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Harry S. Truman

Harry S. Truman was born on May 8th, 1884 in Lamar, Missouri. He was the eldest of three children born to John Anderson Truman and his wife Martha Ellen. His family moved around the local area during Harryís early years before settling in Kansas City in 1902.

Truman attended high school in Independence and graduated in 1901. His early jobs included working as a timekeeper for a railroad construction firm and then as a bank clerk in Kansas City. However, in 1906 he moved home to help his father on the family farm, which is where he remained for over ten years.

Like many other Presidents, Truman served in the military during his early life. Truman served for the Missouri National Guard between 1905 and 1911 and later ascended to the rank of Captain in the129th Field Artillery during World War I. He fought in France between 1917 and 1919 and joined the reserves after the war, eventually making Colonel.

In June 1919, Truman married childhood sweetheart Bess Wallace. Their only child, Mary Margaret was born in February 1924, but by then the Trumansí financial situation was anything but stable. In 1922, the menís store he owned with a friend suffered as a result of the post-war recession and Truman narrowly avoided bankruptcy.

Despite his debt, Truman had a respectable position in the community and was elected as a judge for Jackson County Court. This role began his political career. Although the role was more administrative than judicial, it enabled him to demonstrate skills that established his reputation as an efficient and fair politician.

Trumanís reputation secured his election to the Senate in 1934. During his first term, Truman played a key role in a number of legislative initiatives. However, it was not until his re-election in 1940 that Truman came into his own as an integral part of the United States government.

Truman became chairman of the Senate Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense Programme. It soon became known simply as the Truman Committee. During World War II, Truman and his staff investigated corruption and ensured that defense contracts were fair and delivered quality goods.

In July 1944, Truman was nominated Franklin D. Rooseveltís running mate in the presidential election. Following their successful campaign, Truman was sworn in as Vice-President on January 20th, 1945. Whether his limited experience in that role prepared him or not, he became the 33rd President of the United States in April the same year following Rooseveltís sudden death.

The first two months of Trumanís presidency were spent following Rooseveltís policies in an attempt to bring World War II to an end. In June 1945 he witnessed the signing of the Charter of the United Nations, the initiative that would hopefully bring peace to Europe. However, Truman soon began to depart from his predecessorís policies and introduce his own initiatives.

Truman had seemingly never been close to Roosevelt, which was typified by the fact that he had no prior knowledge of the existence of an atomic bomb. When Japan refused to surrender following the close of the war in Europe, Truman was faced with the staggering decision whether to use the weapon. After consultation with his advisors, Truman became the only US President to use an atomic weapon on August 6th 1945, and again three days later. The Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed.

Although Truman may be best remembered for the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, his foreign policy initiatives were extensive. He attempted to regulate the power and influence of the Soviet Union and communism within Europe via the Truman Doctrine, which offered aid to European countries under Soviet threat. His resolution to fight communism was proven when he declared war on North Korea, a communist nation, in 1950 because they had invaded South Korea, a non-communist country.

Trumanís domestic policies were integral to Americaís survival after the war. Drawing on elements of the New Deal, he managed to ensure the country did not fall into a recession. However, he did face opposition from Congress, which had a Republican majority, and thus many of his proposed social reforms never saw the light of day.

Truman was also an advocate for Civil Rights, laying the foundations for the fight against segregation. Although he failed to bring relevant legislation into law, he did desegregate the military and formed the Committee on Civil Rights, ostensibly giving African Americans a voice. In spite of his liberal nature, Truman won re-election in 1948, despite most of his critics predicting defeat.

At the end of his second term, Truman retired to his hometown of Independence. He spent his retirement as a man of leisure, choosing a life away from politics. He read extensively and lectured, as well as founding his own library.

Harry S. Truman died on December 26th, 1972 in Kansas City, Missouri. He was aged 88.


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