March 9, 2013

Harry Truman

PBS American Experience

Based on a detailed investigation of all the facts, and supported by the testimony of the surviving Japanese leaders involved, it is the Survey's opinion that certainly prior to 31 December 1945, and in all probability prior to 1 November 1945, Japan would have surrendered:
  • even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped,
  • even if Russia had not entered the war, and
  • even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated.
United States Strategic Bombing Survey, Government Printing Office, 1945.

Harry Truman (1884 – 1972):
I think one man is as good as another so long as he's honest and decent and not a nigger or a chinaman.
Uncle Will says that the Lord made a white man of dust, a nigger from mud, then threw up what was left and it came down a Chinaman!
(Oliver Stone, The Bomb, The Untold History of the United States, 2012)

No Quarter

[By August 1945, the] bulk of Japan's army was no threat to American forces …
[It] was sequestered up in China, with American submarines keeping it from crossing to the home islands, and the great weight of Russia's army looming above, able to destroy it once a sufficient buildup had occurred.
Japan's industry had largely been burned out.
[US] strategic bombers had … burned out fifty-eight of [the largest sixty Japanese cities.]

Douglas MacArthur … didn't expect an invasion would be needed …
Admiral Leahy, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was later adamant that there had been no need for an atomic bomb [and] Curtis LeMay, the head of the strategic bombing force, agreed.
(p 160)
Dwight Eisenhower (1890 – 1969):
… I was against [using the atomic bomb] on two counts:
  • First, the Japanese were ready to surrender and it wasn't necessary to hit them with that awful thing.
  • Second, I hated to see our country be the first to use such a weapon. …
Truman's most forceful adviser was Jimmy Byrnes …
The ethos Byrnes had been brought up with was that when you fought, you fought with everything you had.
He'd been raised in South Carolina in the 1880s, with no father and not a great deal of schooling.
Visitors to his state during earlier times reported their amazement that it was rare on a jury to find twelve men who had all their eyes and ears …
South Carolina still had the ethos of a frontier society, and gouging, biting, and knife slashes were the way fights were settled.
It was Byrnes who ensured that the clause protecting the emperor — which might mollify Japanese opponents of a settlement — was taken out.
There would be no [quarter.]
(p 161)
Presidential "Interim Committee":
Mr Byrnes recommended, and the Committee agreed,
  • that … the bomb should be used against Japan as soon as possible;
  • that it be used on a war plant surrounded by workers' homes; and
  • that it be used without prior warning.
(1 June 1945)
(p 162)

From the ground the B-29 was just visible as a silvery outline, but the bomb — a bare ten feet long, two and a half feet wide — would have been too small a speck to see.
Weak radio signals were being pumped down from the bomb to the Shina Hospital directly below.
Some of those radio signals were absorbed in the hospital's walls, but most were bounced back skyward.
Sticking out of the bomb's back, near the spinning fins, were a number of whiplike thin radio antennae.
Those collected the returning radio signals, and used the time lag each took to return as a way of measuring the height remaining to the ground.
At 1,900 feet the last rebounded radio signal arrived.
(pp 163-4)

(David Bodanis, E=mc^2, Walker Books, 2000)


[On March 9, 1945 — five weeks before Harry Truman took office as President — 325 American B29s] dropped 2,000 tons of napalm on Tokyo, burning 16 square miles of the city to the ground.
In a single day, 100,000 Japanese were killed. …

Robert Rodenhouse [B29 Pilot]:
When we got over the target it was like a thousand Christmas trees lit up all over.
And you could feel the heat when you're there, and-and you could smell the smoke and the stench of human and animal flesh as that city is being consumed by millions of fires all over. …

Francis Coppola (1939):
I love the smell of napalm in the morning.
You know, one time we had a hill bombed, for 12 hours. …
The smell, you know that gasoline smell, the whole hill.
Smelled like … victory.
(Apocalypse Now, 1979)

Yoshiko Hashimoto [Survivor]:
My mother took off her protective hood from her head, put it on my head, and looked into my eyes. …
Without a protective hood, mother's hair must have caught on fire after I jumped into the river.
She must have died in agony.
I cannot hold back my tears whenever I think about it, and cannot forget her sad face looking into my eyes.

