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Politician & Activist

Harry S. Truman

Harry S. Truman was the 33rd president of the United States from 1945 to 1953, succeeding upon the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt after serving as vice president.

He implemented the Marshall Plan to rebuild the economy of Western Europe, and established the Truman Doctrine and NATO.

  • Full name: Harry S. Truman
  • Profession: American Politian
  • 33rd U.S. President
  • Born: 8 May 1884, Lamar, Missouri, United States
  • Died: 26 December 1972, Kansas City, Missouri, United States
  • Presidential term: 12 April 1945 – 20 January 1953
  • Party: Democratic Party
  • Battles/wars: World War I: St. Mihiel; Meuse-Argonne; Defensive Sector
  • Vice president: Alben W. Barkley (1949–1953)

About Harry S. Truman

Truman was born on 8 May 1884 in Lamar, Missouri, United States. He is the oldest child of John Anderson Truman and Martha Ellen Young Truman.

He was named for his maternal uncle, Harrison “Harry” Young. His middle name, “S” honours his grandfathers, Anderson Shipp Truman and Solomon Young.

A brother, John Vivian, was born soon after Harry, followed by sister Mary Jane. Truman’s ancestry is primarily English and less Scots-Irish, German or French.

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John Truman was a farmer and livestock dealer. The family lived in Lamar until Harry was ten months old, when they moved to a farm near Harrisonville, Missouri.

The family next moved to Belton, and in 1887 to his grandparents’ 600-acre (240 ha) farm in Grandview.

When Truman was six, his parents moved to Independence, Missouri, so he could attend the Presbyterian Church Sunday School. He did not attend a traditional school until he was eight.

While living in Independence, he served as a Shabbos goy for Jewish neighbours, doing tasks for them on Shabbat that their religion prevented them from doing on that day.

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Truman was interested in music, reading, and history, all encouraged by his mother, with whom he was very close. As president, he solicited political as well as personal advice from her.

He rose at five every morning to practice the piano, which he studied more than twice a week until he was fifteen, becoming quite a skilled player.

Truman worked as a page at the 1900 Democratic National Convention in Kansas City; his father had many friends who were active in the Democratic Party and helped young Harry to gain his first political position.

After graduating from Independence High School in 1901, Truman enrolled in Spalding’s Commercial College, a Kansas City business school; he studied bookkeeping, shorthand, and typing, but left after a year.

Career

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.

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Truman oversaw the Berlin Airlift of 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 Orders to start racial integration in the military and federal agencies.

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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, but scholars rehabilitated his image in the 1960s and he is highly ranked by scholars.