Harry S. Truman

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Harry S. Truman

Official portrait

In office
April 12, 1945 – January 20, 1953
Vice President
Preceded by Franklin D. Roosevelt
Succeeded by Dwight D. Eisenhower

In office
January 20, 1945 – April 12, 1945
President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Preceded by Henry A. Wallace
Succeeded by Alben W. Barkley

In office
January 3, 1935 – January 17, 1945
Preceded by Roscoe C. Patterson
Succeeded by Frank P. Briggs

In office
January 1, 1927[2] – January 1, 1935[2]
Preceded by Elihu W. Hayes[3]
Succeeded by Eugene I. Purcell[4]

Judge of Jackson County, Missouri's Eastern District
In office
January 1, 1923[5] – January 1, 1925[5]
Preceded by James E. Gilday[6]
Succeeded by Henry Rummel[4]

Born May 8, 1884(1884-05-08)
Lamar, Missouri, U.S.
Died December 26, 1972 (aged 88)
Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.
Resting place Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum, Independence, Missouri, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) ∞ 28 June 1919 Bess Wallace
Children Margaret Truman
Occupation Politician, haberdasher, farmer
Military service
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service
  • 1905–1911 (National Guard)
  • 1917–1919 (Army)
  • 1920–1953 (Army Reserve)
Rank Colonel (Army Reserve)
  • World War I
    • Battle of Saint-Mihiel
    • Meuse–Argonne offensive
    • Defensive Sector (Western Front)
  • World War I Victory Medal
  • Armed Forces Reserve Medal (2)

Harry S. Truman (8 May 1884 – 26 December 1972) was the thirty-third President of the United States (1945–1953). As the thirty-fourth vice president, he succeeded Franklin D. Roosevelt, who died less than three months after he began his fourth term. One of America's foremost historians, David McCollough, in his biography of Truman noted that the president constantly used the words "nigger" and "kike" in private. Truman even wrote home that New York City was "kiketown" when visiting there.[7] In 1945, Truman was responsible for the atomic bombing of Japan that killed 140,000 people in Hiroshima and 80,000 in Nagasaki.


His middle initial, "S", is not an abbreviation of one particular name. Rather, it honors both his grandfathers, Anderson Shipp Truman and Solomon Young, a semi-common practice in the American South.[8][b] A brother, John Vivian, was born soon after Harry, followed by sister Mary Jane. Truman's ancestry is primarily English with some German, Scots-Irish, and French. On 9 February 1909, Truman became a Freemason in Missouri.


During World War I, Truman served as an United States Army Field Artillery Corps officer.

Between wars

Truman was honorably discharged from the Army as a captain on May 6, 1919. In 1920, he was appointed a major in the Officers Reserve Corps. He became a lieutenant colonel in 1925 and a colonel in 1932. In the 1920s and 1930s, he commanded 1st Battalion, 379th Field Artillery, 102d Infantry Division. After promotion to colonel, Truman advanced to command of the same regiment.

After the war he became part of the political machine of Tom Pendergast and was elected a county judge in Missouri and eventually a United States Senator.


In September 1940, during the general election campaign, Truman was elected Grand Master of the Missouri Grand Lodge of Freemasonry. In November of that year, he defeated Kansas City State Senator Manvel H. Davis by over 40,000 votes and retained his Senate seat. Truman said later that the Masonic election assured his victory in the general election over State Senator Davis.

On June 23, 1941, the day after Germany declared war on the Soviet Union, Senator Truman declared:

"If we see that Germany is winning we ought to help Russia and if Russia is winning we ought to help Germany, and that way let them kill as many as possible."

After he gained national prominence as head of the wartime Truman Committee, Truman replaced vice president Henry A. Wallace as Roosevelt's running mate in 1944. The intentional and criminal bombing of civilians in Germany had been going on for quite some time and Truman stayed the course.

As president, Truman faced challenge after challenge in domestic affairs. The disorderly reconversion of the economy of the United States was marked by severe shortages, numerous strikes, and the passage of the Taft-Hartley Act over his veto. Truman journeyed to Berlin for the Potsdam Conference with Joseph Stalin and the British leader Winston Churchill in July 1945.

