Published on June 18, 2007
Harry S. Truman: Harry S. Truman The Life of an American President (1884-1972) Baby Harry: Baby Harry Harry S. Truman was born in Lamar, Missouri, May 8, 1884 to John and Martha Truman. Harry’s father was a farmer, and his mother was a homemaker. To honor both his grandfathers, Shippe and Solomon, Harry’s parents gave him the middle initial 'S' instead of a middle name. A Small Town Boy: A Small Town Boy Harry grew up on his family’s farm in Grandview, Missouri. When Harry was six years old, the Truman family moved to Independence, Missouri, so that the children could attend better schools. Slide4: As a boy, Harry loved such pastimes as reading, riding his Shetland pony, and chasing frogs around his farm. Unfortunately, Harry’s eyesight was poor, so his parents made him wear thick, wire-rimmed glasses. Harry was an excellent student, graduating from Independence High School in 1901. Elizabeth “Bess” Virginia: Elizabeth 'Bess' Virginia Bess Wallace graduated in 1901 from Independence High in the same class as her future husband, Harry Truman. Years later, when Harry’s aunt sent him to return a cake plate to the Wallace’s house, Harry renewed his friendship with Bess. After courting her eight years, Harry married Bess in June of 1919. Military Years: Military Years Harry joined the Missouri National Guard in 1905. Despite his poor eyesight, Harry was a captain in the army during World War I. In order to serve his country, he memorized the eye chart. Mary Margaret Truman: Mary Margaret Truman Mary Margaret was born to Harry and Bess Truman on February 17, 1924. The infant spent her first night in a dresser drawer before Harry braved a snow storm to go buy a crib. As an only child, 'Margie' was adored by her whole family. Early Political Career: Early Political Career After serving many years as a judge for his county, Harry was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1934. He won reelection in 1940. As a senator, Harry gained a strong reputation as a politician. The Vice Presidency: The Vice Presidency In 1944, Franklin D. Roosevelt ran successfully for a fourth term in office with Harry as his running mate. After serving only 82 days as Vice President, Harry Truman became the 33rd President of the United States due to Roosevelt’s unexpected death. Left: Harry Truman is sworn into office as America’s Vice President. 1945: A “Year of Decisions”: 1945: A 'Year of Decisions' Harry described his first year in the White House as a 'year of decisions.' As President, he was responsible for trying to resolve the aftermath of World War II in Eastern Europe and Japan. Whistle Stop Campaign: Whistle Stop Campaign When Harry ran for presidential reelection in 1948, he defeated opponent Thomas Dewey in what has been called the 'upset of the century.' Slide12: Presidential Highlights The Truman Legacy: 1945-1953: The Truman Legacy: 1945-1953 Listed here are a few of the accomplishments President Truman made during his time in office: The creation of the United Nations, a global peacekeeping organization The formulation of the Truman Doctrine, a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy which pledges America’s aid to nations struggling to remain free from Communist aggression. The execution of the Marshall Plan, an initiative that provided billions of dollars to help rebuild the economies of European countries devastated by WWII. The signing of Executive Order #9981, an order that ended discrimination in U.S. armed forces. The Return to Independence: The Return to Independence Harry decided not to run for reelection in 1953. After Dwight D. Eisenhower was inaugurated as America’s next President, Harry and Bess boarded the train home to Independence. Slide15: Retirement Life after the White House: Life after the White House As a private citizen able to enjoy retirement, Harry would work on planning his Presidential library to be built in Independence, Missouri. Truman Presidential Museum & Library: Truman Presidential Museum andamp; Library The Truman Library was completed in 1957. It houses over 16 million papers and 35,000 artifacts that document the personal and public life of Harry Truman. President Truman had an office at the Library that he used almost daily for nine years. Above: Harry and Eleanor Roosevelt tour the Library. Slide18: Then… Slide19: Now Follow-up Questions: Follow-up Questions What do you think is Harry Truman’s most lasting contribution as an American President? What is the most interesting fact that you’ve learned about Harry Truman? What more would you like to know about Truman as a man or a President? What do you believe are good qualities for a leader to possess? Do you think that Harry exhibited good leadership and character as our President?