Harry S. Truman
|Harry S. Truman|
|33rd President of the United States|
April 12, 1945 – January 20, 1953
|Preceded by||Franklin D. Roosevelt|
|Succeeded by||Dwight D. Eisenhower|
|34th Vice President of the United States|
January 20, 1945 – April 12, 1945
|President||Franklin D. Roosevelt|
|Preceded by||Henry A. Wallace|
|Succeeded by||Alben W. Barkley|
|United States Senator
January 3, 1935 – January 17, 1945
|Preceded by||Roscoe C. Patterson|
|Succeeded by||Frank P. Briggs|
|Presiding Judge of Jackson County, Missouri|
January 10, 1927 – January 3, 1935
|Preceded by||Elihu W. Hayes|
|Succeeded by||Eugene I. Purcell|
|Born||May 8, 1884
Lamar, Missouri, U.S.
|Died||December 26, 1972 (aged 88)
Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.
|Resting place||Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum
|Spouse(s)||Bess Wallace (m. 1919; his death 1972)|
|Years of service||
|Commands||Battery D, 129th Field Artillery, 60th Brigade, 35th Infantry Division|
|Battles/wars||World War I|
Harry S. Truman[b] (May 8, 1884 – December 26, 1972) was the 33rd President of the United States (1945–53), an American politician of the Democratic Party. 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. He was president during the final months of World War II, making the decision to drop the atomic bomb onHiroshima and Nagasaki. Truman was elected in his own right in 1948. He presided over an uncertain domestic scene as America sought its path after the war, and tensions with the Soviet Union increased, marking the start of the Cold War.
Truman was born in Lamar, Missouri and spent most of his youth on his family’s farm near Independence. In the last months of World War I, he served in combat in France as an artillery officer with his National Guard unit. After the war, he briefly owned a haberdashery in Kansas City, Missouri, and joined the Democratic Party and the political machine ofTom Pendergast. Truman was first elected to public office as a county official in 1926, and then as a U.S. Senator in 1934. 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 a few weeks after Truman 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 weapons to end the fighting and to spare the thousands of American lives that would inevitably be lost in the planned invasion of Japan and Japanese-held islands in the Pacific. This decision remains controversial to this day. It 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 Koreainvaded South Korea in 1950, he sent in 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.
On domestic issues, bills endorsed by Truman often faced opposition from a conservative Congress dominated by the Southern legislators, but his administration was able to successfully guide the American economy through the post-war economic challenges. Truman maintained that civil rights were a moral priority, and in 1948 submitted the first comprehensive civil rights legislation and issued Executive Orders to start racial integration in the military and federal agencies. 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. Popular and scholarly assessments of Truman’s presidency initially were unfavorable but became more positive over time following his retirement from politics. Truman’s 1948 election upset to win a full term as president has often been invoked by later ‘underdog‘ presidential candidates.
- 1Early life and career
- 3Vice presidency
- 4.1First term (1945–49)
- 4.21948 election
- 4.3Second term (1949–53)
- 4.4Civil rights
- 4.5Administration and cabinet
- 4.6Judicial appointments