Golden Nuggets from U. S. History

The Blue Quill Series
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The Truman Doctrine and how it came into effect

Vice President Harry S Truman became the 33rd President upon the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt on April 12, 1945, as World War II still raged with both Germany and Japan.

"Give 'em hell Harry" was born on May 8, 1884, and raised on a small farm near Lamar, Missouri. He was in his thirties before starting in politics as a local judge and later held the position as Chief Judge, a largely administrative post in his county. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1935 where he served for 10 years before being selected to run as VP with FDR in 1944. Even in the Senate he was noted for his direct and blunt manner.

He was ill prepared for the presidency. A little more than five weeks after taking the oath as VP he was thrust into the highest office. He had not been told about the atomic bomb which had been in development since early in the war but by July he had reached a decision to use it. A sign on his desk pronounced his motto "The Buck Stops Here."

His selection as FDR's running mate had rankled many Democrats in both the Senate and House who felt that he had not paid his dues. They were well aware that whoever was chosen in 1944 would most likely be President. At first they held their tongues but by 1946, with the War over, they began to publicly air differences and posture for position.

Nevertheless, Truman pushed for financial support to help a devastated Europe. During 1946 a reluctant congress authorized $350,000,000 to feed the starving masses. By then, however, Russia had established control over most of Eastern Europe and had set sights on more territory. On March 12, 1947, Truman went before a joint session of congress and made a speech for an additional $400,000,000 in assistance for Greece and Turkey. In the speech he spelled out a general concept for Europe and said in part:

". . . We shall not realize our objectives, however, unless we are willing to help free peoples to maintain their free institutions and their national integrity against aggressive movements that seek to impose upon them totalitarian regimes. This is no more than a frank recognition that totalitarian regimes imposed on free peoples, by direct or indirect aggression, undermine the foundations of international peace and hence the security of the United States. . . .

". . . I would not recommend it except that the alternative is much more serious. The United States contributed $341,000,000,000 toward winning World War II. This is an investment in world freedom and world peace.

"The assistance that I am recommending for Greece and Turkey amounts to little more than 1 tenth of 1 per cent of this investment. It is only common sense that we should safeguard this investment and make sure that it was not in vain. . . ."

Again congress was reluctant and Truman soon realized that obtaining long range and continuous support for all of free Europe required long range strategy. Working with General George C. Marshall, they put together a plan under Marshall's name, "The Marshall Plan," and Truman stayed discretely in the background as Marshall went to Capitol Hill and sold the idea. Congress bought the general theme in support of war hero Marshall and, to implement the plan, Truman named him Secretary of State.

The speech of March 12, 1947, was the base line of the Truman Doctrine and The Marshall Plan was the continuation of that Doctrine.

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