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The Truman Administration
Transcript of The Truman Administration
after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan unconditionally surrenders and accepts the provisions of the Potsdam Declaration
World War II is over, however tensions with the Soviet Union are quickly heating up.
The Truman Administration
The Truman Administration
With the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt, on April 12, 1945 Harry S. Truman is sworn in as the 33rd president of the United States.
The World Inherited by Harry Truman- Managing the End of World War II
Truman's Economic Policies
Truman's main priority as President was reconversion - transition the economy from wartime to peacetime.
He lifted the restraints on the economy and this caused the prices on consumer goods to rise almost 25%.
Wages did not keep pace & led to strikes demanding pay hikes
Severe housing shortage, with men returning home from war, the baby boom, and the influx of immigrants in the 1940's and 50's.
Truman as Vice-President
Truman, an open opponent of Communism, begins taking initiative in preventing the spread of Communism.
This policy is later coined "containment"
Truman's Foreign Policy:
The Truman Doctrine
March 12, 1947
Truman announced a pledge of aid to the governments of Greece and Turkey, which he believed were being threatened by Soviet-led Communist interests.
Truman stated it was, "the policy of the United States to support free people who are resisting attempted subjugation by arms minorities or by outside pressures."
The Doctrine was later interpreted to mean the United States would oppose the overthrow of any democratic government.
Truman requests appropriations for $400 million before a joint session of Congress to fight the spread of communism in Greece and Turkey.
Afraid of a "domino effect"
If one country falls to Communism, they all will.
Taft- Hartley Act
1946 - Republicans take Congress & in 1947 Congress passed the Taft-Hartley Act
Outlawed the closed shop- forcing business owners to hire only union members.
States could pass right-to-work law which outlawed union shops (shops in which new workers were required to join the union).
Prohibited featherbedding limiting work output in order to create more jobs.
President can declare an 80 day "cooling off period" during which strikers had to return to work.
Required union officials to sign oaths that they were not communists.
Truman vetoes & is overridden
Truman's Fair Deal
In 1949, soon after Truman was surprisingly re-elected, he presented his "Fair Deal" plan.
The Truman Fair Deal was the extension of Roosevelt's New Deal. Keep gov't active in protecting and extending economic gains
The Fair Deal included legislation designed to:
promote full employment, a higher minimum wage, greater employment compensation for workers without jobs, housing assistance for veterans, Fair Employment Practices Committee to end racial discrimination, extended Social Security benefits, price and rent controls, public housing projects, and public health insurance.
Officially known as the European Recovery Program (ERP), the Marshall Plan was intended to rebuild the economies and spirits of western Europe, primarily.
Sixteen nations, including Germany, became part of the program and shaped the assistance they required, state by state, with administrative and technical assistance provided through the Economic Cooperation Administration (ECA) of the United States.
European nations received nearly $13 billion in aid, which initially resulted in shipments of food, staples, fuel and machinery from the United States and later resulted in investment in industrial capacity in Europe.
The Marshall Plan
This becomes the policy of "Containment"
Truman pushed for quick demobilization of the military—a political necessity as the troops and their families clamored for a hasty return to civilian life—and the temporary extension of governmental economic controls.
Americans wanted "the boys home"
The 11 million man army was decreased to 2 million
While he won passage of a "full employment" bill—the Employment Act of 1946—the measure had no teeth.
Republicans and conservative southern Democrats in Congress were dead-set against many of the other proposed reforms, including:
an extension of Fair Employment Practice Commission, national health insurance, and a higher minimum wage. The public divided over the prospects of an enlarged social welfare state and continued government intervention in the economy; liberal Democrats and key constituents of the Democratic Party supported them, but many other Americans did not.
Reconversion stuttered and stalled—and Truman received the blame.
Truman's other chief economic problem was the time it took to convert from military to civilian production. Consumer goods in high demand were slow to appear on the nation's shelves and in its showrooms, frustrating Americans who desperately wanted to purchase items they had forsaken during the war. Price controls proved a particularly thorny problem.
