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Harry S. Truman (May 8, 1884 – December 26, 1972) was the 33rd President of the United States (1945–1953). As President Franklin D. Roosevelt's third vice president and the 34th Vice President of the United States (1945), he succeeded to the presidency on April 12, 1945, when President Roosevelt died less than three months after beginning his historic fourth term.Sony VGP-BPL10 Battery

During World War I, Truman served in combat in France as an artillery officer in his National Guard unit. After the war, he joined the Democratic Partypolitical machine of Tom Pendergast in Kansas City. He was elected a county official and in 1934 United States senator. Sony VGP-BPS10 Battery

After he had gained national prominence as head of the wartime Truman Committee, Truman replaced vice president Henry A. Wallace as Roosevelt's running mate in 1944.

Truman faced many challenges in domestic affairs. Sony VGP-BPS10/S Battery

The disorderly postwar 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. He confounded all predictions to win election in 1948, helped by his famous Whistle Stop Tour of rural America. Sony VGP-BPS10A/B Battery

After his election, he passed only one of the proposals in his Fair Deal program. He used executive orders to end racial discrimination in the armed forces and created loyalty checks that dismissed thousands of communist supporters from office. Sony VGP-BPS10B Battery

Truman's presidency was also eventful in foreign affairs, with the defeat of Nazi Germany and his decision to use nuclear weapons against Japan, the founding of theUnited Nations, the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe, the Truman Doctrine to contain communism, the beginning of the Cold War,Sony VGP-BPS10A Battery

the Berlin Airlift, the creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Chinese Civil War, and the Korean War. Corruption in Truman's administration, which was linked to certain members in the cabinet and senior White House staff, was a central issue in the 1952 presidential campaign and helped cause Adlai Stevenson, Sony VGP-BPL8 Battery

Truman's successor for the Democratic nomination for the presidency, to lose to Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower in the 1952 presidential election.

Truman, in sharp contrast to the imperious Roosevelt who kept personal control of all major decisions, was a folksy, unassuming president who relied on his cabinet.Sony VGP-BPL8A Battery

He popularized such phrases as "The buck stops here" and "If you can't stand the heat, you better get out of the kitchen."[2] His approval ratings in the polls started out very high, then steadily sank until he was one of the most unpopular men to leave the White House.Sony VGP-BPL8B Battery

Popular and scholarly assessments of his presidency eventually became more positive after his retirement from politics. Truman's legendary upset victory in 1948 over Thomas E. Dewey is routinely invoked by underdog presidential candidates.Sony VGP-BPS8 Battery

Personal life

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). His parents chose the name Harry after his mother's brother, Harrison Young (1846–1916), Harry's uncle.Sony VGP-BPS8A Battery

His parents chose "S" as his "middle name" to please both of Harry's grandfathers, Anderson Shipp Truman and Solomon Young. The initial did not stand for anything, a common practice among the Scots-Irish.A brother, John Vivian (1886–1965), soon followed, along with sister Mary Jane Truman (1889–1978).Sony VGP-BPS8B Battery

In his autobiography, Truman stated, "I was named for ... Harrison Young. I was given the diminutive Harry and, so that I could have two initials in my given name, the letter S was added. My Grandfather Truman's name was Anderson Shippe [sometimes also spelled 'Shipp'] Truman and my Grandfather Young's name was Solomon Young, so I received the S for both of them.Sony VGP-BPL9 Battery

" He once joked that the S was a name, not an initial, and it should not have a period, but official documents and his presidential library all use a period. The Harry S. Truman Library has numerous examples of the signature written at various times throughout Truman's lifetime where he uses a period after the S.Sony VGP-BPS9 Battery

The Associated Press Stylebook has called for a period after the S since the early 1960s, when Truman indicated he had no preference.

His father John Truman was a farmer and livestock dealer. The family lived in Lamar until Harry was ten months old. Sony VGP-BPS9/B Battery

They then moved to a farm near Harrisonville, then to Belton, and in 1887 to his grandparents' 600-acre (240-ha) farm in Grandview.When Truman was six, his parents moved the family to Independence, so he could attend the Presbyterian Church Sunday School. Truman did not attend a traditional school until he was eight.Sony VGP-BPS9/S Battery

As a young boy, Truman had three main interests: music, reading, and history, all encouraged by his mother, to whom he was very close. As president, he solicited political as well as personal advice from her.[13] He got up at five every morning to practice the piano, which he studied twice a week until he was fifteen.Sony VGP-BPS9A Battery

Truman was a page at the 1900 Democratic National Convention at Convention Hall in Kansas City.

