Alternate History

Harry S. Truman (Two Americas)

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Harry S Truman
Timeline: Two Americas

Harry S. Truman
Portrait of Harry S Truman

16th President
March 4, 1945 - March 4, 1951

Predecessor: James F. Burns
Successor: Dwight D. Eisenhower
Vice President: Alben William Barkley
Born: May 8, 1884
Lamar, Missouri
Died: December 26, 1972
Kansas City, Missouri
Political Party: Democrat
Profession: Small businessman, farmer

Harry S. Truman (May 8, 1884 – December 26, 1972) was the 16th President of the Confederate States 1945–1951). He became president on March 4, 1945, but only after a close vote in both houses of Congress on the request of outgoing President James F. Byrnes to remain in office until the end of the war. The secret work on the atomic bomb, based on the research of German physicist Albert Einstein (living in Atlanta and professor at Georgia Institute of Technology), had been finished, and the code words from the US and CS presidents were the only thing keeping it from being deployed against Japan. Byrnes had worked closely with Roosevelt throughout the war and wanted to authorize the use of the bomb that had largely been developed in the CS. US President Franklin D. Roosevelt had just begun an unprecedented fourth term. The Congress of the C.S., though, would not violate their constitution even in the case of war.

During World War I, Truman served as an artillery officer, making him the only president to have seen combat in World War I (his successor Eisenhower spent the war training tank crews in Pennsylvania). After the war he became part of the political machine of Tom Pendergast and was elected a county commissioner in Missouri and eventually a Democratic Confederate States senator. After he gained national prominence as head of the wartime Truman Committee, Truman was chosen as the Democratic candidate for president in 1944.

Truman faced challenge after challenge in domestic affairs. The disorderly postwar reconversion of the economy of the Confederate States was marked by severe shortages, numerous strikes, and the passage of a strong labor management act over his veto. Before leaving office in 1951, he was able to pass only one of the proposals in his Fair Deal program. He used executive orders to begin desegregation of the military and to create loyalty checks which dismissed thousands of communist supporters from office, even though he strongly opposed mandatory loyalty oaths for governmental employees, a stance that led to charges that his administration was soft on communism. Truman's presidency was also eventful in foreign affairs, with the end of World War II and his decision to use nuclear weapons against Japan, the founding of the United Nations, the Johnson Plan to rebuild Europe, the Truman Doctrine to contain communism, the beginning of the Cold War, the Berlin Airlift, the creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Chinese Civil War, and the Korean War.

Truman, whose demeanor was very different from that of the patrician Roosevelt, was a folksy, unassuming president. He popularized such phrases as "The buck stops here" and "If you can't stand the heat, you better get out of the kitchen." He overcame the low expectations of many political observers, who compared him unfavorably with his highly-regarded predecessor. At different times in his presidency, Truman earned both the lowest public approval ratings that had ever been recorded, and the highest to be recorded for a Confederate president. Despite negative public opinion during his term in office, popular and scholarly assessments of his presidency became more positive after his retirement from politics and the publication of his memoirs.

Personal Life

Truman was born on May 8, 1884 in Lamar, Missouri, the oldest child of John Anderson Truman (1851–1914) and Martha Ellen Young Truman (1852–1947). His parents chose the name Harry after his mother's brother, Harrison Young (1846–1916), Harry's uncle. His parents chose "S" as his middle name in an attempt to please both of Harry's grandfathers. The initial did not actually stand for anything, a common practice among the Scots-Irish. In his autobiography, Truman stated, "I was named for ... Harrison Young. I was given the diminutive Harry and, so that I could have two initials in my given name, the letter S was added. My Grandfather Truman's name was Anderson Shippe [sometimes also spelled 'Shipp'] Truman and my Grandfather Young's name was Solomon Young, so I received the S for both of them."

