Harry S. Truman

  • Issue: March 1975
  • Designer: (Photograph)
  • Stamp size: 25.7 x 40 mm
  • Plate no.: 424
  • Sheet of 15 stamps Tabs: 5
  • Printers: Government Printers
  • Method of printing: Steel engraving

Harry S. Truman, 33rd President of the United States, was born in 1884 in Lamar, Missouri. Until 1917, he ran the family farm and then saw war service in France. After demobilisation, he went into partnership with his wartime 'buddie', Eddie Jacobson, in a haberdashery business in Kansas City. He studied law in the evenings and became a judge.

In 1934, Truman was elected a Democratic senator. As chairman of the Senate committee for supervising the U.S. rearmament programme, his vigorous efforts to root out corruption among arms suppliers brought him a national reputation. When President F.D. Roosevelt stood successfully for reelection in 1944, he chose Truman as hs vice-president. Within a few months, Roosevelt was dead and on April 12, 1945 Truman became President of the U.S.

At this time, he was little known outside the U.S. World War II was not yet over and fateful decisions lay ahead on both the foreign and home fronts. The unknown and inexperienced Truman had to follow Roosevelt and take his place alongside Churchill and Stalin at the head of the Allies. Truman proved equal to the challenge and was one of the most outstanding of modern U.S. Presidents, his stature having grown with perspective. His success showed how an "ordinary man" gifted with uncommon commonsense and the ability to take bold decisions can effectively direct a nation. The popularity he attained was proved in 1948 when he stood for the first time as Presidential candidate in an election and was chosen to continue in the Presidency, despite unanimous polls and predictions that he was going to be defeated.

Truman's first major decision was to drop the atomic bomb on Japan in order to end World War II as speedily as possible. After the War, he sponsored the Marshall Plan for the rehabilitation of war-devastated Europe. At the same time, he developed a determined policy for the containment of Communist expansion, which included the foundation of NATO and the decision to give armed aid to Korea in 1950. He enunciated and carried out the "Truman Doctrine" which stated "Where aggression threatens the peace of the U.S., action will be taken to stop it". At home his policy of legislation (the "Fair Deal") led to important social progress in such fields as education, medicine and housing.

Truman was appalled at the fate of the victims of Nazism and described the plight of the survivors as "a challenge to Western civilisation". Already as a senator, he had stated "I am willing to help fight for a Jewish homeland in Palestine" and soon after the end of the War in Europe, he suggested to the British that they should immediately allow 100,000 Jewish survivors to enter Palestine. Although this request was turned down by the British, it was a turning-point in the struggle for the refugees and raised their hopes. Truman also initiated legislation to allow 200,000 Displaced Persons above the quota enter the U.S. and instructed General Eisenhower to do what he could to improve conditions in the European refugee camps.

Truman's desire to see Displaced Persons in Palestine was supported by she Anglo-American Commission of Enquiry of 1946 and by the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine in 1947, and his policies and attitudes constituted an important factor in the train of events leading to the U.N. partition decision of November 29, 1947. Truman firmly supported partition as a result of his conviction that it was in the best interests of the United States and the United Nations and that the way to peace in he Middle East would be enhanced by the formation of a democratic Jewish State. "World peace", he wrote in his Memoirs, "would best be served by a solution that would accord justice to the needs and wants of the Jewish people who had so long been persecuted".

During the following months he found himself in disagreement with some of his own officials, including the State Department (which was to some extent influenced by oil interests). 4n March 1948, Truman had an important meeting with Chaim Weizmann (organized at the intervention of Eddie Jacobson) at which Truman agreed to support the inclusion of the Negev in the Jewish State. When the State was declared on May 14 1948, Truman overrode the hesitations of the State Department and within eleven minutes of its establishment, he announced U.S. de facto recognition for Israel.

Truman remained a faithful friend to Israel and, while President, gave it financial and economic support. In Israel itself, his name has been perpetuated in the village of Kfar Truman (founded in 1949) and in the Harry S. Truman Centre for the Advancement of Peace on the campus of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

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Harry S. Truman