Harry S. Truman Presidential $1 Coin
Harry S. Truman, our 33rd president, was born in Lamar, Missouri, in 1884 and grew up on a farm in nearby Independence. After serving in the Missouri National Guard and the U.S. Army, he married Elizabeth Virginia Wallace and opened a haberdashery in Kansas City. He was elected county court judge before serving two terms in the U.S. Senate, and then became vice president under President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Truman faced difficult foreign and domestic challenges during his two-term presidency and it’s said that he made some of the most crucial decisions in history. Truman had been vice president for only 82 days when President Roosevelt died on April 12, 1945. Suddenly, a host of problems stemming from World War II became Truman’s to solve. He told reporters, “I don’t know if you fellas ever had a load of hay fall on you, but when they told me what happened yesterday, I felt like the moon, the stars, and all the planets had fallen on me.”
Home (Domestic Policy):
- He focused on the economy and avoiding a recession during the transition from war to peace.
- He reduced government spending while at the same time, trying to get returning soldiers jobs.
- He ordered racial integration of the military and federal government and addressed civil rights issues using executive orders.
- In 1945, he presented to Congress a 21-point program proposing the expansion of Social Security, a full-employment program, a permanent Fair Employment Practices Act, public housing and slum clearance. The package of laws became known as the Fair Deal.
- The term “whistle stop” campaign is from Truman, who made several extensive campaign trips by train during 1948, traveling through all sections of the country except the South. He made 275 speeches and traveled about 22,000 miles.
- He appointed 18 women to high-ranking posts, including Georgia Neese Clark, the first female U.S. treasurer.
Away (Foreign Policy):
- Not even one month into his presidency, Truman announced the end of war in Europe on May 8, 1945 (his 61st birthday). This date is known as “V-E Day” for “Victory in Europe.” On Aug. 14, 1945, Truman’s actions ended a war with Japan, now known as “V-J Day.”
- Soon after the war ended in 1945, Truman assisted in founding the United Nations.
- He worked to prevent the spread of communism when the wartime ally Soviet Union became a peacetime enemy. This started what is known as the Cold War. It was “cold” because there was no armed fighting between the sides. Everything was done covertly, behind the scenes. In a word…spies!
- In 1947 he created the Truman Doctrine, which would provide aid to Greece and Turkey to help them resist communism. Truman’s Marshall Plan also stimulated economic recovery in a war-torn Western Europe.
- Truman signed the National Security Act of 1947, which created the Air Force and reorganized the military forces by merging the Department of War and the Department of the Navy into what is now known as the Department of Defense. The act also created the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the National Security Council. In 1952, Truman created the National Security Agency (NSA).
- In 1949, Truman negotiated a military alliance to protect Western nations from communism. This is called the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
- In 1950, the Communist government of North Korea attacked South Korea, disputing the boundary between the two countries. Truman, with the support of the U.N. Security Council, sent in troops to protect this border, thus starting the Korean War.