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Harry S. Truman was the 33rd president of the United States of America. Truman was born on May 8, 1884, in the farm community of Lamar, Missouri. His father John Truman was a livestock trader and his mother’s name was Martha Ellen (Young) Truman. Harry was the first of three children born to his parents. He had a brother named Vivian and a sister named Mary Jane. According to Harry S. Truman Biography (2009), Harry was named in honor of his maternal uncle, Harrison Young, but his parents couldn’t decide on a middle name. They settled on using the letter “S” as a tribute to both his maternal grandfather, Solomon Young, and his paternal grandfather, Anderson Shipp Truman.
Harry and his family settled in Independence, Missouri, where he attended school and was a good student. While in school, Harry had to wear thick eyeglasses due to poor vision, and his doctor told him he shouldn’t play sports to avoid breaking them. He had hoped to attend the U.S. military academy at West Point, but because of his eyesight he could not be admitted. Truman graduated from high school in 1901, but his family could not afford for him to attend college. After high school, he worked as a timekeeper for a railroad construction company, then a clerk and a bookkeeper at two separate banks in Kansas City. 5 years later, Truman returned to Grandview, Missouri to help his father manage their family far.
During this time, he also served in the Missouri National Guard. In 1917, America entered World War I where Truman reenlisted into the National Guard and was sent to France. After returning from the war in 1919, he married Elizabeth “Bess” Wallace. Together they had one daughter, Mary Margaret Truman, who became a professional singer and author. Truman was elected to be one of three judges of the Jackson County Court in 1922. He was defeated for reelection in 1924, but later won election as presiding judge, then won reelection in 1930. In 1934, Truman was elected to the United States Senate. As senator, he supported President Roosevelt’s New Deal programs to help the nation from the Great Depression that began in 1929. Harry then served two terms as senator then Franklin D. Roosevelt had to choose a running mate for his 1944 presidential election. Together they were elected in November of 1944, and Truman took the oath of office on January 20, 1945. Truman only served as vice president for 82 days before Roosevelt died of a massive stroke. He was sworn in as president on April 12, 1945.
Thomas Pendergast influenced Truman greatly and is probably the reason he became president. Perdergast appointed Truman to oversee highways then chose him to run for one of three county-judge positions in Jackson County. This was the start of Truman’s political career. President Harry Truman served two terms in office as president from April 12, 1945 to January 20, 1953. Truman was a part of the democratic party. Alben W. Barkley was the vice president of Truman’s second term. Truman called his first year as president a “year of decisions”, according to Harry S. Truman Presidential Library Museum (n.d.).
During his first initial months in office, Truman was put into the role of commander in chief and in charge with ending World War II. During World War II, Truman was the president who approved the dropping of two atomic bombs on Japan on August 6 and 9, 1945. In his first 6 months of president, he announced the German’s surrender, dropped the atomic bombs on Japan, ended the war, and signed the charter ratifying the United Nations. After the war, the Truman administration had to deal with the start of the Cold War. Truman introduced the Truman Doctrine to provide aid to Greece and Turkey to protect them from communist aggression in 1947. He also instituted the Marshall Plan in aid to help stimulate economic recovery in European nations that same year. Back in America, he was faced with the challenge of transitioning America to a peacetime economy. Truman ran for reelection in 1948 and was the underdog in the election to his opposing candidate, Thomas Dewey. Because of this Truman conducted a strong campaign and traveled across the country, giving hundreds of speeches. Truman and his running mate Alben Barkley won with 303 electoral votes. President Harry Truman’s second term was the first inauguration to be nationally televised. In his State of the Union Address in 1949, Truman announced the “Fair Deal” program. It included national medical insurance, federal housing programs, a higher minimum wage, assistance for farmers, increases in Social Security, and civil rights reforms.
Truman announced he would not run for reelection in March of 1992. Him and his wife traveled from Washington to their home in Independence, Missouri by train. During this time, he met with visitors, penned his memoirs, continued his habit of daily walks, and raised funds for the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library, that opened in Independence in 1957. Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum (n.d.) states that Truman delighted in being “Mr. Citizen,” which he called himself in a book of memoirs. He also spent his days, reading, writing, and lecturing. Harry S. Truman died on December 26, 1972 in Kansas City, Missouri at 88 years old. He died of health problems from being at an old age. Harry was buried in the courtyard of the Truman Library and his wife was buried beside him when she died 10 years later in 1982. Truman left a legacy and a mark as a world leader. He came into presidency with no warning in one of the most difficult times in America’s history. After being vice president for only 82 days, Truman had to step in with very little information on the atomic bombs and commanding World War II. His achievements his presidency will never be forgotten.
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