President Truman in Dayton

The final installment of the DDN Presidential Series is the 33rd President of the United States, Harry Truman. President Truman’s legacy has gone through an evolution since he left office in 1953. His approval rating was in the low 20% (in some polls, even lower than Nixon when he left office). However in the past few decades his presidency has been studied by historians and political scientists and today he is remembered as having a very successful and meaningful stint in office.

A native son of Missouri, Truman was an artillery officer in WWI and served as a Senator for his state from 1935-1945. He is however best remembered as the vice-president who came to office after the death of much beloved President FDR. As president, Truman authorized the dropping of the atomic bomb which culminated in the end of WWII. He was also present at the Potsdam Conference that finalized the political outlook of Europe after the fall of Nazi Germany.

Truman’s presidency was a time of great change in the US. The had the misfortune of managing an economy that was shifting from war production to normalcy. He also inherited a world where the United States and the Soviet Union were the two remaining global superpowers;his  highest foreign policy objective was containment of Soviet expansion as the Cold War unfolded. The Cold War heated up in events such as the creation of the State of Israel (which Truman formally recognized in 1948) and the Korean War. A bloody UN conflict that would cost the lives of hundreds of thousands on both sides.On civil rights,Truman ordered the desegregation of the Armed Forces. A policy which proved to be unpopular with Southern Democrats.

During the 2012 election cycle we endured countless polls each with their own estimation on who would win the presidency. Luckily, our polling data was more accurate than in Truman’s time. We all recall the famous example of “Dewey Defeats Truman” being published across the country when Harry actually won the 1948 election. If you are interested, the DDN Collection does have copies of that newspaper.


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