After graduating from Independence High School (now William Chrisman High School) in 1901, Truman worked as a timekeeper on the Santa Fe Railroad, sleeping in "hobo camps" near the rail lines;he then worked at a series of clerical jobs. Sony VGP-BPS9A/B Battery

He worked briefly in the mailroom of the Kansas City Star. Truman decided not to join the International Typographical Union. He returned to the Grandview farm in 1906 where he remained until entering the army in 1917.During this period, he courted Bess Wallace and proposed to her in 1911. She turned him down. Sony VGP-BPS9A/S Battery

Truman said that before he proposed again, he wanted to be earning more money than a farmer did.

World War I

Truman enlisted in the Missouri Army National Guard in 1905, and served until 1911.Sony VGP-BPS9B Battery

At his physical in 1905, his eyesight had been an unacceptable 20/50 in the right eye and 20/40 in the left.Reportedly, he passed by secretly memorizing the eye chart.

With the onset of American participation in World War I, Truman rejoined the Guard. Sony VGP-BPL21 Battery

Before going to France, he was sent to Camp Doniphan, near Lawton,Oklahoma for training. He ran the camp canteen with Edward Jacobson, a Kansas City clothing store clerk. At Ft. Sill, he also met Lieutenant James M. Pendergast, nephew of Thomas Joseph (T.J.) Pendergast, a Kansas City politician.Sony VGP-BPS21 Battery

Both men were to have a profound influence on Truman's later life.

Truman became an officer, and then battery commander in an artillery regiment in France. His unit was Battery D, 129th Field Artillery, 60th Brigade, 35th Infantry Division, known for its discipline problems.Sony VGP-BPS21/S Battery

During a sudden attack by the Germans in the Vosges Mountains, the battery started to disperse; Truman ordered them back into position using profanities that he had "learned while working on the Santa Fe railroad." Shocked by the outburst, his men reassembled and followed him to safety. Sony VGP-BPS21A Battery

Under Captain Truman's command in France, the battery did not lose a single man.His battery also provided support for George S. Patton's tank brigade during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.On November 11, 1918 his artillery unit fired some of the last shots of World War I into German positions after the armistice was signed at 5 am but before the ceasefire took effect at 11 am. Sony VGP-BPS21A/B Battery

In a letter he wrote, "It is a shame we can't go in and devastate Germany and cut off a few of the Dutch kids' hands and feet and scalp a few of their old men".The war was a transformative experience that brought out Truman's leadership qualities; he later rose to the rank of Colonel in the Army Reserves,and his war record made possible his later political career in Missouri.Sony VGP-BPS21B Battery

Family, education and early business career

At the war's conclusion, Truman returned to Independence as a captain and married his girlfriend, Bess Wallace, on June 28, 1919.[29] The couple had one child, Mary Margaret (February 17, 1924 – January 29, 2008).Sony VGP-BPL13 Battery

Truman was the only president who served after 1897 without a college degree: poor eyesight prevented him from applying to West Point (his childhood dream). When his high school friends went off to the state university in 1901, Truman instead enrolled in a local business school, but only lasted a semester. Sony VGP-BPS13 Battery

In 1923–25 he took night courses toward a law degree at the Kansas City Law School (now the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law), but dropped out after losing his government job.

A month before Truman married, he and Jacobson opened a haberdashery at 104 West 12th Street in downtown Kansas City.Sony VGP-BPS13/B Battery

After a few successful years, the store went bankrupt during the recession of 1921.Truman worked to pay off the debts until 1934. As he was about to enter the U.S. Senate, banker William Thornton Kemper, Sr. retrieved the note during the sale of a bankrupt bank and allowed Truman to pay it off for $1,000. Sony VGP-BPS13/S Battery

At the same time, Kemper made a $1,000 contribution to Truman's campaign. Jacobson and Truman remained close friends, and Jacobson's advice to Truman on Zionism later played a critical role in the US government's decision to recognize Israel.Sony VGP-BPS13/S Battery


On February 9, 1909, Harry Truman was initiated into Freemasonry in the Belton Lodge, Missouri. In 1911, he helped establish the Grandview Lodge, and he served as its first Worshipful Master. In 1940, Harry Truman was elected the 97th Grand Master of the Masons of Missouri.Sony VGP-BPS13A/B Battery

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. In 1959, he was awarded the 50-year award.Sony VGP-BPS13A/S Battery

Hereditary memberships

Truman was a member of Sons of the Revolution and a card-carrying member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Two of his relatives were Confederate soldiers. Truman's grandmother Harriet (Gregg) Young was put in a "prison camp" due to Gen.Sony VGP-BPS13AS Battery

Thomas Ewing's General Order No. 11 and his mother remembered her home being burned as a child, following Order #11.


