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Harry Truman Essay Research Paper Harry S

Harry Truman Essay, Research Paper Harry S. Truman, 32nd President of the United States , was born May 8, 1884, in Lamar, Missouri. He was the son of John Anderson Truman and Martha Ellen Young Truman. The Trumans moved to Cass County and in 1887 to the Young family farm in Grandview. The family moved again in 1890 to Independence, Missouri.

Harry Truman Essay, Research Paper

Harry S. Truman, 32nd President of the United States , was born May 8, 1884, in Lamar, Missouri. He was the son of John Anderson Truman and Martha Ellen Young Truman. The Trumans moved to Cass County and in 1887 to the Young family farm in Grandview. The family moved again in 1890 to Independence, Missouri. John Truman made a comfortable living for his family, and from his childhood Harry Truman was called on to perform his daily chores and to help on the farm. His mother, who had a college education, taught Harry how to read and started his lessons on piano.Harry was regarded as a bright student by his teachers and graduated from Independence High School in 1901 at the age of 17. Truman worked briefly as timekeeper for a railroad construction contractor and then obtained work in nearby Kansas City. He worked as a clerk at the National Bank of Commerce, and later as a bookkeeper at the Union National Bank. After four years of working in the city, he returned to the Grandview farm in 1906. Truman joined the Missouri National Guard in 1905 and was discharged as a corporal in 1911. When the United States entered World War I in 1917, he helped organize the 2nd Regiment of Missouri Field Artillery, which was called into Federal service as the 129th Field Artillery. In France, where he was promoted to Captain and given command of Battery D of the regiment; he participated in the Vosges, St. Mihiel, and Meuse-Argonne campaigns. Modest and shy, Truman made little impression on the members of his unit in the precombat phase of their training. But in action, he proved to be a cool and resourceful leader. His consideration for the members of his battery won him their affection and admiration. After the war he joined the reserves and was commissioned a Major. He was promoted to Colonel on June 17, 1932.

After the Armistice and upon his return to the United States, Truman married Bess Wallace, a childhood sweetheart, on June 28, 1919. They had one daughter, Mary Margaret, born February 17, 1924. Unwilling to return to farming, Truman and an army associate, Eddie Jacobson, set up a haberdashery in Kansas City. The firm of “Truman and Jacobson” failed in the recession of 1922. He refused to file bankruptcy and spent the next 15 years repaying his creditors. At about this time, Tom Pendergast asked Truman to run for public office. Pendergast was considered the boss of the Democratic machine that ruled politics in Kansas City, and later in western Missouri. Tom Pendergast’s nephew, James, served as Truman’s fellow officer in the 129th Field Artillery in World War I. Pendergast was a shrewd assayer of the vote-getting potentialities of aspirants to public office. He regarded Truman’s Baptist, Masonic, American Legion connections, and his war record as political assets. He asked Truman to run for the post of Western Judge for Jackson County. Truman was elected in 1922 to the job as one of three judges in an administrative rather than judicial position. He was defeated when he ran for a second term in 1924, but came back in 1926 and was elected presiding judge, a post he held until he became a U. S. Senator. Truman was determined to measure up to his new title and although Missouri law would not require that a county judge be a qualified lawyer, he had studied law in a Kansas City night school from 1923 to 1925. During his eight years as presiding judge, he had the chief responsibility of expending $60,000,000 in tax funds and bond issues in Jackson County. He was noted for building a modern road system throughout the county. Despite his association with the Pendergast political organization, whose dishonesty and corruption were recognized and part of the public record, Truman established a reputation for personal honesty that overcame the implications some saw in his association with what was commonly referred to as the “Pendergast machine”. In 1934 Truman ran for Senator. Accounts differ as to how he was selected for this post. One version said he had asked Pendergast for a particular position that paid about $25,000 annually in fees. According to this story, the Missouri state boss demurred, offered him, instead, the candidacy for U.S. Senator, an office which paid $10,000 annually. More credible is the story that Truman was urged by friends to file for the campaign and that Pendergast, needing a respectable name on his own slate to defeat Senator Bennett Champ Clark’s candidate, agreed to support Truman. Truman won in the primary by a plurality of about 40,000 votes. He later won the election. The machine support was extremely effective in both the primary and the final election.

