Harry S Truman  

33rd President of the United States

During his few weeks as Vice President, Harry S Truman scarcely saw President Roosevelt, and received no briefing on the development of the atomic bomb or the unfolding difficulties with Soviet Russia. Suddenly these and a host of other wartime problems became Truman's to solve when, on April 12, 1945, he became President.  He told reporters, "I felt like the moon, the stars, and all the planets had fallen on me."  Truman was born in Lamar, Missouri, in 1884. He grew up in Independence, and for 12 years prospered as a Missouri farmer.  He went to France during World War I as a captain in the Field Artillery.  Returning, he married Elizabeth Virginia Wallace, and opened a haberdashery in Kansas City.  Active in the Democratic Party, Truman was elected a judge of the Jackson County Court (an administrative position) in 1922.  He became a Senator in 1934. During World War II he headed the Senate war investigating committee, checking into waste and corruption and saving perhaps as much as 15 billion dollars.  As President, Truman made some of the most crucial decisions in history. Soon after V-E Day, the war against Japan had reached its final stage. An urgent plea to Japan to surrender was rejected. Truman, after consultations with his advisers, ordered atomic bombs dropped on cities devoted to war work. Two were Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Japanese surrender quickly followed.  In June 1945 Truman witnessed the signing of the charter of the United Nations, hopefully established to preserve peace.  Thus far, he had followed his predecessor's policies, but he soon developed his own. He presented to Congress a 21-point program, proposing the expansion of Social Security, a full-employment program, a permanent Fair Employment Practices Act, and public housing and slum clearance. The program, Truman wrote, "symbolizes for me my assumption of the office of President in my own right."  It became known as the Fair Deal. Dangers and crises marked the foreign scene as Truman campaigned successfully in 1948.  In foreign affairs he was already providing his most effective leadership.  In 1947 as the Soviet Union pressured Turkey and, through guerrillas, threatened to take over Greece, he asked Congress to aid the two countries, enunciating the program that bears his name--the Truman Doctrine.  The Marshall Plan, named for his Secretary of State, stimulated spectacular economic recovery in war-torn western Europe. When the Russians blockaded the western sectors of Berlin in 1948, Truman created a massive airlift to supply Berliners until the Russians backed down.  Meanwhile, he was negotiating a military alliance to protect Western nations, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, established in 1949.  In June 1950, when the Communist government of North Korea attacked South Korea, Truman conferred promptly with his military advisers. There was, he wrote, "complete, almost unspoken acceptance on the part of everyone that whatever had to be done to meet this aggression had to be done. There was no suggestion from anyone that either the United Nations or the United States could back away from it." A long, discouraging struggle ensued as U.N. forces held a line above the old boundary of South Korea. Truman kept the war a limited one, rather than risk a major conflict with China and perhaps Russia.  Deciding not to run again, he retired to Independence; at age 88.

Masonic History

Truman petitioned Belton Lodge No. 450, Grandview, Mo. on December 21, 1908 when he was 24 years old.  He was elected on February 9, 1909, and received his first degree that evening.  He was passed March 9, and raised March 18, 1909.  The following year he accepted the station of Junior Warden, but in 1911, several members of Belton Lodge separated to establish a new Lodge--Grandview Lodge No. 618, and Truman was honored by being made the first Worshipful Master.  Later, he served as secretary of the Lodge, and in 1917, when leaving for WW I, he was again Master of the Lodge.  After the war he was appointed district deputy grand lecturer, and district deputy grand master of the 59th Masonic district.  He remained in these stations from 1925 until his appointment in the grand lodge line in 1930.  In that year he became grand pursuivant through the appointment of Grand Master William R. Gentry of St. Louis.  In September, 1940 when the grand lodge met, Truman was running for U.S. Senator and the political situation was heated.  Notwithstanding, he was elected Grand Master, and a few weeks later, U.S. Senator.  During his year as Grand Master, Congress was in session most of the time, yet he found time to make individual visits to 19 Missouri Masonic Lodges; 6 district associations; both confrences of district deputies; presented several 50-year pins; visited the Grand Lodge of Texas and District of Colombia; attended an anniversary gathering of Philadelphia Lodge, and in Jefferson City attended a Masonic dinner at which Gov. Forrest C. Donnell, grand senior warden, was present and 128 Lodges were represented by 394 Master Masons, including 80 members of the Missouri Legislature.  Representing Missouri at the Washington conference of Grand Masters in February 1941, he presented Missouri's check for $1,900 to the Washington Memorial at Alexandria.  It was also during his year that the Missouri Lodge of Research was established and both the dispensation and charter were signed by him.  Long interested in the Research Lodge, he served as its Master in 1950, while President of the United States.  In this capacity he secured the offices of the Library of Congress, and furnished the Research Lodge with copies of the vast amount of reference cards on Freemasonry that are on file in that institution.  He again aided the Missouri Lodge of Research by writing the forward for Volume 1 of 10,000 Famous Freemasons, published in 1957.  While President, he was never too busy to go out of his way to render a Masonic service.  During this period he raised more than 30 candidates with the strict injunction that no publicity was to come from his participation.  His capitular degrees were received in Orient Chapter No. 102 of Kansas City on November 11 and 15, 1919; the cryptic degrees in Shekinah Council No. 24, Kansas City on December 18, 1919; the orders of knighthood in Palestine Commandery No. 17 of Independence on June 7 and 15, 1923.  His Scottish Rite Degrees were received in Kansas City, January 24, March 27, 30 and 31, 1917.  On October 19, 1945, he received the 33rd Degree (SJ) at Washington D.C. while president.  He became a member of Ararat Shrine Temple, Kansas City, April 2, 1917.  He was orator of that body in 1932., marshal in 1933, and second ceremonial master in 1934.  He became a member of the Royal Order of Jesters, Kansas City Court No. 54 on December 18, 1931.  He was also a member of Mary Conclave, Red Cross of Constantine, Kansas City.  He was the grand representative of the Grand Lodge of Scotland near the Grand Lodge of Missouri.  Mrs. Truman, the former Bess Wallace, is the daughter of David W. Wallace, who was Grand Commander of the Grand Commandery, Knights Templar of Missouri in 1892.  His sister, Mary Jane Truman, is pasr grand matron of the Order of Eastern Star of Missouri.

 He died December 26, 1972, after a stubborn fight for life.




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