Author: Harry S. Truman

Harry S. Truman, c. 1945

Harry S. Truman (1884–1972) grew up in Independence, Missouri. He served in World War I as a captain in the artillery and returned to Missouri in 1919, marrying his wife, Bess, whom he had known since childhood. In the 1920s, Truman became involved in county politics and was elected as a judge to the Jackson County court. Remaining active in Democratic Party politics, Truman successfully ran for the United States Senate in 1934. His tenure in the Senate was marked by the passage of several important bills, as well as his leadership on a committee charged with examining the National Defense Program and the work of defense contractors. In 1944, Truman gained greater national prominence when he was nominated to run as vice president alongside Franklin D. Roosevelt. When Roosevelt died in April 1945, Truman assumed the presidency. Months later, he would make the decision to drop the atomic bomb on Japan, effectively ending World War II. The rest of his presidency was marked by the adoption of the Marshall Plan, which provided aid to recovering western European countries, and the use of executive power to uphold civil rights. Truman also authorized American involvement in the Korean War. After deciding not to seek a full second term, Truman returned to Independence, Missouri for retirement.