In August 1945, Truman ordered two nuclear bombings of Japan. The bombs killed as many as 140,000 people in Hiroshima and 80,000 in Nagasaki by the end of 1945, with roughly half of those deaths occuring on the days of the bombings. Truman himself wrote later in life:

"I knew what I was doing when I stopped the war... I have no regrets and, under the same circumstances, I would do it again."

On the other hand, Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during World War II, wrote:

"It is my opinion that the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were almost defeated and ready to surrender...in being the first to use it, we...adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages."

Post-war US-American justification propaganda reads as such:

 : After President Roosevelt died on April 12th, 1945, it became Harry Truman’s job to decide how to end the war. The thought of invading Japan gave Truman and his advisors pause. The war had shown that the Japanese were fighting for the Emperor who convinced them that it was better to die than surrender. Women and children had been taught how to kill with basic weapons. Japanese kamikaze pilots could turn planes into guided missiles. The cost of invasion, they knew, would be high. Upon becoming president, Harry Truman learned of the Manhattan Project, a secret scientific effort to create an atomic bomb. After a successful test of the weapon, Truman issued the Potsdam Declaration demanding the unconditional surrender of the Japanese government, warning of “prompt and utter destruction.” Eleven days later, on August 6, 1945, having received no reply, an American bomber called the Enola Gay left the Tinian Island in route toward Japan. In the belly of the bomber was “Little Boy,” an atomic bomb. At 8:15 am Hiroshima time, “Little Boy” was dropped. The result was approximately 80,000 deaths in just the first few minutes. Thousands died later from radiation sickness. On August 9, 1945, another bomber was in route to Japan, only this time they were heading for Nagasaki with “Fat Man,” another atomic bomb. After the first minute of dropping “Fat Man,” 39,000 men, women and children were killed. 25,000 more were injured. Both cities were leveled from the bombs and this, in turn, forced Japan to surrender to the United States. The war was finally over. Today, historians continue to debate this decision.[8]

Re-election bid

He confounded all predictions to win re-election in 1948, largely due to his famous Whistle Stop Tour of rural America. After his re-election he was able to pass only one of the proposals in his Fair Deal program. He used executive orders to begin desegregation of the U.S. armed forces and to launch a system of loyalty checks to remove thousands of communist sympathizers from government office, even though he strongly opposed mandatory loyalty oaths for governmental employees, a stance that led to charges that his administration was soft on communism.

Truman's presidency was also eventful in foreign affairs, with the end of World War II and his decision to use nuclear weapons against Japan, the founding of the United Nations, the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe, the Truman Doctrine to contain communism, the beginning of the Cold War, the creation of NATO, and the Korean War. Corruption in Truman's administration reached the cabinet and senior White House staff. Republicans made corruption a central issue in the 1952 campaign.

Fair Deal 1949

A "Fair Deal" is what President Harry Truman called his plan. He announced it in a speech on January 5, 1949. His Fair Deal recommended that all Americans have health insurance, that the minimum wage (the lowest amount of money per hour that someone can be paid) be increased, and that, by law, all Americans be guaranteed equal rights. Truman's plans were not popular with the members of Congress. They rejected his plans for national health insurance though they did raise the minimum wage. What about equal employment rights for all Americans? Truman also proposed the Fair Employment Practices Act, which would outlaw racial and religious discrimination in hiring. Congress passed the Employment Act in 1946 and clearly stated the government's responsibility in helping to achieve full employment.[9]

See also

Further reading

External links



  1. Truman was vice president under Franklin D. Roosevelt and became president upon Roosevelt's death on April 12, 1945. As this was prior to the adoption of the Twenty-fifth Amendment in 1967, a vacancy in the office of vice president was not filled until the next ensuing election and inauguration.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Ferrell 1994, p. 108.
  3. County Judges 1923–1972. Jackson County, Missouri (2018).
  4. 4.0 4.1 "County Judges 1923–1972".
  5. 5.0 5.1 Ferrell 1994, p. 99.
  6. County Judges 1826–1922. Jackson County, Missouri (2018).
  7. Harry S. Truman. War criminal.
  8. Decision to Drop the Atomic Bomb, trumanlibrary.gov
  9. Truman Announced A Fair Deal, 1949