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Harry S Truman
Dewey Defeats Truman.jpg
The first example of fake news
Political party: Democratic Party
Military service: World War I
Born May 8, 1884
Died December 26, 1972 (aged 88)
Predecessor Franklin D. Roosevelt
Successor Dwight D. Eisenhower

Harry S Truman was President of the United States from 1945 to 1953. He dropped the "bomb" on Japan. History records this man as humble, and his Presidency is plagued because of the Korean Conflict. History judges him favorably but his decision to drop the "bomb" is however called into question. We know the terrible suffering that happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and historians blame Truman for that. However, to be fair, if the US military had to invade Japan, millions of both American and Japanese would've been killed.

Truman is more positively remembered ending military segregation. Unfortunately, his other Civil rights policies were blocked by Congress.

Truman ended World War II and Stalin began the Cold War soon after.

Truman is the only president to only have a letter for his middle name. [1]

1948 election

"The Republican Party, as I said a while ago, favors the privileged few and not the common everyday man."- Truman at the DNC

Harry Truman assumed the office of the Presidency when President Franklin D. Roosevelt died of cerebral hemorrhaging on April 12, 1945. Truman was Vice President for only 82 days, during which he and Roosevelt only met together twice.

When it came around for Truman to run for a presidential term of his own right, most people assumed he would lose. The state of the country was not good. American WWII veterans were coming to a country not fit for war heroes. A tidal of strikes slowed production. The labor unions called Truman "Public Enemy #1" because Truman had to break a few strikes to kept the country moving. Inflation and housing shortages didn't do Truman any good either. Food shortages, such as meat, eggs and bread also afflicted the people.

The people's discontent with the state of affairs was evident in the 1946 midterms, where Republicans gained control of both houses of Congress for the first time since 1933. In the first case of petty partisan politics that afflicts America today, Republicans blocked almost all legislation Truman tried to pass, including but not limited to an increase in the minimum wage and an increase in school funding. Truman was viewed as incompetent, unappealing and unelectable.

In June 1948, the Republicans nominated New York Governor Thomas Dewey for president. Truman had defeated Dewey in 1944 as part of Roosevelt's fourth presidential victory. However, unlike in 1944, Dewey's chances for victory seemed inevitable.

In July 12, 1948, the Democratic National Convention convened in the same location as the RNC. As the incumbent President, Truman's nomination was secure. Although Truman watched the Convention on television, a new concept, he wouldn't attend until the early morning of July 15 to accept the nomination.

The Democratic Party became divided after a civil rights speech by Minneapolis Mayor Hubert Humphrey. He boldly claimed "the time has arrived in America for the Democratic Party to get out of the shadows of states' rights and walk forthrightly into the bright sunshine of human rights" and to support the civil rights movement. Racist Southern delegates were outraged. 22 delegates from Mississippi and 13 delegates from Alabama, two of America's most backward states, walked out of the delegation to nominate Strom Thurmond as a "Dixiecrat".

As a running mate, Truman picked Kentucky Senator Alben Barkley, the chairman of the Democratic National Convention since 1937.

During his acceptance speech, which was at 2 am, Truman talked to the people instead of speaking down to them. He rallied for the Democratic Party to unite. Truman famously claimed "Senator Barkley and I will win this election and make these Republicans like it — don't you forget that!" which started a slogan "Give 'em hell, Harry!"

Truman went on the attack against the Republicans, highlighting that Republicans were an anti-Semitic, anti-Catholic rich man's party and the Democratic Party looked out for the common people. He also accused them of hypocrisy. Just months before, the GOP had blocked Truman's legislation intended to revive the economy only to have the exact same measures in their 1948 platform. He challenged the Republicans to actually help the people or be the "Do Nothing 80th Congress". Of course, the Republicans refused and no legislation of consequence was passed.

Despite Republicans in Congress proving Truman right, the outcome looked gloom for him. A poll for 50 of the nation's most respected political journalists showed 50-0 that Dewey would win.

