado Libre Asociado, a continued 'associated free state.'
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    He was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death in 1952.
    More Details Hide Details Truman commuted his sentence to life in prison.
    His job approval rating of 22% in the Gallup Poll of February 1952 was lower than Richard Nixon's 24% in August 1974, the month that Nixon resigned.
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    Truman was eventually able to persuade Stevenson to run, and the governor gained the nomination at the 1952 Democratic National Convention.
    More Details Hide Details Eisenhower gained the Republican nomination, with Senator Nixon as his running mate, and campaigned against what he denounced as Truman's failures: "Korea, Communism and Corruption". He pledged to clean up the "mess in Washington," and promised to "go to Korea." Eisenhower defeated Stevenson decisively in the general election, ending 20 years of Democratic presidents. While Truman and Eisenhower had previously been good friends, Truman felt betrayed that Eisenhower did not denounce Joseph McCarthy during the campaign. Similarly, Eisenhower was outraged when Truman, who made a whistlestop tour in support of Stevenson, accused the former general of disregarding "sinister forces... Anti-Semitism, anti-Catholicism, and anti-foreignism" within the Republican Party. Eisenhower was so outraged he threatened not to make the customary ride down Pennsylvania Avenue with the departing president before the inauguration, but to meet Truman at the steps to the Capitol, where the swearing-in takes place.
    At the time of the 1952 New Hampshire primary, no candidate had won Truman's backing.
    More Details Hide Details His first choice, Chief Justice Fred M. Vinson, had declined to run; Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson had also turned Truman down, Vice President Barkley was considered too old, and Truman distrusted and disliked Senator Kefauver, who had made a name for himself by his investigations of the Truman administration scandals. Truman had hoped to recruit General Eisenhower as a Democratic candidate, but found him more interested in seeking the Republican nomination. Accordingly, Truman let his name be entered in the New Hampshire primary by supporters. The highly unpopular Truman was handily defeated by Kefauver; 18 days later the president announced he would not seek a second full term.
    The latter clause would have applied to Truman's situation in 1952 except that a grandfather clause in the amendment explicitly excluded the amendment from applying to the incumbent president.
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    Truman submitted a reorganization plan to reform the IRB; Congress passed it, but the corruption was a major issue in the 1952 presidential election.
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    Howard McGrath fired the special prosecutor in early 1952 for being too zealous, Truman fired McGrath.
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    In 1952, Truman secretly consolidated and empowered the cryptologic elements of the United States by creating the National Security Agency (NSA).
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    Allegations were raised of corruption in the Truman administration, linked to certain cabinet members and senior White House staff, and this became a central campaign issue in the 1952 presidential election and may have contributed to Adlai Stevenson's (Truman's successor as Democratic nominee) loss to Republican nominee Dwight D. Eisenhower.
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  • 1951
    In 1951, the U.S. ratified the 22nd Amendment, making a president ineligible for election to a third term or for election to a second full term after serving more than two remaining years of a term of a previously elected president.
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    In 1951, William M. Boyle, Truman's long-time friend and chairman of the Democratic National Committee, was forced to resign after being charged with financial corruption. A 1947 report by the Truman administration titled To Secure These Rights presented a detailed ten-point agenda of civil rights reforms. In February 1948, the president submitted a civil rights agenda to Congress that proposed creating several federal offices devoted to issues such as voting rights and fair employment practices.
    More Details Hide Details This provoked a storm of criticism from Southern Democrats in the runup to the national nominating convention, but Truman refused to compromise, saying: "My forebears were Confederates... but my very stomach turned over when I had learned that Negro soldiers, just back from overseas, were being dumped out of Army trucks in Mississippi and beaten." Tales of the abuse, violence, and persecution suffered by many African American veterans upon their return from World War II infuriated Truman, and were a major factor in his decision to issue Executive Order 9981, in July 1948, desegregating and requiring equal opportunity in the Armed Forces. After several years of planning, recommendations and revisions between Truman, the Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity and the various branches of the military, Army units became racially integrated. Another executive order, also in 1948, made it illegal to discriminate against persons applying for civil service positions based on race. A third, in 1951, established the Committee on Government Contract Compliance (CGCC). This committee ensured that defense contractors did not discriminate because of race.