Jackson County judge

In 1922, with the help of the Kansas City Democratic machine led by boss Tom Pendergast, Sony VGP-BPS13B/S Battery

Truman was elected as a judge of the County Court of the eastern district of Jackson County — an administrative, not judicial, position similar to county commissioners elsewhere.

In 1922, Truman gave a friend $10 for an initiation fee for the Ku Klux Klan, but later asked to get his money back;Sony VGP-BPS13Q Battery

he was never initiated, never attended a meeting, and never claimed membership.Though Truman at times expressed anger towards Jews in his diaries, his business partner and close friend Edward Jacobson was Jewish.Tales of the abuse, violence, and persecution suffered by many African American veterans upon their return from World War II infuriated Truman, Sony VGP-BPS13S Battery

and were a major factor in his decision to issue Executive Order 9981, in July 1948, to back civil rights initiatives and require equal opportunity in the armed forces.

He was not reelected in 1924, but in 1926 was elected the presiding judge for the court, and was reelected in 1930. Sony VAIO VGN-AW110J/H Battery

In 1930 Truman coordinated the "Ten Year Plan," which transformed Jackson County and the Kansas City skyline with new public works projects, including an extensive series of roads, construction of a new Wight and Wight-designed County Court building, and the dedication of a series of 12 Madonna of the Trail monuments honoring pioneer women.Sony VAIO VGN-AW11M/H Battery

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 as payback to Pendergast for delivering the Kansas City vote to Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1932 presidential election. Sony VAIO VGN-AW11S/B Battery

The appointment confirmed Pendergast's control over federal patronage jobs in Missouri and marked the zenith of his power. It was also to create a relationship between Truman and Harry Hopkins and assure avid Truman support for the New Deal. Sony VAIO VGN-AW11XU/Q Battery

U.S. Senator

First term

After serving as judge, Truman wanted to run for Governor or Congress, but Pendergast rejected these ideas. In 1934, Pendergast's aides suggested Harry Truman as a candidate for Senator;Sony VAIO VGN-AW11Z/B Battery

after three other men turned him down, Pendergast reluctantly backed Truman as the candidate for the 1934 U.S. Senate election for Missouri. During the Democratic primary, Truman defeated John J. Cochran and Tuck Milligan, the brother of a federal prosecutor Maurice M. Milligan. Sony VAIO VGN-AW120J/H Battery

Truman then defeated the incumbent Republican, Roscoe C. Patterson, by nearly 20%.

Truman assumed office as "the senator from Pendergast." He gave patronage decisions to Pendergast but always maintained he voted his conscience. Truman always defended the patronage by saying that by offering a little, he saved a lot.Sony VAIO VGN-AW150Y/H Battery

In his first term as a U.S. Senator, 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 President Roosevelt, who did not take him seriously at this stage, and had difficulty getting White House secretaries to return his calls. Sony VAIO VGN-AW160J/Q Battery

1940 election

In 1940, both Stark and Maurice Milligan challenged him in the Democratic primary for the Senate. Truman's organization was a loose-net network of old friends, prominent Masons, Army buddies, and National Guard activists, combined with old Pendergast allies in the Kansas City and St. Joseph areas.Sony VAIO VGN-AW170Y/Q Battery

Truman was especially weak in the St. Louis area, where Robert E. Hannegan controlled the party.Hannegan decided to support Truman; he would go on to broker the 1944 deal that put Truman on the vice presidential ticket for Roosevelt. In the end, Stark and Milligan split the anti-Pendergast vote in the Democratic primary, and Truman won by 8000 votes.Sony VAIO VGN-AW180Y/Q Battery

In the November election, Truman trailed Roosevelt slightly, but defeated the Republican Manvel H. Davisby a margin of 51% to 49%.

In September 1940, during the general election campaign, Truman was elected Grand Master of the Missouri Grand Lodge of Freemasonry. Sony VAIO VGN-AW190JAH Battery

Truman said later that the Masonic election assured his victory in the general election.