Curtis LeMay [General, United States Air Force]:
We don't pause to shed any tears for uncounted hordes of Japanese who lie charred in that acrid-smelling rubble.
The smell of Pearl Harbor fires is too persistent in our nostrils. …
[All] war is immoral and if you let that bother you, you're not a good soldier. …
[If] I had lost the war I [suppose I] would have been tried as a war criminal.

To find the numbers we present in The Costs of War, we collected data from over a dozen published sources.
Events are listed chronologically, with their casualties indicated in red.
Cumulative numbers of casualties are indicated in gray.
(Austin Hoyt, Victory in the Pacific, PBS American Experience, 2005)

Barton Bernstein (1936) [Historian]:
What has changed in the war is a redefinition of what is a legitimate target.
A legitimate target is not simply a city, but people in the city who are primarily noncombatants in what is a redefined virtually total war.
So that everybody becomes a target.
The bombing destroyed nearly all of Japan's biggest cities and killed more than half a million civilians.
[But, still] the Japanese fought on. …
Harry Truman (1884 – 1972):
What a pity the human animal is not able to put his moral thinking into practice.
I fear that machines are ahead of morals by some centuries.
(Truman, PBS American Experience, WGBH, October 1997)

A War Against Evil

[On July 16, 1945] the first atomic bomb was exploded over the deserts of New Mexico.
[The detonation of 13 pounds of explosives:]
  • [vaporized] a steel tower 60 feet high,
  • left a crater … more than two miles wide,
  • knocked down men 10,000 yards away, and
  • was visible for more than 200 miles.

(Truman, PBS American Experience, WGBH, October 1997)

(Rushmore DeNooyer, The Bomb, 2015)

[Truman,] like all other Americans, saw this as a war against evil. …
In that sense, he [believed that using] the bomb [was] justified …
[That this,] the greatest weapon ever developed [had] a place in overcoming or combating evil. …

Two atomic bombs were nearly ready.
Seven more were on the way.

On July 25th Truman gave control of the bombs to the military and ordered that they be used as soon as the Potsdam conference was over.
The next day, the Japanese were given one last chance to surrender. …
Potsdam Declaration:
We call upon the Government of Japan to proclaim now the unconditional surrender of all the Japanese armed forces …
The alternative for Japan is prompt and utter destruction. …
(26 July 1945)
[August 6,] 8:15 AM …
The atomic bomb dropped clear of the Enola Gay.
Forty-three seconds later, it exploded over Hiroshima.

That afternoon, Truman issued [another] warning to the Japanese government.
Harry Truman (1884 – 1972):
If they do not now accept our terms, they may expect a reign of ruin from the air the like of which has never been seen on this earth.
[The] atomic bomb had killed more than 80,000 men, women, and children …

August 9, 11:00 AM …
[A] second atomic bomb was dropped on the Japanese seaport of Nagasaki.
In 1/10 of one-millionth of a second [another] 40,000 people were killed.

The day after Nagasaki was destroyed, Truman took the authority to use the atomic bomb back from the military and placed it once again in his own hands. …

(Truman, PBS American Experience, WGBH, October 1997)

Cold War

Not long after Truman had become President, Korea was divided at the 38th parallel into two hostile parts — a Soviet supported North and an American backed South.
[In June 1950] the North had attacked the South [seeking] to unify Korea under communist rule. …
[In] the end [the war would cost] more than 54,000 American lives.

KOREAN WAR (1950-53)
(Wikipedia, 11 March 2013)
Soviet Union
South Korea
United States
United Kingdom
South Africa
New Zealand
Killed or Missing367,283-750,282211,080

NON-COMBATANTSNorth KoreaSouth Korea
Killed, missing, wounded or abducted1,550,000990,968

Douglas MacArthur (1880 – 1964):
… I shall make of [the Chinese,] the greatest slaughter in the history of warfare. …
The General urged the President to wage all out war.
He wanted to blockade the Chinese coast and bomb the Chinese mainland.

Truman … feared provoking a third world war. …

[After being relieved of command by Truman,] MacArthur came home to a hero's welcome.
On Capitol Hill, Republicans attacked Truman.