As controls began to disappear in mid-1946, prices shot upward; the rise in the price of meat—which doubled over a two-week period in the summer—received the most attention.
The combination of high prices and scarcity angered consumers and voters, who often blamed the President.
By September of 1946, Truman's popularity rating had sunk to 32 percent.
In the congressional mid-term elections of 1946, Republicans highlighted the problems of reconversion with slogans like "Had Enough" and "To Err is Truman," winning control of both the House and Senate.
The future of Truman's presidency looked bleak as the 1948 presidential election loomed on the horizon
Fair Deal failings
Truman won passage of a moderately effective public housing and slum-clearance bill in 1949, an increase in the minimum wage that same year, and a significant expansion of Social Security.
Yet Truman had miscalculated in reading his electoral victory as a mandate to enact a liberal agenda. Most Americans wanted Truman to protect the New Deal, not enlarge it.
Truman regarded the "Fair Deal" as an opportunity to refashion the Democratic Party into an alliance of urban dwellers, small farmers, labor, and African-Americans.
Absent from this proposed coalition were white conservative Southern Democrats.
Whatever enthusiasm remained for the Fair Deal was lost, after the summer of 1950, amidst preoccupations with the Korean War.
Inflation continued to be a problem in 1947 and 1948
Food prices continued to soar.
Truman sought price controls, knowing that Congressional Republicans would oppose. Republicans passed laws for rationing, which Truman signed but thought were pitifully inadequate
Republican Senator Robert Taft's suggestion that Americans "Eat less meat, and eat less extravagantly," which Demos hyped as "Eat less."
Truman had managed to make inflation a Republican problem.
Truman's economic policy sought to balance the federal budget through a combination of high taxes and limited spending; any budget surplus would be applied to the national debt.
As the economy stalled, Truman in mid-1949 abandoned his hope for a balanced budget and gave some tax breaks to businesses.
The economy responded by perking up in 1950.
Truman's actions signaled that his primary concern was the maintenance of healthy economic growth, viewing ever-larger budget deficits as temporary expedients. It was a policy that succeeding administrations would follow repeatedly.
Seizing the Steel Industry
By the end of 1951, the nation's steel industry faced a possible shut-down as labor and management could not agree on a new contract. Government mediation failed to end the stalemate.
Truman's objectives were to avert a strike, maintain steel production, and stay on good terms with labor, an important Democratic constituency.
In April, with no agreement in sight, Truman used his executive authority to seize the steel industry; for the time being, it would be administered and overseen by the federal government.
The seized steel companies took Truman to court to overturn his action. In June 1952, the Supreme Court declared the seizure unconstitutional, dealing Truman another political set-back.
Making it his own
Truman asked FDR's cabinet to remain in place as he settled into the presidency. Yet Truman had little confidence in this group and within a year replaced many of those officials with men of his own choosing.
Truman's appointees, however, were largely undistinguished and contributed little to his presidency.
Truman, though, fearful of losing control over the policy process, acted largely as his own "chief of staff," meeting with aides, assigning tasks, and defining his administration's agenda.
Staff supporting the President
On the domestic side, most prominent =
the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA).
CEA was created to help the President formulate economic policy; liberal Democrats in Congress particularly wanted the CEA to be a preserve for progressives and liberal New Dealers.
Truman instead staffed the CEA with a mix of conservatives and liberals.
More importantly, Truman treated the CEA as a set of presidential advisers, rather than as an independent body, and made sure that it remained under his control.
GI Bill of Rights
The Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944 - the G.I. Bill
Benefits included low-cost mortgages, low-interest loans to start a business, cash payments for tuition & living expenses to attend college, high school or vocational education, as well as one year of unemployment compensation.
Available to every veteran who had been on active duty during the war years for at least ninety days and had not been dishonorably discharged; combat was not required.
By the end of the program in 1956, roughly 2.2 million veterans had used the G.I. Bill education benefits & 6.6 million used these benefits for some kind of training program
Demand for low-cost housing after World War II far exceeded supply.
The growth of suburbs was not only a result of postwar prosperity, but innovations of the single-family housing market with low interest rates and low down payments, especially for veterans.