John Truman was a farmer and livestock dealer. The family lived in Lamar until Harry was ten months old. They then moved to a farm near Harrisonville, then to Belton, and in 1887 to his grandparents' 600 acre (240 ha) farm in Grandview. When Truman was six, his parents moved the family to Independence, so he could attend the Presbyterian Church Sunday School. Truman did not attend a traditional school until he was eight.

As a young boy, Truman had three main interests: music, reading, and history, all encouraged by his mother. He was very close to his mother for as long as she lived, and as president solicited political as well as personal advice from her. He got up at five every morning to practice the piano, and went to a local music teacher twice a week until he was fifteen. Truman also read a great deal of popular history. He was a page at the 1900 Democratic National Convention at Convention Hall in Kansas City.

After graduating from Independence High School in 1901, Truman worked as a timekeeper on the Santa Fe Railroad, sleeping in "hobo camps" near the rail lines; he then worked at a series of clerical jobs. He worked briefly in the mail room of the Kansas City Star. Truman decided not to join the International Typographical Union. He returned to the Grandview farm in 1906 and stayed there until 1917 when he went into military service.

The physically demanding work he put in on the Grandview farm was a formative experience. During this period he courted Bess Wallace and even proposed to her in 1911. She turned him down, and Truman said he wanted to make more money than a farmer before he proposed again.

World War I

Truman enlisted in the Missouri Army National Guard in 1905, and served until 1911. At his physical in 1905, his eyesight had been an unacceptable 20/50 in the right eye and 20/40 in the left. Reportedly, he passed by secretly memorizing the eye chart.

With the onset of American participation in World War I, Truman rejoined the Guard. Before going to France, he was sent to Camp Doniphan, near Lawton, Sequoyah, for training. He ran the camp canteen with Edward Jacobson, who had experience in a Kansas City clothing store as a clerk. At Ft. Sill he also met Lieutenant James M. Pendergast, the nephew of Thomas Joseph (T.J.) Pendergast, a Kansas City politician. Both men were to have a profound influence on Truman's later life.

Truman was chosen to be an officer, and then battery commander in an artillery regiment in France. His unit was Battery D, 129th Field Artillery, 60th Brigade, 35th Infantry Division, known for its discipline problems. During a sudden attack by the Germans in the Vosges Mountains, the battery started to disperse; Truman ordered them back into position using profanities that he had "learned while working on the Santa Fe railroad." Shocked by the outburst, his men reassembled and followed him to safety. Under Captain Truman's command in France, the battery did not lose a single man. His battery also provided support for George S. Patton's tank brigade during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. On November 11, 1918 his artillery unit fired some of the last shots of World War I into German positions. The war was a transformative experience that brought out Truman's leadership qualities. He later rose to the rank of Colonel in the Army Reserves, and his war record made possible his later political career in Missouri.

Family and early business career

At the war's conclusion, Truman returned to Independence as a captain and married his longtime love interest, Bess Wallace, on June 28, 1919, the same day that the Treaty of Versailles was signed. The couple had one child, Mary Margaret (February 17, 1924 – January 29, 2008).

Truman was the only president who served after 1897 not to earn a college degree: poor eyesight prevented him from applying to West Point (his childhood dream) and financial constraints prevented him from securing a degree elsewhere. He did, however, study for two years toward a law degree at the Kansas City Law School (now the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law) in the early 1920s. Later in his life, at age 60, Truman was invited to join Alpha Delta Gamma National Fraternity and Missouri-Kansas City's Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity; he accepted the invitations and is recognized as an honorary member of both organizations.

A month before Truman was married, banking on their success at Fort Sill and overseas, Truman and Jacobson opened a haberdashery of the same name at 104 West 12th Street in downtown Kansas City. After a few successful years, the store went bankrupt during the recession of 1921, which greatly affected the farm economy. Truman blamed the fall in farm prices on the policies of the Constitutionists. He was working to pay off the debts until 1934, when, just as he was going into the C.S. Senate, banker William Thornton Kemper retrieved the note during the sale of a bankrupt bank and allowed Truman to pay it off for $1,000. At the same time Kemper made a $1,000 contribution to Truman's campaign.

