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May 8 Is Truman Day - Who Was President Harry S. Truman

Harry S. Truman was born on May 8, 1884, in Lamar, Missouri, to John Anderson Truman and Martha Ellen Young Truman. His parents gave him the middle initial, ‘S,’ to honor his grandfathers, Anderson Shipp Truman and Solomon Young. In 1890, his parents moved to Independence, Missouri, where Truman worked as a Shabbos goy for his Jewish neighbors. Between 1901 and 1906, Truman worked as a mail boy at The Kansas City Star, a timekeeper at the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway, and a bank clerk at the Kansas City’s National Bank of Commerce. While serving in the Missouri National Guard from 1905 to 1911, Truman returned to his family’s farm near Grandview in 1906 and took over its management. After the United States joined the Great War in 1917, Truman reenlisted in the National Guard and was sent abroad to France. He became the captain of Battery D and saw action at Saint Mihiel and the Meuse-Argonne.

After returning to the U.S. in 1919, Truman married Elizabeth ‘Bess’ Wallace. On February 17, 1924, the couple had their only child, Mary Margaret Truman, who later became a professional singer and an author. With the support of Thomas Pendergast, Truman launched his political career, becoming a county judge of Jackson County’s eastern district in 1922. In 1926, he became a presiding judge of the county court, where he served two four-year terms. In 1934, when it seemed Truman’s political career was coming to an end, Pendergast reluctantly decided to back him for a seat in the U.S. Senate — that was after his first four choices refused. In January 1935, Truman was sworn into the U.S. Senate as Missouri’s junior senator.

During his term as a senator, Truman contributed to two critical pieces of legislation, the Civil Aeronautics Act of 1938 and the Wheeler-Truman Transportation Act of 1940. He also chaired the Committee on Military Affairs Subcommittee on War Mobilization that reportedly saved the country about $15 billion. In 1944, he was picked over Henry A. Wallace to run as Franklin D. Roosevelt’s vice president. On January 20, 1945, he was sworn into the office of the vice president of the United States. Roosevelt died of a brain hemorrhage eighty-two days into his presidency, and Truman was sworn in as president immediately. Truman presided over the end of World War II, the formation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the First Indochina War, the Korean War, and the start of the Cold War during his two years as president. He left the White House in January 1953 and built the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum in Independence, Missouri.


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