  • 1950
    On December 6, 1950, Washington Post music critic Paul Hume wrote a critical review of a concert by the president's daughter Margaret Truman:
    More Details Hide Details Harry Truman wrote a scathing response: Truman was criticized by many for the letter. However, he pointed out that he wrote it as a loving father and not as the president.
    A large number of employees of the Internal Revenue Bureau (today the IRS) were accepting bribes; 166 employees either resigned or were fired in 1950, with many soon facing indictment.
    More Details Hide Details When Attorney General J.
    On June 27, 1950, after the outbreak of fighting in Korea, Truman ordered the U.S. Navy's Seventh Fleet into the Taiwan Strait to prevent further conflict between the communist government on the China mainland and the Republic of China (ROC) on Taiwan.
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    On November 1, 1950, Puerto Rican nationalists Griselio Torresola and Oscar Collazo attempted to assassinate Truman at Blair House.
    More Details Hide Details The attack drew new attention to security concerns surrounding Truman's residence at Blair House. He had jumped up from a nap, and was watching the gunfight from his open bedroom window until Secret Service agents shouted at him to take cover. On the street outside the residence, Torresola mortally wounded a White House policeman, Leslie Coffelt. Before he died, the officer shot and killed Torresola. Collazo was wounded, stopped before he entered the house.
    Although Hiss denied the allegations, he was convicted in January 1950 for perjury for his denials under oath.
    More Details Hide Details The Soviet Union's success in exploding an atomic weapon in 1949 and the fall of the nationalist Chinese the same year led many Americans to conclude that subversion by Soviet spies was responsible, and to demand that communists be rooted out from the government and other places of influence. However, Truman did not fully share such opinions. He famously called the Hiss trial a "red herring," and the Justice Department was moving to indict Chambers instead of Hiss for perjury. Following Hiss' conviction, Secretary of State Dean Acheson announced that he stood by him. This and other events, such as the revelation that British atomic bomb scientist Klaus Fuchs was a spy, led current and former members of HUAC, including Congressman Nixon of California and Karl Mundt of South Dakota, to decry Truman and his administration, especially the State Department, as soft on communism. Wisconsin Senator McCarthy used a Lincoln Day speech in Wheeling, West Virginia to accuse the State Department of harboring communists, and rode the controversy to political fame. In the following years, Republicans used Hiss' conviction to castigate the Democrats for harboring communists in government; Congressman Nixon gained election to the Senate in 1950 on an anti-communist platform, defeating the liberal Helen Gahagan Douglas, whom he called "the Pink Lady."
  • 1949
    The treaty establishing it was widely popular and easily passed the Senate in 1949; Truman appointed General Eisenhower as commander.
    More Details Hide Details NATO's goals were to contain Soviet expansion in Europe and to send a clear message to communist leaders that the world's democracies were willing and able to build new security structures in support of democratic ideals. The U.S., Britain, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Norway, Denmark, Portugal, Iceland, and Canada were the original treaty signatories. The alliance resulted in the Soviets establishing a similar alliance, called the Warsaw Pact. General Marshall was Truman's principal adviser on foreign policy matters, influencing such decisions as the U.S. choice against offering direct military aid to Chiang Kai-shek and his Nationalist Chinese forces in the Chinese Civil War with their communist opponents. Marshall's opinion was contrary to the counsel of almost all of Truman's other advisers—he thought that even propping up Chiang's forces would drain U.S. resources in Europe needed to deter the Soviets. When the communists took control of the mainland, driving the Nationalists to Taiwan and establishing the People's Republic of China, Truman would have been willing to maintain some relationship between the U.S. and the new government, but Mao was unwilling.
    He retired in March 1949; soon after, he was hospitalized but he committed suicide in May.
    More Details Hide Details Truman was a strong supporter of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which established a formal peacetime military alliance with Canada and democratic European nations that had not fallen under Soviet control following World War II.
  • 1948
    In the early and mid-1970s, Truman captured the popular imagination much as he had in 1948, this time emerging as a kind of political folk hero, a president who was thought to exemplify an integrity and accountability many observers felt was lacking in the Nixon White House.