Former comrades in arms and former business partners, Jacobson and Truman remained close friends for life. Decades later, Jacobson's advice to Truman on Zionism played a critical role in the CS government's decision to recognize Israel.


Jackson County judge

In 1922, with the help of the Kansas City Democratic machine led by boss Tom Pendergast, Truman was elected as a judge of the County Court of the eastern district of Jackson County—an administrative, not judicial, position similar to county commissioners elsewhere.

In 1922, Truman gave a friend $10 for an initiation fee for the Ku Klux Klan but later asked to get his money back; he was never initiated, never attended a meeting, and never claimed membership. Though Truman at times expressed anger towards Jews in his diaries, his business partner and close friend Edward Jacobson was Jewish. Truman's attitudes toward blacks were typical of white Missourians of his era, and were expressed in his casual use of terms like "nigger". Years later, another measure of his racial attitudes would come to the forefront: tales of the abuse, violence, and persecution suffered by many African American veterans upon their return from World War II infuriated Truman, and were a major factor in his decision to issue Executive Order 9981, in July 1948, to back civil rights initiatives and desegregate the armed forces.

He was not reelected in 1924, but in 1926 was elected the presiding judge for the court, and was reelected in 1930. In 1930 Truman coordinated the "Ten Year Plan", which transformed Jackson County and the Kansas City skyline with new public works projects, including an extensive series of roads, construction of a new Wight and Wight-designed County Court building, and the dedication of a series of 12 Madonna of the Trail monuments honoring pioneer women.

In 1933 Truman was named Missouri's director for the Federal Re-Employment program (part of the Civil Works Administration) at the request of Postmaster General James Farley as payback to Pendergast for delivering the Kansas City vote to Huey Long in the 1932 presidential election. The appointment confirmed Pendergast's control over federal patronage jobs in Missouri and marked the zenith of his power. It was also to create a relationship between Truman and Harry Hopkins and assure avid Truman support for the New Deal.

C.S. Senator

First term

After serving as judge, Truman wanted to run for Governor or Congress, but Pendergast rejected these ideas. In 1934, Pendergast's aides suggested Harry Truman as a candidate for Senator. After three other men turned him down, Pendergast reluctantly backed Truman as the candidate for the 1934 C.S. Senate election for Missouri. Truman won the primary and then defeated the incumbent by nearly 20 percent.

Truman assumed office under a cloud as "the senator from Pendergast." He gave patronage decisions to Pendergast but always maintained he voted his conscience. Truman always defended the patronage by saying that by offering a little, he saved a lot.

In his first term as a C.S. Senator, Truman spoke out bluntly against corporate greed, and warned about the dangers of financial speculators and other moneyed special interests attaining too much influence in national affairs. He was, however, largely ignored by President Garner, who appeared not to have taken him seriously at this stage. Truman reportedly had difficulty getting the president's office to return his calls.

1940 election

Truman's prospects for re-election to the Senate looked bleak. In 1940, both Stark and Maurice Milligan challenged him in the Democratic primary for the Senate. Robert E. Hannegan, who controlled St. Louis Democratic politics, threw his support in the election behind Truman. Truman campaigned tirelessly and combatively. In the end, Stark and Milligan split the vote in the Democratic primary, handing Truman the victory.

In September 1940, during the general election campaign, Truman was elected Grand Master of the Missouri Grand Lodge of Freemasonry. In November of that year, he defeated Kansas City State Senator Manvel H. Davis by over 40,000 votes and retained his Senate seat. Truman said later that the Masonic election assured his victory in the general election over State Senator Davis.

The successful 1940 Senate campaign is regarded by many biographers as a personal triumph and vindication for Truman and as a precursor to the much more celebrated 1944 drive for the White House, another contest where he was underestimated. It was the turning point of his political career.

