A Postwar World
It is 1945, and the appalling Second World War is over. It has brought devastation and horror to much of the world: London lies in ruins, as does Berlin, and Hiroshima . Only one great nation has survived intact: the United States. But, at the very moment that we have become a world superpower America has lost the strong, confident presidentFranklin Delano Rooseveltwho led us through depression and war . The vice president who replaces him seems to have little experience or confidence. But Harry Truman of Missouri will surprise everyone .
When he arrives in office President Truman puts a sign on his desk that reads, "The buck stops here." That means the president has the final word and can't blame anyone else for his decisions. He says: "The president, whoever he is has to decide. He can't pass the buck to anybody. No one else can do the deciding for him. That is his job." And right from the beginning Truman does his job with confidence. To begin, he persuades the American people to act generously to the defeated nations. He supports a plan to send billions in aid to our allies in Europe . It is called the Marshall Plan after Secretary of State George C. Marshall, but it reflects Truman's thoughts. And it includes a revolutionary plan to give help to our former enemies as well .
Truman sends General Douglas MacArthur to defeated Japan as head of an occupation army to help bring them freedom and prosperity . Japan writes a new constitution which makes it a democracy land is redistributed so more people can have it; women get the vote. The United States pours aid into Japan, giving food, clothing, medicine, and other supplies. No nation has ever done that kind of thing for a defeated foe.
Another Truman plan, Point Four, gives aid to less wealthy, less modern nations, today known as the Third World. Does everyone approve of these policies? Not at all. Some people in Europe and Asia say they don't want help from America. The Soviet Union rejects Marshall Plan aid. And some people in the U.S. yell about all the money it is costing . But their screams are nothing compared to those heard when President Truman decides to do something to help people at home.