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tv   American Artifacts Harry Trumans Presidential Library  CSPAN  April 19, 2019 8:50pm-9:25pm EDT

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executives. and saturday at 2:30:00 p.m. eastern, book tv has live coverage with historians talking about the presidents, noted historians rank america's best and worst chief executives. presidential leadership tuesday at 7:00 p.m. eastern on cspan for mt. vernon and saturday at 2:30 on cspan 2 from the museum. . cspan stopped in independence missouri for a tour of the harry s human presidential library. but first a news reel from the opening of the library in 1957. . >> in independence, missouri, the harry s truman library becomes a reality. a noted amateur historian, a
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crowd of 10,000 witnesses the me sonic rights of dedication. >> this library is not the library it's a billing where the idea of keeping the records of the government in an orderly manner, it'll take a little while to get that done. but this place will be the center of the study of the presidency of the united states. stoush the truman library was actually the second presidential library established and run by the national archives and records administration. but harry truman was the first president to actually use his library to be an instrumental force in his library. he worked here between five and six days a week in his office here at the library from 1957 when the library opened until the mid 60s when his health
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started deteriorating. as you enter the museum, one of the first things you'll see is the famous buck stops here and was given to truman and became the icon object of the truman administration. because he was known so much for his decisive action and the fact that he believes very sib sincerely in taking responsibility for his own decisions. now this particular sign was made in the pain shop of the el reno federal reformatory in oklahoma. and the warden of the reformatory sent this to truman. and truman said in press conferences, yvonne my desk a sign that says the buck stops here -- i have on my desk -- we have never found a photograph of it on the oval office desk. until we find a photograph showing it on his desk in the oval office, we've displayed it out here. we're standing in a replica of
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the oval office as it appeared in truman's administration. harry truman became president april 12th 1945 upon the sudden death of franklin roosevelt. roosevelt was president for many years. and people had known no other president. harry truman was suddenly thrust into the office. and this office here is actually depicted as it appeared in the summer of 1950 shortly after the korean war started. its decorated exactly the way it was on a particular day in august 1950. many of the items around the room are very typical of truman. the desk is cluttered with a lot of trinkets that were given to truman over the years. and these are the items that happened to be on his desk on that day in august 1950. the furniture in the room is all reproduction furniture. because the original furniture is still at the white house.
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however, most of the items on the walls and on the tops of the desks and so forth are originals. there are a few exceptions. but one of the most interesting pieces is the large globe in front of the fireplace mantle. in 1945, in july of 1945, harry truman went to the pop stand conference. while he was on that trip he visited general eisenhower who was the supreme allied commander during world war ii. and eisenhower gave truman this globe that was one that eisenhower had used throughout the war. the irony about this is truman wrought the globe back, put it in his oval office, and of course he was succeeded in 1953 by former general, now president, dwight eisenhower. truman left the globe in the office for eisenhower when he got there. >> harry s truman took the momentous oath of office as president of the united states.