While his foes always made capital out of his affiliations with the so-called Pendergast machine, Truman never tried to conceal the fact that it was with Pendergast’s help that he got his political start. His views on the ethics of machine politics were frank and perhaps practical in a broad sense of the term. In an interview regarding this matter, he declared: “There was nothing wrong with my relations with the Pendergast machine . . . Every Democratic politician including myself went to Tom Pendergast for support . . . “.

After he was nominated for the Vice Presidency, he steadfastly refused to heed the pleas of fellow Democrats who urged him to disown his political mentor. He even attended Pendergast’s funeral in January of 1945 putting into practice his view that ingratitude was one of the worst of sins. His defenders stressed that his attitude on the necessity of machine support was perhaps no different from that of scores of other politicians, Republicans and Democrats, holding high and responsible public offices.

Truman’s first term in the Senate (1935-41) was not highlighted by any marked accomplishments. He served on Senator Burton D. Wheeler’s committee investigating railroads, and with Wheeler’s guidance, gained modest fame as an able investigator and cross-examiner.

Although Truman probably did not realize it at the time, his path to the White House was fixed at the start of his second Senate term. As a result of letters from friends and his own investigations revealing waste and graft in many national defense projects, he introduced a resolution for creation of a Senate committee to act as “watchdog” of the rearmament program. In 1941, when the Special Senate Committee to investigate the National Defense Program was established at the beginning of his second term, he was named chairman. The Truman committee did an excellent and impartial job. It exposed grafting contractors, revealed collusion between corporation agents and certain Army officials, and urged more comprehensive planning for conduct of the war and for postwar reconstruction. It is estimated that the committee saved the government billions of dollars. This investigation first made the previously obscure Missourian, a national figure.

As the Democratic convention assembled in 1944, the big city party leaders – Edward J. Flynn of New York City, Frank Hague of New Jersey, Edward J. Kelly of Chicago, and Robert E. Hannegan of St. Louis – convinced Franklin D. Roosevelt that Vice President Henry A Wallace’s radical ideas and pro-Soviet sympathies would endanger the ticket in the South and in metropolitan areas. Roosevelt then wrote a letter to the convention, suggesting Truman or Justice William O. Douglas as possible Vice Presidential nominees. The bosses preferred Truman, who was nominated on the second ballot. He was elected in November and served as Vice President for 82 days.

With Roosevelt’s death, Truman was sworn in as President on April 12,1945. After the swearing-in ceremony, he asked newspaper friends to “Pray for me.” He knew his limitations, especially since Roosevelt had not consulted him on major foreign or domestic problems since the nomination. At the outset, however, he had to preside over the final conquest of Germany and Japan; the plan of victory had been fixed and put into effect before he took office. On April 25, Axis defeat was so assured that he addressed the United Nations Conference on International Organization at San Francisco, California. He urged creation of a “strong and lasting” organization that would make “future peace not only possible but certain.” On May 8, he announced the surrender of Germany. In July, he authorized and later announced the virtual destruction of Hiroshima by the first atomic bomb. On August 14, he announced Japan’s surrender.Truman’s legislative program, called the Fair Deal, was intended as an extension and continuation of Roosevelt’s New Deal. When presented to Congress on September 6, 1945, it began the breakup of the artificial coalition which had backed Roosevelt through Depression and war years. Conservative elements of both Republican and Democratic parties, principally from the South, blocked enactment of Truman’s domestic program until he was eventually forced to abandon most of it. The pressure of foreign problems after 1947 (as during Roosevelt’s third term) gave Truman good cause for subordinating controversial domestic issues. Nevertheless, the 81st Congress in 1949-50 passed legislation to increase the minimum wage and expand the social security system.

Serious strikes in several heavy industries, hampering production of consumer goods, embarrassed the admittedly pro-labor administration. A political-economic crisis occurred in May of 1946, when a railroad brotherhood strike threatened to tie up national transportation. Union leaders agreed to a settlement just as Truman asked Congress for a law to draft into the armed services anyone refusing to work in industries taken over by the government. Another significant labor event of 1946 was the government’s injunction to prevent a coal strike. John L. Lewis, head of the United Mine Workers of America, ignored the injunction. A federal court assessed Lewis and his union fines totaling more than $3,000,000. Domestic problems, however, dwindled into insignificance as Truman tried to tackle the Russian problem. In July 1945, he had met with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Premier Joseph Stalin of the U.S.S.R. at Potsdam, Germany, for a discussion of postwar problems. Prospects for mutual understanding seemed favorable at the time, but the amity did not last.