    More Details Hide Details This public reassessment of Truman was aided by the popularity of a book of reminiscences which Truman had told to journalist Merle Miller beginning in 1961, with the agreement that they would not be published until after Truman's death. Truman has had his latter-day critics as well. After a review of information available to Truman about the presence of espionage activities in the U.S. government, Democratic Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan concluded that Truman was "almost willfully obtuse" concerning the danger of American communism. In 2010, historian Alonzo Hamby concluded that "Harry Truman remains a controversial president." However, since leaving office, Truman has fared well in polls ranking the presidents. He has never been listed lower than ninth, and was ranked fifth in a C-SPAN poll in 2009.
    Within two weeks of the convention, in 1948 Truman issued Executive Order 9981, racially integrating the U.S. Armed Services and Executive Order 9980 to integrate federal agencies.
    More Details Hide Details Truman took a considerable political risk in backing civil rights, and many seasoned Democrats were concerned that the loss of Dixiecrat support might destroy the Democratic Party. South Carolina Governor Strom Thurmond, a segregationist, declared his candidacy for the presidency on a Dixiecrat ticket and led a full-scale revolt of Southern "states' rights" proponents. This rebellion on the right was matched by one on the left, led by Wallace on the Progressive Party ticket. Immediately after its first post-FDR convention, the Democratic Party seemed to be disintegrating. Victory in November seemed unlikely as the party was not simply split but divided three ways. For his running mate, Truman accepted Kentucky Senator Alben W. Barkley, though he really wanted Justice William O. Douglas, who turned down the nomination. Truman's political advisors described the political scene as "one unholy, confusing cacophony." They told Truman to speak directly to the people, in a personal way. Campaign manager William J. Bray said Truman took this advice, and spoke personally and passionately, sometimes even setting aside his notes to talk to Americans "of everything that is in my heart and soul."
    At the 1948 Democratic National Convention, Truman attempted to unify the party with a vague civil rights plank in the party platform.
    More Details Hide Details His intention was to assuage the internal conflicts between the northern and southern wings of his party. Events overtook his efforts. A sharp address given by Mayor Hubert Humphrey of Minneapolis—as well as the local political interests of a number of urban bosses—convinced the Convention to adopt a stronger civil rights plank, which Truman approved wholeheartedly. All of Alabama's delegates, and a portion of Mississippi's, walked out of the convention in protest. Unfazed, Truman delivered an aggressive acceptance speech attacking the 80th Congress, which Truman called the "Do Nothing Congress," and promising to win the election and "make these Republicans like it."
    In the spring of 1948, Truman's public approval rating stood at 36%, and the president was nearly universally regarded as incapable of winning the general election.
    More Details Hide Details The "New Deal" operatives within the party—including FDR's son James—tried to swing the Democratic nomination to General Dwight D. Eisenhower, a highly popular figure whose political views and party affiliation were totally unknown. Eisenhower emphatically refused to accept, and Truman outflanked opponents to his nomination.
    The 1948 presidential election is remembered for Truman's stunning come-from-behind victory.
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    Truman recognized the State of Israel on May 14, 1948, eleven minutes after it declared itself a nation.
    More Details Hide Details Of his decision to recognize the Israeli state, Truman wrote in his memoirs: "Hitler had been murdering Jews right and left. I saw it, and I dream about it even to this day. The Jews needed some place where they could go. It is my attitude that the American government couldn't stand idly by while the victims of Hitler's madness are not allowed to build new lives."
    The Berlin Airlift was one of Truman's great foreign policy successes; it significantly aided his election campaign in 1948.
    More Details Hide Details Truman had long taken an interest in the history of the Middle East, and was sympathetic to Jews who sought a homeland in Mandatory Palestine. As a senator, he announced support for Zionism; in 1943 he called for a homeland for those Jews who survived the Nazi regime. However, State Department officials were reluctant to offend the Arabs, who were opposed to the establishment of a Jewish state in the large region long populated and dominated culturally by Arabs. Secretary of Defense James Forrestal warned Truman of the importance of Saudi Arabian oil in another war; Truman replied that he would decide his policy on the basis of justice, not oil. American diplomats with experience in the region were opposed, but Truman told them he had few Arabs among his constituents. Palestine was secondary to the goal of protecting the "Northern Tier" of Greece, Turkey, and Iran from Communism, as promised by the Truman Doctrine. Weary of both the convoluted politics of the Middle East and pressures by Jewish leaders, Truman was undecided on his policy. He later cited as decisive in his recognition of the Jewish state the advice of his former business partner, Eddie Jacobson, a non-religious Jew whom Truman absolutely trusted. Truman decided to recognize Israel over the objections of Secretary of State George Marshall, who feared it would hurt relations with the populous Arab states. Marshall believed the paramount threat to the U.S. was the Soviet Union and feared that Arab oil would be lost to the United States in the event of war; he warned Truman that U.S. was "playing with fire with nothing to put it out".
