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Harry Truman: The 33rd President

Truman took office after Roosevelt passed away.

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Harry S. Truman was the 33rd president of the United States. Truman had been vice president to Franklin Roosevelt only 82 days when Roosevelt died and he took over, inheriting World War II and all that came with it.

Early Years

Truman was born on May 8, 1884, in Lamar, Missouri. At the beginning of World War I, Truman, who had served before, re-enlisted in the National Guard and was sent to France. In 1922, Truman was elected district judge in Jackson County, Missouri, and in 1926, he won the election as the county’s presiding judge. Remaining in the political field, he was then elected to the Senate in 1934.

Between 1941 and 1944, Truman headed a special committee to investigate the National Defense Program. In 1944, Roosevelt ran for a fourth term. Instead of choosing his vice president, Henry Wallace, he chose Truman to run on his ticket. Roosevelt and Truman were sworn into office on January 20, 1945, and less than three months later, the president died.

The Truman Administration

Truman assumed the office during a tough time. He had only met with Roosevelt a few times before the former president died, so he had never been informed about the construction of the atomic bomb. During his first few months, the war in Europe ended after Nazi Germany surrendered. Worried about an invasion of Japan and eager to end the war in the Pacific, Truman approved the dropping of atomic bombs on Japan in Hiroshima (August 6) and Nagasaki (August 9).

The beginning of the Cold War started in 1946. In 1947, the president introduced the Truman Doctrine to give financial help to Greece and Turkey. The president was determined to keep communism from taking hold in the United States and Europe. He believed that poorer nations were more susceptible to communism. To prevent the spread, he started the Marshall Plan, which sent billions of dollars in aid to European nations to help stimulate their economies.

Truman was sworn in for his second term in January 1949.  His inauguration was the first to be nationally televised. Truman set into motion the Fair Deal, an ambitious social reform that included federal housing programs, higher minimum wages, national medical insurance, increases in Social Security, and civil rights reforms. Conservatives blocked much of his proposals, but the Housing Act of 1949, the initiative to end segregation in the military, and the proposal to prohibit discrimination in federal jobs were passed.

Truman did not run for another term, although he was eligible. Instead, he and his wife, Bess Truman, went home, where he wrote memoirs and raised funds for the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library, which opened in 1957. Truman passed away at the age of 88 on December 26, 1972.  He was buried in the courtyard of the Truman Library.

National Correspondent at and Kelli Ballard is an author, editor, and publisher. Her writing interests span many genres including a former crime/government reporter, fiction novelist, and playwright. Originally a Central California girl, Kelli now resides in the Seattle area.

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