The development which affected the Truman administration most markedly was the British government’s official notice in February 1947 that it could no longer afford to supply military and economic aid to Greece and Turkey. These were key Mediterranean countries which the U.S.S.R. sought to bring into its orbit. In what became known as the Truman Doctrine, the President announced that the U.S. would give economic and military aid to the area. This was the inauguration of an ever-widening program under which the U.S. took over the global burdens that England had borne since the middle of the 18th century. The foreign-aid program was soon expanded following an address delivered by Secretary of State George C. Marshall at Harvard University in June 1947. He proposed vast U.S. financial aid to restore Europe’s shattered economy. Although he included the U.S.S.R. and its satellites among the prospective beneficiaries of the Marshall Plan (European Recovery Program), Moscow chose to regard the offer as an “imperialistic” maneuver, and refused to join. The total cost of the Marshall Plan for the years 1948-52 was approximately $13,500,000,000.

Meanwhile a new problem had arisen in the Far East, where Chinese Nationalists under Chiang Kai-shek and Communists under Mao Zedong were warring for control. In 1946, Truman had sent General Marshall to China in an effort to negotiate an agreement between the two factions. After more than a year of futile talks, Marshall reported no progress and recommended the termination of his mission. Civil War ensued, and the communists gradually extended their control. This action, together with evidence that certain State Department officials sympathized with the Communists in the belief that they were mere “agrarian reformers,” led to Republican charges that the administration was responsible for the loss of China to the Reds.

Associated with this issue were charges by the House Committee on Un-American Activities and by Senator Joseph R. McCarthy of Wisconsin that the administration was “coddling Communists” within the government, especially in the State Department. Truman angrily denounced these allegations as a “red herring.” He had set up a Federal Loyalty Board to weed out subversives among government employees. But a federal court convicted Alger Hiss, a former State Department official and Yalta Conference advisor, of perjury for denying before a Senate committee that he had relayed official documents to a Soviet agent. Relations with the U.S.S.R. continued to deteriorate until the two countries became engaged in what was described as the “Cold War.” It developed into a shooting affair on June 25, 1950, when North Korean Communists attacked South Korea. Truman acted promptly. Committing U.S. forces, representing the United Nations, without prior authorization by Congress, he announced that the U.S. had no aggressive or imperialistic aims in China. He further requested Chiang Kai-shek, the Nationalists’ leader in Formosa, to not attack the mainland. General Douglas MacArthur was named commander of the United Nations’ forces in Korea. After initial reverses which forced the United Nations forces to withdraw into a small area around Pusan in southeast Korea, General MacArthur launched an amphibious attack at Inchon, far behind the North Korean lines. By November 1950, most of Korea was under U.N. control. The whole complexion of the military scene changed later that month, however, when Chinese Communists reinforced the North Koreans and dealt a severe setback to the U.N. forces (of which the majority were Americans). President Truman then placed the U.S. on a semi war basis, calling for a greatly expanded defense establishment, partial mobilization of industry, huge appropriations, and controls of wages, prices, and materials.

On December 16, 1950, Truman proclaimed a national emergency and organized a virtual wartime cabinet, with Charles E. Wilson as Director of Defense Mobilization. Besides imposing controls on wages, prices, and material allocations, Wilson began a slow but ordered shift from civilian to military production to make the U.S. and its allies capable of resisting Russian attack. Meanwhile, as a further bulwark against the U.S.S.R., Truman inspired formation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1949, consisting of the United States, Canada, Iceland, and nine Western European states. On December 19, 1950, the NATO council approved the appointment of General Dwight D.Eisenhower, then president of Columbia University, as organizer of a Western European military force under NATO auspices. On April 11, 1951, President Truman removed General Douglas MacArthur from his posts as Commander of U.S. and U.N. forces in the Far East. This was the result of a fundamental disagreement between Truman and the General over the President’s policy for limited warfare in Korea, MacArthur’s public criticism of that policy, and MacArthur’s open defiance of Presidential orders. Returning to the United States, MacArthur delivered a series of speeches attacking the administration’s policies in the Far East.

