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In 1944, the Democratic party leaders considered Vice President Henry Wallace too unpredictable to serve another term under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, whose health had visibly declined during the Second World War. The party then turned their attention to the U.S. Senator, Harry S. Truman from Missouri, who was nominated to be President Roosevelt’s running-mate for an unprecedented fourth term re-election.
In 1944, Harry S. Truman helped introduce the GI Bill, widely regarded as one of the most effective social policy programs in U.S. history. The GI Bill gave millions of soldiers returning from World War II the opportunity to enroll in college or job-training programs. It also helped grant low-interest loans towards the purchase of new homes.
The first inauguration of Harry S. Truman as the 33rd President of the United States was held at 7:00 pm on Thursday, April 12, 1945, in the Cabinet Room at the White House in Washington, D.C., following the unexpected death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt earlier that day. Harry S. Truman had only served as Vice President for less than three months prior.
Truman’s presidency is most often defined by his decision to drop the atomic bomb to end World War II that ultimately saved both Allied and Japanese lives.
On May 8, 1945, Harry S. Truman announced to the American public that Germany had surrendered, signaling the beginning of the end of World War II and is known as VE Day. Ironically, it was also the President’s 61st birthday. It would take until August 14 before Japan officially surrendered ending World War II.
The postwar “Baby Boom” (1946 to 1964) was the largest generation in history. After years of depression and war, Americans, quite simply, were having more children. In 1940, American families had, on average, 2.6 children. By 1950, that number had jumped to 3.2. The baby boom was only one of the massive changes underway in the structure of the American family during the years immediately following World War II.
On July 26, 1947, President Harry S. Truman signs the National Security Act, which becomes one of the most important pieces of Cold War legislation. This led to a reorganized structure of the U.S. armed forces following World War II. It created the office of Secretary of Defense, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the National Security Council (NSC), as well as separate departments for each branch of the armed forces.
The Labor-Management Relations Act of 1947, better known as the Taft–Hartley Act, is a United States federal law that restricts the activities and power of labor unions. It was enacted by the 80th United States Congress over the veto of President Harry S. Truman, becoming law on June 23, 1947.
The Truman Doctrine was announced to Congress by President Harry S. Truman on March 12, 1947, and further developed on July 4, 1948. This order pledged to contain the communist uprisings in Greece and Turkey by establishing that the United States would provide political, military and economic assistance to all democratic nations under threat from Soviet communism.
In 1948, President Harry S. Truman signed the Economic Assistance Act, which authorized the creation of a program that would help the nations of Europe recover and rebuild after World War II. Most commonly known as the Marshall Plan, it aimed to stabilize Europe economically and politically so that European nations would not be tempted by the appeal of communist parties.
In 1948, Truman won reelection. His defeat had been widely expected. His famous “Whistlestop” campaign tour through the country has passed into political folklore, as has the photograph of the beaming Truman holding up the newspaper whose headline proclaimed, “Dewey Defeats Truman.”
On July 26, 1948, President Harry S. Truman issued two of his most important Executive Orders, 9980 and 9981, desegregating the federal workforce and desegregating the armed forces. However, it could not be to get votes as there were not that many registered black voters.
In 1948, Joint Chiefs of Staff met at the Truman Little White House and merged the Departments of War and the Navy, creating the Key West Accord. This was a major step toward defining the differences between the military services over their respective roles and missions.
On July 25, 1949, President Truman and Secretary Acheson signed the Instrument of Accession, making the United States a founding member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a mutual defense pact aimed at containing possible Soviet aggression against Western Europe. The newly created Alliance was composed of 12 different nations, including the US.
In 1950, another census year, the Truman family was vacationing in Key West. While on the island, the census caught up with the President and his family and they were interviewed on the lawn. As the picture shows, the Truman family, especially Mrs. Truman and Margaret enjoyed the line of questioning directed at the President.
In 1951, President Harry S. Truman introduced another Executive Order which established the Committee on Government Contract Compliance. Truman created the committee with legislation passed by Roosevelt in 1941. Roosevelt’s legislation made discrimination with the federal government or defense industries based on race, color, creed, or origin illegal.
In 1950, President Harry S. Truman announced that he was ordering U.S. air and naval forces to South Korea to aid the democratic nation in repulsing an invasion by communist North Korea. On July 27, 1953, after two years of negotiation, an armistice was signed, ending the war and reestablishing the 1945 division of Korea that still exists today.
In January 1953, Harry S. Truman left the Presidency and retired to Independence. He delighted in being “Mr. Citizen,” as he called himself in a book of memoirs. For the nearly two decades of his life remaining to him, he spent his days reading, writing, lecturing and taking long brisk walks. He took particular satisfaction in founding and supporting his Library, which made his papers available to scholars, and which opened its doors to everyone who wished to have a glimpse of his remarkable life and career.
The eleven trips of President Harry S. Truman were recorded in official trip logs. Often regarded as mere souvenirs for family and staff, a more careful reading reveal clues as to the working of the president in Key West.
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