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with the world at war, he accepted the gravest responsibility in world history a new commander in chief to lead our nation to ultimate victory. >> just a few hours before he had been notified and summoned to the white house and notified that president roosevelt had died and this photo behind me is a scene of truman being sworn in as president. you can sort of see the shock on the people's faces. the bible that you see in the photograph is also on display behind me. he obviously was not prepared to be sworn in as president. and so they just searched around and found a bible in the usher's office at the white house. truman used the same bible to be sworn in when he was reelected in 1948. most americans had no idea who harry truman was. franklin roosevelt was president longer than any other president. a lot of people e he was the only president they had known. now harry truman, who had only
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been vice president for 82 days is suddenly sworn in as president. >> the combined air might of the united nations is loosed upon war plants in nazi occupied europe. >> the world was in turmoil with wars in europe and the pacific. the war in europe was almost over. and in fact, germany surrendered on may 7th 1945. the next morning was harry truman's birthday. so the war in europe ended fairly quickly. but the war in japan in the pacific was continuing. there were fire bombing raids going on in tokyo, more than 100,000 people were killed in a single fire bombing raid. but in the midst of all this, truman also wanted to continue on some of franklin roosevelt's initiatives. one of the main ones being the founding of the united nations. so in june of 1945, you went to
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san francisco and signed the united nations charter. the first four months of truman's presidency are probably the most dramatic four -- first four months of any president in american history. of course in august, 1945, the atomic bomb had been perfected. and the first bomb was dropped on hiroshima. >> a short time ago, an american airplane got dropped one bomb on hiroshima. with this bomb we've now added a new and revolutionary increase in destruction. to supplement the growing power of our armed forces. >> people often ask if that was truman's most difficult decision? and he always said no, it wasn't. he actually felt that his committing troops to korea at the beginning of the korean war was his most difficult decision. a second bomb was then dropped
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on nothing is a can i. and then japan surrenders. so in a span of four months, harry truman has over seen the end of the wars in europe and japan. at the end of world war ii, the united states emerged as the only country in the world that had actually become more prosperous during the war. but the united states still had a real problem. harry truman remembered from his own world war i experience, he came back and he set up a business with his friend, eddie jacobson and that business went broke during a depression after world war i. so one of truman's goals at the end of the second world war was to try to have a rational, logical, reckon version of the military economy back to a peacetime economy. people had earned money during the war. but there was nothing to spend
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it on during the war. so there was a lot of pent up urge on the part of consumers to spend money after the war, to buy things. and that of course would put extreme pressure on prices. and prices would go up. so truman was trying to use the government to kind of balance all of this out and make a smoother reckon version from a military economy to a peacetime economy. truman had this habit of writing what we call diary entries. they're actually just written on loose leaf pieces of paper. but in this particular one, truman is venting his anger at the unions for opposing him and his post war economic policies. truman says, let's give the country back to the people. let's put transportation and
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production back to work. hang a few traitors, and make our own country safe for democracy. tell russia where to get off and make the united nations work. come on boys, let's do the job. truman used these diary entries to vent his own frustrations. they were not made public during his lifetime. but it was a way for him to actually get over his anger about many issues. and we see this throughout his presidency. once the united states had gone through its reconversion from a military to a peacetime economy, consumer spending went way up. it was really the beginning of the post war economic boom which lasted for a number of years. and so americans were becoming very consumer-oriented. but the situation was much different in europe after the war. in europe, not only was there the physical damage from world
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war ii city still remaining -- still remaining but europe went through one of the worst winters in record. and there were a lot of people who were starving in europe. but there was a lot of political unrest as well. so the fear became, in the united states, on the part of the truman administration, the fear became, we have to do something to help europe out. help these countries of europe out. so that they don't fall to the threat of political instability or communism. the truman administration responds to the challenges in europe. it really took two forms. it became the policy of the government to support countries that were having difficulties. and that started with what we called the truman doctrine. based on a speech that truman game in 1947. >> if we falter in our leadership, we may endanger the peace of the world. and we shall surely endanger
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the welfare of this nation. great responsibilities have been placed upon us by the swift movement of events. i am confident that the congress will face these responsibilities squarely. >> the key line of the speech is here, it says i believe that it must be the policy of the united states to support free peoples who are resisting attempted sub jew allegation by armed minorities and by outside pressures. -- resisting subjugation -- the british were pretty much bank corrupt after world war ii and they said they could no longer provide financial aid. so truman stepped in with the truman doctrine to make it the policy of the united states to support some of these countries. and then that eventually led to truman's bigger foreign policy
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initiative, which was the marshall plan: named after george marshal. who was the secretary of state at the time, but of course had also been the leader of the military forces during world war ii. >> the only solution that i see is to establish a firm front. a more resolute front. the more effective it will be. and the efforts to convey that this is an aggressive front of course are pure propaganda. >> the idea was that the united states would provide financial assistance. but the european countries who agreed to join the marshall plan, had to work among themselves to decide how the money would be spent. and it was primarily used on big infrastructure projects that helped rebuild the infrastructure of european nations. it's considered one of the most successful foreign policy initiatives in the history of the united states. this is a letter that harry
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truman wrote to his wife, bess. bess spent sparta of the year back here in independence. one of the gems of our collection is we have more than 1300 of harry truman's letters to his wife bess. and he just doesn't talk about the weather. he talks about real issues happening. he's using her as a sounding board. and he did that through his whole life. he would run things passed her. and there's not much public, bess did not like to be a public person. but we do know that he confided in her and he trusted her judgment. in this particular case, he's talking about the marshall plan and he says dear bess, yesterday was one of the most hectic of days as i've told you. i'm not sure what's been my worst day. but here is a situation fraught with terrible consequences. and then he goes on to talk about what if we don't give foreign aid to these countries.
