Harry S. Truman

12/04/194520/01/1953View on timeline

Harry S. Truman
President Harry S. Truman - An Appreciation

Harry S. Truman (May 8, 1884 – December 26, 1972) was the 33rd president of the United States from 1945 to 1953, succeeding upon the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt after serving as the 34th vice president. He implemented the Marshall Plan to rebuild the economy of Western Europe, and established the Truman Doctrine and NATO.

Truman grew up in Independence, Missouri, and during World War I was sent to France as a captain in the Field Artillery. Returning home, he opened a haberdashery in Kansas City, Missouri and was later elected as a Jackson County official in 1922. Truman was elected to the United States Senate from Missouri in 1934 and gained national prominence as chairman of the Truman Committee aimed at reducing waste and inefficiency in wartime contracts. Soon after succeeding to the presidency he authorized the first and only use of nuclear weapons in war. Truman's administration engaged in an internationalist foreign policy and renounced isolationism. He rallied his New Deal coalition during the 1948 presidential election and won a surprise victory that secured his own presidential term.

After the onset of the Cold War Truman oversaw the Berlin Airlift and Marshall Plan in 1948. When North Korea invaded South Korea in 1950, he gained United Nations approval to intervene in what became known as the Korean War. On domestic issues, bills endorsed by Truman faced opposition from a conservative Congress, but his administration successfully guided the U.S. economy through the post-war economic challenges. In 1948, he submitted the first comprehensive civil rights legislation and issued Executive Order 9981 to start racial integration in the military and federal agencies.

Corruption in the Truman administration became a central campaign issue in the 1952 presidential election. After Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower's electoral victory against Democrat Adlai Stevenson II, Truman went into a financially difficult retirement, marked by the founding of his presidential library and the publication of his memoirs. When he left office, Truman's presidency was criticized, though critical reassessment of his tenure has been favorable.


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Published in 28/08/2020

Updated in 19/02/2021

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