Foreign policy

On June 23, 1941, the day after Nazi Germany attacked the Soviet Union, Senator Truman declared:Sony VAIO VGN-AW190NAB Battery

"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, although I don't want to see Hitler victorious under any circumstances. Neither of them thinks anything of their pledged word."Sony VAIO VGN-AW190NBB Battery

Although the sentiment was in line with what many Americans felt at the time, it was regarded by later biographers as both inappropriate and cynical.

Truman Committee

Truman gained national visibility by fighting waste and mismanagement in the war effort through his committee (popularly known as the "Truman Committee"). Sony VAIO VGN-AW190NCB Battery

The Roosevelt administration had initially feared the Truman Committee would hurt war morale, and Undersecretary of War Robert P. Patterson wrote to the president declaring it was "in the public interest" to suspend the committee. Sony VAIO VGN-AW190YAB Battery

Truman replied that the committee was "100 percent behind the administration" and did not intend to criticize the military conduct of the war. The committee is reported to have saved at least $15 billion and thousands of lives. Truman's advocacy of common-sense cost-saving measures for the military attracted much attention. Sony VAIO VGN-AW190YBB Battery

In 1943, he appeared on the cover of Time. He would eventually appear on nine Time covers and would be named the magazine's Man of the Year for 1945 and 1948. After years as a marginal figure in the Senate, Truman was cast into the national spotlight after the success of the Truman Committee.Sony VAIO VGN-AW190YCB Battery

Vice presidency

Following months of uncertainty over whether Vice President Henry Wallace would continue as Roosevelt's running mate in 1944, Truman was ultimately selected to replace him as the vice presidential candidate in a deal worked out by Hannegan, Sony VAIO VGN-AW190YDB Battery

who was Democratic National Chairman that year. Roosevelt's physical condition had deteriorated sharply by mid-1944. Key FDR advisers, including outgoing Democratic National Committee Chairman Frank C. Walker, incoming Chairman Robert Hannegan, Sony VAIO VGN-AW220J/B Battery

party treasurerEdwin W. Pauley, strategist Ed Flynn, and lobbyist George E. Allen wanted to keep Wallace off the ticket. They considered Wallace too liberal and "realized that the man nominated to run with Roosevelt would in all probability be the next President. . ." Sony VAIO VGN-AW230J/H Battery

After meeting personally with the party leaders, FDR agreed to replace Wallace however Roosevelt left the final selection of his running mate until the end of the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Before the convention began, Roosevelt wrote a note saying he would accept either Truman or Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas. Sony VAIO VGN-AW235J/B Battery

State and city party leaders strongly preferred Truman, but Truman himself did not campaign for the number two spot and later maintained he had not wanted the job of vice president. Roosevelt devised a plan to pressure him to accept the vice presidency and on July 19, Sony VAIO VGN-AW290JFQ Battery

the party bosses summoned Truman to a suite in theBlackstone Hotel to listen in on a phone call that, unknown to the senator, they had rehearsed in advance with the president. During the conversation, FDR asked the party bosses whether Truman would accept the position. Sony VAIO VGN-AW41JF Battery

When they said no, FDR angrily accused Truman of disrupting the unity of the Democratic Party in the middle of a war, then hung up. Feeling that he had no choice, Truman reluctantly agreed to become Roosevelt's running mate. Sony VAIO VGN-AW41JF/H Battery

Truman's candidacy was humorously dubbed the second "Missouri Compromise" at the 1944 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, and his broad appeal contrasted with that of the liberal Wallace and the conservative James F. Byrnes. His nomination was well received,Sony VAIO VGN-AW41MF Battery

and the Roosevelt–Truman ticket went on to a 432–99 electoral-vote victory in the 1944 presidential election, defeating Governor Thomas E. Dewey of New York and Governor John Bricker of Ohio. Truman was sworn in as vice president on January 20, 1945, but was to serve less than three months.Sony VAIO VGN-AW41MF/H Battery

Truman's brief vice-presidency was relatively uneventful. Roosevelt rarely contacted him, even to inform him of major decisions, and they met infrequently. In one of his first acts as vice president, Truman dismayed many when he attended the funeral of his disgraced patronTom Pendergast a few days after taking office. Sony VAIO VGN-AW41XH Battery

He brushed the criticism aside, saying simply, "He was always my friend and I have always been his."