In view of unsettled conditions at home and abroad, Truman’s election in 1948 was a minor miracle of U.S. politics. In 1946, victory of the Republicans in both houses of Congress had been interpreted as a repudiation of his policies. Furthermore, powerful influences within the party, including political professionals and liberals, wanted to sidetrack him in favor of General Eisenhower. The election of Governor Thomas E. Dewey of New York, the Republican nominee, was forecast by almost every public opinion poll and political prophet. But Truman made what he called a “whistle stop” campaign, appearing before thousands of voters in every section except the South. He assailed the Republicans as reactionaries and isolationists. His most effective sally, perhaps, was his reiterated declaration that “any working man or farmer who votes against the Democratic party ought to have his head examined.” Truman received 320 electoral votes and Dewey 189, with 39 going to the States’ Right Democratic (”Dixiecrat”) ticket, which was entered in the race as a Southern protest against the strong civil rights plank in the Democratic platform. The “Dixiecrat” ticket was headed by J. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina. On November 1, 1950, President Truman was the object of an attempted assassination. He escaped unharmed. One attacker was killed and the other wounded; one White House police officer was killed and two others were wounded. The would-be assassins, Griselio Torresola (who was killed) and Oscar Collazo, were Puerto Rican nationalists. Truman’s seizure of the steel industry on April 8, 1952, sought to avoid a strike. This action precipitated a grave constitutional issue which was settled only when the Supreme Court, by a vote of six to three, ruled that the seizure was unconstitutional. Truman announced March 29, 1952, that he would not run for the presidency again, although he made another “whistle stop” tour in support of the unsuccessful Democratic nominee, Adlai F. Stevenson.

After leaving office, the former President returned to Independence, Missouri, devoting his time to writing, lecturing, and continuing to try to influence the politics and policies of the nation. On July 6, 1957, the Harry S. Truman Library in Independence, built with his encouragement and collaboration, was presented to the Federal Government along with his personal papers and mementos. Truman had his office in the Library until his death on December 26, 1972. The Library is operated by the National Archives and Records Service of the General Services Administration as a research center and museum.Harry S. Truman was, both during his term of office and since, a controversial President with a complete array of friends and detractors. Most of them seem to base their judgment primarily on Truman’s foreign policy decisions. The detractors bemoan America’s failure to establish some sort of warmer relations with the Soviet Union. The friendlier critics praise the abilities he had to make firm decisions and to enforce them – to be a strong national leader. Over the years since 1953 Truman has attracted many more admirers than critics. In several polls since 1962, he has been rated by American historians and political scientists as one of the ten best Presidents in our history.

Harry S. Truman, 32nd President of the United States , was born May 8, 1884, in Lamar, Missouri. He was the son of John Anderson Truman and Martha Ellen Young Truman. The Trumans moved to Cass County and in 1887 to the Young family farm in Grandview. The family moved again in 1890 to Independence, Missouri. John Truman made a comfortable living for his family, and from his childhood Harry Truman was called on to perform his daily chores and to help on the farm. His mother, who had a college education, taught Harry how to read and started his lessons on piano.Harry was regarded as a bright student by his teachers and graduated from Independence High School in 1901 at the age of 17. Truman worked briefly as timekeeper for a railroad construction contractor and then obtained work in nearby Kansas City. He worked as a clerk at the National Bank of Commerce, and later as a bookkeeper at the Union National Bank. After four years of working in the city, he returned to the Grandview farm in 1906. Truman joined the Missouri National Guard in 1905 and was discharged as a corporal in 1911. When the United States entered World War I in 1917, he helped organize the 2nd Regiment of Missouri Field Artillery, which was called into Federal service as the 129th Field Artillery. In France, where he was promoted to Captain and given command of Battery D of the regiment; he participated in the Vosges, St. Mihiel, and Meuse-Argonne campaigns. Modest and shy, Truman made little impression on the members of his unit in the precombat phase of their training. But in action, he proved to be a cool and resourceful leader. His consideration for the members of his battery won him their affection and admiration. After the war he joined the reserves and was commissioned a Major. He was promoted to Colonel on June 17, 1932.