    Truman's proposals were not well received by Congress, even with renewed Democratic majorities in Congress after 1948.
    More Details Hide Details The Solid South rejected civil rights, as those states still enforced segregation. Only one of the major Fair Deal bills, the Housing Act of 1949, was ever enacted. On the other hand, the major New Deal programs still in operation were not repealed, and there were minor improvements and extensions in many of them. As a Wilsonian internationalist, Truman strongly supported the creation of the United Nations, and included Eleanor Roosevelt on the delegation to the UN's first General Assembly. With the Soviet Union expanding its sphere of influence through Eastern Europe, Truman and his foreign policy advisors took a hard line against the USSR. In this, he matched American public opinion, which quickly came to view the Soviets as intent upon world domination. Although he claimed no personal expertise on foreign matters, Truman won bipartisan support for both the Truman Doctrine, which formalized a policy of Soviet containment, and the Marshall Plan, which aimed to help rebuild postwar Europe. To get Congress to spend the vast sums necessary to restart the moribund European economy, Truman used an ideological argument, arguing that Communism flourishes in economically deprived areas. As part of the U.S. Cold War strategy, Truman signed the National Security Act of 1947 and reorganized military forces by merging the Department of War and the Department of the Navy into the National Military Establishment (later the Department of Defense) and creating the U.S. Air Force.
    As he readied for the 1948 election, Truman made clear his identity as a Democrat in the New Deal tradition, advocating national health insurance, the repeal of the Taft–Hartley Act.
    More Details Hide Details He broke with the New Deal by initiating an aggressive civil rights program, which he termed a moral priority. Taken together, it constituted a broad legislative agenda that came to be called the "Fair Deal."
    Although the initial vetoes were sustained, Congress overrode his veto of a tax cut bill in 1948. The parties did cooperate on some issues; Congress passed the Presidential Succession Act of 1947, making the Speaker of the House rather than the Secretary of State next in line to the presidency after the vice president.
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    Truman's 1948 election upset to win a full term as president has often been invoked by later 'underdog' presidential candidates.
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    Truman was elected in his own right in 1948.
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  • 1947
    Truman twice vetoed bills to lower income tax rates in 1947.
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    While serving as president in 1947, Truman applied for a license to practice law.
    More Details Hide Details A friend who was an attorney began working out the arrangements, and informed Truman that his application needed to be notarized. By the time Truman received this information he had changed his mind, so he never followed up. After rediscovery of Truman's application, in 1996 the Missouri Supreme Court issued Truman a posthumous honorary law license. Truman had dreamed of going to the United States Military Academy at West Point, but he was refused an appointment because of poor eyesight. He enlisted in the Missouri Army National Guard in 1905, serving until 1911 in a Kansas City-based artillery battery and attaining the rank of corporal. At his induction, his eyesight had been an unacceptable 20/50 in the right eye and 20/400 in the left (past the standard for legal blindness). The second time he took the test, he passed by secretly memorizing the eye chart.
  • 1946
    This dissatisfaction with the Truman administration's policies led to large Democratic losses in the 1946 midterm elections, when Republicans took control of Congress for the first time since 1930.
    More Details Hide Details The 80th Congress included Republican freshmen who would become prominent in the years to come, including Wisconsin Senator Joe McCarthy and California Congressman Richard Nixon. When Truman dropped to 32% in the polls, Democratic Arkansas Senator William Fulbright suggested that Truman resign; the President said that he did not care what Senator "Halfbright" said. Truman cooperated closely with the Republican leaders on foreign policy, though he fought them bitterly on domestic issues. The power of the labor unions was significantly curtailed by the Taft–Hartley Act, which was enacted over Truman's veto.
    Although labor strife was muted after the settlement of the railway strike, it continued through Truman's presidency. The President's approval rating dropped from 82% in the polls in January 1946 to 52% by June.
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  • 1945
    All of the cabinet members when Truman became president in 1945 had been appointed by Franklin D. Roosevelt.