On the afternoon of April 12, 1945, Truman was presiding over the Senate in his capacity as president of the chamber.Sony VAIO VGN-AW41XH/Q Battery

He had just adjourned the session for the day and was preparing to have a drink inHouse Speaker Sam Rayburn's office when he received an urgent message to go immediately to the White House. Truman assumed that President Roosevelt, who he knew was in Warm Springs, GA,Sony VAIO VGN-AW41ZF Battery

had returned earlier than expected and wanted to meet with him, but upon his arrival, Eleanor Roosevelt informed him that the president had died after suffering a massive cerebral hemorrhage. Truman's first concern was for Mrs. Roosevelt. He asked if there was anything he could do for her, to which she replied, "Is there anything we can do for you? You are the one in trouble now!" Sony VAIO VGN-AW41ZF/B Battery

Presidency 1945–1953

Truman had been vice president for only 82 days when President Roosevelt died on April 12, 1945. He had rarely discussed world affairs or domestic politics with Roosevelt and 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.Sony VAIO VGN-AW50DB/H Battery

Shortly after taking the oath of office, Truman said 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."Sony VAIO VGN-AW51JGB Battery

Upon assuming the presidency, Truman asked all the members of FDR's cabinet to remain in place, told them that he was open to their advice, but laid down a central principle of his administration: he would be the one making decisions, and they were to support him.[74] On May 8, 1945, the Allies achieved victory in Europe.Sony VAIO VGN-AW52JGB Battery

Atomic bomb

Truman, who had not known of it beforehand, was briefed on the ultra secret Manhattan Project by Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson on the day Roosevelt died, following his first Cabinet meeting as President.While in Europe for the Potsdam Conference, he learned the news that the Trinity test of the first atomic bomb on July 16 had been successful.Sony VAIO VGN-AW53FB Battery

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 himself did.Sony VAIO VGN-AW70B/Q Battery

In August, after the Japanese government refused the terms of the Potsdam Declaration, Truman authorized the use of atomic weapons against Japan.

On Sunday morning, August 6, 1945, at 8:15am local time, the B-29 bomber Enola Gay dropped a uranium-fueled atomic bomb, Little Boy, on Hiroshima.Sony VAIO VGN-AW71JB Battery

Two days later, after Truman's broadcast warning of further attacks, yet having heard nothing further from the Japanese government, the U.S. military executed its plan to drop a second atomic bomb. On August 9, Nagasaki was devastated using a plutonium implosion-type atomic bomb, Fat Man, dropped by the B-29 bomber Bockscar.Sony VAIO VGN-AW72JB Battery

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 occurring on the days of the bombings. Truman received news of the bombing while aboard the heavy cruiser USS Augusta(CA-31) on his way back to the U.S. after the Potsdam Conference.Sony VAIO VGN-AW73FB Battery

The Japanese surrender came on August 14.

Supporters of Truman's decision argue that, given the tenacious Japanese defense of the outlying islands, the bombings saved hundreds of thousands of lives that would have been lost in an invasion of mainland Japan. Sony VAIO VGN-AW80NS Battery

In 1954, Eleanor Roosevelt said that Truman had "made the only decision he could," and that the bomb's use was necessary "to avoid tremendous sacrifice of American lives." Others have argued that the use of nuclear weapons was unnecessary and inherently immoral.Sony VAIO VGN-AW80S Battery

Truman himself wrote later in life that, "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."

Strikes and economic upheaval

The end of World War II was followed by an uneasy transition from war to a peacetime economy. Sony VAIO VGN-AW80US Battery

The president was faced with the renewal of labor-management conflicts that had lain dormant during the war years, severe shortages in housing and consumer products, and widespread dissatisfaction withinflation, which at one point hit 6% in a single month.Sony VAIO VGN-AW81DS Battery

In this polarized environment, there was a wave of destabilizing strikes in major industries, and Truman's response to them was generally seen as ineffective.In the spring of 1946, a national railway strike, unprecedented in the nation's history, brought virtually all passenger and freight lines to a standstill for over a month. Sony VAIO VGN-AW81JS Battery

When the railway workers turned down a proposed settlement, Truman seized control of the railways and threatened to draft striking workers into the armed forces.While delivering a speech before Congress requesting authority for this plan, Truman received word that the strike had been settled on his terms.Sony VAIO VGN-AW81YS Battery

He announced this development to Congress on the spot and received a tumultuous ovation that was replayed for weeks on newsreels. Although the resolution of the crippling railway strike made for stirring political theater, it actually cost Truman politically:Sony VAIO VGN-AW82DS Battery

his proposed solution was seen by many as high-handed; and labor voters, already wary of Truman's handling of workers' issues, were deeply alienated.

