Harry S. Truman

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1945 official portrait of Harry S. Truman.
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Harry S. Truman (1884–1972) was the 33rd President of the United States (1945–1953). He had been FDR's third vice president for less than three months when FDR kicked the bucket, and Truman succeeded him to the office. Before that, he had been a Senator from Missouri for ten years. He became Vice President because his predecessor, Henry Wallace, was unacceptable to the more conservative wing of his party.

Truman presided over the end of World War II, including the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the beginning of the Cold War. He instituted the policy of containment to counter the spread of communism, which led to US involvement in the Korean War. In addition to providing money to Greece and Turkey to counter the threat of communist revolutions there, he got the Marshall Plan approved to aid western Europe in rebuilding, and helped get the United Nations and NATO established.

Truman integrated the US Armed Forces by executive order (though it would take several years), and took action against racial discrimination of applicants and contractors for federal jobs; this was enforced by the Fair Employment Practice CommitteeWikipedia. This did not make him popular with white southerners[note 1]. Another unpopular decision was his firing of General Douglas MacArthur. Truman also supported the creation of Israel over the opposition of some diplomats and the Secretary of War.

Following WWII, there were several significant labor strikes as people and the economy adjusted to peacetime. At one point, Truman suggested drafting striking workers into the Armed Forces. The next year (1947), Congressional Republicans passed the Taft-Hartley Act, banning closed shopsWikipedia, limiting workers' rights to strike, restricting campaign contributions to candidates for federal office, and revising previous requirements for employer neutrality regarding unions. Truman vetoed the bill, but it was passed with enough votes to override the veto.

Truman signed the National Security Act of 1947, creating the US Air Force, the CIA, and the National Security Council. (In 1952, he oversaw the creation of the National Security Agency.)

In other words, he got a lot done as president.


Truman also did some other things that are still top secret, or rubbish spouted by conspiracy theorists, depending on your point of view.

There are questionable claims Truman ordered the creation of Majestic 12, a highly secret program under engineer Vannevar Bush (a senior figure in the Manhattan Project and founder of defense company Raytheon) and Defense Secretary James Forrestal. And also that MJ-12 was connected with the alleged crash of a UFO at Roswell and subsequent research work at Area 51.[1][2] Truman was certainly president in the early days of UFO-mania in the late 1940s, and he was involved in the founding of much of the Cold War secret intelligence establishment like the CIA, but most people (even in UFO circles) believe the claimed MJ-12 documents are fakes.

There are a lot of rumors but little or no evidence. Supposedly both Truman and Eisenhower were involved in top-secret negotiations and face-to-face meetings with aliens. There are claims that Truman features in an alien autopsy video, but this is a crude and hilarious fake.[3] There are slightly more credible claims that Truman was worried about UFO sightings in Washington in the summer of 1952[4]. One Truman military aide, Robert B. Landry, said he was asked to give Truman a quarterly verbal report on UFOs from 1948, but never had any credible information to communicate.[5] Another Truman official Edward D Lilly has denied there was ever any discussion of UFOs.[6]

Measuring up to others[edit]

1948 US presidential election results. Truman got the states in blue.

Truman was elected in 1948[7] in a surprise win over Republican Thomas Dewey, with both Strom Thurmond running as a Dixiecrat and FDR's second VP, Henry Wallace, running as a Progressive, garnering 303 electoral votes to Dewey's 189 and Thurmond's 39. His win is accredited to his plan to institute proposals from his Fair DealWikipedia which promised universal healthcare, an expansion of labor rights, federal aid to schools, and racial equality. He could have run again in 1952 (being grandfathered in by the recently passed twenty-second amendment which did not count terms before its passage towards the two-term limit), but, facing an abysmal approval rating[8], he instead tried to get Dwight Eisenhower to run as a Democrat. After Eisenhower decided to run as a Republican, Truman talked Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson into running and withdrew from the race. Following his presidency, his legacy considerably improved, and nowadays, most Americans rank him among the ten best presidents ever[9].


  1. Some went so far as to take his name off the ballot in the next presidential election.