    More Details Hide Details Truman appointed the following Justices to the Supreme Court: Truman's judicial appointments have been called by critics "inexcusable." A former Truman aide confided that it was the weakest aspect of Truman's presidency. The New York Times condemned the appointments of Tom C. Clark and Sherman Minton in particular as examples of cronyism and favoritism for unqualified candidates. The four justices appointed by Truman joined with Justices Felix Frankfurter, Robert H. Jackson, and Stanley Reed to create a substantial seven-member conservative bloc on the Supreme Court. This returned the court for a time to the conservatism of the 1920s. In addition to his four Supreme Court appointments, Truman appointed 27 judges to the courts of appeals, and 101 judges to federal district courts. Truman made five international trips during his presidency: He only left the continental United States on two other occasions (to Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba, February 20 – March 5, 1948; and to Wake Island, October 11–18, 1950) during his nearly eight years in office.
    Truman was pleased to issue the proclamation of V-E Day on May 8, 1945, his 61st birthday.
    More Details Hide Details In the wake of Allied victory, Truman journeyed to Europe for the Potsdam Conference. He was there when he learned that the Trinity test of the first atomic bomb on July 16 had been successful. He hinted to Joseph Stalin that the U.S. was about to use a new kind of weapon against the Japanese. Though this was the first time the Soviets had been officially given information about the atomic bomb, Stalin was already aware of the bomb project, having learned about it (through espionage) long before Truman did. In August, the Japanese government refused surrender demands as specifically outlined in the Potsdam Declaration and with the invasion of mainland Japan imminent, Truman approved the schedule for dropping the two available bombs. Truman always said that attacking Japan with atomic bombs saved many lives on both sides; military estimates for the invasion of mainland Japan were that it could take a year and result in 250,000 to 500,000 American casualties. Hiroshima was bombed on August 6, and Nagasaki three days later, leaving 105,000 dead. Japan agreed to surrender the following day.
    Truman had been vice president for 82 days when President Roosevelt died on April 12, 1945.
    More Details Hide Details That afternoon, Truman presided over the Senate as usual. He had just adjourned the session for the day and was preparing to have a drink in House Speaker Sam Rayburn's office when he received an urgent message to go immediately to the White House. Truman assumed that President Roosevelt wanted to meet with him, but Eleanor Roosevelt informed him that her husband had died after suffering a massive cerebral hemorrhage. Truman's first concern was for Mrs. Roosevelt. He asked if there was anything that he could do for her, to which she replied, "Is there anything we can do for you? You are the one in trouble now!" Shortly after taking the oath of office, Truman spoke to reporters: "Boys, if you ever pray, pray for me now. I don't know if you fellas ever had a load of hay fall on you, but when they told me what happened yesterday, I felt like the moon, the stars, and all the planets had fallen on me."
    He served as a United States Senator from Missouri (1935–45) and briefly as Vice President (1945) before he succeeded to the presidency on April 12, 1945 upon the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt.
    More Details Hide Details He was president during the final months of World War II, and approved the plan to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
    Truman was sworn in as vice president on January 20, 1945.
    More Details Hide Details Truman's brief vice-presidency was relatively uneventful. He cast his tie-breaking vote as President of the Senate to confirm former Vice-President Henry Wallace as Secretary of Commerce. Roosevelt rarely contacted him, even to inform him of major decisions; the President and Vice President met alone together only twice during their time in office. In one of his first acts as vice president, Truman created some controversy when he attended the disgraced Pendergast's funeral. He brushed aside the criticism, saying simply, "He was always my friend and I have always been his." He had rarely discussed world affairs or domestic politics with Roosevelt; he was uninformed about major initiatives relating to the war and the top-secret Manhattan Project, which was about to test the world's first atomic bomb. He was also photographed with actress Lauren Bacall sitting atop the piano at the National Press Club as he played for soldiers.
  • 1940
    In September 1940, during his Senate re-election campaign, Truman was elected Grand Master of the Missouri Grand Lodge of Freemasonry; Truman said later that the Masonic election assured his victory in the general election.
