Harry S. Truman

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Harry S. Truman was the 33rd President of the United States of America (1945-1953). Truman succeeded to the presidency on April 12, 1945 upon Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s death following months of declining health. Under Truman, the U.S. successfully concluded World War II and enter a period of tensions with the Soviet marking the start of the Cold War.

Truman was born in Missouri, and spent most of his youth on his family’s farm. During World War I, Truman served as an artillery officer in his National Guard unit and was stationed in France. He rose to the rank of Major before leaving military service. He was first elected to public office as a county official, and in 1935 became U.S. senator. He gained national prominence as head of the wartime Truman Committee, which exposed waste, fraud, and corruption in wartime contracts.

While Germany surrendered a few weeks after Truman assumed the Presidency, the war with Japan was expected to last another year or more. Truman ordered the use of atomic weapons against Japan, intending to force Japan’s surrender and spare American lives in an invasion. The decision remains a controversial one. Working closely with Congress, Truman assisted in the founding of the United Nations, issued the Truman Doctrine to contain communism, and passed the $13 billion Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe, including the Axis Powers of both world wars

He oversaw the Berlin Airlift in 1948 and the creation of NATO in 1949. When communist North Korea invaded South Korea in 1950, he immediately sent in U.S. troops and gained UN approval for the Korean War. After initial success, the UN forces were thrown back by Chinese intervention and the conflict was stalemated through the final years of Truman’s presidency.

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