Harry S. Truman - 33rdDemocrat - 1945 to 1953
1915 - postmaster, Grandview, Missouri
1922-4 - Jackson County, Missouri judge
1926-34 - Jackson County, Missouri presiding
1934-45 - Missouri member of the U.S. Senate
1945 - vice president of the United States
1945-53 - president of the United States
Main events during his presidency:
Dropping of atomic bombs
The "fall" of China
The National Security Act
Kennan's containment policy
Potsdam Conference (1945)
On 17 July 1945, meeting in the suburb of Berlin, the Big Three (with Prime Minister Churchill replaced halfway through by Clement Attlee and Harry Truman sitting in for the deceased Franklin Roosevelt) met to discuss the treatment and administration of Germany. Additionally, they discussed the strategy for finishing off Japan. It was decided that Germany would be sectioned off into four sections - one for each Allied country. It was during this meeting when Josef Stalin made a point of telling his democratic allies to stay out of his affairs in Eastern Europe.
International Monetary Fund (IMF)
This was a part of the original charter of the United Nations in 1945 and today, provides billions of dollars in funding to developing and defaulting countries. Its funds were offered to Greece in 2010 as the country neared financial ruin.
The government that came out of the Chinese dynastic rule in 1911, it was first headed up by Sun Yat-sen. After the death of its first ruler, western-educated Chiang Kai-shek took control of the party and worked hard to wipe out communist presence in China. At the point of Japanese entrance into Manchuria in 1931, they continued to pursue the communists as the Japanese grew stronger to the north. Once the Japanese conducted a full invasion in 1937, the KMT and communists, led by Mao Zedong, worked together to defeat the Japanese. After the Japanese defeat in 1945, the civil war continued with the communists enjoying the upper hand and taking the country completely in 1947. The remnants of the KMT escaped to Taiwan to set up its own government.
Iron Curtain speech (1946)
At Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill spoke at a graduation commencement and warned that an "iron curtain" had fallen over Europe, splitting the continent in half. The phrase would soon fall into common use to describe the, seemingly, irreversible split and the incompatibility between the communist and democratic systems. Because of these conditions, the prime minister called for an alliance of democracies to repel the communist spread.
In the aftermath of World War II, the Soviet Union kept a firm hand over the "liberated" countries of Eastern Europe. In fact, the Russians created puppet governments in most of the region and used the countries as a launching point of espionage on and a buffer against the democracies of Western Europe. These places included East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary. With the fall of the Soviet Union, many of these countries renounced communism and developed various types of democratic governments. However, the length of Soviet domination over the region hindered the growth of the former places once it was freed from communist control. Today, their biggest challenges rest in their ability to economically compete with the more established market and mixed economies of Western Europe.
National Security Act (1947)
As passed in 1947, this constituted a reorganization and streamlining of the U.S. military. It created the National Security Council, which advises the president on matters of national security and military matters. As a part of this measure, it also created the Department of Defense and its head, the Secretary of Defense. Additionally, it created the Central Intelligence Agency to coordinate intelligence relative to national security and gave the Air Force equal states to the other branches of the military. A later addendum to the act institutionalized the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Department of Defense (1947)
After World War II, the U.S. Congress created the new department headed up by civilian leadership and this coordinated the activities of all military branches. The Secretary of Defense is a member of the president's cabinet.
Robert Gates of Kansas is the current Secretary of Defense under President Barack Obama and a holdover from the Bush Administration.
Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
The former Office of Strategic Services, is responsible for intelligence gathering outside of the United States. This analyzes said information and presents it to the president, who uses the data to formulate foreign policy. It was signed into existence by President Harry S. Truman.
Truman Doctrine (1947)
In 1947, President Harry S. Truman declared his doctrine in which it would be the policy of the U.S. to fund peoples seeking to prevent the spread of communism into their country. Initially, the president's speech was designed to assist Turkey and Greece. The congressional measures and money worked. For the duration of the Cold War, the idea of containment as stated within this, would dictate American foreign policy.
In the wake of World War II, the U.S. was confronted by two major problems - one, the destruction of western Europe's economy prevented the much needed trade for the U.S. and two, the growing poverty in the same region was encouraging the growth of communist tendencies. Therefore, Secretary of State George Marshall, as part of the European Recovery Plan, loaned some $13b dollars to seventeen countries. The same offer was made to the eastern European countries and Russia but, predictably, they refused. The loans turned around the European economy and created an economic boom in the form of jobs and wealth-creation.
House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC)
Created in 1939 to seek out Nazis who had infiltrated into the United States, it took on a new directive after the Second World War - seek out communists. It first came to prominent attention with the questioning of American communist Whittaker Chambers on the issue of a State Department official who allegedly leaked information to the Soviets. One member of the committee who would later rise to national prominence was a young representative from California, Richard M. Nixon.