    More Details Hide Details In 1945, he was made a 33° Sovereign Grand Inspector General and an Honorary Member of the supreme council at the Supreme Council A.A.S.R. Southern Jurisdiction Headquarters in Washington D.C. Truman was also a member of Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) and a card-carrying member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Two of his relatives were Confederate soldiers. In 1975, the Truman Scholarship was created as a federal program to honor U.S. college students who exemplified dedication to public service and leadership in public policy. In 2004, the President Harry S. Truman Fellowship in National Security Science and Engineering was created as a distinguished postdoctoral three-year appointment at Sandia National Laboratories. In 2001, the University of Missouri established the Harry S. Truman School of Public Affairs to advance the study and practice of governance. The University of Missouri's Missouri Tigers athletic programs have an official mascot named Truman the Tiger. On July 1, 1996, Northeast Missouri State University became Truman State University—to mark its transformation from a teachers' college to a highly selective liberal arts university and to honor the only Missourian to become president. A member institution of the City Colleges of Chicago, Harry S Truman College in Chicago, Illinois, is named in his honor for his dedication to public colleges and universities. In 2000, the headquarters for the State Department, built in the 1930s but never officially named, was dedicated as the Harry S Truman Building.
  • 1934
    After serving as a county judge, Truman wanted to run for Governor or Congress, but Pendergast rejected these ideas. Truman then thought that he might serve out his career in some well-paying county sinecure, but circumstances changed when Pendergast reluctantly backed him in the 1934 Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate after four other potential candidates turned him down.
    More Details Hide Details In the primary, Truman defeated Congressmen John J. Cochran and Jacob L. Milligan with the solid support of Jackson County, which was crucial to his candidacy, as were the contacts that he had made statewide as a county official, Mason, military reservist, and member of the American Legion. In the general election, Truman defeated incumbent Republican Roscoe C. Patterson by nearly 20 percentage points as part of a continuing wave of pro-New Deal Democrats elected in response to the Great Depression. Truman assumed office with a reputation as "the senator from Pendergast." He turned over patronage decisions to Pendergast, though Truman always maintained that he voted his conscience. He later defended the patronage decisions by saying that "by offering a little to the machine, he saved a lot". In his first term, Truman spoke out against corporate greed and the dangers of Wall Street speculators and other moneyed special interests attaining too much influence in national affairs. He was largely ignored by Democratic President Roosevelt and had trouble getting calls returned from the White House.
  • 1933
    In 1933, Truman was named Missouri's director for the Federal Re-Employment program (part of the Civil Works Administration) at the request of Postmaster General James Farley. This was payback to Pendergast for delivering the Kansas City vote to Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1932 presidential election.
    More Details Hide Details The appointment confirmed Pendergast's control over federal patronage jobs in Missouri and marked the zenith of his power. It also created a relationship between Truman and Roosevelt aide Harry Hopkins and assured Truman's avid support for the New Deal.
  • 1926
    Also in 1926, he became president of the National Old Trails Road Association (NOTRA).
    More Details Hide Details He oversaw the dedication in the late 1920s of a series of 12 Madonna of the Trail monuments honoring pioneer women, which were installed along the trail.
    In 1926, Truman was elected presiding judge with the support of the Pendergast machine, and he was re-elected in 1930.
    More Details Hide Details Truman helped coordinate the "Ten Year Plan", which transformed Jackson County and the Kansas City skyline with new public works projects, including an extensive series of roads and construction of a new Wight and Wight-designed County Court building.
    Two years selling automobile club memberships convinced him that a public service career was safer for a family man approaching middle age, and he planned a run for presiding judge in 1926.
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  • 1924
    With the help of the Kansas City Democratic machine led by Tom Pendergast, Truman was elected in 1922 as County Court judge of Jackson County's eastern district—this was an administrative rather than judicial position, somewhat similar to county commissioners elsewhere. (At the time Jackson County elected a judge from the western district (Kansas City), one from the eastern district (Jackson County outside Kansas City), and a presiding judge elected countywide.) Truman was not re-elected in 1924, losing in a Republican wave led by President Calvin Coolidge's landslide election to a full term.
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  • 1922
    Truman was first elected to public office as a county official in 1922, and then as a U.S. Senator in 1934.
