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Harry Truman Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Michael Gott

Mike is a veteran of the New Hampshire public school system and has worked in grades 1-12. His role has varied from primary instructor to special needs support.

Harry Truman was the 33rd President of the United States, taking office on April 12, 1945, after the death of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Harry Truman presided over the end of World War II, before working to create what he called a Fair Deal for all Americans.

Who Was Harry Truman?

Sometimes people who begin a job are unable to finish it for many different reasons. Sometimes the job left is very small, or very large. When Harry Truman became president, he had to lead US Armed Forces to victory in World War II because the president before him, Franklin Roosevelt, died in office.

Harry Truman was born in 1884 and was one of three children. He worked on his family's farm before joining the army during World War I. When the war ended, Harry Truman worked many jobs before becoming a senator in 1934.

Becoming President

For Americans, World War II began in December, 1941. Four years later, after the death of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, it would be up to Harry Truman to see American forces to victory. During World War II, the United States was fighting the Axis forces in Europe, lead by Germany, and in Asia, lead by the Japanese. Harry Truman was vice-president for only 82 days before taking the oath to become President.

Harry Truman
Harry Truman

Ending World War II

Soon after Truman became president, the German forces and allies surrendered to the US on May 8, 1945. The Japanese forces in Asia were not ready to surrender though. While Truman was vice-president, Franklin Roosevelt did not tell him about a new secret weapon he was having built. This weapon was called the atomic bomb. The atomic bomb is one of the most powerful bombs ever made. Its explosion comes from splitting the nuclei of an atom. It would be President Truman's decision whether or not to use the weapon. When the Japanese refused to surrender, President Truman decided to use the atomic bomb.

President Truman chose the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as the targets for the atomic bomb. The destruction was catastrophic; however, it did prompt the Japanese to surrender, which brought about the end of World War II. To date, no other country has used an atomic bomb against another.

The Fair Deal

With the end of World War II, President Truman focused on trying to make life better for people in America. To do this, he created a program called the Fair Deal. The purpose of the Fair Deal was to make life better for many Americans. Truman wanted to do this by improving access to doctors, making buying a house easier, protecting farmers, and helping Americans make more money. The Fair Deal also made it so anyone could get a job with the Federal government regardless of skin color. When President Truman did this in 1949, it made many people uncomfortable, but today most people know it was the right thing to do.

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