Peace is Hell

On September 6, 1945, Truman proposed
  • an increase in the minimum wage,
  • aid for housing, and
  • a bill for the first pre-paid medical insurance in the nation's history.
But a coalition of Republicans and conservative southern Democrats refused him everything. …

[In the lead-up to the 1948 election all] the polls made him a sure loser. …
Harry Truman (1884 – 1972):
If you give the Republicans complete control of this government, you might just as well turn it over to the special interests and we'll start on a boom and bust cycle and try to go through just what we did in the 20s. …
On election night, to escape reporters, Truman checked into a hotel in Excelsior Springs, just outside of Independence.
He had a ham and cheese sandwich, a glass of buttermilk and went to sleep.

When he woke up, he learned he had pulled off the greatest upset in the history of American politics.
Not one pollster or radio commentator or newspaper columnist had got it right.
No one had dared predict a Truman victory. …

[He then] asked Congress to support what he now called "the Fair Deal" —
  • a higher minimum wage,
  • civil rights,
  • aid to education[and]
  • health insurance for all Americans.
Congress refused.



No Quarter

A War Against Evil

An accident of democracy

The moon, stars, and all the planets

Cold War

Peace is Hell

Harry Truman (1884 – 1972)

33rd President of the United States of America (1945-1953).

  • Truman, PBS American Experience, WGBH, October 1997.
    David Grubin.

    An Accident of Democracy

    Harry Truman (1884 – 1972):
    The buck stops here.
    He was only a high school graduate …
    [A] farmer until he was 33 …
    [A] haberdasher gone bankrupt at 38.
    No one in Washington had ever even heard of Harry Truman before he was 50. …

    [In July 1918, Captain Truman was] sent to France and given command of four rapid-fire guns and 194 men.

    The Reluctant President

    Ken Hechler (1914 – 2016) [White House Assistant]:
    [Truman] was one of the products of one of the most corrupt political machines in the nation … the Pendergast machine … yet he was able to rise above it.

    David McCullough (1933) [Biographer]:
    One July night in 1944, the big bosses [of the Democratic Party] met with Franklin Roosevelt …
    And [they] all said [that the Vice Presidential choice] ought to be Truman.
    Roosevelt later [said] he really didn't care.
    He was a tired, sick, ill man and his mind and what energy he had was all concentrated on the war.

    Pat Hannegan [Daughter of Democratic Party Chairman Bob Hannegan]:
    Once my father and his friends had pretty much set Truman up, then they had to convince Truman that he was going to run.
    [Truman] was very much opposed to it …
    [He] said he wouldn't do it.

    David McCullough (1933) [Biographer]:
    He didn't want to be President and he certainly didn't want to be President after Franklin Roosevelt.
    He didn't want to come in and try and have to fill those enormous shoes.
    He didn't think he was qualified to be the President of the United States. …
    On July 20th, the party bosses summoned Truman to a suite in the Blackstone Hotel to listen in on a phone call that, unknown to the Senator, they had rehearsed in advance with the President.
    Pat Hannegan [Daughter of Bob Hannegan]:
    My father got … President Roosevelt, to call him on the line and while he was on the line, he let Truman listen.
    Franklin Roosevelt (1882 – 1945):
    Have you got that fellow lined up yet? …

    Bob Hannegan (1903 – 49) [Democratic Party Chairman]:
    No, [he] is the contrariest goddamn mule from Missouri I ever dealt with.

    Franklin Roosevelt (1882 – 1945):
    You tell the Senator, that if he wants to break up the Democratic party in the middle of the war, that's his responsibility.
    And then he banged down the phone.
    Harry Truman (1884 – 1972):
    Well, if that's the situation I'll have to say yes. …
    Throughout his Vice Presidency, Truman was always kept outside Roosevelt's inner circle.
    FDR never took Truman into his confidence. …
    Robert Lifton (1926) [Biographer]:
    [At] one level [everybody] knew that Roosevelt wouldn't live out his term.
    But there was a shared denial that was overwhelming. …
    [The] result was that there was absolutely no preparation of the Vice President by a very sick President for the Presidency. …
    On April 12, 1945 [Truman was called] to the White House.
    Franklin Roosevelt was dead.
    Vice President for just 82 days, Harry S Truman was now President of the United States … and he knew nothing about the atomic bomb.

    The day after Franklin Roosevelt died, President Harry Truman met with reporters.
    Harry Truman (1884 – 1972):
    Boys, if you ever pray, pray for me now …
    I don't know whether you fellows ever had a load of hay fall on you, but when they told me yesterday what had happened, I felt like the moon, the stars, and all the planets had fallen on me.