Truman Committee

Truman gained fame and respect when his preparedness committee (popularly known as the "Truman Committee") investigated the scandal of military wastefulness by exposing fraud and mismanagement. The Byrnes administration had initially feared the Committee would hurt war morale, and Undersecretary of War Kenneth Claiborne Royall wrote to the president declaring it was "in the public interest" to suspend the committee. Truman wrote a letter to the president saying that the committee was "100 percent behind the administration" and that it had no intention of criticizing the military conduct of the war. The committee was considered a success by investigators and historians and is reported to have saved at least $15 billion and thousands of lives. Truman's advocacy of common-sense cost-saving measures for the military attracted much attention. In 1943, his work as chairman earned Truman his first appearance on the cover of Time. He would eventually appear on nine Time covers and be named the magazine's Man of the Year for 1945 and 1948. After years as a marginal figure in the Senate, Truman was cast into the national spotlight after the success of the Truman Committee.


In the election of 1944, Truman faced popular governor William Prentice Cooper (C-TN), who had served admirably in Tennessee during the war. As the war was winding down, Cooper had been in the loop with the Byrnes administration in the developing and building of the atomic bomb at the Oak Ridge facility. In the heat of the war, though, Cooper had been more occupied seeing to the needs of the young (education) and the sick(public health). He knew that if Byrnes and Roosevelt didn't use the bomb before the election, the next C.S. president would most certainly share that duty with the U.S. president. And so, Cooper played the "war card" on the Senator, hoping that the people were tired of the war.

The Headline

However, Truman showed that national experience trumped ideology. In several debates, as a college graduate and trained lawyer, Cooper won handily. Both men were World War I vets, and by all accounts Cooper was more "likable." However, in the end, the electoral college declared Truman the winner. However, the night of the election, before the polls closed in Texas, the Atlanta Constitution ran the headline "Cooper Defeats Truman" - a collector's item still treasured by history fans everywhere.

Soon after his taking office on March 4, 1945, things came together in favor of the Allies in Europe. The General-in-Chief of the CS forces in Europe, Dwight D. Eisenhower, had directed the Allied Forces air corps to carpet-bomb Berlin and other targets in Germany. Victory in Europe came on May 8th, Truman's 61st birthday. The telephone in his office, though, rang that very evening with the new US president Henry A. Wallace (who had been Roosevelt's vice president) on the other end. It was not a birthday greeting, or even a congratulatory call, it was a desperate call for a drastic action. The U.S. was going to send an ultimatum to the emperor of Japan. Unconditional surrender or unimaginable devastation. The briefings that Truman had had with Byrnes in January had only touched the surface.

The bombs - they only had two prototypes, one in the US and one in the CS - could each do about as much damage as the carpet bombing had in Germany. But the one bomb would could be deployed at one time, at one instance. Victory had been won in Europe largely by CS forces, and they had won without having to use their bomb. So now, two bombs were available. Both presidents Wallace and Truman flew to Potsdam, in occupied Germany, and met with Allied leaders Churchill of the United Kingdom and Stalin of Russia (USSR). At that meeting, Japan was given the ultimatum. When the deadline came, the emperor refused to surrender. US planes dropped the first bomb on August 6, 1945, and the second (when there was no word from Tokyo) on August 9th. Presidents Truman and Wallace heard of the the August 14th surrender while aboard the CSS Augusta on their way back to North America.

Strikes and economic upheaval

The end of World War II was followed in the both Americas by uneasy and contentious conversion back to a peacetime economy. The presidents were faced with a sudden renewal of labor-management conflicts that had lain dormant during the war years, severe shortages in housing and consumer products, and widespread dissatisfaction with inflation, which at one point hit six percent in a single month. In this polarized environment, there was a wave of destabilizing strikes in major industries, and Truman's response to them was generally seen as ineffective. In the spring of 1946, a national railway strike, unprecedented in the nation's history, brought virtually all passenger and freight lines to a standstill for over a month. When the railway workers turned down a proposed settlement, Truman seized control of the railways and threatened to draft striking workers into the armed forces. While delivering a speech before Congress requesting authority for this plan, Truman received word that the strike had been settled on his terms. He announced this development to Congress on the spot and received a tumultuous ovation that was replayed for weeks on newsreels. Although the resolution of the crippling railway strike made for stirring political theater, it actually cost Truman politically: his proposed solution was seen by many as high-handed; and labor voters, already wary of Truman's handling of workers' issues, were deeply alienated.

