Harry S. Truman went from vice president to president in 82 days. Over the next 144 days he announced victory in Europe, dropped atomic bombs on Japan and ended World War II. But what are some of the other things that happened during his administration?
Prompted by Franklin Roosevelt's four elections to the presidency, Congress passed the 22nd Amendment on March 24, 1947, to provide for term limits. Before, it had been a tradition to limit the terms to two, but it was now apparent tradition wasn't doing the job. Term limits went into effect Feb. 27, 1951, when the 36th state ratified the amendment. A grandfather clause applied to Truman and allowed him to run for another term had he chosen to do so.
Congress passed the Presidential Succession Act of 1947. The Constitution only allowed for the vice president to take over if anything happened to the president. The Succession Act of 1792 added the president pro tempore of the Senate and then the speaker of the House to the line of succession in case something should happen to both executives. Congress changed that with the Succession Act of 1886. Members of Congress were replaced with the secretary of state, the secretary of the treasury, the secretary of war, the attorney general, the postmaster general, the secretary of the Navy and the secretary of the interior, in that order. This newest Succession Act restored members of Congress to the line of succession ahead of the secretaries but in reverse order from the Act of 1792. Today, the speaker of the House is next in line following the vice president.
The National Security Act of 1947 was passed which reorganized military forces by merging the Department of War and the Department of the Navy into the National Military Establishment. It was later changed to the Department of Defense. Truman also created the U.S. Air Force.
Against all advice, Truman recognized the state of Israel on May 14, 1948, just 11 minutes after Israel declared itself a nation.
On July 26, 1948, Truman wrote two executive orders racially integrating the U.S. Armed Services and federal agencies.
The Korean War started during Truman's administration when North Korea invaded South Korea on June 25, 1950.
It seems no administration can avoid scandal. In 1950, 166 Internal Revenue Bureau workers (now the Internal Revenue Service) resigned or were fired for taking bribes. Many of them were facing indictment. Truman submitted a reorganization plan which was passed by Congress, but the corruption was a major issue in the 1952 presidential election.
On Nov. 1, 1950, Truman survived an assassination attempt by Puerto Rican nationalists. The Trumans were living at Blair House while work was being done on the White House when the attempt was made. A police officer killed one assassin and wounded the other before he, himself, died of his wounds. The surviving assassin was found guilty and sentenced to death in 1952, but Truman intervened and commuted his sentence to life in prison.
Truman was president for almost eight years. He died on Dec. 26, 1972, in Kansas City, Missouri, at the age of 88.
Elizabeth Davis was born and raised in Cooper County and has written Historically Yours for the Boonville Daily News for more than 10 years. In celebration of Missouri's Bicentennial, she has syndicated her column statewide and encourages readers all over the Show-Me State to submit topic suggestions for future columns to [email protected]