After the Armistice and upon his return to the United States, Truman married Bess Wallace, a childhood sweetheart, on June 28, 1919. They had one daughter, Mary Margaret, born February 17, 1924. Unwilling to return to farming, Truman and an army associate, Eddie Jacobson, set up a haberdashery in Kansas City. The firm of “Truman and Jacobson” failed in the recession of 1922. He refused to file bankruptcy and spent the next 15 years repaying his creditors. At about this time, Tom Pendergast asked Truman to run for public office. Pendergast was considered the boss of the Democratic machine that ruled politics in Kansas City, and later in western Missouri. Tom Pendergast’s nephew, James, served as Truman’s fellow officer in the 129th Field Artillery in World War I. Pendergast was a shrewd assayer of the vote-getting potentialities of aspirants to public office. He regarded Truman’s Baptist, Masonic, American Legion connections, and his war record as political assets. He asked Truman to run for the post of Western Judge for Jackson County. Truman was elected in 1922 to the job as one of three judges in an administrative rather than judicial position. He was defeated when he ran for a second term in 1924, but came back in 1926 and was elected presiding judge, a post he held until he became a U. S. Senator. Truman was determined to measure up to his new title and although Missouri law would not require that a county judge be a qualified lawyer, he had studied law in a Kansas City night school from 1923 to 1925. During his eight years as presiding judge, he had the chief responsibility of expending $60,000,000 in tax funds and bond issues in Jackson County. He was noted for building a modern road system throughout the county. Despite his association with the Pendergast political organization, whose dishonesty and corruption were recognized and part of the public record, Truman established a reputation for personal honesty that overcame the implications some saw in his association with what was commonly referred to as the “Pendergast machine”. In 1934 Truman ran for Senator. Accounts differ as to how he was selected for this post. One version said he had asked Pendergast for a particular position that paid about $25,000 annually in fees. According to this story, the Missouri state boss demurred, offered him, instead, the candidacy for U.S. Senator, an office which paid $10,000 annually. More credible is the story that Truman was urged by friends to file for the campaign and that Pendergast, needing a respectable name on his own slate to defeat Senator Bennett Champ Clark’s candidate, agreed to support Truman. Truman won in the primary by a plurality of about 40,000 votes. He later won the election. The machine support was extremely effective in both the primary and the final election.

While his foes always made capital out of his affiliations with the so-called Pendergast machine, Truman never tried to conceal the fact that it was with Pendergast’s help that he got his political start. His views on the ethics of machine politics were frank and perhaps practical in a broad sense of the term. In an interview regarding this matter, he declared: “There was nothing wrong with my relations with the Pendergast machine . . . Every Democratic politician including myself went to Tom Pendergast for support . . . “.

After he was nominated for the Vice Presidency, he steadfastly refused to heed the pleas of fellow Democrats who urged him to disown his political mentor. He even attended Pendergast’s funeral in January of 1945 putting into practice his view that ingratitude was one of the worst of sins. His defenders stressed that his attitude on the necessity of machine support was perhaps no different from that of scores of other politicians, Republicans and Democrats, holding high and responsible public offices.

Truman’s first term in the Senate (1935-41) was not highlighted by any marked accomplishments. He served on Senator Burton D. Wheeler’s committee investigating railroads, and with Wheeler’s guidance, gained modest fame as an able investigator and cross-examiner.

Although Truman probably did not realize it at the time, his path to the White House was fixed at the start of his second Senate term. As a result of letters from friends and his own investigations revealing waste and graft in many national defense projects, he introduced a resolution for creation of a Senate committee to act as “watchdog” of the rearmament program. In 1941, when the Special Senate Committee to investigate the National Defense Program was established at the beginning of his second term, he was named chairman. The Truman committee did an excellent and impartial job. It exposed grafting contractors, revealed collusion between corporation agents and certain Army officials, and urged more comprehensive planning for conduct of the war and for postwar reconstruction. It is estimated that the committee saved the government billions of dollars. This investigation first made the previously obscure Missourian, a national figure.

As the Democratic convention assembled in 1944, the big city party leaders – Edward J. Flynn of New York City, Frank Hague of New Jersey, Edward J. Kelly of Chicago, and Robert E. Hannegan of St. Louis – convinced Franklin D. Roosevelt that Vice President Henry A Wallace’s radical ideas and pro-Soviet sympathies would endanger the ticket in the South and in metropolitan areas. Roosevelt then wrote a letter to the convention, suggesting Truman or Justice William O. Douglas as possible Vice Presidential nominees. The bosses preferred Truman, who was nominated on the second ballot. He was elected in November and served as Vice President for 82 days.

