Truman remained active in politics for many years after his retirement, campaigning around the country for Democratic candidates and commenting on national issues. He also contributed much time to the Harry S. Truman Library, which opened in 1957 in Independence, Mo. Truman died on Dec. 26, 1972.
Although Truman did not have great success with his domestic programs, many of his reform proposals were later enacted into law. Thrust into office largely ignorant of foreign affairs, he acted decisively in erecting the machinery of "containment" against the threat of Communist expansion and committing the United States to a new internationalism. Some historians, however, have challenged the assumption of a Communist threat on which Truman's action were based. They argue that the cold war confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union could have been averted by a more conciliatory attitude on the part of the Truman administration. Although Truman's policies remain a subject of controversy, he has become a popular figure largely because of his feisty personality and his come-from-behind victory in 1948.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.