Presidential Debate Truman Vs FDR 1 In this paper you are about to read, I am going to convince you that Harry S. Truman would have been a much better choice for the 32nd President of the United States then Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR). Who was Harry S. Truman? First of all, you’re probably wondering why I did not include his full middle name in the opening paragraph. Well, believe it or not the “S” initial did not actually stand for anything, which was a common practice among the Irish at the time.
His parents chose “S” as his “middle name” in an attempt to please both of Harry’s grandfathers, Anderson Shipp Truman and Solomon Young. Anyway, He was born on a simple farm but was an avid reader with a thirst for knowledge. He had a love of history and politics and even studied law for several years. Harry served in the war, where his leadership skills were already evident as a Field Artillery Commander. Eventually he came to represent the Democratic Party. Truman was elected a judge of the Jackson County Court (an administrative position) in 1922. He became a Senator in 1934.
During World War II he headed the Senate War Investigating Committee, checking into waste and corruption and saving perhaps as much as 15 billion dollars. Truman had been Vice President for only 82 days when he had to step up as President due to Franklin Roosevelt’s death on April 12, 1945. Little did he know that after his time in office, he would be considered one of the greatest presidents in the history of the United States of America. When Harry Truman became President, he took office under FDR’s shadow, and the American citizens hoped he could be the next “legendary” leader.
Unfortunately for Truman, he had had very little communication with Roosevelt about world affairs or domestic politics and was uninformed about major initiatives relating to the war and the top secret Manhattan Project, which was about to test the world’s first atomic bomb. Faced with difficult decisions early on, Truman quoted, “I felt like the moon, the stars, and all the planets had fallen on me. ” The U. S. and other nations were fearful at the time that Nazi Germany was creating nuclear weapons for warfare.
However, the United States decided to use its atomic weapon against Japan because it refused to agree to the terms of surrender offered in the Potsdam Declaration set up by the United States, United Kingdom and China. On August 6, 1945, the U. S. dropped its first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. Three days later, a second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. Japan surrendered five days later. Truman said that this move was necessary to insure victory over Japan, and he really had no other viable options. Truman himself is quoted as saying, “ I did what I needed to do to stop the war and I would do it again if necessary”.
President Truman had hoped that the dropping of two atomic bombs on Japan would force other countries to do away with their nuclear weapons programs. Unfortunately, this did not happen. However, Truman attempted to make nuclear peace worldwide, so no other country 2 would have to endure the deadly force of nuclear bombs. President Truman’s decision to “drop the bomb” did save hundreds of thousands of lives that could have been lost in a potential invasion of mainland Japan-lives that were needed to continue in the war effort! With the end of the war came the ultimate challenge of getting the United States back on its feet in the aftermath.
There was a major railway strike in 1946 that was unprecedented in the nation’s history, that meant virtually all passenger and freight lines went to a standstill for over a month. That strike threatened the entire infrastructure of the nation. Goods were not reaching their destinations and passengers had a difficult time traveling from one town to another. When the railway workers turned down a proposed settlement, President Truman seized control of the railways and threatened to draft striking workers into the armed military. Soon after that, the strikers agreed to a settlement.
Although, many felt that President Truman’s threat was out of line and created a rift between him and labor workers, he got the job done and made sure the railways continued to operate for US citizens, keeping the economy moving! In 1947, President Truman started to get involved in foreign affairs. Although he claimed no personal expertise on foreign matters, on March 12, 1947, he called for immediate economic and military aid to both Greece, which was threatened by a communist insurrection, and to Turkey, which was under pressure from Soviet expansion in the Mediterranean. Engaged in the Cold War with the Soviet Union, the U.
S. sought to protect those countries from falling under Soviet influence after Britain announced that it could no longer give them aid. In response to Truman’s message, Congress appropriated $400 million in aid. This became the famous Truman Doctrine. President Truman may have been born with poor eye-sight, but he had great vision! This is evident in his creation of the Marshall Plan, (which went from 1947–1951) also called the European Recovery Program, which aimed to help rebuild postwar Europe. This was a large-scale economic American program of cash grants to Europe, without expected pay-back.
The goal of the United States was the rebuilding a war-devastated region, removing trade barriers, modernizing industry, and making Europe prosperous again. Thanks to President Truman, the living conditions for Europe were vastly improved and he helped eased the suffering of thousands of people in a war-torn nation. Yes, arguably, this may have been an expensive project, but he now shared a close bond with the European government, and the USA was looked upon by other countries as a generous and giving nation. President Truman once said, “A man cannot have character unless he lives with a fundamental system of morals that creates character”.
Truman was defining his own character as that of a true humanitarian. During his State of the Union address in January 1949, President Harry S. Truman unveiled plans for a legislative agenda that he termed the Fair Deal that would build upon the New Deal plans developed by his predecessor Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The primary goals of 3 Truman’s Fair Deal were to increase employment to capacity, provide assistance to farmers and extend Social Security to the nation. His Fair Deal recommended that all Americans have health insurance, that the minimum wage be increased, and that, by law, all Americans be guaranteed equal rights.
Although Truman was unable to implement the entirety of his Fair Deal reform program, a great deal of social and economic progress took place under his administration. A Census report confirmed that gains in housing, education, living standards, and income under the Truman administration were unparalleled in American history. By 1953, 62 million Americans had jobs, a gain of 11 million in seven years, while unemployment had all but vanished. Farm income, dividends, and corporate income were at all-time highs, and there had not been a failure of an insured bank in nearly nine years.
