Harry S. Truman (1884–1972) was the thirty-third president of the United States. A World War I veteran, Truman began his political career as a local elected official in Kansas in 1922. In 1934 he was elected as a Democrat to the US Senate, where he served until his election as vice president to Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1944. Truman was vice president for less than four months before FDR’s sudden death. On April 12, 1945, Truman was sworn in as Roosevelt’s successor. His first term as president included the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the beginnings of the Cold War, and the adoption of the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan. In 1948, Truman won re-election over Republican Thomas E. Dewey, who had expected Democratic divisions and Truman’s liberal policies to turn the election in his favor. In 1949, Truman introduced his Fair Deal domestic program and authorized the North Atlantic Treaty Organization as part of his foreign policy. In 1950, following North Korea’s breach of the 38th parallel, he sent American forces to South Korea. This was the start of the Korean War. By the time he left office in 1953, Cold War uncertainty, fears about Communism, and his support for liberal policies had made Truman an unpopular figure, but many historians today see him as a competent and honest president who led with certitude.

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