Harry S. Truman

U.S. President

Born: 8 May 1884
Died: 26 December 1972 (heart failure)
Birthplace: Lamar, Missouri
Best known as:

President of the United States, 1945-53

Harry Truman became president of the United States after the death of Franklin Roosevelt on 12 April 1945. Roosevelt was already the longest-serving president in U.S. history when he chose Truman, then a senator from Missouri, to be his vice presidential candidate in 1944. When Roosevelt died suddenly the next year, Truman became the 33rd president and commander in chief of U.S. forces during World War II. He made the decision to drop two atomic bombs on Japan in August of 1945, finally ending the war. Truman steered the U.S. through the post-war period with the no-nonsense Midwestern style and colorful harangues of Congress that are now his hallmark. (He placed on his desk a plaque reading "The buck stops here," a reference to the notion of avoiding responsibility by "passing the buck.") Truman was re-elected in 1948 in a contest many expected him to lose to the Republican candidate, Governor Thomas Dewey of New York. (A famous photograph shows Truman holding up a premature edition of the Chicago Tribune with the headline "Dewey Defeats Truman.") Truman tangled diplomatically with the Soviet Union in Berlin and elsewhere, founding the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and setting the tone for the nearly five decades of the Cold War that followed. He gave up politics at the end of his second term, due in part to public discontent with the U.S. involvement in the Korean War. He was succeeded as president by Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Extra credit:

His vice president was Kentuckian Alben W. Barkley... The "S" in Harry S. Truman is just an initial; it doesn't stand for anything... He was the captain of an artillery company during World War I; according to the Harry Truman Library, Truman and his unit "saw action in the Vosges, Saint Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne campaigns"... The Truman Library is located in his hometown of Independence, Missouri... Truman is sometimes called a "haberdasher" because he ran a men's clothing store in Kansas City from 1919-22; the store flopped and Truman spent years paying off his debts... Truman married the former Bess Wallace on 28 June 1919. They remained married until his death in 1972; Bess died on 18 October 1982. Their only child, Mary Margaret, was born on 17 February 1924. Margaret Truman became the author of a series of mystery novels set in Washington, D.C., including Murder at the White House (1980) and Murder at the Pentagon (1992).

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