    More Details Hide Details He gained national prominence as chairman of the Truman Committee, formed in March 1941, which exposed waste, fraud, and corruption in Federal Government wartime contracts. Nazi Germany surrendered on Truman's birthday (May 8) just a few weeks after he assumed the presidency, but the war with Imperial Japan raged on and was expected to last at least another year. Truman approved the use of atomic weaponry to end the fighting and to spare the tens of thousands of American lives that would inevitably be lost in the planned invasion of Japan and Japanese-held islands in the Pacific. Although this decision remains debated to this day, it is one of the principal factors that forced Japan's immediate and unconditional surrender. Truman's presidency was a turning point in foreign affairs, as the United States engaged in an internationalist foreign policy and renounced isolationism. Truman helped found the United Nations in 1945, issued the Truman Doctrine in 1947 to contain Communism, and got the $13 billion Marshall Plan enacted to rebuild Western Europe. The Soviet Union, a wartime ally, became a peacetime enemy in the Cold War. Truman oversaw the Berlin Airlift of 1948 and the creation of NATO in 1949. He was unable to stop Communists from taking over China. When communist North Korea invaded South Korea in 1950, he sent U.S. troops and gained UN approval for the Korean War. After initial successes in Korea, however, the UN forces were thrown back by Chinese intervention, and the conflict was stalemated throughout the final years of Truman's presidency.
  • 1920
    In 1920 he was appointed a major in the Reserve Officer Corps; he became a lieutenant colonel in 1925 and a colonel in 1932.
    More Details Hide Details In the 1920s and 1930s Truman commanded 1st Battalion, 379th Field Artillery Regiment, a unit of the 102nd Infantry Division. After promotion to colonel, Truman advanced to command of the regiment. After his election to the U.S. Senate, Truman was transferred to the General Assignments Group, a holding unit for less active officers; he had not been consulted or notified in advance. Truman protested his reassignment, which led to his resumption of regimental command. He remained an active reservist until the early 1940s. Truman volunteered for active military service during World War II, but was not accepted, partly because of age, and partly because President Franklin D. Roosevelt desired Senators and Congressman who belonged to the military reserves to support the war effort by remaining in Congress, or by ending their active duty service and resuming their Congressional seats. He was an inactive reservist from the early 1940s until retiring on January 20, 1953.
  • 1919
    After his wartime service, Truman returned to Independence, where he married Bess Wallace on June 28, 1919.
    More Details Hide Details The couple had one child, Mary Margaret Truman. Shortly before the wedding, Truman and Jacobson opened a haberdashery together at 104 West 12th Street in downtown Kansas City. After brief initial success, the store went bankrupt during the recession of 1921. Truman did not pay off the last of the debts from that venture until 1934, when he did so with the aid of a political supporter. Jacobson and Truman remained close friends, and Jacobson's advice to Truman on Zionism later played a role in the U.S. government's decision to recognize Israel.
    Truman was discharged from the Army as a major in May 1919.
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  • 1918
    In other action during the Meuse-Argonne fighting, Truman's battery provided support for George S. Patton's tank brigade, and his battery fired some of the last shots of the war on November 11, 1918.
    More Details Hide Details Battery D did not lose a single man while under Truman's command in France; to show their appreciation of his leadership, his men presented him with a large loving cup upon their return to the United States after the war. The war was a transformative experience for Truman that brought out his leadership qualities. He had entered the service in 1917 as a family farmer who had worked in clerical jobs that did not require the ability to motivate and direct others, but during the war he gained leadership experience and a record of success that greatly enhanced and supported his post-war political career in Missouri. Truman was brought up in the Presbyterian and Baptist churches; he avoided revivals and sometimes ridiculed revivalist preachers. He rarely spoke about religion, which to him primarily meant ethical behavior along traditional Protestant lines. Most of the soldiers that he commanded in the war were Catholics; the developing leadership and interpersonal skills which later made him a successful politician enabled him to get along well with them, as he did with soldiers of other Christian denominations and the unit's Jewish members.
    Truman's unit joined in a massive pre-arranged assault barrage on September 26, 1918, at the opening of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.
    More Details Hide Details They advanced with difficulty over pitted terrain to follow the infantry, and they set up an observation post west of Cheppy. On September 27, Truman saw through his binoculars an enemy artillery battery setting up across a river in a position allowing them to fire upon the neighboring 28th Division. Truman's orders limited him to targets facing the 35th Division, but he ignored this and patiently waited until the Germans had walked their horses well away from their guns, ensuring that they could not relocate out of range of Truman's battery. He then ordered his men to open fire, and destroyed the enemy battery. Truman was given a dressing down by his commander, Colonel Karl D. Klemm, but he was not court-martialed. His decision probably saved the lives of 28th Division soldiers who otherwise would have come under fire from the Germans.
