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Harry Truman: A Featured Biography

Photo of Senator Harry Truman of Missouri, later U.S. President

Harry Truman was born in Missouri in 1884 and spent his childhood on his family's farm. Owing to the support of Missouri political boss Thomas Pendergast, Truman arrived in the United States Senate in 1935 with a poor reputation and the derisive nickname of “Senator from Pendergast.” Truman soon displayed his talent for candid speech and determination but his first term in office proved unremarkable. Truman voted for almost all of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal initiatives but gained little attention from the president. In 1940 he won what he called his toughest campaign for re-election, without Pendergast’s support. After World War II began, Truman chaired the Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program, popularly known as “The Truman Committee,” to investigate rumors of fraud and waste in the war effort. This successful investigation saved taxpayers millions of dollars and made him a household name. In 1944 he was chosen as Roosevelt’s running mate. Truman became president when Roosevelt died on April 12, 1945.