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we could devolve into another war which would be very frightful. at the same time n the late 40s. when truman and his foreign policy advisorrings had put together things like the truman doctrine and the marshall plan. the tensions between the united states and the soviet union were growing much stronger. it was basically the beginning of what we now know as the cold war. and truman's foreign policy advisors had worked through and recommended that the united states form a military alliance with other european countries and so nato became formed in 1949. it's the first peacetime alliance that the united states had had. the hot point of this was the whole issue of berlin. at the end of world war ii, germany was divided. and -- into zones of occupation. and the eastern zone was controlled by the soviet union.
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the western zones by the united states, great britain, and france. but the capitol of germany, berlin, was buried deep inside the soviet zone. and so when tensions between the united states and the soviet union became too great, the soviet union blockaded berlin. and so the question for harry truman was, what do we do? do we relinquish bullet berlin. do we send in military forces potentially starting world world war iii? what is our solution? to provide supplies into berlin from the air. once this got started, it turned out to be quite successful. and it really expanded. and at one point, on a daily basis, almost 600 -- about 594 planes each day flew supplies into berlin to keep the city going.
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and they would not only air lift in food and fuel. the air lift went on for well over a year. but the soviet union eventually backed down and reopened the access to berlin. this exhibit is about truman's decision to recognize the state of israel in june of 1948. coming out of world war ii, there were many displaced persons throughout europe and of course the holocaust had devastated the jews in europe. so truman had a particular interest in trying to help the survivors of the holocaust. and many of them tried to get to palestine. and the british had tried to keep them from getting into palestine. but the british made notice that like they had done in greece and turkey, there would become a point where they would not be able to do financial aid that they had been doing. and so that date was mid may of
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1948. so at that point, truman knew that a decision had to be made as to whether or not he would recognize the proposed state of israel that was being proposed by the jewish community. and this led to the most profound debate within his own administration. he had advisors on both sides of the issue, of those who opposed it, the person truman respected the most is george marshal. of those who supported the idea of recognizing israel, truman followed the advice of domestic advisor, clark clifford. ultimately it came could be to the day truman decided to recognize the state of israel. and he did so with this little press release here. it's a very simple little press release. in which he states that he recognizes the state of israel. and it's dated may 14th 1948. at the bottom you notice it
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says 6:11 that's the time of day in washington. that's 11 minutes after israel was actually founded. so the united states became first nation to recognize israel. reaction at the time was favorable to the decision. it remains in the news today. you read your daily news papers and you know the issue has not gone away. there are still tensions. great tensions in the middle east. so like many of truman's decisions he made at the time, a lot of those decisions still effect us today. and the recognition of israel is one of the biggest. . >> the decisive battle has arrived. people are going to have to choose one side or the other. the democratic party and i have nothing to conceal. >> in is 1948, truman decided to run for second term as president. he was trailing very, very
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badly in the polls. he was receiving a hot of criticism. in 1946, what had been a democratic congress had been replaced with a republican congress. so truman faced an uphill battle in his 1948 presidential election campaign. he decided to make it a whistle stop tour. and we saw the pictures of he and bess and margaret standing on the back of the train. this is a reproduction of the ferdinand magellan. the train car he road over much of the country. we have a map of his whistle stop campaigns. it shows a number of different train trips across the country. what really stands out in this map are two areas of the country that he really did not visit. one is the south. and there's a really logical explanation for this. in those days, the south was considered a solidly democratic block. there was no fear on the part of truman's staff that he would lose the south to his
