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Harry S. Truman. (1884-1972). The Life of an American President. 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.
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Harry S. Truman (1884-1972) The Life of an American President
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 • 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.
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 • 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 • 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 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 • 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 Left: Harry Truman is sworn into office as America’s Vice President. • 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.
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 • When Harry ran for presidential reelection in 1948, he defeated opponent Thomas Dewey in what has been called the “upset of the century.”
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 • 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.
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 • 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.
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?