33. Harry S. Truman

“The Haberdasher”

Presidential Basics

  • Full name: Harry S. Truman
  • Years in office: 1945–1953
  • Political party: Democratic
  • Vice president: None (term following FDR’s death); Alben W. Barkley (elected term)
  • Age at inauguration: 60
  • Nicknames: “The Haberdasher,” “Give ‘Em Hell Harry”

Random Trivia

  • Pete the squirrel: Truman would often take walks around the White House grounds with his squirrel, Pete.

Birth & Death

  • Birthday: May 8, 1884
  • Birthplace: Lamar, Missouri
  • Death: December 26, 1972
  • Place of death: Kansas City, Missouri
  • Place of burial: Independence, Missouri
  • Last words: Unknown


  • Father: John Anderson Truman (1851–1914); Farmer
  • Mother: Martha Ellen Young Truman (1852–1947)
  • Wife: Elizabeth Virginia Wallace (1885 – 1982)
  • Marriage: June 28, 1919 in Missouri
  • Kids: One
    • Mary Margaret (1924–2008)
  • Home: Truman Farm Home in Grandview, Missouri

Other Facts

  • Height: 5’7″
  • Eye color: Blue
  • Ancestry: Scotch-English
  • Religion: Baptist
  • Born in a log cabin: No
  • Owned enslaved people: No
  • Freemason: Yes


  • Early education: Public high school
  • College degree: No
  • College: Kansas City School of Law (1923 – 1925)


  • Military Service: Yes
  • Lawyer: No
  • Reporter, timekeeper, bank clerk (1901–1906)
  • Farmer (1906–1917)
  • Captain in 129th Field Artillery in World War I (1917–1919)
  • Owner of haberdashery in Kansas City (1919–1922)
  • Judge, Jackson County Court (1922–1924)
  • Presiding County Judge (1926–1934)
  • U.S. Senator (1935–1945)
  • Vice President: FDR’s administration (1945)
  • President (1945–1953)
  • Writer


  • Memoirs


With an approval rating hovering around 35%, Truman was no shoo-in for the presidency in 1948.  His opponent was the popular New York governor who had given FDR a run for his money, Thomas Dewey.

To gain support Truman went on a “whistle stop” tour of the U.S., with the longest trip taking Truman 15 days and from Pennsylvania to California.  He campaigned for New Deal ideas like a higher minimum wage, federal housing, and federal health insurance.  And, when southern Democrats formed the States’ Rights Party, Truman added Civil Rights to his Democratic platform.

News reports on the night of the election claimed that Dewey would win.  The Chicago Tribune contributed to Truman’s famous picture holding the headline that states “Dewey Defeats Truman.”  But, in the end, Truman wins, holding the office for four more years.

Campaign Poster

Beat High Prices: Elect Harry S. Truman, President.  Alben W. Barkley, Vice-President, photograph of a campaign poster, 1948 (Harry S. Truman Library and Museum)


© 2021 Periodic Presidents, PJ and Jamie Creek