Essay: Harry S Truman

Truman was born May 8, 1884 in Lamar, Missouri, as the oldest of John Anderson Truman and Martha Ellen Young Truman. His parents chose the name Harry after his mother’s brother, Harrison Young (1846-1916). They chose “S” as his middle name in an attempt to satisfy both his grandparents Anderson Shippe Truman and Solomon Young.

John Truman was a farmer and stock dealer. The family lived in Lamar until Harry was ten months old. Then they moved to a farm near Harrisonville, then to Belton and in 1887 to his grandparents’ 240 ha farm in Grandview.

As a boy had Truman three major interests: music, reading and history, all of which was encouraged by his mother. He was up every morning at five o’clock to practice playing the piano, and went with a local music teacher twice a week until he was 15.

Truman was the only president after 1897 who had not received a college degree. Poor eyesight prevented him to enroll at West Point (what had been his dream as a child) and financial constraints prevented him from getting exam in another way. He studied, however, for two years in order to become a lawyer in Kansas City Law School in the early 1920s. Later, at 60 years old, was Truman invited to become a member of Missouri-Kansas City’s Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, which he accepted.

Truman was quickly informed of the Manhattan Project and authorized the use of atomic bombs against Japan in August 1945 after Japan rejected the Potsdam Declaration. The subsequent dropping of atomic bombs was the first and so far only case of nuclear war.

In the morning, August 6th, 1945 at. 15.08 local time threw B-29 bomber Enola Gay an atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Two days later, after not having heard anything from the Japanese government continued the US military with plans to throw a nuke more. On 9 August, Nagasaki also destroyed. Truman got the news of the bombing while he was aboard the heavy cruiser USS Augusta on the way back to the US after the Potsdam Conference. The Japanese agreed to surrender on Aug. 14.

At the Potsdam Conference had Truman cryptically said to Joseph Stalin that the US was on the way to use a new kind of weapon against the Japanese. Although it was the first time Soviet official had information about the atomic bomb, Stalin (via its spies in the US) already aware of the bomb project, and had actually heard about it long before Truman.

In the years after the bombing, the issues of Truman’s choices have become more robust. Supporters of Truman’s decision to use the bomb claim that it saved hundreds of thousands of lives that would be lost in an invasion of the Japanese mainland. Eleanor Roosevelt spoke in support of this view in 1954, saying that Truman had “taken the only decision he could” and that the use of the bombs had been necessary “to avoid huge loss of American lives.” The Revisionists, including historian Gar Alperovitz, have claimed that the use of nuclear weapons was unnecessary and fundamental immorality. Truman himself wrote later that “I knew what I did when I stopped the war … I do not regret it, and under the same circumstances I would do it again.”

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