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republican rival, thomas dewey. the other area is the upper midwest, which was pretty much avoided simply because it had very few electoral votes. at every whistle stop, truman would do the same pattern. he had a four-part speech. or a little talk. the first part was thanking his local community for inviting him and then recognizing a local dignitary there. the second part was that he would talk about the great accomplishments that had been made under democratic administrations from franklin roosevelt through harry truman. the third part was he would attack not his republican opponent, thomas dewey, but the republican do nothing congress. he ran against congress. and he said that they would, if they were allowed to go on, they would take away all the benefits in a the democrats had brought people over the years. and then final ri, if bess and margaret were with him on the
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train, he would say and now i'd like to introduce the boss. and bess would come out. if margaret was there too, he'd say and i'd like to introduce the boss' boss and margaret would come out and they'd wave and then he'd move on to the next whistle stop. to almost everybody's surprise except harry truman himself. truman wins the election in is 1948. there's the famous shot of him where he holds up a copy of the chicago tribune that was printed earlier and mistakingly said dewey won the election. so that became one of the most famous photos of the whole truman administration. we do have a copy of that news paper on display in the case in front of the photograph. as truman now has been elected in his own right, he not only won the election, but he brought with him a democratic congress. so the democratic president, democratic congress. truman feels he has the ability to pass significant legislation.
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>> peace and freedom will emphasize four major courses of action. >> he proposes what's been called the fair deal. it's a whole series of legislative proposals, domestic proposals that truman had issued and he made a speech in his inaugural speech and it had a whole number of planks on it. what truman discovered is it's harder to actually pass legislation than he thought. even with a democratic congress. so the blue areas up here are things that he was able to get through congress. but you can see all the red, for some of his proposals that did not pass congress. >> this is a map of asia. it's actually an inverted globe of asia. and this is another one of the unintended things that truman found after his election in 1948. in addition to the fair deal, suddenly, during a second term,
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there became a number of hot spots in asia. during his first term, he had focused mostly on europe. you know the marshall plan, truman doctrine. but in the beginning of 1949, truman's second term, there were a number of places in asia that started causing problems. one was the communist forces in china were overwhelming the nationalist forces. and so it became inevitable that the communists would take over china. another was in all of southeast asia, the colonial governments, preworld war ii colonial governments were collapsing. there were a number of nationalist movements going on in southeast asia. finally, the big issue truman faced during the second term, was the korean war that broke out in the korean peninsula. so this part of the exhibit, we call ten fateful months. it's really the ten months
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after truman was inaugurated for his second term and things are going on all over the world. china is going to the communists. also the soviet union exploded their own atomic bomb. and so suddenly there's the united states is not the only nation with an atomic bomb but the soviet union has one as well. and it causes truman to support the development of a hydrogen bomb. so the cold war between the soviet union and the united states is really ramping up. and the ramifications of that are both international and domestic. so on the domestic front, there's a real push, mostly by republicans, but also by democrats to root out communists in the american government. once it was discovered that there were spies that had stolen atomic secrets, then people became very suspicious of other government employees.