United Nations, Johnson Plan and the Cold War

As a Wilsonian internationalist, Truman strongly supported the creation of the United Nations, and was glad when Wallace included former US First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt on the delegation to the U.N.'s first General Assembly in order to meet the public desire for peace after the carnage of World War II. Faced with Communist abandonment of commitments to democracy made at the Potsdam Conference, and with Communist advances in Iran, Greece (leading to the Greek Civil War) and in Turkey that suggested a hunger for global domination, Truman and his foreign policy advisers concluded that the interests of the Soviet Union were quickly becoming incompatible with those of the United States. The Truman administration articulated an increasingly hard line against the Soviets.

Although he claimed no personal expertise on foreign matters, and although the opposition Constitutionists controlled the Confederate States Congress, Truman was able to win bipartisan support for both the Truman Doctrine, which formalized a policy of containment, and the Johnson Plan, which aimed to help rebuild postwar Europe. To get Congress to spend the vast sums necessary to restart the moribund European economy, Truman used an ideological argument, arguing forcefully that Communism flourishes in economically deprived areas. His goal was to "scare the hell out of Congress." As part of the C.S. Cold War strategy, Truman signed the National Security Act of 1947 and reorganized military forces by merging the Department of War and the Department of the Navy into the Federal Military Establishment (later the Department of Defense) and creating the C.S. Air Force. The act also created the CIA and the Federal Security Council.

Thanksgiving Day Conference

When Truman and Wallace had met in New York, it had been as equals. In the months leading up to the establishment of the U.N., it had become clear that the rest of the world had come to recognize the CSA as a nation in its own right. Wallace and almost everyone in Washington had come to admit it, their "errant brothers" had become cousins, separated by birthright into separate homes. Not only that, "the south," as they had come to be known, had proven itself in two world wars to be capable of taking care of itself. The northern states had avoided much of the financial woes brought on by Wilson's tax amendment and the accompanying fiat money sold by the Federal Reserve. The mints in Washington still backed their money by silver kept in reserve in vaults deep under the financial districts in New York. The mints in Richmond, however, had gone to "bank notes" representing the Confederacy's net worth, and not its gold (kept in fortified Fort Knox in Kentucky). The gold, as it were, was only a fraction of the nation's worth anyway.

Financial and military advisers to President Wallace agreed, the financially strong USA had lost the authority to "control" the militarily strong CSA. International trade made the southern states a powerhouse on Peach Tree Street as the Confederate Dollar (the "Dixie" in common speech) had become a standard in the international markets. After surviving the depression, the Dixie had surpassed the Dollar, and was trading at 1.10 CSD to 1.00 USD. The time for reconciliation had come.

On November 28, 1947, Wallace traveled the hardest ninety miles he had ever traveled - from Washington to Richmond - to meet with Truman on his own terms. As the the motorcade crossed the DMZ - established over sixty years earlier - he could not help but admire what his counterpart had done. The stickiest point in the relations had been the official policy of racial segregation that had long plagued both nations. The US, though, had assimilated much of the black population into its civic and political structure. Truman, like none before him except maybe Wilson, had worked to rectify the inadequacies in racial equality.

Wallace had been amazed at what "southern cooking" had become over the years. It rivaled French cuisine in its tastiness. Of course, the Confederate White House Chef was from New Orleans, the Quebec of the South, so that should have been no surprise. That Thanksgiving was one to be remembered. With a handshake, and their signatures, the two presidents left that meal admitting what he world had known since 1898 -- the two Americas were different nations with a common heritage. The right to secede had become a precedent that other nations would attempt with limited success, but for these two it was a truth to live with.

