Harry S. Truman, United States President during two wars and the only man to authorise?
Harry S. Truman, United States President during two wars and the only man to authorise the wartime use of the atomic bomb, celebrates his 88th birthday on May 8. Last year, he recovered form an attack of ill-health after two weeks of hospital treatment, and he now continues to live a quiet life in Missouri, his home state.
Mr Truman was pressed into office during the last months of World War Two by the sudden death of Franklin D. Roosevelt. The former Vice-President was at once faced with the responsibility of working out the future shape of Europe -- taking part in the fateful Potedam conference with Soviet leader Josef Stalin and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill(later replaced by Clement Attles).
Within weeks, Mr Truman was obliged to take a more momentous decision. After the successful testing of the atomic bomb in July 1945, the new President decided to use this new weapon in an effort to cut short the war against Japan. Two-hundred-thousand people died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but President Truman justified his decision by arguing that the Allies faced half-a million casualties if the war had continued.
For the next seven years, Mr Truman played a major role in formulating the Marshall Plan for economic aid to Europe, in creating the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and in the Cold War showdown with East European countries over the Berlin blockade.
In 1948, against all predictions, Mr Truman was returned to the White House in the closest Presidential contest since 1916.
He continued to fight against the advance of communism. in 1050, he sent U.S. troops to support South Korea against the North. The American contingent comprised the bulk of the United Nations force fighting in Korea.
Two years later, Mr Truman astonished the American voters by refusing to run for office again when at the height of his popularity. He retired to a life of virtual seclusion, working on his memoirs and plans for a memorial library.