William Levitt began a national trend with his use of mass-production techniques to construct a large "Levittown" housing development on Long Island.
Meanwhile, the suburban population swelled because of the baby boom.
Suburbs provided larger homes for larger families, security from urban living, privacy, and space for consumer goods.
Four Point program
Explained in Truman's Second Inaugural Address, this policy was not a call for economic aid--on the order of the Marshall Plan--but for the US to share its "know-how" and help nations develop with technical assistance.
"we must embark on a bold new program for making the benefits of our scientific advances and industrial progress available for the improvement and growth of underdeveloped areas... The United States is pre-eminent among nations in the development of industrial and scientific techniques. The material resources which we can afford to use for assistance of other peoples are limited. But our imponderable resources in technical knowledge are constantly growing and are inexhaustible"
Fair Employment Practices Commission (FEPC)
Implemented Executive Order requiring that companies with government contracts not discriminate on the basis of race or religion. It was intended to help African Americans and other minorities obtain jobs in the homefront industry during World War II.
But Congress had never enacted FEPC into law. In 1948, President Truman called for a permanent FEPC, anti-lynching legislation, and the abolition of the poll tax. The conservative coalition in Democratic-controlled Congress prevented this.
His unsuccessful 1948 proposal to extend FEPC was, in part, an effort to court black voters so important to the Democratic Party.
Integrating the Armed Forces:
Executive Order 9981
July 26, 1948
"1. It is hereby declared to be the policy of the President that there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion or national origin. This policy shall be put into effect as rapidly as possible, having due regard to the time required to effectuate any necessary changes without impairing efficiency or morale."
Containing Communism at home
Alger Hiss Case
On August 3, 1948, Whittaker Chambers, a former Communist Party member, testified under subpoena before the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) that Hiss had secretly been a Communist, though not a spy, while in federal service. Called before HUAC, Hiss categorically denied the charge.
During the pretrial discovery process, Chambers produced new evidence indicating that he and Hiss had been involved in espionage, which both men had previously denied under oath to HUAC.
A federal grand jury indicted Hiss on two counts of perjury.
he could not be tried for espionage because the statute of limitations had expired.
In January 1950, he was found guilty on both counts of perjury and received two concurrent five-year sentences, of which he eventually served three and a half years.
"the political practice of publicizing accusations of disloyalty or subversion with insufficient regard to evidence."
McCarthyism was coined after Senator Joseph McCarthy, who in the 1950's monopolized on the second "Red Scare" in the United States.
McCarthy burst onto the national scene several years later. In 1950, during a highly controversial speech at a Lincoln's Birthday luncheon, he waved around a list of 205 names of supposed active communists holding jobs in the State Department.
McCarthy was a relative unknown, but once he lit the fire under America's fear of communism, there seemed to be no stopping it.
McCarthy then embarked on what is often described as a "witch hunt" to root out and prosecute communists and sympathizers -- using controversial techniques and often making accusations with scant evidence.
Truman did his best to calm the hysteria, he stated publicly that "There was not a single word of truth in what the Senator said."
Before McCarthy's crusade, numerous people were convicted for espionage and other activities related to communism.
The most notorious were , the only U.S. citizens executed for espionage during the Cold War.
In 1950, the Rosenbergs, known communists, were arrested on suspicion of espionage and providing nuclear secrets to the Soviets.
It is believed that the information they provided to the Soviet Union led directly to its successful development of the atomic bomb.
They steadfastly maintained their innocence but invoked their Fifth Amendment right to avoid incriminating themselves.
The couple was convicted in 1951 and executed on June 19, 1953.
McCarran Internal Security Act
Enacted over President Truman's veto
The Act required Communist organizations to register with the United States Attorney General and established the Subversive Activities Control Board to investigate persons suspected of engaging in subversive activities or otherwise promoting the establishment of a "totalitarian dictatorship," either fascist or communist.
Members of these groups could not become citizens and in some cases were prevented from entering or leaving the country.
