Harry S. Truman - his foreign policy

Term Paper, 2006

14 Pages, Grade: 2,0


Table of contents

1. Introduction

2. Biography of Harry S. Truman

3. The beginning of Truman’s presidency at the end of World War II

4. Demobilization and Building peace: The GI Bills and New Deal Legacy

5. The Origins of the Cold War and policy of Containment

6. The Truman Doctrine

7. The Marshall Plan and the Berlin Airlift

9. Bibliography

1. Introduction

It is an enormous task to talk about Harry S. Truman’s eventful life. In this essay not everything can be mentioned, only the most important aspects of his life will be pointed out.

His private life is only summarized very briefly because it is the aim to elaborate on his political activities, especially the foreign policy. His most important foreign policy regimes are explained in detail, such as the New Deal Legacy, beginning and course of the Cold War, the policy of Containment, the declaring of the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan with the following Berlin Airlift.

“The aim of the American Presidency Series is to present historians and the general reading public with interesting, scholarly assessments of the various presidential administrations.

These interpretive surveys are intended to cover the broad ground between biographies, specialized monographs, and journalistic accounts. As such, each will be a comprehensive, synthetic work which will draw upon the best in pertinent secondary literature, yet leave room for the author’s own analysis and interpretation.”[1]

2. Biography of Harry S. Truman

On May 8 in 1884 Harry S. Truman was born as the son of John Anderson Truman and Martha Ellen (Young) Truman in Lamar, Missouri.

His family soon included another boy, whose name was Vivian, and a girl, Mary Jane. In 1887 the family moved to a farm in Grandview. In 1890 they moved to Independence and in 1902 moved again to Kansas City.

Harry S. Truman attended public schools in Independence, graduating from high school in 1901. After leaving school he worked as a timekeeper for a railroad construction contractor, some time later as a clerk in two Kansas City banks. In 1906 Truman returned to Grandview and helped his father to run the family farm. On his farm Truman continued work as a farmer for more than ten years.

From 1905 to 1911 Truman served in the Missouri National Guard. When the USA entered World War I in 1917, he helped to organize the second Regiment of the Missouri Field Artillery. It was quickly called into Federal Service as the 129th Field Artillery and so Truman was sent to France.

In France Truman was promoted to Captain and given command of the regiment’s Battery D.

In Vosges, Saint Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne Truman and his unit saw action.

After the war Truman joined the reserves; he wanted to gain the rank of a colonel.

Truman sought to return to active duty at the outbreak of World War II, but General George C. Marshall declined his offer to serve.

On June 28, 1919 Truman married Bess Wallace and in February 1924 his daughter Margret was born. In the period from 1919 to 1922 Truman had a men’s clothing store in Kansas City. In the post-war recession the store failed and he narrowly avoided bankruptcy. In the following years he paid off his share of the store’s debts. In 1922 Truman was elected to be one of three judges of the Jackson County Court. In the management of county affairs he built a reputation for honesty and efficiency. In 1924 he was defeated for re-election, but in 1926 he won election as presiding judge. In 1930 he won re-election. In 1934 he was elected to the United States Senate. In the Civil Astronautics Act 1938 and the Transportation Act 1940 Truman played a significant role.

Being reelected, Truman gained national prominence as chairman of the Senate Special Committee and investigated the National Defence Program. The committee was called the Truman Committee and had considerable success to ensure that defence contractors delivered to the nation quality goods at fair prices.

In 1944 Truman was nominated to run for Vice President with President Franklin D. Roosevelt. In January 1945 Truman took the vice-presidential oath and only eighty-two days later, on April 12th, Truman was sworn in as the nation’s thirty-third President.

The first year as a president was a “year of decisions”[2], in which he oversaw the ending of the war in Europe. He participated in a Conference at Potsdam in Germany. In his work he was faced with governing defeated Germany. He also lay some groundwork for the final stage of the war against Japan. Truman approved the dropping of two bombs on Japan on August 6th and 9th, 1945. On August 14th, Japan surrendered and America forces of occupation began to land by the end of the month.

In the first year of his presidency the United Nations were also founded. Furthermore his relationship with the Soviet Union was rather strained and confrontational.

Truman was responsible for important foreign policy initiatives. His most central aim was to prevent the expansion of the influence of the Soviet Union. The Truman Doctrine was set up to demonstrate American willingness to provide military aid to countries resisting communist insurgencies. The Marshall Plan revived the economies of the nations of Europe; the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation built a military barrier confronting the Soviet – dominated part of Europe. When North Korea, which was communist, invaded South Korea Truman responded by waging undeclared war.


[1] Compare: Mc Coy, Donald R.: „The presidency of Harry S. Truman”, Kansas 1984.

[2] Compare http://www.Trumanlibrary.org/hast-bio.htm

Excerpt out of 14 pages


Harry S. Truman - his foreign policy
University of Cologne  (Institut für Englisch und ihre Didaktik)
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Harry, Truman
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Gabriele Arnold (Author), 2006, Harry S. Truman - his foreign policy, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/56310


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