Harry S. Truman Biography

Harry S. Truman was the 33rd President of the United States. This biography provides detailed information about his childhood, life, achievements, works & timeline.

Quick Facts

Birthday: May 8, 1884

Nationality: American

Famous: Quotes By Harry S. Truman Left Handed

Died At Age: 88

Sun Sign: Taurus

Born in: Lamar

Famous as: 33rd President of the United States

Height: 5'8" (173 cm), 5'8" Males

political ideology: Political party - Democratic


Spouse/Ex-: Bess Truman

father: John Anderson Truman

mother: Martha Ellen Young Truman

children: Margaret Truman Daniel

Died on: December 26, 1972

place of death: Kansas City

Personality: ESFJ

U.S. State: Missouri

Founder/Co-Founder: United States Atomic Energy Commission, General Services Administration, United States National Security Agency, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), National Petroleum Council, United States Department of Defense, Psychological Strategy Board, Federal Civi

More Facts

education: William Chrisman High School, University of Missouri–Kansas City, University of Missouri–Kansas City School of Law

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Harry S. Truman was the 33rd President of the United States. He assumed presidency after the sudden demise of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and was in the office from 1945 to 1953. He oversaw the end of World War II and is infamous as the man who approved the use of atomic weapons against Japan. Born in an ordinary family in Missouri, he did not attend college. After graduating from high school, he worked a number of jobs before volunteering for military duty during World War I. Through his valor and bravery he won respect and admiration and was promoted to captain. Post World War I, Truman forayed into business but was not very successful in his venture. He was first elected to the United States Senate in 1934 and was later reelected in 1940. President Roosevelt chose Truman as his running mate for the 1944 presidential election and they won the elections. Truman was vice president for just 82 days when the untimely demise of President Roosevelt thrust him to the chair of presidency. Truman’s reelection in the 1948 presidential elections is considered to be the greatest election upset in American history; he defied all the predictions and public opinion polls to emerge as victor. Truman’s presidency was marked by the beginning of the Cold War. After completion of his second term, he returned to Independence, Missouri and spent the rest of his life there.

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Childhood & Early Life
  • Harry S. Truman was born on May 8, 1884, in Lamar, Missouri, to John Anderson Truman and Martha Ellen Young Truman. His father was a farmer and livestock dealer.
  • Harry was named after his maternal uncle, Harrison Young, and his middle name "S" was in honor of both his maternal grandfather, Solomon Young, and his paternal grandfather, Anderson Shipp Truman.
  • His childhood was spent on a family farm in Independence, Missouri and he started going to school from the age of eight. He graduated from Independence High School in 1901.
  • After graduating from high school, Truman did not attend college but worked a variety of jobs. These include: timekeeper for a railroad construction company and a series of clerical jobs.
  • He wanted to join the United States Military Academy but was rejected because of poor eyesight. He served in the Missouri Army National Guard from 1905 to 1911.
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  • When the United States entered the World War I in 1917, Truman volunteered for duty and rejoined the Guard. He was promoted to the rank of captain and his unit was deployed in France. During the Meuse-Argonne campaign, he led admirably and fought with great bravery and valor.
  • Post World War I, he returned to Independence, Missouri and opened a haberdashery in Kansas City, in collaboration with his friend, Jacobson. During the recession of 1921, his business suffered losses and his shop went bankrupt. At that time Truman owed $20,000 to creditors. He did not accept bankruptcy and repaid all the debt over a period of 15 years.
  • In 1922, with the help of Democratic boss Thomas Pendergast, Truman was elected as a County Court judge of Jackson County's eastern district. But in 1924, he lost the election to Republican candidate.
  • In 1926, with support from Pendergast, he was elected as the presiding judge for the county court and was re-elected in 1930.
  • In 1934, Truman was elected to the United States Senate from Missouri. He served on the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Interstate Commerce Committee. During his term, he initiated a legislation that imposed tighter federal regulation on the railroads; this established his image, as a man of integrity, in people's eyes.
  • He was reelected to Senate in 1940 and in his second term, he headed the Truman Committee, which was formed to investigate the National Defense Program to prevent war profiteering and wasteful spending in defense industries. The committee helped save an estimated $10–15 billion in military spending, and thousands of lives of US servicemen.
  • Truman earned widespread fame and recognition for his work with the committee and this tipped the scales in his favour when President Roosevelt was looking for a running mate for 1944 presidential election.
  • Truman accepted the offer of vice presidency and campaigned vigorously. Roosevelt and Truman won the elections and Truman assumed the office of the Vice President of the United States on January 20, 1945.
  • He served as vice president for just 82 days before President Roosevelt died of a massive stroke. Truman became the President of the United States on April 12, 1945.
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  • Soon after assuming presidency, Truman was thrust with the responsibility of ending the World War II. He took the controversial decision of approving the use of atomic weapons against Japan, in order to force Japan’s surrender. The decision resulted in huge loss of lives and received widespread criticism.
  • He also announced the surrender of Germany and played a leading role in the founding of the United Nations.
  • In order to help rebuild European economies after the end of World War II, he passed the $13 billion Marshall Plan.
  • His presidency was marked by the deterioration of relations between the United States and the Soviet Union, which led to Cold War and the division of major countries of the world into the two camps.
  • In 1948, Truman was reelected as the President by defeating the Republican candidate Thomas Dewey. This victory is considered as the biggest election upset in the American political history. All the opinion polls predicted Truman’s defeat but he stunned everyone by upsetting the applecart.
  • During his second term, he faced the challenge of Korean War and immediately intervened by sending the U.S. troops there. After registering initial success, he received setback when China sent its troops to help North Korea. This led to change of tactics and disagreement between Truman and the U.S. General Douglas MacArthur. The disagreement led to MacArthur’s sacking and since MacArthur was a popular general his sacking resulted in a sharp decline in Truman’s popularity ratings.
  • After completion of his second term, Truman declined to run for reelection and settled to a retired life in Independence, Missouri.
Major Works
  • Truman approved the use of atomic weapons against Japan, which hastened the end of the World War II.
  • He played a leading role in the founding of the United Nations and signed the charter ratifying the United Nations.
  • He announced a $13 billion Marshall Plan to assist in the rebuilding of the European economies, after the World War II.
  • On domestic front, Truman successfully shepherded the American economy through post-war economic challenges, and initiated racial integration in the military and federal agencies.
Personal Life & Legacy
  • Truman married his childhood sweetheart, Elizabeth “Bess” Wallace, in 1919, and the couple had a daughter, named, Mary Margaret.
  • He died on December 26, 1972, at the age of 88, due to pneumonia.

See the events in life of Harry S. Truman in Chronological Order

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Article Title
- Harry S. Truman Biography
- Editors, TheFamousPeople.com
- TheFamousPeople.com
Last Updated
- July 24, 2017
Harry S. Truman

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