Citizens found in violation could lose their citizenship in five years. The Act also contained an emergency detention statute, giving the President the authority to apprehend and detain "each person as to whom there is a reasonable ground to believe that such person probably will engage in, or probably will conspire with others to engage in, acts of espionage or sabotage."
It tightened alien exclusion and deportation laws and allowed for the detention of dangerous, disloyal, or subversive persons in times of war or "internal security emergency".
The Act made picketing a federal courthouse a felony if intended to obstruct the court system or influence jurors or other trial participants.
The Election of 1948: "Give 'em hell, Harry!"
After the Democratic National Convention in which Truman claimed the nomination of a divided party—Southerners had bolted in favor of segregationist "Dixiecrat" Senator Strom Thurmond (SC)
Truman continued to run against the Republican Congress, even calling it into a special session to enact legislation. "Do-Nothing Congress"
Truman won an upset victory over his Republican opponent, Governor Thomas Dewey of New York.
Republicans were frustrated by the long rule of Democrats
The 22nd amendment limited the Presidency to only two terms consecutively.
"No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person wo has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once."
The Korean War: 1950-1953
Communist North Korea attacked South Korea; the United States and other nations under the United Nations flag fought for three years to block the aggression.
China funded the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea).
The United States intervenes and aids South Korea.
Truman described US involvement as "police action," under the protection of the United Nations
The Korean War is considered a "proxy war,"
a war instigated by a major power that does not itself become involved.
The tension was between Communist China and Russia, versus the Democratic United States.
In addition, World War II hero, General Douglas MacArthur, openly disagreed with Truman's handling of the war, which led to his ultimate downfall.
MacArthur was fired in 1951.
The end of the Korean War
The armistice, signed on July 27, 1953, established a committee of representatives from neutral countries to decide the fate of the thousands of prisoners of war on both sides.
It was eventually decided that the POWs could choose their own fate--stay where they were or return to their homelands.
A new border between North and South Korea was drawn, which gave South Korea some additional territory and demilitarized the zone between the two nations.
The war cost the lives of millions of Koreans and Chinese, as well as over 50,000 Americans. .
Many also could not understand why the United States had not expanded the war into China or used its nuclear arsenal.
As government officials were well aware, however, such actions would likely have prompted World War III.
North Atlantic Treaty (NATO) ratified
NATO, the first U.S. peacetime military alliance, reversed George Washington’s advice of 1797 to avoid permanent alliances. NATO was designed to block or contain Communist, especially Soviet, expansion in Europe.
Churchill's Iron Curtain Speech
1946 - Winston Churchill delivers his "Iron Curtain" speech
Following Stalin's attempts to spread Communism post WWII and build "buffer" states in an attempt to evade future invasions
However at the time of Churchill's speech Russia was still seen an ally of the United States by most Americans, and considered the speech to be "warmongering and unnecessary"
The "Iron Curtain" would be an imaginary line between Communism in the East and the democratic governments of the West
Soviets block railways and highways into Allied controlled areas of Berlin, making it impossible for the West to receive supplies.
The United States and Great Britain responds with airlifts of supplies
Embarrassed by their defeat, the blockade was lifted May 12, 1949, while the United States Air Force appear as heroes for saving the lives of Stalin's imprisoned people
Decision not to run in 1952
Most scholars agree that the Korean War, battles over economic mobilization, McCarthyism, and the allegations of corruption in his administration sapped his will to run for a third term. Public opinion polls, however unreliable, showed that Truman faced an uphill battle to win re-election.
Instead, Truman campaigned for Democratic nominee, Illinois governor Adlai Stevenson.
Officially named the Commission on Organization of the Executive Branch of the Government, was a body appointed by President Harry S. Truman in 1947 to recommend administrative changes in the Federal Government of the United States.
It took its nickname from former President Herbert Hoover, who was appointed by Truman to chair it.
Communist victory in China
After a struggle dating back to the 1920’s, the Chinese Communists under Mao Zedong defeated the Nationalist forces of Jiang Jieshi.
The Nationalists fled to Taiwan, establishing a government there that was recognized as the government of China by the United States and the United Nations until the Nixon administration reversed the policy and officially recognized the mainland government of Mao Zedong.