    The Moon, Stars, and All The Planets

    When Truman took the oath of office, Americans were fighting the greatest war in history.
    All at once he was Commander-In-Chief of 16 million men and a terrifying arsenal of warships, tanks, and planes arrayed against the Japanese in the Pacific and Nazi Germany in Europe. …
    Walter LaFeber (1933) [Historian]:
    Truman was insecure and ignorant …
    [Ignorant] not in the sense of being unintelligent.
    The man was very intelligent.
    Ignorant in the sense of not knowing what was going on.
    Of course, nobody really knew what was going on except Franklin D Roosevelt, and he was dead. …
    Just 13 days in office, Truman was handed a memorandum …
    Henry Stimson (1867 – 1950) [Secretary of War]:
    Within four months, we shall in all probability have completed the most terrible weapon ever known in human history.
    Stimson went on to tell Truman about the secret site in New Mexico where scientists had been working round-the-clock for the past two and a half years to fashion a weapon out of the elemental forces of the universe. …
    George Elsey (1918 – 2015) [Administrative Assistant to the President]:
    I know of no occasion when President Truman [expressed doubts about] using the bomb.
    [And] his advisors, without exception, recommended the use of the bomb just as soon as it was available. …
    June 18th, [1945] Truman agreed to plans to invade Japan in early November. …
    David McCullough (1933) [Biographer]:
    We were going to invade the home islands.
    And the loss of life would be terrible.
    [Whether] it was going to be 20,000 lives or 100,000 lives was not really the question.
    The question was to stop the killing.

    Alonzo Hamby (1940) [Biographer]:
    Truman was one of the few Presidents of the 20th century to have actually experienced wartime combat.
    He had seen corpses stacked up [during World War I.]
    He knew what war was like.
    He was very, very anxious to get World War II over with as quickly as possible. …

    [At Potsdam,] Truman was rather impressed by Stalin. …
    Stalin struck him as frank and straightforward, a sort of political boss type, who would keep his word once he gave it.

    Truman said later that Stalin reminded him of the Missouri kingpin Tom Pendergast.
    David McCullough (1933) [Biographer]:
    Joseph Stalin was nothing like Tom Pendergast.
    This was one of the most bloodthirsty, murdering, evil men of our time.

    But Truman had that [old and] very American idea … that if he could just meet the fellow, shake his hand, look him in the eye, size him up — that [you] could work together [and make a deal …]

    Harry Truman (1884 – 1972):
    I can deal with Stalin …
    He is honest but smart as hell. …

    Robert Donovan (1912 – 2003) [Journalist]:
    [If] years later [it had leaked] out that the President had [had] a bomb that would have ended [the war and he hadn't used it. …]
    What would have happened to Truman?

    Walter LaFeber (1933) [Historian]:
    [It was] clear that the bomb would … shorten the war …
    [So] there was no question about whether or not Truman was going to use [it.]
    The [only] question was when and how and where. …
    Some would later argue that Japan might have been forced to surrender without the bomb.
    The President
    • might have warned the Japanese with a demonstration bomb,
    • might have blockaded their islands until they surrendered,
    • might have assured the Japanese that they could keep their Emperor.
    Truman would later say that to end the war quickly without invading Japan, the bomb had to be used — and he used it. …
    Robert Lifton (1926) [Biographer]:
    He wasn't a man who could allow self-questioning.
    He wasn't a man who could allow reflection.
    He could never take in fully what he had done and what that meant for the world.
    Here was a good man, a loving man, who made a decision to use the cruelest weapon in human history on a densely populated city and spent the rest of his life justifying that decision.

    Harry Truman (1884 – 1972):
    I made the only decision I ever knew how to make …
    I did what I thought was right.