George Kennan and the containment policy
This policy, first espoused by President Harry S. Truman as a part of his Truman Doctrine, was created by his State Department analyst. Within the policy was the realization that the U.S. could do nothing about where communism currently was. Therefore, it was the responsibility and in the best interest of the country to keep it from spreading. The policy would serve as the U.S. stance throughout the whole of the Cold War and proved, with some notable exceptions (China and Cuba), successful.
Berlin Airlift (1948-9)
In response to a Soviet-led blockade of West Berlin, the Americans and British initiated this that flew in supplies into the besieged city for nearly a year before the Soviets retracted their forces and opened the city to resupply. The incident convinced the western democracies of the need of a military alliance - later called the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
Borne out of the Berlin airlift and in an attempt to coordinate action and response against Soviet aggression, the countries of western Europe, Canada and the U.S. formulated this. The group served as a military alliance. The Soviets responded with a like organization, the Warsaw Pact.
Fair Deal (1949)
Put forth by President Harry S. Truman (1945-1953), this was the president's 21-point program to convert the American economy from a wartime to a peacetime one. The series of programs also consisted of the Full Employment Act that was geared towards veterans returning from Europe and Asia. After winning election on his own in 1948, he announced additional measures to protect the civil rights of blacks and called for additional spending on, among others, education, public housing and assistance towards under-developing countries.
Julius and Ethel Rosenberg (1950)
They were long time members of the Communist Party when they began selling secrets to the Soviet Union regarding the construction of the atomic bomb in New Mexico. Their information came largely from Ethel's brother, a member of the U.S. Army working as a machinist on the atomic project. In 1950, all of them were arrested and while the brother received life in prison, they received the death penalty and were executed in Sing Sing Prison in 1953. The execution was carried out in the midst of an international protest for clemency. Some objections to it in the U.S. were not based on the crime but the fact that their execution would orphan two young boys. In the early 1990s, the Soviet Union's release of documentation verified their involvement in espionage.
McCarthyism (early 1950s)
He was in the Senate from 1946 until 1954 but it was a 1950 speech in Wheeling, WV that led to his erratic and unconstitutional search for communists within the U.S. government and American society. He led the charge that was echoed by many alongside of him and the many before him - seeking out the dangerous communist elements within the U.S. He enjoyed large public support until he attempted to point a finger of blame at the U.S. Army. The McCarthy-Army hearings were televised and many Americans saw the senator for what he was - a bully. His popularity dwindled significantly and was eventually censured by the Senate and then voted out of office.
Dwight D. Eisenhower - 34th Republican - 1953 to 1961
1942 - Allied Commander-in-Chief in North Africa
1943-5 - Supreme Commander of all Allied forces
1948-50 - President of Columbia University
1950-52 - Supreme Commander of NATO forces.
1953-61 - President of the United States
Main events during his presidency:
Official end to segregation
Rising civil rights crisis
Foreign issues in Viet Nam, Hungary,
Iran and Egypt
Rise of Castro in Cuba
U2 spy plane incident (Gary Powers)
This was an extension of the Truman variety in that it authorized military and economic aid to prevent the spread of communism in the Middle East.
The leader of the Soviet Union from 1953 until 1964 when he was replaced by Leonid Brezhnev. His beginning years as premier was characterized by reforming some of Josef Stalin's more brutal practices and programs. Additionally, he made moves to improve relations with the United States until the 1960 U-2 spy plane incident sent both countries in opposite diplomatic directions. He grew increasingly belligerent and hostile in the years following, highlighted with an alliance with Cuba and the placement of nuclear missiles on the island. His failure in that move and other foreign policy disasters led to his removal in 1964.
domino theory (1950s)
Devised by U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower as an addendum to President Harry S. Truman's policy of containment during the Cold War, the theory suggested that if one country was allowed to succumb to communism, neighboring countries would potentially do the same. In an effort to contain communism where it was, this possibility motivated the Americans to act in South Korea and Viet Nam.
massive retaliation (1950s)
In the Eisenhower administration, Secretary of State John F. Dulles sought a way to eliminate the countless small engagements around the world, perpetrated by the Soviet Union and costing the U.S. millions to settle. Secretary Dulles suggested that any wrong step by the Soviets would result in a massive display of nuclear weapons to end the issue once and for all. Needless to say, the frightened many people on both the American and Soviet side and had a certain draconian element to it. It created increased tensions between the two superpowers and was reversed under the Kennedy administration.
In 1950, the North Korean military stormed across this, the stated and understood border between it and South Korea. This violation resulted in the Korean War. At the conclusion of the war, the division between North and South Korea was established along this line of latitude. Along this line, the two countries would observe a demilitarize zone that would be heavily observed and regulated by soldiers of the two countries. President Bill Clinton called it the most dangerous place in the world.
An assistant to President Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Yalta Conference, he was accused of leaking information to the Soviets. While he denied any wrong doing or knowledge of anyone doing the same, he was convicted and imprisoned on charges of perjury for saying, under oath, that he had never been a member of the Communist Party.