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Sworn in as the 33rd president after Franklin Delano Roosevelt's sudden death, Harry S. Truman presided over the end of WWII and dropped the atomic bomb on Japan.
An inside look at the political relationship between Harry Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Harry Truman came from modest beginnings and is the only 20th Century President to not have a college degree. Among his accomplishments as President were integrating the military, defeating Nazi Germany, and initiating the Berlin Airlift.
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Harry S. Truman was born in Missouri on May 8, 1884. He was Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s vice president for just 82 days before Roosevelt died and Truman became the 33rd president. In his first months in office he dropped the atomic bomb on Japan, ending World War II. His policy of communist containment started the Cold War, and he initiated U.S. involvement in the Korean War. Truman left office in 1953 and died in 1972.
"It's a recession when your neighbor loses his job; it's a depression when you lose your own."
"It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit."
Harry S. Truman was the first of three children born to John Anderson Truman, a farmer and mule trader, and his wife, Martha Ellen Truman. Harry was named in honor of his maternal uncle, Harrison Young, but his parents couldn’t decide on a middle name. After more than a month, they settled on simply using the letter “S” as a tribute to both his maternal grandfather, Solomon Young, and his paternal grandfather, Anderson Shipp Truman.
Truman grew up on the family farm in Independence, Missouri, and did not attend college. He worked a variety of jobs after high school, first as a timekeeper for a railroad construction company, and then as a clerk and a bookkeeper at two separate banks in Kansas City. After five years, he returned to farming and joined the National Guard.
When World War I erupted, Truman volunteered for duty. Though he was 33 years-old—two years older than the age limit for the draft—and eligible for exemption as a farmer, he helped organize his National Guard regiment, which was ultimately called into service in the 129th Field Artillery. Truman was promoted to captain in France and assigned Battery D, which was known for being the most unruly battery in the regiment. In spite of a generally shy and modest temperament, Truman captured the respect and admiration of his men and led them successfully through heavy fighting during the Meuse-Argonne campaign.
Truman was elected to the United States Senate in 1934. In his first term, he served on the Senate Appropriations Committee, which was responsible for allocating tax money for Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal projects, and the Interstate Commerce Committee, which oversaw railroads, shipping, and interstate transport. Along with Senator Burton Wheeler, Truman began investigating railroads, and in 1940, he initiated legislation that imposed tighter federal regulation on the railroads, which helped him establish his reputation as a man of integrity.
By the time Truman was up for reelection in 1940, Thomas Pendergast had been convicted of tax evasion and associated with voter fraud, and many predicted Truman’s connection to Pendergast would result in a defeat. Truman didn’t try to hide or distort his relationship with Pendergast, however, and his reputation as a frank and ethical man helped him win reelection, albeit narrowly.
In his second term, Truman chaired a special committee to investigate the National Defense Program to prevent war profiteering and wasteful spending in defense industries. He gained public support and recognition for his straightforward reports and practical recommendations, and he won the respect of his colleagues and the populace alike.
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