    Harry Truman (1884 – 1972):
    Sherman was wrong.
    Peace is Hell. …
    [In Europe] Poland, Rumania, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria [and] East Germany [were falling] behind a communist iron curtain …
    [Yet many Americans continued to argue] that the Russians were not a threat to the United States. …
    Harry Truman (1884 – 1972):
    I do not think we should play compromise any longer …
    Unless Russia is faced with an iron fist, another war is in the making.
    … Stalin declared that communism and capitalism were incompatible.
    He called war inevitable. …
    In a civil war in Greece, Greek communists threatened to topple the monarchy.
    In Turkey, the Soviet Union was demanding control of the strategic Dardanelles straits.
    Walter LaFeber (1933) [Historian]:
    … Truman begins to see Stalin as an expansionist dictator. …
    He would [now] have to convince Congress that a crisis in two far-away countries threatened the security of the United States …
    [That] $400 million in military aid was needed to save Greece and Turkey. …
    Walter LaFeber (1933) [Historian]:
    [Under Secretary of State Dean Acheson argued that] if the Soviets could win in Greece and in Turkey, then they would be in a position [to put] pressure on Western Europe and pretty soon the United States would be standing alone. …

    Harry Truman (1884 – 1972):
    I believe that it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures. …
    If we falter in our leadership, we may endanger the peace of the world, and we shall surely endanger the welfare of this nation.
    (Address to a joint session of Congress)

    Walter LaFeber (1933) [Historian]:
    Truman, the Midwestern politician, understood exactly how you sell these kinds of things to the American people …
    [What] Truman said was,
    The world is essentially now divided in two.
    On one side are totalitarian and the enslaved peoples.
    On the other side are the free peoples.
    He then looked at the Republicans and said,
    Which side are you on? …
    The President had committed Americans to a battle against communism all across the world.
    [A policy that] became known as the Truman Doctrine. …
    Walter LaFeber (1933) [Historian]:
    If Western Europe was not helped and quickly, mass starvation would break out and there was the real danger that Western Europe would begin moving to the left very rapidly. …
    [The solution was economic, not military.]
    [The State department advocated pumping] between eight and $17 billion [into Europe so that they could] buy food … and other resources {from the United States.}
    Truman had already managed to persuade a reluctant Congress to give him $400 million for the Truman Doctrine.
    Now he convinced Congress to give him $13 billion more.
    No President had ever received so much money to aid people who weren't Americans.
    He called his economic aid program — the Marshal Plan, after his Secretary of State George Marshal, a man who commanded the respect of the entire country. …
    George Elsey (1918 – 2015) [Administrative Assistant to the President]:
    Some of the White House staff [die not like the] idea of General Marshall getting credit for it.
    Harry Truman (1884 – 1972):
    The Congress will do anything George Marshall wants.
    If my name is on it, it probably will become controversial.
    I don't want it to become controversial.
    I want it to succeed. …
    While the President was rescuing Europe and mobilizing Americans to fight communism overseas, Republicans charged that there were communists here at home [— just as in the 1930s when they had] claimed that there were communists in Roosevelt's New Deal.

    [They demanded] that Truman take action. …
    On March 21, 1947, against his own better judgment, the President issued an extraordinary executive order …
    [He] established a loyalty program, making the political beliefs of every federal employee subject to investigation by the FBI. …

    He created the Department of Defense …
    [He] established the National Security Council, and the … Central Intelligence Agency, putting the United States in the business of peacetime spying for the first time in its history.
    Soon there would be another first: NATO, America's first peacetime alliance …
    Harry Truman (1884 – 1972):
    There is no justifiable reason for discrimination because of ancestry … religion … race or color.
    No President had ever before addressed the nearly 40-year-old [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.]
    Truman became the first, as he spoke to a rally of thousands at the Lincoln Memorial.
    A southerner by birth and inclination, he argued for equal rights for all Americans. …
    [He] feared that if he acted to help African-Americans, he would lose the support of southern Democrats. …

    On February 2, 1948, Truman became the first President to [call] for
    • anti-lynching laws,
    • abolition of the poll tax,
    • establishment of a commission on civil rights [and]
    • desegregation of the armed forces. …
    George Elsey (1918 – 2015) [Administrative Assistant to the President]:
    He recognized that the chances of [any legislation] getting through that Congress was practically nil.
    The point was, you had to start sometime and he was going to start.
    Southern newspapers called Truman's civil rights legislation a "dismaying document," based on a "pernicious fallacy."
    Here we have the making of a veritable Gestapo.
    Ken Hechler (1914 – 2016) [White House Assistant]:
    … Mrs Leonard Thomas, one of the Alabama national committeemen … said to him,
    Please don't force miscegenation on the South.
    Please tell the South that you really don't believe and you're gonna take back what you said about civil rights.
    [Truman] pulled out a copy of the Bill of Rights, and said,
    I'm the President of all the people.
    I want you to know that I'm not gonna take back a word of what I said.
    The battle over civil rights was a political disaster.
    [Polling] showed that the vast majority of Americans opposed the President's stand.
    Civil Rights was hurting Truman's chances for re-election. …

