Harry S. Truman * 1945-1953
Harry S. Truman (1884-1972)
Term of Office: 1945-1953
The Presidential Election 1948 saw Harry S. Truman and Alben W. Barkley (1877-1956) as his running mate defeat Thomas E. Dewey the Republican, J. Strom Thurmond from the States' Rights Party, Henry A. Wallace representing the Progressive Party, and once again, Norman Thomas from the Socialist Party.
Harry Truman assumed the presidency in 1945 upon the death of Franklin Roosevelt. Truman had little interaction with F.D.R. and no briefings on major national matters including the development of the Atomic Bomb. It was Truman, after consulting with his advisors, who made the decision to drop the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, thus ending the war with Japan. Truman expanded Social Security and worked toward public housing and fair employment practices. During his administration, and beginning in 1947, Western Europe received massive aid toward its economic recovery via the Marshall Plan, and in 1948, Truman recognized the newly established State of Israel. It was also during his presidency, in June 1950, that Communist North Korea invaded South Korea. The Korean Conflict, pitting American, South Korean, and United Nation forces against the North Koreans and Communist Chinese, lasted until the 1953 ceasefire.
Thomas E. Dewey's 1948 "Truman was screwy to build a porch for Dewey" button refers to the balcony which was constructed for Truman in 1948 on the south portico of the White House. Dewey's Republican running-mate in 1948 was Earl Warren (1891-1974). Earl Warren had been elected Governor of California in 1942 and served from 1943 to 1953. Warren was then appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1953 and served in that capacity until 1969. There was little in Warren's past to suggest that he was to lead one of the most actively progressive Supreme Courts in United States history. Under Chief Justice Earl Warren the Court reached a unanimous decision in the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education case overturning the 1896 "separate but equal" public education ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson. The Warren Court also supported the concept of, "one man, one vote" in a series of civil rights cases between 1962-1964.
These decisions and others resulted in a conservative backlash that led to an "Impeach Earl Warren" movement with signs and billboards across the country, including Maryland, promulgating that message. He also chaired the "Warren Commission" which was formed to investigate the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
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