The minimum wage had also been increased while Social Security benefits had been doubled, and 8 million veterans had attended college by the end of the Truman administration. To make matters better for America later on, millions of homes had been constructed through government financing, and many people were being given loans to start up their businesses. Poverty was also significantly reduced, with one estimate suggesting that the percentage of Americans living in poverty had fallen from 33% of the population in 1949 to 28% by 1952.
Progress had also been made in civil rights, with the desegregation of both the federal civil Service and the armed forces and the creation of the Commission on Civil Rights. In fact, according to one reliable historian source, Truman had “Done more than any President since Lincoln to awaken American conscience to the issues of civil rights”. Personally speaking, I think this New Deal Program is the most significant reason Harry Truman should have been President of the United States. This deal was very significant, as it improved American citizen’s lives during that time period, and for many years to come.
FDR’s New Deal Coalition was nowhere near as important as this one, as FDR’s New Deal Coalition started in 1932, and ended in 1968. Many political figures did not support the deal, and there were many labor disputes. Other then the atomic bomb dropping in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the New Deal Program is what he will be most remembered for in American History. President Truman saw his popularity rise and fall during his days as president. His public approval rating early in 1948, an election year, was a dismal thirty six percent. Many people, including members of his own Democratic Party, believed re-election was nearly impossible.
In fact, there was an effort to try to get Democrats to abandon President Truman and instead go with war hero, General Dwight D. Eisenhower. However, Eisenhower wasn’t interested in the proposal at the time. The United States presidential election of 1948 is considered by most historians as the greatest election upset in American history. Virtually every prediction indicated that President Harry S. Truman would be defeated by Republican Thomas E. Dewey. Truman won, overcoming a three-way split in his own party. Truman’s surprise victory was the fifth consecutive win for the Democratic Party in a presidential election.
As a result of the 1948 congressional election, 4 the Democrats would regain control of both houses of Congress. Thus, Truman’s election confirmed the Democratic Party’s status as the nation’s majority party, a status they would hold until 1952. This is another crucial victory for Truman over FDR, as he overcame adversity and somehow managed to win the election. Truman was a strong supporter of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which established a formal peacetime military alliance with Canada and many of the democratic European nations that had not fallen under Soviet control following World War II.
Truman successfully guided the treaty through the Senate in 1949 and assigned Dwight D. Eisenhower as the first commander. NATO’s goals were to contain Soviet expansion in Europe and to send a definite message to communist leaders that the world’s democracies were willing and able to build new security structures in support of democratic principles. The United States, Britain, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Norway, Denmark, Portugal, Iceland, and Canada were the original treaty signatories; Greece and Turkey joined in 1952.
Thanks to Harry Truman, the USA is part of NATO, the most common collective defense organization in the world today. On a Youtube Video that I watched, called “What Would Harry Truman Think of Obama”, President Truman stood for civil rights. This was clearly evident on his Inauguration day, where in his speech he demanded that all Washington DC hotels and restaurants serve people of all race. Back in 1949, this would have been a HUGE deal. Now fast forward 60 years later to 2009, where there is now an African – American president (Obama)! Truman appears to have layed the ground-work for this, nudging America along.
So, partly thanks to former President Truman, the United States now has an outstanding, current President who is helping to build unity within that country and perhaps throughout the world. In the book Truman (found in Indigo) written by David McCullough, a bibliography of Harry Truman’s life, one reviewer said, “Not only an outstanding bibliography, but a great American story as well, by a master of the art, it’s about how modern America was made. It is also about character and leadership in a time that needed both. (Daniel Yergin, author The Prize:
The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power) Before I conclude, I want to throw a few reasons out there why Franklin Roosevelt did not deserve to be President. In regard to the New Deal he created, the problem with it was that it gave too much power to the government. They were in charge of the economy and large industrial companies. This in turn could lead to a dictatorship where the liberties of individuals would be taken away. Programs favored whites over the African Americans. There was discrimination and unwarranted job firings. Harry Truman tried to get rid of discrimination, and FDR only made it worse!
Are you familiar with FDR’s infamous “court-packing” plan, which would have allowed him to appoint new justices and to remake the Supreme Court according to his will, showing his basic contempt for constitutional processes? Oh, I almost forgot. He was also partly responsible for Japanese internment camps during World War II. Over 100,000 5 Japanese-Americans were forced to do labor in harsh conditions in these camps. Thank you President Roosevelt! In conclusion, I firmly believe America made the wrong decision by voting Franklin Roosevelt into Presidency. Harry Truman was a significantly better candidate for the job.
From ending WW1 and saving countless American lives’, to creating thousands of jobs and bringing the Americans out of a post-war economic depression, Harry S. Truman is one the greatest Presidents in the history of the United States. Bibliography: http://www. whitehouse. gov/about/presidents/harrystruman http://www. youtube. com/watch? v=d5W6noE6wzE http://www. conservapedia. com/Harry_S. _Truman http://americanhistory. about. com/od/harrystruman/a/ff_harrytruman. htm http://bioguide. congress. gov/scripts/biodisplay. pl? index=T000387 Truman – David McCullough