Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

Key Events in the Presidency of Harry S Truman


April 12, 1945

President Franklin D. Roosevelt dies in Warm Spring, Georgia; Harry S. Truman becomes the thirty-third President of the United States.

May 8, 1945

Germany surrenders, ending World War II in Europe.

July 17–August 2, 1945

Representatives from the United States, Britain, and the Soviet Union attend the Potsdam Conference.

August 6, 1945

The United States drops an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan.

August 9, 1945

The United States drops an atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan.

August 14, 1945

Japan surrenders, ending World War II in Asia.

September 6, 1945

Truman presents Congress with his 21-point plan for Reconversion.


February 20, 1946

Truman signs the Employment Act.

February 22, 1946

State Department official George Kennan, serving in the Soviet Union, sends his "Long Telegram," in which he analyzes the sources of Soviet conduct and Moscow's geopolitical intentions, and suggests American responses.

March 5, 1946

Winston Churchill delivers his "Iron Curtain" speech at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri.

September 12, 1946

Secretary of Commerce Henry Wallace criticizes U.S. foreign policy in a speech in New York City.

September 20, 1946

Truman asks for, and receives, Wallace's resignation.

November 5, 1946

In the midterm elections, the Republican Party wins control of Congress.


March 12, 1947

Truman delivers his "Truman Doctrine" speech to Congress, asking for a $400 million appropriation to fight the spread of Communism in Greece and Turkey.

March 21, 1947

Truman creates the Federal Employee Loyalty Program via Executive Order 9835.

April 15, 1947

Jackie Robinson plays his first game with the Brooklyn Dodgers and integrates major league baseball.

May 22, 1947

Truman signs the "Truman Doctrine" appropriation approved by Congress for Greece and Turkey.

June 5, 1947

George Marshall proposes economic aid to Europe in an address at Harvard University. Officially titled the Economic Recovery Program, the package becomes known as the "Marshall Plan."

June 20, 1947

Truman vetoes the Taft-Hartley Act.

June 23, 1947

Congress overrides Truman's veto of the Taft-Hartley Act.

June 29, 1947

Truman addresses the NAACP, the first President to do so.

July 26, 1947

The National Security Act passes Congress, creating the National Security Council, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Department of Defense, and the National Security Resources Board.


February 2, 1948

Truman sends a message to Congress asking for legislation to secure the civil rights of the nation's minorities.

April 2, 1948

Congress passes the European Recovery Program (the "Marshall Plan").

May 14, 1948

The United States recognizes the state of Israel.

June 24, 1948

The Soviet Union blockades the overland access routes to West Berlin.

June 24, 1948

Governor Thomas Dewey of New York accepts the Republican Party nomination for President.

June 26, 1948

In conjunction with the British, Truman orders the airlifting of supplies into West Berlin.

July 15, 1948

Truman accepts the Democratic Party nomination for President and calls for a special session of Congress.

July 26, 1948

At the opening of a special session of the 80th Congress, Truman asks for legislation on housing, civil rights, and price controls. The same day, the President signs Executive Order 9981, which desegregates the Armed Forces.

September 6-October 30, 1948

Truman campaigns for the presidency throughout the nation (except for the South) and attacks the record of the "do nothing" Republican-controlled Congress.

November 2, 1948

Truman is elected President. The Democratic Party retakes both the Senate and the House of Representatives.


January 5, 1949

Truman proposes the "Fair Deal" in his State of the Union address.

April 4, 1949

Twelve nations from Europe and North America sign the North Atlantic Treaty.

May 12, 1949

The Soviet Union lifts the Berlin blockade.

July 15, 1949

Truman signs the Housing Act, establishing a national housing agency and providing federal aid to slum clearance programs and low-cost housing projects.

August 4, 1949

The State Department issues its "White Paper" on China.

September 23, 1949

Truman announces that the Soviet Union has detonated an atomic bomb.

October 1, 1949

Mao Zedong announces the establishment of the People's Republic of China.

October 26, 1949

Congress raises the minimum wage from forty cents to seventy-five cents an hour.


January 31, 1950

Truman announces that the United States will develop a hydrogen bomb.

February 9, 1950

Senator Joseph McCarthy (R-WI) speaks in Wheeling, West Virginia, and charges that the State Department employs 205 known Communists.

February 14, 1950

Mao and Stalin sign the Sino-Soviet alliance.

April 7, 1950

The National Security Council presents NSC-68: United States Objectives and Programs for National Security to Truman.

May 24, 1950

The Wall Street Journal reports that the number of married women who work outside the home has increased by 90 percent over the previous ten years.

June 25, 1950

North Korea invades South Korea.

June 30, 1950

Truman announces that he has ordered American ground forces stationed in Japan to Korea. General Douglas MacArthur commands the U.S. (and United Nations) troops.

August 28, 1950

Truman signs the 1950 Social Security Amendments, expanding coverage and increasing benefits.

September 15, 1950

United States military forces successfully spearhead a counterattack at Inchon, South Korea.

September 22, 1950

Truman vetoes the Internal Security Act.

September 23, 1950

Congress passes the Internal Security Act over Truman's veto.

September 23, 1950

Truman signs the Revenue Act of 1950, increasing corporation and income taxes.

October 15, 1950

Truman meets with MacArthur on Wake Island to discuss America's Far East policy.

November 7, 1950

Republicans make significant gains in congressional mid-term elections.

November 26, 1950

China launches a massive counteroffensive against American advances in North Korea.

December 16, 1950

Truman proclaims a state of national emergency and imposes wage and price controls.


April 5, 1951

Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are sentenced to death following their convictions on conspiring to provide secret information to the Soviet Union.

April 11, 1951

Truman relieves General Douglas MacArthur from his command of both U.S. and U.N. forces in Korea.

June 25, 1951

The first color television program is broadcast, but no color sets are available for sale.

October 10, 1951

Truman signs the Mutual Security Act, authorizing more than $7 billion for foreign economic, military, and technical aid.


March 29, 1952

Truman declares that he will not be a candidate for re-election.

April 8, 1952

Truman signs an Executive Order directing the secretary of commerce to seize steel mills in order to prevent a strike by steel workers.

June 2, 1952

The Supreme Court declares the seizure of steel mills unconstitutional in a six-to-three vote.

June 25, 1952

Truman vetoes the McCarran-Walter Immigration Bill.

June 26 and June 27, 1952

The House of Representatives and the Senate override Truman's veto of the McCarran-Walter Act.

July 11, 1952

General Dwight D. Eisenhower receives the Republican nomination for President.

July 26, 1952

Governor Adlai Stevenson (IL) receives the Democratic nomination for President.

September 2–November 1, 1952

Truman campaigns on behalf of Democratic candidate Adlai Stevenson.

November 1, 1952

The United States detonates the first hydrogen bomb.

November 4, 1952

Dwight D. Eisenhower is elected President.


January 20, 1953

Harry S. Truman leaves the White House.