On September 17, 1948, less than two months before the election, Truman, accompanied by his wife and daughter, went campaigning on a train through the Midwest, where he trailed Dewey by 11 points. His strategy was to appeal to Republican-leaning voters, including farmers. In September 1948, 48% of farmers supported Dewey compared to Truman's 38%. Truman reminded them that farmers were the life-blood of the country and that he was on their side. In one particular visit, he introduced his wife as "The Boss", which garnered a few laughs.

In October, Truman accused the Republicans of only caring about "Big Business First", being for the fatcats in Wall Street instead of the common everyday man. "If you give the Republicans complete control of this government, you might just as well turn it over to the special interests, and we'll start on a Boom & Bust cycle just like we did in the 20s and end up with a crash, which in the long run will do nobody any good but the Communists." This helped him with his popularity as a populist. There was then just 5 points between Truman and Dewey.

However, a couple weeks later, Truman went too far. He compared the people backing Dewey to the financiers who backed Adolf Hitler. While today's Republicans are fascists, three years after World War II, this was viewed as slanderous and unfair. Dewey thought of hitting back at Truman by calling him a "Failed President", but given that such tactics hurt him in 1944, he relented after receiving a poll from the RNC. After all, in late October, the polls backed Dewey 49% to Truman's 45%. It seemed Dewey was destined to be President.

The election was held on November 2, 1948. The New York Times predicted Dewey would win with 345 electoral college votes. After casting his vote, Truman went to his native state of Missouri to await the results. He had half a ham and cheese sandwich and a glass of butter milk and went to bed. When Truman woke, he was informed that he had won the election with 303 electoral votes out of 266 minimum needed.

The Chicago Daily Tribune had jumped the gun and declared Dewey the victor. Harry Truman held up the newspaper in a famous photo.

1952 election

The 22nd Amendment, ratified in 1951, stated that no one shall be elected president more than twice. It also stated that if a person ascended to the presidency and serving more than two years of his predecessor's term, he would only be allowed to run for one term. The second part applied to Truman, serving all but 82 days of Franklin Roosevelt's fourth term. But the 22nd Amendment included a grandfather clause that excluded specifically Truman, as the then-incumbent president, from such limitations. This allowed Truman to be eligible to run for a technical third term in 1952.

However, the slow progression of the Korean War, his age and allegations of corruption hurt Truman's chances of re-election. After losing the New Hampshire Primary, Truman dropped out of the race and endorsed Adlai Stevenson, who would lose to Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower. In a twist of irony, Truman had offered to be Eisenhower's vice presidential running mate in 1948 if he ran as a Democrat.

1960 election comments

During the 1960 U.S. Presidential Election, former President Harry Truman made some controversial comments about Democratic nominee Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy. On July 2, 1960, the aging former President went on television questioning whether Kennedy was ready to be President. While Truman spoke of Kennedy's age and inexperience, it's quite possible the Baptist Truman was attacking Kennedy as a Catholic. On July 4, 1960, Kennedy responded to Truman, saying he did not intend to step aside and that he was going to press on, with or without Truman's support. All divisions were healed up by the time the Democratic Convention was over.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • World War I veteran
  • Ended World War II
  • Integrated the US military
  • Insisted that the Nazis be tried for their crimes
  • Marshall Plan, gave aid to war-torn Europe
  • Fair Deal
  • Refused to use nuclear weapons during the Korean War
  • Berlin Airlift (instead of using military force)
  • Fought to stop the anti-Communist hysteria/McCarthyism
  • Gave the Jews a home with the establishment of Israel
  • Made progress with Civil Rights
  • Rallied against Jim Crow laws

Controversial

  • The Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Cons

  • Was less Progressive than FDR
  • Gave an early and unwitting boost to McCarthyism by authorizing "loyalty boards" to investigate Federal employees.
  • Launched the Cold War

External links

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