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the fear of communism was both domestic and international. over on the side over here, we have a number of posters and booklets, anti-communist booklets, there were movies, anti-communist movies, information about building bomb shelters. and a general feel that the united states was infiltrated by communists. as a result of that, there was a development developed called nfc 68. it was a document that basic hi called for all out anti- communist efforts on behalf of the united states government. really ramping up funding for military, for also for espionage and so forth. and this is a copy of the nfc 68 report. truman was very skeptical of this when it first came out in april of 1950. but as we see, as the korean war gets going, truman
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gradually comes around to supporting the further exploration of the provisions of nfc 68. and it could be called the point at which the military industrial complex began. as sort of the under pinnings of what became the military industrial complex. the real hot point in truman's second term was the korean war. when in late june, 1950, north korean forces suddenly crossed the 38th parallel into south korea. truman was here in independence at his home. and he got a call that that had happened. and he immediately flew back to washington so they could have meetings about what to do about the north korean i investigation of south korea. now the concern on truman's part was who was actually behind this invasion? was it just the rogue leader of north korea? who decided to launch an attack on south korea? or was he being backed by the
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soviet union and or china? and so truman's fear was if we got too involved in it, it could trigger world world war three. sort of the same situation he had in europe with the berlin crisis. but he ultimately decided to authorize american forces who were stationed in japan as an occupation force. he authorized them to go to korea to stop the north korean invasion. and one of the interesting things, again, is one of his diary entries, this one is dated june 30th 1950. and he says that frank pace, the army secretary had called him. and said that general mcarthur, who was the commander in asia had asked for ground troops to be sent in to korea. and ultimately, truman authorized that. but he, in the process, he did a lot of his thinking in these diary entries that he would write out. and so in this one, he talks
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about the process he went through to decide to authorize sending american troops to korea. but he also wanted to make it a united nations effort. so he tried to enlist nationalist chinese forces, forces from australia, canada, and a number of other nations. and they became a united nations force. although the americans provided the dominant number of military troops. truman always said that the decision to commit american forces to south korea was the most difficult decision he made as president. and the reason for that was this whole question about whether -- would it start world war iii? troops had just come back from the second world war five years earlier. america is tired of being at war. would americans support it? would it lead to a wider engagement against china?
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these are a lot of tough questions he's wrestling with. for those reasons he thought it was the most difficult decision he made as president. and there never has been an actual peace treaty at the end of the war. it's based on an armiestous. technically they're still at war. they just have an armestous in place. >> i immediately got in my car. we had a wonderful luncheon. thing ever then i went town to the station to lgbt town. and you never saw such a turn out at that station. it was estimated by the washington police that there were 9,000 people there. >> when truman decided not to run for another term as president. he and bess happily came back to independence and moved into the house they shared since
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they were married in 1919. so what does a former president end up doing? truman was still healthy. he did not have a really secure future. but he did know he was clear about separating harry truman the man from harry truman the president. so when he came back to independence, he literally wanted to become part of the community again to return home as a child, he read about cincinatus. he learned lessons from george washington, who had his home. went to war, went to lead the country. and went back home. this is what he wanted to do. so he came back to independence and really di sired to be a typical person, a citizen of independence we hope when visitors come here they learn
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several things. it comes back to the buck stops here sign earlier. the whole idea of taking responsibility for your decisions. making decisions but then staying with them, living with them. not passing the buck to someone else. the other is the requested of pun hick service. americans owe something to their country. they shouldn't expect to get paid back for it. it should be part of their public service to their community, whether it's local, state, national, whatever, the other thing is learning. harry truman was a voracious reader. and he wanted to encourage people to read. we hope the exhibits tell the tip of the iceberg about truman and his decisions. but what we really want people to do is to go home and read more about their history. read more about the presidency. read more about the american government. this is a special edition of american history tv.
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a sample of the compelling history programs that air every weekend on american history tv. like lectures in history, american artifacts, real america, the civil war, oral histories, the presidency, and special event coverage about our nation's history. enjoy american history tv. now and every weekend on cspan 3. this weekend on cspan. saturday at 8:00 eastern. a forum on immigration policy. and how to protect immigrant children. on sunday at 6:30:00 p.m., hi storians, authors, and community activists discuss the history and intersection of islamaphobia, anti-semitism, and white supremacy. and at 9:00, president george w. bush and former defense secretary robert gates talk about governing and leadership. saturday on book tv on cspan 2.
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we take you to the san antonio book festival. then sunday at 9:00 eastern on after words. arthur brooks on his book, love your enemies. saturday night on american history tv on cspan 3. at 10:00 p.m. eastern, on real america, the 1942 u.s. agriculture department's film, democracy at work in puerto rico. profiling the island's history, culture, and challenges. then sunday at 4:30 eastern, former u.s. secretary of state, condoleezza rice, on the changing role of u.s. democracy and foreign policy over the last 100 years. watch this weekend on the cspan networks. up next, american history tv visits harry and bess truman's home in independence, missouri.


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