United Nations, Marshall Plan and the Cold War

As a Wilsonian internationalist, Truman strongly supported creation of the United Nations, and included Eleanor Roosevelt on the delegation to the UN's firstGeneral Assembly.Sony VAIO VGN-AW82JS Battery

Faced with Communist abandonment of commitments to democracy made at the Potsdam Conference, and with Communist advances inIran, Greece (leading to the Greek Civil War) and in Turkey, Truman and his foreign policy advisors took a hard line against the Soviets.Sony VAIO VGN-AW82YS Battery

Although he claimed no personal expertise on foreign matters, Truman won bipartisan support for both the Truman Doctrine, which formalized a policy ofcontainment, 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,Sony VAIO VGN-AW83FS Battery

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. Sony VAIO VGN-AW83GS Battery

The act also created the CIA and theNational Security Council.

Fair Deal

After many years of Democratic majorities in Congress and two Democratic presidents, voter fatigue with the Democrats delivered a new Republican majority in the 1946 midterm elections, with the Republicans picking up 55 seats in the House of Representatives and several seats in the Senate.Sony VAIO VGN-AW83HS Battery

Although Truman cooperated closely with the Republican leaders on foreign policy, he fought them bitterly on domestic issues. He failed to prevent tax cuts or the removal of price controls. The power of the labor unions was significantly curtailed by the Taft–Hartley Act, which was enacted by overriding Truman's veto.Sony VAIO VGN-AW90NS Battery

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 anti-union Taft-Hartley Act, and an aggressive civil rights program. Taken together, it all constituted a broad legislative agenda that came to be called the "Fair Deal."Sony VAIO VGN-AW90S Battery

Truman's proposals were not well received by Congress, even after Democratic gains in the 1948 election. Only one of the major Fair Deal bills, the Housing Act of 1949, was ever enacted.

Recognition of Israel

Truman made the decision to recognize the establishment of the State of Israel over the objections of Secretary of State George Marshall, who feared it would hurt relations with the Arab states.Sony VAIO VGN-AW90US Battery

At a meeting in the White House on November 10, 1945, he told envoys to Saudi Arabia, Syria, Lebanon and Egypt: "I am sorry, gentlemen, but I have to answer to hundreds of thousands who are anxious for the success of Zionism: I do not have hundreds of thousands of Arabs among my constituents."Sony VAIO VGN-AW91CDS Battery

Rejecting Arab, British, and U.S. State Department warnings that Jewish immigration to Palestine and a Jewish state would destabilize the Middle East, Truman and Congress continued to support the establishment of a homeland for the Jewish people.Sony VAIO VGN-AW91CJS Battery

American policy makers in 1947–48 agreed that the highest foreign policy objective was containment of Soviet expansion as the Cold War unfolded. From Washington's perspective, Palestine was secondary to the goal of protecting the "Northern Tier" of Greece, Turkey, and Iran from Communism, as promised by the Truman Doctrine. Sony VAIO VGN-AW91CYS Battery

Truman set three goals for the region: a peaceful solution, unwillingness to send US troops, and the need to prevent Soviet penetration.

According to George Lenczowski, Truman's policy on Palestine was influenced by Jewish lobbyists.Sony VAIO VGN-AW91DS Battery

In his memoirs, Truman wrote that top Jewish leaders in the United States put pressure on him to promote Jewish aspirations in Palestine.  At the urging of the British, a special UN committee,UNSCOP, recommended the immediate partitioning of Palestine into two states. Sony VAIO VGN-AW91JS Battery

With Truman's support, the plan was approved by the General Assembly on November 29, 1947. Secretary of State George Marshall and foreign affairs experts continued to oppose the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine. When Truman agreed to meet with Chaim Weizmann,Sony VAIO VGN-AW91YS Battery

the Secretary of State objected but did not publicly dispute his decision. Secretary of Defense James Forrestal warned about the perils of arousing Arab hostility, which might result in denial of access to petroleum resources in the area, and about "the impact of this question on the security of the United States." Sony VAIO VGN-AW92CDS Battery

Truman recognized the State of Israel on May 14, 1948, eleven minutes after it declared itself a nation.

Truman wrote:

Hitler had been murdering Jews right and left. I saw it, and I dream about it even to this day. Sony VAIO VGN-AW92CJS Battery

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.

