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Profile of Harry Truman
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Harry Truman's rise to the presidency is
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Hi, I'm Frank Couvares for About.com, and I'm here to talk to you about Harry Truman.Harry Truman's rise to the presidency is quite improbable. Very few Americans had ever heard of him. He was a Kansas City machine politician, got into the Senate in 1934, had a modest career, and was chosen in 1944 by FDR as his vice-presidential running mate, because his previous running mate, Henry Wallace, was seen as being too leftist, too liberal.Within just a few months of being elected vice-president, the president dies and Harry Truman is catapulted into the most powerful office in the world in the midst of the greatest war in history. He's tough-minded, feisty, and plain-spoken. And it becomes perfectly clear to all that he has no hesitation in dropping the atomic bombs that eventually bring the war to a successful conclusion.However, in 1946, the United States is mired in a severe recession that's the result of the decline of postwar production. Then in 1947, Truman announces the famous Truman Doctrine, which essentially says that the US would be willing to intervene almost anywhere around the world to preserve governments that are anti-Communist. Even more consequentially, in 1947, he announces the Marshall Plan - a vast subsidy of the governments of Western Europe, an attempt to bring them back out of the terrible economic straits they're in.Given the problems that Truman is facing, he went into the election in 1948 an underdog. When he pulls that election out, "Give 'Em Hell, Harry" becomes a hero to many Americans. In 1949, Harry Truman puts in the last of his great foreign policy measures, NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. After NATO, most of the news for Harry Truman is bad. The Chiang Kai-Shek regime in China falls to the Chinese Communists. Who lost China? becomes the rallying cry for many Republican politicians. The Soviets test an atomic bomb, which shocks almost all Americans. Finally, in June in 1950, something even worse happens. The Communist North Korea invades the non-Communist South Korea.The United States, at the head of a United Nations force, goes to war for the first time in the Cold War era. So in some ways, the legacy of Harry Truman would seem to have been not so great. However, as the president who set Cold War foreign policy on the trajectory it would follow, in long retrospect it is clear that Truman more or less won the Cold War.Thanks for watching. To learn more, visit us on the web at About.com.
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