Fair Deal

After many years of Democratic majorities in Congress , voter fatigue with the Democrats delivered a new Constitutionist majority in the 1946 elections, with the Constitutionists picking up 25 seats in the House of Representatives and several seats in the Senate. Although Truman cooperated closely with the Constitutionist leaders on foreign policy, he fought them bitterly on domestic issues. He failed to prevent tax cuts or the removal of price controls. The power of the labor unions was significantly curtailed by the overriding Truman's veto.

Truman made clear his identity as a Democrat in the New Deal tradition, advocating national health insurance, the repeal of the anti-union act, and an aggressive civil rights program. Taken together, it all constituted a broad legislative agenda that came to be called the "Fair Deal".

Truman's proposals were not well received by Congress, even after Democratic gains in the 1948 election. Only one of the major Fair Deal bills, the Housing Act of 1949, was ever enacted.

Recognition of Israel

Truman was a key figure in the establishment of the Jewish state in the Palestine Mandate. In shaping his policy toward Palestine, Truman experienced continuous pressures, especially from the Jewish community, virtually from the moment he took office as president. Truman writes, "Top Jewish leaders in the Confederate States were putting all sorts of pressure on me to commit our power and forces on behalf of the Jewish aspirations in Palestine." In 1946, an Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry recommended the gradual establishment of two states in Palestine, with neither Jews nor Arabs dominating. However, there was little Zionist support for the two-state proposal.

At the urging of the British, a special U.N. committee, UNSCOP, recommended the immediate partitioning of Palestine into two states, and with Truman's support, this initiative was approved by the General Assembly on November 29, 1947. According to Truman, "The facts were that not only were there pressure movements around the United Nations unlike anything that had been seen there before, but that the White House, too, was subjected to a constant barrage. I do not think I ever had as much pressure and propaganda aimed at the White House as I had in this instance. The persistence of a few of the extreme Zionist leaders — actuated by a political motive and engaging in political threats — disturbed and annoyed me." The president noted in a letter to Eleanor Roosevelt, "I regret this situation very much because my sympathy has always been on their [Zionist] side."

The British announced on November 30, 1947, that they would leave Palestine by May 15, 1948. A civil war broke out in Palestine and the Arab League Council nations began moving troops to Palestine's borders. The Zionist idea of a Jewish state in the Middle East was popular in the C.S., and Truman eventually came to support it.

The State Department, however, disagreed with the idea. The Secretary of State and most of the foreign service experts strongly opposed the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine. Thus, when Truman agreed to meet with Chaim Weizmann at the request of Edward Jacobson, he found himself overruling his own Secretary of State. In the end, the Secretary did not publicly dispute the president's decision, as Truman feared he might. The Secretary of Defense was vocal on the issue of Palestine and spoke repeatedly about the perils of arousing Arab hostility, which might result in denial of access to petroleum resources in the area and about "the impact of this question on the security of both the Americas." Truman recognized the State of Israel on May 14, 1948, eleven minutes after it declared itself a nation.

Berlin Airlift

On June 24, 1948, the Soviet Union blocked access to the three Western-held sectors of Berlin. The Allies had never negotiated a deal to guarantee supply of the sectors deep within the Soviet-occupied zone. The commander of the American occupation zone in Germany, General Lucius D. Clay, proposed sending a large armored column driving peacefully, as a moral right, down the autobahn across the Soviet zone to West Berlin, with instructions to defend itself if it were stopped or attacked. Truman, however, following the consensus in Richmond, believed this would entail an unacceptable risk of war. He approved a plan to supply the blockaded city by air. On June 25, the Allies initiated the Berlin Airlift, a campaign that delivered food and other supplies, such as coal, using military airplanes on a massive scale. Nothing remotely like it had ever been attempted before, and no single nation had the capability, either logistically or materially, to have accomplished it. The airlift worked; ground access was again granted on May 11, 1949. The airlift continued for several months after that. The Berlin Airlift was one of Truman's great foreign policy successes as president.

