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History   >   US History – The Presidency of Harry Truman, 1945-53

Taking the Reins

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US History – The Presidency of Harry Truman, 1945-53

In this course, Professor Mark White (Queen Mary University of London) explores the presidency of Harry Truman (1945-53). In the first module, we think about Truman’s rise to power and how he became President in April 1945. In the second, we think about his attitude towards the Soviet Union, before turning in the third to his transformation of the US national security system with the launch of the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan, as well as the National Security Act 1947. In the fourth and fifth modules, we turn from foreign policy to domestic policy, thinking first about McCarthyism and the Red Scare, and then about other aspects of Truman’s domestic policy, including his response to the strike wave of 1945-46 and his Fair Deal.

Taking the Reins

In this module, we think about Truman’s life and career from his humble beginnings in Missouri to his accession to the Presidency on 12 April 1945 and his highly controversial decision, less than six months later, to drop atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In particular, we focus on: (i) Truman’s early life and political career, from his election as County Court Judge in 1924 to his selection as Franklin Roosevelt’s running-mate for the 1944 presidential election; (ii) the circumstances surrounding Roosevelt’s death, Truman’s accession to the Presidency, and the difficulties faced by Truman in succeeding one of the greatest Presidents in American history; (iii) Truman’s approach to the Soviets, especially his meeting with Vyacheslav Molotov in April 1945; and (iv) the reasons why Truman decided to drop the atomic bombs on Japan in August 1945.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

White, M. (2019, December 19). US History – The Presidency of Harry Truman, 1945-53 - Taking the Reins [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

White, M. "US History – The Presidency of Harry Truman, 1945-53 – Taking the Reins." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 19 Dec 2019,