    Truman was promoted to captain in July 1918 and became commander of Battery D, 129th Field Artillery, 60th Artillery Brigade, 35th Division.
    More Details Hide Details It was known for its discipline problems, and Truman was initially unpopular because of his efforts to restore order. Despite initial attempts by the men to intimidate him into quitting, Truman succeeded by making his corporals and sergeants accountable for discipline; he promised to back them up if they performed capably, and reduce them to private and return them to the ranks if they didn't. In an event memorialized in battery lore as the "Battle of Who Run", his soldiers began to flee during a sudden attack by the Germans in the Vosges Mountains; Truman succeeded at ordering his men to stay and fight, using profanity that he had first heard while working on the Santa Fe Railroad. The men were so surprised to hear Truman use such language that they immediately obeyed.
  • 1911
    During this period, he courted Bess Wallace; he proposed in 1911, but she turned him down.
    More Details Hide Details Truman later said that he intended to propose again, but when he did he wanted to be earning more money than a farmer did. To that end, during his years on the farm and immediately after World War I, he became active in several business ventures, including a lead and zinc mine near Commerce, Oklahoma, a company that bought land and leased the oil drilling rights to prospectors, and speculating in Kansas City real estate. Truman occasionally derived some income from these enterprises, but none proved successful in the long term. Truman is the most recent president who did not earn a college degree. In addition to having briefly attended business college, from 1923 to 1925 he took night courses toward an LL.B. at the Kansas City Law School (now the University of Missouri–Kansas City School of Law), but dropped out after losing reelection as county judge. He was informed by attorneys in the Kansas City area that his education and experience were probably sufficient to receive a license to practice law, but didn't pursue it because he won election as presiding judge.
  • 1906
    He returned to the Grandview farm in 1906, where he lived until entering the army in 1917 after the beginning of the Great War.
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  • 1901
    After graduating from Independence High School (now William Chrisman High School) in 1901, Truman enrolled in Spalding's Commercial College, a Kansas City business school; he studied bookkeeping, shorthand, and typing, but left after a year.
    More Details Hide Details He made use of his business college experience to obtain as job as a timekeeper on the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway, sleeping in hobo camps near the rail lines. He then took on a series of clerical jobs, and was employed briefly in the mail room of the Kansas City Star. Truman and his brother Vivian later worked as clerks at the National Bank of Commerce in Kansas City; one of their coworkers, who also lived at the same rooming house, was Arthur Eisenhower, the brother of Dwight and Milton.
  • 1900
    Truman worked as a page at the 1900 Democratic National Convention at Convention Hall in Kansas City; his father had many friends who were active in the Democratic Party and helped young Harry to gain his first political position.
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  • 1887
    John Truman was a farmer and livestock dealer. The family lived in Lamar until Harry was ten months old, when they moved to a farm near Harrisonville. The family next moved to Belton, and in 1887 to his grandparents' 600-acre (240-ha) farm in Grandview.
    More Details Hide Details When Truman was six, his parents moved to Independence, so he could attend the Presbyterian Church Sunday School. Truman did not attend a traditional school until he was eight. While living in Independence, he served as the Shabbos goy for his Jewish neighbors, doing tasks for them on Shabbos which they were prevented from doing because of rules against work. As a boy, Truman was interested in music, reading, and history, all encouraged by his mother, with whom he was very close. As president, he solicited political as well as personal advice from her. He got up at five every morning to practice the piano, which he studied twice a week until he was fifteen.
  • 1884
    Harry S. Truman was born on May 8, 1884, in Lamar, Missouri, the oldest child of John Anderson Truman (1851–1914) and Martha Ellen Young Truman (1852–1947).
    More Details Hide Details His parents chose the name Harry after his mother's brother, Harrison "Harry" Young (1846–1916). They chose "S" as his middle initial to please both of his grandfathers, Anderson Shipp Truman and Solomon Young. The "S" did not stand for anything in particular, but was regularly written followed by a period. A brother, John Vivian (1886–1965), was born soon after Harry, followed by sister Mary Jane (1889–1978).
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