With Roosevelt’s death, Truman was sworn in as President on April 12,1945. After the swearing-in ceremony, he asked newspaper friends to “Pray for me.” He knew his limitations, especially since Roosevelt had not consulted him on major foreign or domestic problems since the nomination. At the outset, however, he had to preside over the final conquest of Germany and Japan; the plan of victory had been fixed and put into effect before he took office. On April 25, Axis defeat was so assured that he addressed the United Nations Conference on International Organization at San Francisco, California. He urged creation of a “strong and lasting” organization that would make “future peace not only possible but certain.” On May 8, he announced the surrender of Germany. In July, he authorized and later announced the virtual destruction of Hiroshima by the first atomic bomb. On August 14, he announced Japan’s surrender.Truman’s legislative program, called the Fair Deal, was intended as an extension and continuation of Roosevelt’s New Deal. When presented to Congress on September 6, 1945, it began the breakup of the artificial coalition which had backed Roosevelt through Depression and war years. Conservative elements of both Republican and Democratic parties, principally from the South, blocked enactment of Truman’s domestic program until he was eventually forced to abandon most of it. The pressure of foreign problems after 1947 (as during Roosevelt’s third term) gave Truman good cause for subordinating controversial domestic issues. Nevertheless, the 81st Congress in 1949-50 passed legislation to increase the minimum wage and expand the social security system.

Serious strikes in several heavy industries, hampering production of consumer goods, embarrassed the admittedly pro-labor administration. A political-economic crisis occurred in May of 1946, when a railroad brotherhood strike threatened to tie up national transportation. Union leaders agreed to a settlement just as Truman asked Congress for a law to draft into the armed services anyone refusing to work in industries taken over by the government. Another significant labor event of 1946 was the government’s injunction to prevent a coal strike. John L. Lewis, head of the United Mine Workers of America, ignored the injunction. A federal court assessed Lewis and his union fines totaling more than $3,000,000. Domestic problems, however, dwindled into insignificance as Truman tried to tackle the Russian problem. In July 1945, he had met with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Premier Joseph Stalin of the U.S.S.R. at Potsdam, Germany, for a discussion of postwar problems. Prospects for mutual understanding seemed favorable at the time, but the amity did not last.

The development which affected the Truman administration most markedly was the British government’s official notice in February 1947 that it could no longer afford to supply military and economic aid to Greece and Turkey. These were key Mediterranean countries which the U.S.S.R. sought to bring into its orbit. In what became known as the Truman Doctrine, the President announced that the U.S. would give economic and military aid to the area. This was the inauguration of an ever-widening program under which the U.S. took over the global burdens that England had borne since the middle of the 18th century. The foreign-aid program was soon expanded following an address delivered by Secretary of State George C. Marshall at Harvard University in June 1947. He proposed vast U.S. financial aid to restore Europe’s shattered economy. Although he included the U.S.S.R. and its satellites among the prospective beneficiaries of the Marshall Plan (European Recovery Program), Moscow chose to regard the offer as an “imperialistic” maneuver, and refused to join. The total cost of the Marshall Plan for the years 1948-52 was approximately $13,500,000,000.

Meanwhile a new problem had arisen in the Far East, where Chinese Nationalists under Chiang Kai-shek and Communists under Mao Zedong were warring for control. In 1946, Truman had sent General Marshall to China in an effort to negotiate an agreement between the two factions. After more than a year of futile talks, Marshall reported no progress and recommended the termination of his mission. Civil War ensued, and the communists gradually extended their control. This action, together with evidence that certain State Department officials sympathized with the Communists in the belief that they were mere “agrarian reformers,” led to Republican charges that the administration was responsible for the loss of China to the Reds.

Associated with this issue were charges by the House Committee on Un-American Activities and by Senator Joseph R. McCarthy of Wisconsin that the administration was “coddling Communists” within the government, especially in the State Department. Truman angrily denounced these allegations as a “red herring.” He had set up a Federal Loyalty Board to weed out subversives among government employees. But a federal court convicted Alger Hiss, a former State Department official and Yalta Conference advisor, of perjury for denying before a Senate committee that he had relayed official documents to a Soviet agent. Relations with the U.S.S.R. continued to deteriorate until the two countries became engaged in what was described as the “Cold War.” It developed into a shooting affair on June 25, 1950, when North Korean Communists attacked South Korea. Truman acted promptly. Committing U.S. forces, representing the United Nations, without prior authorization by Congress, he announced that the U.S. had no aggressive or imperialistic aims in China. He further requested Chiang Kai-shek, the Nationalists’ leader in Formosa, to not attack the mainland. General Douglas MacArthur was named commander of the United Nations’ forces in Korea. After initial reverses which forced the United Nations forces to withdraw into a small area around Pusan in southeast Korea, General MacArthur launched an amphibious attack at Inchon, far behind the North Korean lines. By November 1950, most of Korea was under U.N. control. The whole complexion of the military scene changed later that month, however, when Chinese Communists reinforced the North Koreans and dealt a severe setback to the U.N. forces (of which the majority were Americans). President Truman then placed the U.S. on a semi war basis, calling for a greatly expanded defense establishment, partial mobilization of industry, huge appropriations, and controls of wages, prices, and materials.

