Vice Presidential Spotlight: Harry S. Truman

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman and Henry Wallace in Washington D.C. November 10, 1944

A former farmer and haberdasher, World War I veteran, and successful local Missouri politician, Harry Truman won a United States Senate seat in 1934.  He enthusiastically supported the New Deal and was seen as a Roosevelt loyalist.  After winning reelection in 1940, Truman distinguished himself by chairing a respected Senate committee investigating the defense industry.  Although Truman never sought the vice presidency, Democratic Party leaders opposed Henry Wallace remaining on the 1944 ticket, and Truman was named to replace him.  When FDR died on April 12, 1945, Truman succeeded to the presidency without knowing about the atomic bomb project or what had been agreed to at Yalta.

It was Eleanor Roosevelt that informed Truman of FDR’s death.  Late in 1945, Truman appointed ER to the U.S. delegation to the United Nations, where she remained throughout Truman’s presidency.  Despite her official position, ER did not hesitate to criticize Truman for his weakness on domestic issues, and a foreign policy she believed weakened the United Nations and was too confrontational towards the Soviet Union.  She reluctantly supported Truman in the 1948 election, and they maintained a complex relationship that lasted until her death in 1962.

For more information on Harry Truman, please visit the Truman Library Website: http://www.trumanlibrary.org/