On June 24, 1948, the Soviet Union blocked access to the three Western-held sectors of Berlin.Sony VAIO VGN-AW92CYS Battery

The Allies had never negotiated a deal to guarantee supply of the sectors deep within the Soviet-occupied zone. The commander of the American occupation zone in Germany, General Lucius D. Clay, proposed sending a large armored column across the Soviet zone to West Berlin with instructions to defend itself if it were stopped or attacked. Sony VAIO VGN-AW92DS Battery

Truman believed this would entail an unacceptable risk of war. He approved a plan to supply the blockaded city by air. On June 25, the Allies initiated the Berlin Airlift, a campaign that delivered food and other supplies, such as coal, using military airplanes on a massive scale. Sony VAIO VGN-AW92JS Battery

Nothing remotely like it had ever been attempted before, and no single nation had the capability, either logistically or materially, to have accomplished it. The airlift worked; ground access was again granted on May 11, 1949. The airlift continued for several months after that.Sony VAIO VGN-AW92YS Battery

The Berlin Airlift was one of Truman's great foreign policy successes as president; it significantly aided his election campaign in 1948.

Defense cutbacks

Truman adopted a strategy of rapid demobilization after World War II, mothballing ships and sending the veterans home.Sony VAIO VGN-AW93FS Battery

The reasons for this strategy, which persisted through Truman's first term and well into his second, were largely financial. To fund domestic spending requirements, Truman had advocated a policy of defense program cuts for the U.S. armed forces at the end of the war. Sony VAIO VGN-AW93GS Battery

The Republican majority in Congress, anxious to enact numerous tax cuts, approved of Truman's plan to "hold the line" on defense spending. In addition, Truman's experience in the Senate left him with lingering s

uspicions that large sums were being wasted in the Pentagon.Sony VAIO VGN-AW93HS Battery

In 1949, Truman appointed Louis A. Johnson as Secretary of Defense. Impressed by U.S. advances in atomic bomb development, Truman and Johnson initially believed that the atomic bomb rendered conventional forces largely irrelevant to the modern battlefield. Sony VAIO VGN-AW93ZFS Battery

This assumption eventually had to be revisited, however, as the Soviet Union exploded its first atomic weapon in the same year.

Nevertheless, reductions continued, adversely affecting U.S. conventional defense readiness. Both Truman and Johnson had a particular antipathy to Navy and Marine Corps budget requests.Sony VAIO VGN-AW93ZGS Battery

Truman proposed disbanding the Marine Corps entirely as part of the 1948 defense reorganization plan but the idea was abandoned after a letter-writing campaign and the intervention of influential Marine veterans.

By 1950, many Navy ships were sold to other countries or scrapped. Sony VAIO VGN-AW93ZHS Battery

The U.S. Army, faced with high turnover of experienced personnel, cut back on training exercises, and eased recruitment standards. Usable equipment was scrapped or sold off and ammunition stockpiles were cut. The Marine Corps, its budgets slashed, was reduced to hoarding surplus inventories of World War II-era weapons and equipment.Sony VAIO VGN-BZ11EN Battery

It was only after the invasion of South Korea by the North Koreans in 1950 that Truman sent significantly larger defense requests to Congress — and initiated what might be considered the modern period of defense spending in the United States.Sony VAIO VGN-BZ11MN Battery

Election of 1948

The 1948 presidential election is best remembered for Truman's stunning come-from-behind victory. 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.Sony VAIO VGN-BZ11XN Battery

The "New Deal" operatives within the party — including FDR's son James — tried to swing the Democratic nomination to General Dwight D. Eisenhower, a wildly popular figure whose political views — and party affiliation — were totally unknown.Sony VAIO VGN-BZ12VN Battery

Eisenhower emphatically refused to accept, and Truman outflanked opponents to his nomination.

At the 1948 Democratic National Convention, Truman attempted to calm turbulent domestic political waters by placing a tepid civil rights plank in the party platform;Sony VAIO VGN-BZ12XN Battery

the aim was to assuage the internal conflicts between the northern and southern wings of his party. Events overtook the president's efforts at compromise, however. A sharp address given by Mayor Hubert Humphrey of Minneapolis — as well as the local political interests of a number of urban bosses — Sony VAIO VGN-BZ31VT Battery

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 and promising to win the election and "make these Republicans like it."Sony VAIO VGN-BZ31XT Battery

Within two weeks, Truman issued Executive Order 9981, racially integrating the U.S. Armed Services. Truman took considerable political risk in backing civil rights, and many seasoned Democrats were concerned that the loss of Dixiecrat support might destroy the Democratic Party.Sony VAIO VGN-BZ560 Battery

The fear seemed well justified — Strom Thurmond declared his candidacy for the presidency and led a full-scale revolt of Southern "states' rights" proponents. This revolt on the right was matched by a revolt on the left, led by former Vice President Henry A. Wallace on the Progressive Party ticket.Sony VAIO VGN-BZ560N24 Battery

Immediately after its first post-FDR convention, the Democratic Party found itself disintegrating. Victory in November seemed a remote possibility indeed, with the party not simply split but divided three ways.