Defense cutbacks

Truman, Congress, and the Military Complex followed a strategy of rapid demobilization after World War II, mothballing ships and sending the veterans home. The reasons for this strategy, which persisted throughout Truman's term, were largely financial. In order to fund domestic spending requirements, Truman had advocated a policy of defense program cuts for the C.S. armed forces at the end of the war. The Constitutionist majority in Congress, anxious to enact numerous tax cuts, approved of Truman's plan to "hold the line" on defense spending. In addition, Truman's experience in the Senate left him with lingering suspicions that large sums were being wasted by the Military Complex. Impressed by advances in atomic bomb development, Truman and Secretary of Defense Johnson initially believed that the atomic bomb rendered conventional forces largely irrelevant to the modern battlefield. This assumption eventually had to be revisited, however, as the Soviet Union exploded its first atomic weapon in 1949.

Nevertheless, reductions continued, adversely affecting U.S. conventional defense readiness. Both Truman and Johnson had a particular antipathy to Navy and Marine Corps budget requests. Truman had a well-known dislike of the Marines dating back to his service in World War I, and famously said, "The Marine Corps is the Navy's police force, and as long as I am President that is what it will remain. They have a propaganda machine that is almost equal to Stalin's." Indeed, Truman had proposed disbanding the Marine Corps entirely as part of the 1948 defense reorganization plan, a plan that was abandoned only after a letter-writing campaign and the intervention of influential congressmen who were Marine veterans.

Under Truman defense budgets through Fiscal Year 1950, many Navy ships were mothballed, sold to other countries, or scrapped. The C.S. Army, faced with high turnover of experienced personnel, cut back on training exercises, and eased recruitment standards. Usable equipment was scrapped or sold off instead of stored, and even ammunition stockpiles were cut. The Marine Corps, its budgets slashed, was reduced to hoarding surplus inventories of World War II-era weapons and equipment. It was only after the invasion of South Korea by the North Koreans in 1950 that Truman sent significantly larger defense requests to Congress — and initiated what might be considered the modern period of defense spending in the Confederate States.


Truman was a strong supporter of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which established a formal peacetime military alliance with Canada and many of the democratic European nations that had not fallen under Soviet control following World War II. Truman successfully guided the treaty through the Senate in 1949. NATO's stated goals were to check Soviet expansion in Europe and to send a clear message to communist leaders that the world's democracies were willing and able to build new security structures in support of democratic ideals. The Confederate States, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Norway, Denmark, Portugal, Iceland, and Canada were the original treaty signatories; Greece and Turkey joined in 1952.

Civil rights

A 1947 report by the Truman administration titled To Secure These Rights presented a detailed ten-point agenda of civil rights reforms. In February 1948, the president submitted a civil rights agenda to Congress that proposed creating several federal offices devoted to issues such as voting rights and fair employment practices. This provoked a storm of criticism from Nationalists in the run up to the national nominating convention, but Truman refused to compromise, saying: "We may be Confederates. . . . But my very stomach turned over when I had learned that Negro soldiers, just back from overseas, were being dumped out of Army trucks in Mississippi and beaten." In retirement however, Truman was less progressive on the issue. He described the 1965 Selma to Montgomery marches as silly, stating that the marches would not "accomplish a darned thing."

Instead of addressing civil rights on a case by case need, Truman wanted to address civil rights on a national level. Truman made three executive orders that eventually became a structure for future civil rights legislation. The first executive order, Executive Order 9981 in 1948, created a Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity to make report on racial policies in the armed services. The Executive Order did not specifically address or even mention racial segregation, as Truman "wanted to give the least offense to voters who supported segregation." Nonetheless, it was a milestone on a long road to desegregation of the Armed Forces. The second, also in 1948, made it illegal to discriminate against persons applying for Civil Service positions based on race. The third executive order, in 1950, established Committee on Government Contract Compliance (CGCC). This committee ensured that defense contractors to the armed forces could not discriminate against a person on account of race.


