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Harry S. Truman (May 8, 1884 – December 26, 1972)

Truman was born in Lamar, Missouri as the eldest child of John Anderson Truman and Martha Ellen Young Truman. He was named after his mother’s brother. They chose S. as his middle initial to please his grandfathers, but, in reality, Truman didn’t actually have a middle name, just the initial S. Truman was very close to his mother through his entire life. (Even as president, he sought advice from her.)

Truman is the most recent president to have not earned a college degree. He did attempt twice, but only stayed a semester at Spalding’s Commercial College in Kansas City and dropped out from his night courses at Kansas City Law School in 1925 after he lost a government job.

He asked his wife Bess Wallace to marry him in 1911. She turned him down. They finally married after his service in WWI in June 1919. They had a daughter in February 1924.

In 1922, he entered the world of politics with an election as a judge of the eastern district of Jackson County. In 1934, he became a U.S. Senator. Truman was sworn in as Roosevelt’s vice president in January 1945. 82 days later in April 1945, Roosevelt died and Truman’s first term as the 33rd President of the U.S. began. His first term had him facing WWII. Truman was the one who ordered the bomb drop on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, that effectively ended the war. (Below is a video of the announcement of the bomb being dropped.) His second term included the Korean war, civil rights reforms and an assassination attempt at Blair House by Puerto Rican nationalists Griselio Torresola and Oscar Collazo.

Leaving the White House in 1953, Truman returned home to Independence, Missouri. In late 1964, Truman fell in his home and his health began to decline. On December 5, 1972, at age 88, he was admitted to Kansas City’s Research Hospital and Medical Center with lung congestion from pneumonia. He developed multiple organ failure and died of heart failure on December 26, 1972. He was survived by his wife Bess and daughter Mary Margaret.

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