In the fifty-three years since his presidency, the nation has truly had time to reflect, and Harry S. Truman has now been elevated to the pantheon of ‘great' Presidents of the United States. Hailing from humble roots in the heartland of Missouri, Truman guided the nation through some of the most pressing predicaments at the halfway mark of the twentieth century. He was handicapped from the start, taking over from the most popular president ever, one whom had been elected to an unprecedented four terms, and he also took office in 1945, in the midst of the most destructive war the world had ever seen. Between then and 1952, though, he ended World War II, completed the dream of FDR –the United Nations, and was responsible for what is possibly the greatest foreign policy achievement in U.S. History – the Marshall Plan. Truman also granted recognition to Israel for the first time ever, helped craft the NATO alliance, and successfully stood his ground against the Soviet Union in the Berlin Airlift.
[...] Throughout his life, Truman had been a man of integrity; his morals were pure, and with the exception of the usual campaign-trail sniping, never even questioned. Engaged to Bess Wallace, and serving in France in World War there were plenty of opportunities for a young man of lesser convictions to cave to his physical impulses. But not Harry Truman, who was “'one of the cleanest fellows morally' that [First Lieutenant Edgar Hinde] ‘ever saw, or knew never saw him do anything out of the way that would be questionable in the way of a moral situation you know when a man's in the Army, his morals get a pretty good test”(113). [...]
[...] Some of the choicer phrases compared Hume to an “eight ulcer man on four ulcer and threatened that when Truman met Hume, he would “need a new nose, a lot of beefsteak for black eyes, and perhaps a supporter below!”(829) Truman was forced to stand by his letter, now that it had been exposed. To his wife, he explained, had the right to be two people, the President and himself. It was Harry S. Truman who wrote the letter” (829). [...]
[...] As Clark Clifford (special counsel to the president) observed, greatest ambition Harry Truman had was to get elected in his own right” (585) the final vindication for the underestimated man. Despite his own ambition, Truman subscribed to the old-time Missouri tradition of assuming no airs. He was unquestionably modest, always respectful of his staff, and had little use for the ‘folderol' and trappings of the office of chief executive. Throughout his term, he valued the opinions of his advisors and peers as much as his own. [...]
[...] Behind the scenes, MacArthur had been pushing for an escalation of the war into China, and called for the use of nuclear weaponry on the Chinese. Truman flatly rejected such a policy, and so when MacArthur handed an ultimatum threatening nuclear strikes on the P.R.C., it was the last straw for Truman. After the fact, Republicans accused Truman of ‘playing politics' with soldiers' lives, and gave MacArthur a wild, cheering reception when he appeared before Congress. ‘MacArthur fever' died down in a matter of weeks, though, as more and more of the facts surrounding the turmoil came to light, and eventually the majority of the public realized that Truman's had been the proper course of action. [...]
[...] Unfortunately, however, this near-blind allegiance to his staff would prove to be a liability on several occasions, as the flabby, incompetent friend and military attaché to Truman, Brigadier General Harry Vaughn, was known to have used his office for favors, patronage, and other personal gain. He accepted numerous gifts of cigars, freezers, perfumes, and other luxury goods, and helped old friends and cronies gain contracts and other government favors. The rest of Truman's staff knew and recognized this, and realized Vaughn was a disaster waiting to happen. [...]
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