    Since the end of the 19th century, the Jewish people had aspired to establish a homeland in Palestine.
    Now, after the devastation of the Holocaust, Jews fiercely lobbied Truman to recognize a new Jewish State there, even enlisting Eddie Jacobson, his old partner in the haberdashery, to win Truman to their cause.
    But Secretary of State, George Marshal feared that [the Arabs] would cut off the world's supply of oil and throw the Middle East into turmoil. …
    [Nevertheless,] on May 14, 1948, [Truman granted] de facto recognition to [State of] Israel. …

    Truman desegregated the armed forces …

    In reaction to America's efforts to strengthen West Germany, the Russians had blockaded western controlled Berlin …
    Two and a half million Berliners had only enough food to last a month. …
    In a daring move, Truman ordered a full scale airlift to fly food and supplies for more than a year to the beleaguered Berliners.
    Walter LaFeber (1933) [Historian]:
    In late August of 1949 [the Soviets exploded] an atomic device. …
    Just weeks later, China fell to Mao Tse Tung's communists. …

    David McCullough (1933) [Biographer]:
    And out of this fear and … uncertainty arose the [hysterical] voice of Senator Joe McCarthy, who began to rant and rave about Communist conspiracy and high treason in high places.
    As Americans grew increasingly frightened by a world that seemed to be spinning out of control …
    Early in 1950, the National Security Council tried to convince the President to quadruple military spending, but Truman [refused.]
    He believed that the best way to fight communism was by building a strong America, and to Truman, that began with a balanced budget.
    Walter LaFeber (1933) [Historian]:
    There's a story that Harry Truman made his defense budget somewhat like this.
    He would take the amount of money coming into the government every year [and subtract] whatever was needed for education, running the government, so on.
    Whatever was left was the defense budget for that year. …
    Saturday, June 24, 1950 …
    Supported by tanks and artillery, seven North Korean infantry divisions — some 90,000 men … launched a surprise attack [across the 38th parallel. …]
    Walter LaFeber (1933) [Historian]:
    [Truman's] initial response was that this was a Soviet directed attack …
    Stalin did support the invasion but [only] at North Korea's insistence [and only] by sending Soviet supplies and advisors.
    What the United States got involved with in 1950 was not aggression from the Soviet Union [but] an incredibly bloody civil war [that had already killed] as many as 100,000 Koreans …
    [It's] fair to say that Truman knew very little about this background.

    Harry Truman (1884 – 1972):
    Communism was acting in Korea, just as Hitler, and the Japanese had acted earlier.
    If the Communists were permitted to force their way into the Republic of Korea, no small nation would have the courage to resist threats and aggression. …
    On June 27th, just three days after launching their attack, the North Korean army overran Seoul, the capital of South Korea. …

    By June 30th, less than a week after the fighting began, the situation seemed hopeless.
    American supplies and planes had not been enough to stop the relentless advance of the North Korean army. …

    On June 30th, the President approved the use of a combat team and two divisions in Korea. …
    Walter LaFeber (1933) [Historian]:
    By July and August of 1950, Korea was a full-fledged conventional war. …
    Harry Truman, who had opposed high defense budgets, had sent a $13-billion defense budget in '49.
    By the end of 1950, he is sending in a defense budget of $50 billion dollars. And the United States is now beginning to move into the period of the modern defense budget.
    While the massive re-armament of America began at home, news from the front remained grim.
    [By] the end of July, 4,000 Americans were dead, almost 14,000 wounded or missing.
    George Elsey (1918 – 2015) [Administrative Assistant to the President]:
    The North Koreans were so much stronger than we initially realized that they really practically pushed us right off into the sea.
    The United Nations army now clung to only a tiny corner of the southeastern tip of Korea.
    [After] just six weeks, the war seemed lost.

    With disaster looming, a daring plan was devised by the head of United Nations forces, the fabled hero of World War II [—] General Douglas MacArthur. …
    David McCullough (1933) [Biographer]:
    Americans looked upon him as … an infallible god.

