A Birth In Politics - 5/8/1884

US History |


On May 8, 1884, the 33rd President of the United States was born. Harry S. Truman, born in Lamar, Missouri, was the son of a humble farmer. Truman could not afford the tuition and fees for college, so he enlisted in the U.S. army at the age of 33 in 1916, to fight in World War I. Post wartime, Truman went to Kansas City and opened a haberdashery, but his business went bankrupt in 1922. Realizing business wasn’t his forte, he moved onto politics in Missouri. Truman served in the United States senate from 1934 until 1945. It was in 1945, that Franklin Delano Roosevelt chose Truman to be his fourth vice president.

When FDR died on April 12, 1945, Truman became the president of the United States, and thus assumed the position of commander-in-chief. With the country in the midst of World War II, Truman agonized on whether or not to force Japan to surrender by using the recently developed atomic bomb. And then after only being president for four months, Truman signed-off on dropping two atomic bombs on Japan in August of 1945. He argued that using atomic bombs actually saved the lives of Americans and Japanese. Destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, in the end did make Japan surrender, but also introduced the Cold War.

From that point until the 1980s, Russia and the United States were in competition to make the biggest most optimal nuclear weaponry. Once information and images surfaced of the detrimental environmental effects of nuclear weapons, Truman was plagued with criticism for beginning the greater possibility of total global annihilation. But the president was notable in other areas. For example, after World War II, Truman helped implement the Marshall Plan, which provided reconstruction aid to European nations after the devastating war.

Harry S. Truman was also known for his loyalty to his family and explosive temper. A reporter from the Washington Post made fun of his daughter’s singing recital, and the next day Truman reportedly threatened the reviewer in a letter saying he would give him a black eye and a broken nose. Incidences like these gave him the nickname “Give ‘em hell, Harry.” Truman served as president from 1945 to 1953, then him and his wife Bess retired to Independence, Missouri. And that is where he died on December 26, 1972. Leaving an atomic legacy for centuries to come.

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