Harry S. Truman

Harry S. Truman[lower-alpha 2] (May 8, 1884  December 26, 1972) was the 33rd president of the United States, serving from 1945 to 1953, succeeding upon the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt after serving as the 34th vice president in early 1945. He implemented the Marshall Plan to rebuild the economy of Western Europe and established the Truman Doctrine and NATO to contain communist expansion. He proposed numerous liberal domestic reforms, but few were enacted by the Conservative Coalition that dominated Congress.

Harry S. Truman
Official portrait, c. 1947
33rd President of the United States
In office
April 12, 1945  January 20, 1953
Vice President
Preceded byFranklin D. Roosevelt
Succeeded byDwight D. Eisenhower
34th Vice President of the United States
In office
January 20, 1945  April 12, 1945
PresidentFranklin D. Roosevelt
Preceded byHenry A. Wallace
Succeeded byAlben W. Barkley
United States Senator
from Missouri
In office
January 3, 1935  January 17, 1945
Preceded byRoscoe C. Patterson
Succeeded byFrank P. Briggs
Presiding Judge of Jackson County, Missouri
In office
January 1, 1927[1]  January 1, 1935[1]
Preceded byElihu W. Hayes[2]
Succeeded byEugene I. Purcell[3]
Judge of Jackson County, Missouri's Eastern District
In office
January 1, 1923[4]  January 1, 1925[4]
Preceded byJames E. Gilday[5]
Succeeded byHenry Rummel[3]
Personal details
Born(1884-05-08)May 8, 1884
Lamar, Missouri, U.S.
DiedDecember 26, 1972(1972-12-26) (aged 88)
Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.
Resting placeHarry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum, Independence, Missouri, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)
(m. 1919)
ChildrenMargaret
Parents
Education
Occupation
  • Politician
  • businessman
  • haberdasher
  • farmer
Signature
Military service
AllegianceUnited States
ServiceUnited States Army
Years of service
  • 1905–1911 (National Guard)
  • 1917–1919 (Army)
  • 1920–1953 (Army Reserve)
RankColonel (Army Reserve)
Commands
Battles
Awards

Truman grew up in Independence, Missouri, and during World War I fought in 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, which was 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.

After the onset of the Cold War, Truman oversaw the Berlin Airlift and Marshall Plan in 1948. When North Korea invaded South Korea in 1950, he gained United Nations approval to intervene in the Korean War. He did not ask for Congressional approval, and as the war stalemated his popularity fell. His administration successfully guided the U.S. economy through the postwar economic challenges; the expected postwar depression never happened. In 1948, he submitted the first comprehensive civil rights legislation. It did not pass, so he instead issued Executive Orders 9980 and 9981 to begin racial equality in federal agencies and the military.

Corruption in the Truman administration became a central campaign issue in the 1952 presidential election. He was eligible for reelection in 1952, but with weak polls he decided not to run. Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower attacked Truman's record and won easily. Truman went into a retirement marked by the founding of his presidential library and the publication of his memoirs. It was long thought that his retirement years were financially difficult for Truman, resulting in Congress voting a pension for former presidents, but ample evidence eventually emerged that he amassed considerable wealth after leaving office. When he left office, Truman's presidency was heavily criticized, though critical reassessment of his tenure has been favorable.