    Edwin Simmons (1921 – 2007) [Marine Corps Historian]:
    He was … the American Caesar.
    On September 15, 1950 … MacArthur struck without warning at the port of Inchon, 30 miles from Seoul.
    But MacArthur's gamble paid off.
    The North Koreans were caught completely by surprise.
    Inchon fell in less than a day. …
    Thirteen days later Seoul was retaken.
    At the same time, UN armies in the South were fighting their way North with the enemy in full retreat. …
    By late September, UN forces had pushed the communists back above the 38th parallel, the line separating the two armies before the war began.
    There, MacArthur's army halted. …
    David McCullough (1933) [Biographer]:
    The prevailing wisdom … was that the last thing … that the United States should do would be to get involved with a major land war with the Chinese.
    But with the enemy in retreat, Truman's native optimism took over.
    On September 27, MacArthur [was tasked with the complete destruction of the North Korean armed forces.]
    David McCullough (1933) [Biographer]:
    [So] across they went, having been warned through diplomatic channels, that if they proceeded to cross the parallel, that the Chinese would come into the war.
    But it was felt that that was a bluff. …

    Lucius Battle (1918 – 2008) [State Department]:
    MacArthur had contempt for higher authority.
    He was the supreme authority. …
    He was not troubled by the constitutional limits …
    [He] had a certain contempt for the President. …
    On November 24, more than a quarter million Chinese communist soldiers poured into Korea. …
    Victory had appeared almost within reach.
    Now, in the bitter Korean winter, MacArthur's forces reeled under the communist attack.
    MacArthur [now] feared his army was about to be destroyed. …
    Edwin Simmons (1921 – 2007) [Marine Corps Historian]:
    MacArthur's behavior in this time period is very strange.
    This is MacArthur, the invincible, the infallible, but he had failed.
    He was talking about evacuating the Eighth Army from Korea.
    [But] being MacArthur, it couldn't have been his fault …
    [It] must have been someone else's fault. …

    Walter LaFeber (1933) [Historian]:
    … MacArthur panicked.
    [By] late December he's asking Truman to target 26 … areas within China for the dropping of nuclear bombs.

    Vernon Walters (1917 – 2002) [Lieutenant Colonel, US Army]:
    [MacArthur's] preference would have been to use small nuclear weapons on the masses of Chinese.
    [He] figured, two or three, the Chinese would stop and withdraw. …
    By early 1951, the communists had retaken Seoul and Inchon, and driven MacArthur's forces below the 38th parallel.
    Again the General urged the President to widen the war.
    Again the President refused.

    Then, on January 25th, the longest retreat in American military history ended.
    MacArthur's bleak assessments had been wrong. …
    Assaulting the communists with tanks and artillery, [field commander of UN forces, General Matthew] Ridgway began driving them back.
    By the end of March [Ridgeway] had reached the 38th parallel once again.
    There, the war stalemated. …

    On July 10, 1951 peace talks began, but they would bog down and drag on for the rest of Truman's days in office. …
    Truman's only comfort was in knowing that he had … had prevented the horror of a full-scale nuclear war. …
    With his Fair Deal and Civil Rights programs crushed, the war stalemated in Korea, Truman knew it was time to go.
    Walt Bodine (1920 – 2013) [Journalist]:
    [On the day he resigned his] ratings were lower than Nixon's …
    On January 20, 1953, Harry Truman, private citizen, set out for home. …
    Truman went on to live in the old house on North Delaware Street that had once been his mother-in-law's.
    There he would spend the rest of his life. …
    Marshall Shulman (1916 – 2007) [Assistant to the Secretary of State]:
    Harry Truman was a vindication of the democratic idea of leadership.
    Here is a man out of the heartland of America …
    [An] ordinary guy …
    [A] man of common sense and … personal decency.
    On December 26, 1972, Harry Truman died.
    He was 88 years old.
    Ten years later, Bess was buried beside him in the courtyard of the library that was named in his honor.
    Harry Truman (1884 – 1972):
    When Franklin Roosevelt died, I felt there must be a million men better qualified than I, to take up the Presidential task.
    But the work was mine to do, and I had to do it.
    And I tried to give it everything that was in me.

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