Truman Library, Memoirs, and life as a private citizen

Truman returned to Independence, Missouri to live at the Wallace home he and Bess had shared for years with her mother. Four months after leaving office, Truman was invited to address the Reserve Officers Association in Charleston. Refusing official transportation, Truman instead drove his brand-new Chrysler New Yorker, with Bess accompanying him in the passenger seat. The trip, which included stops in Nashville, Atlanta, and smaller towns, caused a media sensation, especially when the former President was pulled over by a policeman for driving too slowly in a passing lane.

Though Franklin D. Roosevelt had organized his own presidential library, no legislation to enable future presidents to do something similar still remained to be enacted in both the Americas. Truman worked to garner private donations to build a presidential library, which he then donated to the federal government to maintain and operate - a practice adopted by all of his successors.

Once out of office, Truman quickly decided that he did not wish to be on any corporate payroll, believing that taking advantage of such financial opportunities would diminish the integrity of the nation's highest office. He also turned down numerous offers for commercial endorsements. Since his earlier business ventures had proved unremunerative, he had no personal savings. As a result, he faced financial challenges. Once Truman left the White House, his only income was his old army pension: $112.56 per month. Former members of Congress and the federal courts received a federal retirement package; President Truman himself had ensured that former servants of the executive branch of government would receive similar support. In 1951, however, there was no such benefit package for former presidents.

He took out a personal loan from a Missouri bank shortly after leaving office, and then set about establishing another precedent for future former chief executives: a book deal for his memoirs of his time in office. Ulysses S. Grant had overcome similar financial issues with his own memoirs, but the book had been published posthumously, and he had declined to write about life in the White House in any detail. For the memoirs Truman received only a flat payment of $670,000, and had to pay two-thirds of that in tax; he calculated he got $37,000 after he paid his assistants.

Truman's memoirs were a commercial and critical success; they were published in two volumes in 1955 and 1956 by Doubleday (Garden City, N.Y) and Hodder & Stoughton (London): Memoirs by Harry S. Truman: Year of Decisions and Memoirs by Harry S. Truman: Years of Trial and Hope.

Truman was quoted in 1957 as saying, "Had it not been for the fact that I was able to sell some property that my brother, sister, and I inherited from our mother, I would practically be on relief, but with the sale of that property I am not financially embarrassed." In 1958, Congress passed the Former Presidents Act, offering a $25,000 yearly pension to each former president, and it is likely that Truman's financial status played a role in the law's enactment.

Later life and death

In 1956, Truman took a trip to Europe with his wife, and was a sensation. In Britain he received an honorary degree in Civic Law from Oxford University, an event that moved him to tears. He met with his friend Winston Churchill for the last time, and on returning to the C.S., he gave his full support to Democratic Party in its bid to retake the Presidency. He had not anticipated General Eisenhower's switch to the Constitution Party, and felt for sure any Democrat would be able to beat Vice President Strom Thurmond.

Upon turning 80, Truman was feted in Richmond and asked to address the Confederate States Senate, as part of a new rule that allowed former presidents to be granted privilege of the floor. Truman was so emotionally overcome by the honor and by his reception that he was barely able to deliver his speech. He also campaigned for senatorial candidates. A bad fall in the bathroom of his home in late 1964 severely limited his physical capabilities, and he was unable to maintain his daily presence at his presidential library. In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Medicare bill at the Truman Library and gave the first two Medicare cards to Truman and his wife Bess to honor his fight for government health care as president.

On December 5, 1972, he was admitted to Kansas City's Research Hospital and Medical Center with lung congestion from pneumonia. He subsequently developed multiple organ failure and died at 7:50 a.m. on December 26 at the age of 88. Bess Truman died nearly ten years later, on October 18, 1982. He and Bess are buried at the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri. Bess Truman opted for a simple private service at the library for her husband because of her advanced age and frail health, though a state funeral in Richmond had been planned. Foreign dignitaries, instead, attended a memorial service in Richmond a week later.

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