After assuming the presidential position with the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1945, Harry S. Truman undoubtedly had a series of difficult challenges to face: managing the American economy’s shift from war-time to peace-time status, establishing international relations, and keeping unity in the country post-war. Here’s how the ‘Man of the People’ govern the nation with his different policies, some of which are still even valuable until today.
Harry S. Truman’s Domestic and Economic Policies
Coming from the Democratic Party, Harry S. Truman valued the significant role the government plays in handling the nation’s economy and providing welfare to its citizens.
Employment Act of 1946
One of the first policies he signed was the ‘Employment Act of 1946,’ which laid the responsibility for battling unemployment and maintaining price stability onto the federal government. The three-member ‘Council of Economic Advisors’ or CEA was established under the act and gave valuable insight and advice to the president about the current trends and conditions of the American economy.
Following Roosevelt’s ‘New Deal,’ Truman also created his own program regarded as the ‘Fair Deal.’ It was Truman’s liberal domestic program that aimed to have expanded social security, a national healthcare program, minimum wage increase, financial aid in education, public housing projects. Moreover, it advocated having a solid bill that would prevent religious or racial discrimination in hiring. However, almost all of the provisions were disapproved by the Congress. It was only the ‘Housing Act of 1949’ that was signed into law, which strengthened the government’s involvement in mortgage processes and raised the number of public housing projects.
Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944
While it was passed in a year before he assumed the presidency, the ‘Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944’ or popularly known as the ‘G.I. Bil” was fully implemented during Truman’s term. It gave the soldiers who returned home from World War II with numerous benefits, such as low mortgage installments, educational assistance, and other unemployment benefits. The bill was one of the most notable moves from the government, which aided war veterans to slip in back to society.
Harry Truman’s Foreign Policy
In 1947, Truman promised that the United States would aid any country resist communism in order to halt its spread. Truman’s foreign policy centered on ‘containment,’ which primary purpose was to combat the Soviet’s geopolitical proliferation amid the Cold War.
The Truman Doctrine
The entire world was in chaos after the end of World War II, resulting in political disturbances in different countries. While it’s already aware of communism through George Kennan’s “X Article” or popularly known as the ‘Long Telegram’ in 1947, the government of the United States was appalled by the idea that several countries in Asia and Europe still followed communism during the dusk of the decade. With that, the United States pledged that it would no longer be in isolation and instead have an active part in international affairs.
George Kennan, Long Telegram
In the same year, Truman issued what is known today as the Truman Doctrine. The action was triggered when the United Kingdom informed the U.S. government that it no longer had the capability to combat the uprising communism in Turkey and Greece.
The Doctrine promised that the United States would do whatever it takes, both in a military and economic standpoint, to repress the expansion of communist ideas across the globe. It was a momentous event for America as it marked the end of the international isolationism policy of the country that lasted for almost two centuries.
During Truman’s term, the foreign policy ignited a conflict in Asia, the Korean War in 1950, as the United States tried to cease the communist union of North and South Korea. The Truman Doctrine’s legacy lasted for three more decades, driving the U.S. government to intervene with other countries until the 1980s.
The Marshall Plan
After World War II, Europe was extremely devastated, and its reconstruction became one of the most crucial problems at that time. The war destroyed many infrastructures and resulted in immense food shortages in the most affected areas.
U.S. Secretary of State George C. Marshall
What the United States feared is that chaotic Europe might follow China’s action in 1949 and turn into a communist country. With that, the U.S. government enacted the European Recovery Program or the Marshall Plan (named after its proponent U.S. Secretary of State George C. Marshall.) The U.S. program aimed to stabilize the economy in Europe and help rebuild its infrastructure through a $13 billion in economic aid.
Logo used for aids delivered during the implementation of the Marshall Plan
The Marshall Plan proved to be very successful in various ways. It helped rehabilitate the European countries that accepted the program through financial and humanitarian aid, boosted the United States’ economy through the purchase of American goods, and halted a possible conversion of a continent into communism.
While he may not have Roosevelt’s charisma, stature, and public-speaking prowess, Harry S. Truman broke out of his predecessor’s shadow, through the timely and intricate policies he enacted – most of which have effects are still even felt today.