There followed a remarkable 21,928-mile (35,290 km) presidential odyssey,an unprecedented personal appeal to the nation. Sony VAIO VGN-BZ560N30 Battery

Truman and his staff crisscrossed the United States in the presidential train; his "whistlestop" tactic of giving brief speeches from the rear platform of the observation car Ferdinand Magellan came to represent the entire campaign. His combative appearances, such as those at the town square of Harrisburg, Illinois,Sony VAIO VGN-BZ560P Battery

captured the popular imagination and drew huge crowds. Six stops in Michigan drew a combined half-million people; a full million turned out for a New York City ticker-tape parade. Sony VAIO VGN-BZ560P20 Battery

The large, mostly spontaneous gatherings at Truman's depot events were an important sign of a critical change in momentum in the campaign, but this shift went virtually unnoticed by the national press corps, which continued reporting Republican Thomas Dewey's apparent impending victory as a certainty. Sony VAIO VGN-BZ560P22 Battery

One reason for the press' inaccurate projection was polls conducted primarily by telephone in a time when many people, including much of Truman's populist base, did not own a telephone.This skewed the data to indicate a stronger support base for Dewey than existed, Sony VAIO VGN-BZ560P28 Battery

resulting in an unintended and undetected projection error that may well have contributed to the perception of Truman's bleak chances. The three major polling organizations also stopped polling well before the November 2 election date — Roper in September, and Crossley and Gallup in October —Sony VAIO VGN-BZ560P30 Battery

thus failing to measure the very period when Truman appears to have surged past Dewey.

In the end, Truman held his progressive Midwestern base, won most of the Southern states despite his civil rights plank, and squeaked through with narrow victories in a few critical "battleground" states, Sony VAIO VGN-BZ560P34 Battery

notably Ohio, California, and Illinois. The final tally showed that the president had secured 303 electoral votes, Dewey 189, and Thurmond only 39. Henry Wallace got none. The defining image of the campaign came after Election Day, when Truman held aloft the erroneous front page of the Chicago Tribune with a huge headline proclaiming "Dewey Defeats Truman."Sony VAIO VGN-BZ561 Battery

Truman did not have a vice president in his first term. His running mate, and eventual vice president for the term that began January 20, 1949, was Alben W. Barkley.

Second term (1949–1953)

Truman's inauguration was the first ever televised nationally."Sony VAIO VGN-BZ561N20 Battery

His second term was grueling, in large measure because of foreign policy challenges connected directly or indirectly to his policy of containment. He quickly had to come to terms with the end of the American nuclear monopoly. With information provided by its espionage networks in the United States,Sony VAIO VGN-BZ561P20 Battery

the Soviet Union's atomic bomb project progressed much faster than had been expected and they exploded their first bomb on August 29, 1949. On January 7, 1953, Truman announced the detonation of the first U.S. hydrogen bomb.Sony VAIO VGN-BZ562P Battery


Truman was a strong supporter of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which established a formal peacetime military alliance with Canada and many of the democratic European nations that had not fallen under Soviet control following World War II.Sony VAIO VGN-BZ563P Battery

Truman successfully guided the treaty through the Senate in 1949 and appointed Dwight D. Eisenhower as the first commander. NATO's stated 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.Sony VAIO VGN-BZAAFS Battery

The United States, Britain, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Norway, Denmark, Portugal, Iceland, and Canada were the original treaty signatories; Greece and Turkey joined in 1952.

Chinese Civil War

On December 21, 1949, Chiang Kai-shek (Jiang Jieshi) and his National Revolutionary Army left mainland China,Sony VAIO VGN-BZAAHS Battery

fleeing to Taiwan in the face of successful attacks by Mao Zedong's communist army during the Chinese Civil War. In June 1950, Truman ordered the U.S. Navy's Seventh Fleet into the Taiwan Strait to prevent further conflict between the communist government at the China mainland and the Republic of China on Taiwan. Sony VAIO VGN-BZAANS Battery

Truman also called for the ROC not to make any further attacks on the mainland.

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