Harry S. Truman's Popularity and Place in History.
Throughout Harry S. Truman's weeks as Vice President, he barely saw President Roosevelt, and was not informed of the development of the atomic bomb or the significant difficulties with Soviet Russia. On April 12, 1945 because of the death of FDR, these and a swarm of other wartime problems became Truman's to solve when he suddenly became President. He told reporters, "I felt like the moon, the stars, and all the planets had fallen on me." and later called his first year as President a "year of decisions." As President, Truman made some of the most crucial decisions in history. He ordered atomic bombs dropped on cities devoted to war work - Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Japanese surrender quickly followed. In June 1945 Truman witnessed the signing of the charter of the United Nations.
In his domestic policies, Truman sought to accomplish the difficult transition from a war to a peace economy without plunging the nation into recession, and he hoped to extend New Deal social programs by presenting a 21-point program, known as the Fair Deal, proposing the expansion of Social Security, a full-employment program, a permanent Fair Employment Practices Act, and public housing and slum clearance.
He was successful in achieving a healthy peacetime economy, but only a few of his social program proposals became law. Truman's presidency was marked throughout by important foreign policy initiatives as well. In 1947 as the Soviet Union pressured Turkey and, through guerrillas, threatened to take over Greece, he asked Congress to aid the two countries, enunciating the program that bears his name-the Truman Doctrine. The Marshall Plan, stimulated spectacular economic recovery in war-torn Western Europe.
In 1948, Truman won reelection. His defeat had been widely expected and often predicted, but Truman's energy in undertaking his campaign and his willingness to confront issues won a plurality of the electorate for him. His famous "Whistlestop" campaign tour through the country has passed into political folklore, as has the photograph of the beaming Truman holding up the newspaper whose headline proclaimed, "Dewey Defeats Truman." The year 1948 was Harry Truman's year. Truman began this year of triumph, however as a sorely beset man who was popular with almost nobody. Truman had polled less than a majority, and his winning margin was the smallest since 1916. Many a voter had voted for him simply as a protest. But Harry Truman's horizon was growing. General Marshall once stated, "The full stature of this man will only be proven by history, but I want to say here and now that there has never been a decision made under this man's Administration, affecting policies beyond our shores, that has not been in the best interest of this country. It is not the courage of these decisions that will live, but the integrity of them." Truman's popularity among Americans was based less on his domestic agenda than his willingness to assert American strength abroad. It seems that during times of foreign or domestic crisis, people support the president's programs for dealing with the crisis, even if they did not necessarily approve of the programs themselves. Presidents' popularity vary with events. In economic crisis, presidential support often falls, while in international crisis, the support rises. Meanwhile, unrelated to these events, support falls through much of the term. Popularity typically starts at a President's high point and falls steadily into the third year with what has been noted as a small increase by the end of the term. It has also been noted that second term presidents start high again and fall in popularity even more sharply. Oftentimes decline in popularity is associated with economic slumps, while an increase in popularity is associated with events signaling international crisis, often referred to as the rally effect. This effect is seen in the nine percent rise in President Truman's popularity after the decision to send American troops to South Korea. A poll of the years 1968 , 1982, and 2000 show a vary in Truman's popularity among Americans. In 1968 Truman was recorded as the seventh most popular president while in 1982 he was polled as the eight most popular. In the year 2000, however, Harry S. Truman was polled as the fifth most popular president of the United States.