In the early 1950’s this “loss of China” was a divisive issue in U.S. domestic politics.
The Baruch Plan was a proposal by the United States government, called for an international organization to regulate atomic energy and President Truman responded by asking Undersecretary of State Dean Acheson and David E. Lilienthal to draw up a plan.
The plan proposed to:
extend between all nations the exchange of basic scientific information for peaceful ends;
implement control of nuclear power to the extent necessary to ensure its use only for peaceful purposes;
eliminate from national armaments atomic weapons and all other major weapons adaptable to mass destruction; and
establish effective safeguards by way of inspection and other means to protect complying States against the hazards of violations and evasions
Creation of the United Nations
The San Francisco Conference
On April 25, 1945, delegates of 50 nations met in San Francisco for the United Nations Conference on International Organization. The delegates drew up the 111-article Charter, which was adopted unanimously on June 25 1945 in the San Francisco Opera House.
In January 1946, the General Assembly adopts its first resolution.
Its main focus: peaceful uses of atomic energy and the elimination of atomic and other weapons of mass destruction.
UN partitions Palestine
Tensions between the Arab and Jewish population in the colonial land of Palestine was increasing, therefore the United Nations established the new nation of Israel as an attempt to relieve the tensions.
On May 14, 1948, David Ben-Gurion, the head of the Jewish Agency, proclaimed the establishment of the State of Israel.
President Truman recognized the new nation on the same day.
Organization of American States (OAS)
The Ninth International Conference of American States was held in Bogotá between March and May 1948
Led by United States Secretary of State George Marshall, a meeting which led to a pledge by members to fight communism in the western hemisphere.
The meeting also adopted the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, the world's first general human rights instrument, Bogotá considered the first defensive state in the event of war, of the Organization of American States.
Czechoslovakian coup d'etat
"Victorious February," as Communists referred to it, took place in 1948.
With Soviet support, the Communist party of Czechoslovakia took control of the government and continued to be in power for nearly four decades.
Alarmed Western Europe, and was the reason the Marshall Plan's adoption was expedited.
In October 1947, 10 members of the Hollywood film industry publicly denounced the tactics employed by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), during its probe of alleged communist influence in the American motion picture business.
These prominent screenwriters and directors, who became known as the Hollywood Ten, received jail sentences and were banned from working for the major Hollywood studios.
Their defiant stands also placed them at center stage in a national debate over the controversial anti-communist crackdown that swept through the United States in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
As the cost of living rose, workers went
on strike for better pay. Automobile, electrical, steel, and mining industries hit by worker walk-outs.
Afraid that the nation’s energy supply would be
drastically reduced, Truman forced striking miners to return to work. Truman ordered government seizure of the mines while pressuring mine-owners to grant the union most of its demands.
The President also halted a strike that shut down the nation’s railroads by threatening to draft the striking workers into the army.
Proposed expansion of Social Security benefits; raising of minimum wage; a program to ensure full employment through federal spending; public housing & slum clearance; long-range environmental and public works planning; and a system of national health insurance.
Civil Rights: bill to protect African Americans’ right to vote, abolish poll taxes & make lynching a federal crime.
All defeated by conservative Republican-controlled Congress.
In 1947, Truman was the first President to address the NAACP
Truman declared that "The only limit to an American's achievement should be his ability, his industry, and his character."
Truman had appointed a blue-ribbon civil rights commission in the wake of the failure to extend FEPC & commission produced a report titled, To Secure These Rights, a detailed and unabashed brief for civil rights legislation.
Although Truman was unable to implement his Fair Deal program, a great deal of social and economic progress took place in the late 40's & early 50's.
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.
8 million veterans had attended college by the end of the Truman administration as a result of the G.I. Bill.
Millions of homes had been financed through previous government programs, and a start was made in slum clearance. Poverty was also significantly reduced - Americans living in poverty had fallen from 33% of the population in 1949 to 28% by 1952. Incomes had risen faster than prices, which meant that real living standards were considerably higher than seven years earlier.
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.
