Nickname: Give ‘Em Hell Harry

Years in office: 1945–1953

Political party: Democratic

Birthday: May 8, 1884

Official presidential portrait of Harry S. Truman

by Martha Greta Kempton, 1947

The Buck Stops Here desk sign, 1945 (Harry S. Truman Library)

This painted desk sign appeared on President Truman’s desk throughout his administration. He often referred to the slogan in speeches. The idea was that the president should never “pass the buck.” The back of the sign reads, “I’m from Missouri.”

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. He campaigned for New Deal principles such as 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 won, and held the office for four more years.


Lamar, MO


Independence, MO


Key West, FL


Independence, MO


Davis, Kenneth C., and Pedro Martin. Don’t Know Much about the Presidents. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2014.

DeGregorio, William A., and Aaron Jaffe. The Complete Book of U.S. Presidents. Fort Lee, NJ: Barricade Books, Inc., 2017.

Kane, Joseph Nathan, and Janet Podell. Facts about the Presidents: A Compilation of Biographical and Historical Information. New York: H.W. Wilson, 2009.


Encyclopedia Britannica, britannica.com

Library of Congress, loc.gov

Miller Center, University of Virginia, millercenter.org/the-presidency

The White House, whitehouse.gov

Our Book

If you enjoy our infographics, you’ll love our book!

Our Posters

Check out our full line of infographic posters for the classroom!