Today’s topic: Harry S. Truman. Here’s a paragraph I wrote about him which emphasizes his inexperience when he assumed the office of the Presidency on April 12, 1945.
Truman had served as Vice President for only a matter of weeks before Roosevelt’s death. His senatorial background gave him limited experience in the realm of foreign affairs, and Roosevelt did not include the new V.P. in important matters of state during the nascent hours of FDR’s fourth term. In fact, Truman had been excluded from most executive branch conferences on foreign policy, leaving him to gleam his knowledge of world events mostly from reading newspapers and listening to Capitol Hill chatter (Donovan xiv). When he became president, Truman did not know about the Manhattan Project (Bradley 103), and had not been informed of what Roosevelt had said at the meetings in Tehran and Yalta earlier in the year (Donovan 10). He entered the Presidency as a neophyte in foreign policy with no experience in the art of negotiating (Donovan 10), and he brought with him a new Secretary of State, James Byrnes, who also had little foreign policy training (Donovan 17). This lack of experience, coupled with Roosevelt’s confusing and often contradictory foreign policy, presented Truman with great challenges as his administration tried to bring closure to two wars while balancing world peace.