According to one historian, Truman had “done more than any President since Lincoln to awaken American conscience to the issues of civil rights."
In 1944, President Roosevelt decided to drop Henry A. Wallace, his sitting vice president, from the Democratic ticket in the upcoming general election. Wallace's liberal political views offended party professionals and conservative Democrats whose support the President needed. After a set of complicated behind-the-scenes maneuvers orchestrated by Democratic party officials, Truman emerged as the consensus choice for the vice-presidential slot The Democratic ticket defeated Republican challengers Thomas Dewey and John Bricker by a comfortable margin in the November general election.
As vice president, Truman functioned as a "pipeline" between the White House and the Senate. Truman, however, was not a major player in the Roosevelt administration and had a superficial relationship with the President. He held the position of VP for only 82 days.
Brainstorm - what do you foresee to be the problems with demobilization?
In 1948, politics and the Berlin blockade took much time. Only in early 1949 could he go back to his domestic program of three years before. The program of 1949 contained twenty-four points and began with the words "Every segment of our population and every individual has the right to expect from our government a
." This promised development of tried-and-true New Deal themes: proposed federal control of prices, credit, commodities, exports, wages, and rents; a broadening of civil rights laws; low-cost housing; and a 75-cent minimum wage.
Truman, a New Deal Democrat, delivered a message to Congress on September 6, 1945, which laid out his vision for postwar America. He listed 21 main policy points, including a minimum wage, guaranteed employment, medical insurance, housing aid, improved benefits for war veterans, and wage and price controls.
Congressional Republicans and some Democrats had begun to view social welfare programs as unnecessary giveaways. Business people argued that price controls prevented them from earning profits. Workers wanted raises, not wage controls.
As Truman struggled to piece together a workable economic plan, strikes and shortages of consumer goods strangled the nation. More than 5,000 strikes occurred in 1946 alone. Supplies of durable goods such as washing machines and automobiles -- and even of basic commodities such as bread and meat -- grew scarce. Consumers who could afford to pay extra patronized black marketeers -- others went without. Public anger at labor unions grew. Even Truman, whose main constituency was labor, felt compelled to act. Starting in late 1945, he seized numerous businesses and forced strikers back to work by executive order. Occasionally, labor defied him.
Truman's victory over the unions failed to prevent the defeat of the Democrats in the mid-term Congressional elections of 1946. In the period just before the election, national meat shortages worsened, and weary consumers blamed the Democrats. The president tried to reassure voters by promising decontrol of prices, but Republicans won majorities in both houses of Congress and gained control of many state governorships. Passing domestic legislation became an even more distant possibility for the embattled president.
Truman moved forward on the race issue, despite overwhelming opposition. When a resurgence of lynchings convulsed the South in 1946, Truman ordered an investigation into America's racial problems. He staffed the committee with civil rights advocates, who, in their final report, called for drastic changes in civil rights policy
Full Employment Bill - represented a concerted effort to develop a broad economic policy for the country. In particular, it mandated that the federal government do everything in its authority to achieve full employment, which was established as a right guaranteed to the American people. The bill required the President to submit an annual economic report in addition to the national budget. The report, designated the Economic Report of President, must estimate the projected employment rate for the next fiscal year, and if not commensurate with the full employment rate, to mandate policies as necessary to attain it.
There was strong opposition to the wording of the bill from the business community, which feared government regulation, deficit spending and runaway inflation. Some also believed that the economy would naturally drive toward full employment levels. Others believed that accurate employment level forecasting by the government was not practical or feasible. Some were uncomfortable with an outright guarantee of employment.
The Conservative Coalition of Northern Republicans and Southern Democrats controlled Congress. The bill was pressured to take on a number of amendments that forced the removal of the guarantee of full employment and the order to engage in compensatory spending. Although the spirit of the bill carried through into the Employment Act of 1946, its metaphorical bite was gone. The final act was not so much a mandate as a set of suggestions.
The result was a bill that made the general goals full employment, full production, and stable prices. President Harry S. Truman signed the compromise bill into law on February 20, 1946.
Politics or Public Morality
African-Americans were a key constituency