Harry Truman



Number President 33rd President
Terms Served 2 Term Served
Dates Served 1945-1953
Party Democrat
State Represented Misouri
Married to / First Lady Elizabeth Virginia Wallace Truman
Born May 8, 1884 in Lamar, Missouri
Died December 26, 1972 in Independence, Missouri
Age Harry Truman would be 124 years old this year


Harry S. Truman was an unassuming 33rd. U.S. President and succeeded to the office upon the death of illustrious President Franklin D. Roosevelt. He was born at Lamar, Missouri, was of Scottish origin and the second son of his parents. His educational background in the initial years was not noteworthy. In 1901 from Independence High School, he got his first formal academic recognition. It is amazing to know that the ‘S’ in his middle name doesn’t stand for anything. His parents just gave him the initial ‘S’ to please his grandfathers.

In between odd jobs for five years, in 1906 he went to his maternal grandmother’s farm and stayed there till 1917 before joining the Military Service. This farming experience stood in good stead during his formative years in the Military. His participation in World War and commanding the Battery D Unit was a transformative experience which brought out Truman’s leadership quality. He was married to Bess Wallace in 1919.

In 1922, he was elected a judge of Jackson County Court. A Kansas politician, Thomas Joseph Pendergast, greatly influenced his political career and Truman was his chosen candidate for Senate election from Missouri. He defeated his Republican opponent in 1934 and in his first public speech as a Senator he spoke bluntly on malpractices of the corporate world and warned against Wall Street speculations.

During World War II, he was in command of War Investigating Committee checking waste consumption which saved up to $15 billion. Truman’s political career took a beating after his mentor, Joseph Pendergast, was imprisoned for insurance fraudulence. However, he was still able to retain his seat and became the  Grandmaster of Missouri Grand Lodge of Free Masonry. This was the turning point of his political career. His advocacy on cost saving measures for the military attracted much attention and in 1945 and in 1948, he was named “Man of the Year”.

The Truman Committee brought him in the limelight. He was sworn in as the Vice President in 1945 but served less than three months. The sudden death of President Roosevelt catapulted him to the Presidential seat. When he became the President, Truman was completely uninformed about all the major political, economic and defense initiatives due to severe communication gap between him and Roosevelt including the top secret “Manhattan Project” for developing the Atom bomb.  

On joining the office, though he retained all the old cabinet members, the decision making process was left to him. Truman’s foreign policy was marked by many historical occurrences primarily his usage of nuclear bomb on Nagasaki and Hiroshima after Japan rejected the “Potsdam Declaration”.

Though his decision to drop the Atom bomb was   mired in controversy, some experts felt this was the best way to reduce American casualties in the Pacific Theater. The war against Germany was also coming to an end.
Harry S. Truman was one of the architects behind formation of 1945 Charter of United Nations as a tool for international peace and co-existence. His other notable initiatives included Marshall Plan for rebuilding Europe, occupation of Japan, Truman Doctrine for containing Communism, creation of North Atlantic Treaty Organization and other similar military alliances and the Cold War.

During his tenure, the Korean War began in 1950 between the Communist North Korea and South Korea which was an American ally. When Soviet Union blockaded West Berlin 1948, he arranged a massive air-lift of much needed supplies to the affected population.

At the domestic front he presented the “Fair Deal”, a 21 point program where in the expansion of Social Security, a Full Employment Program, a Fair Employment Practice Act, extensive public housing and slum clearance projects took place. When he was in office, the nation was in throes of economic recession post World War II.

Labor management conflicts surfaced in many spheres specially the National Railway strike of 1946 which further crippled the economy. Truman retaliated by hinting seizure of Railway controls and threatened to induct the striking workers in the Armed Forces. This threat had an instant effect as the strike was immediately called off. However, this had a deep repercussion on his political career as he totally lost the labor vote bank. Also, corruption in various Departments in his Administration reached its peak and became the central issue in the 1952 campaign. This discouraged him and he decided not to run again for U.S. President and retired from public life.



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