On December 16, 1950, Truman proclaimed a national emergency and organized a virtual wartime cabinet, with Charles E. Wilson as Director of Defense Mobilization. Besides imposing controls on wages, prices, and material allocations, Wilson began a slow but ordered shift from civilian to military production to make the U.S. and its allies capable of resisting Russian attack. Meanwhile, as a further bulwark against the U.S.S.R., Truman inspired formation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1949, consisting of the United States, Canada, Iceland, and nine Western European states. On December 19, 1950, the NATO council approved the appointment of General Dwight D.Eisenhower, then president of Columbia University, as organizer of a Western European military force under NATO auspices. On April 11, 1951, President Truman removed General Douglas MacArthur from his posts as Commander of U.S. and U.N. forces in the Far East. This was the result of a fundamental disagreement between Truman and the General over the President’s policy for limited warfare in Korea, MacArthur’s public criticism of that policy, and MacArthur’s open defiance of Presidential orders. Returning to the United States, MacArthur delivered a series of speeches attacking the administration’s policies in the Far East.

In view of unsettled conditions at home and abroad, Truman’s election in 1948 was a minor miracle of U.S. politics. In 1946, victory of the Republicans in both houses of Congress had been interpreted as a repudiation of his policies. Furthermore, powerful influences within the party, including political professionals and liberals, wanted to sidetrack him in favor of General Eisenhower. The election of Governor Thomas E. Dewey of New York, the Republican nominee, was forecast by almost every public opinion poll and political prophet. But Truman made what he called a “whistle stop” campaign, appearing before thousands of voters in every section except the South. He assailed the Republicans as reactionaries and isolationists. His most effective sally, perhaps, was his reiterated declaration that “any working man or farmer who votes against the Democratic party ought to have his head examined.” Truman received 320 electoral votes and Dewey 189, with 39 going to the States’ Right Democratic (”Dixiecrat”) ticket, which was entered in the race as a Southern protest against the strong civil rights plank in the Democratic platform. The “Dixiecrat” ticket was headed by J. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina. On November 1, 1950, President Truman was the object of an attempted assassination. He escaped unharmed. One attacker was killed and the other wounded; one White House police officer was killed and two others were wounded. The would-be assassins, Griselio Torresola (who was killed) and Oscar Collazo, were Puerto Rican nationalists. Truman’s seizure of the steel industry on April 8, 1952, sought to avoid a strike. This action precipitated a grave constitutional issue which was settled only when the Supreme Court, by a vote of six to three, ruled that the seizure was unconstitutional. Truman announced March 29, 1952, that he would not run for the presidency again, although he made another “whistle stop” tour in support of the unsuccessful Democratic nominee, Adlai F. Stevenson.

After leaving office, the former President returned to Independence, Missouri, devoting his time to writing, lecturing, and continuing to try to influence the politics and policies of the nation. On July 6, 1957, the Harry S. Truman Library in Independence, built with his encouragement and collaboration, was presented to the Federal Government along with his personal papers and mementos. Truman had his office in the Library until his death on December 26, 1972. The Library is operated by the National Archives and Records Service of the General Services Administration as a research center and museum.Harry S. Truman was, both during his term of office and since, a controversial President with a complete array of friends and detractors. Most of them seem to base their judgment primarily on Truman’s foreign policy decisions. The detractors bemoan America’s failure to establish some sort of warmer relations with the Soviet Union. The friendlier critics praise the abilities he had to make firm decisions and to enforce them – to be a strong national leader. Over the years since 1953 Truman has attracted many more admirers than critics. In several polls since 1962, he has been rated by American historians and political scientists as one of the ten best Presidents in our history.

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