Harry S Truman was born MAY 8, 1884. His parents had met at the Blue Ridge Baptist Church located on the front yard of the Soloman Young farm next to the Truman farm.
In 1902, at the age of 18, he was baptized at Benton Boulevard Baptist Church.
In 1916, he became a member of Grandview Baptist Church.
In a letter to his future wife, Bess Wallace, March 19, 1911 (Papers Relating to Family, Business, and Personal Affairs), Truman wrote:
"I believe in people living what they believe and talking afterwards."
His first job was working as a timekeeper for the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway.
In 1905, he worked clerical jobs in downtown Kansas City.
Truman clerked at The Kansas City Star, and the National Bank of Commerce, with a coworker being Arthur Eisenhower, brother of Dwight Eisenhower.
He also met a clothing store clerk named Eddie Jacobson, the son of poor Jewish immigrants from Lithuania, with whom he later went into business with.
Harry Truman enlisted in the Missouri National Guard, though he was almost rejected due to poor eyesight, (20/50 in his right eye and 20/400 in his left).
When the U.S. entered World War I, over a million soldiers were sent to Europe.
Truman was made captain of a field artillery battery in France.
During a night attack by Germans in the Vosges Mountains, his soldiers began to flee, but he rallied them to stay and fight.
In the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, September 27, 1918, Truman saw through his binoculars an enemy artillery battery preparing to fire on a nearby American division. He ordered his men to open fire, saving the division.
He later provided support for George S. Patton's tank brigade.
Not one man was lost out of Truman's battery.
Another soldier serving in the same battalion as Truman was his Jewish friend Eddie Jacobson.
In addition to their other responsibilities, they partnered together to run their army unit's canteen.
After the War, Truman and Eddie Jacobson opened a haberdashery -- men's clothing story, in downtown Kansas City.
Well-liked by his customers, he ran for office and was elected a Jackson County official in 1922.
After serving as a a county judge, he was elected a U.S. Senator from Missouri in 1934.
He was supported by the Kansas City political machine of Tom Pendergast, whose nephew served with Truman in the military.
In 1943, Senator Truman sponsored the bill to designate the birthplace of famous black scientist George Washington Carver as a National Monument -- the first national monument dedicated to an African American.
In the President's Secretary's Files, 1945, is a handwritten note of Truman's:
"I'm a Baptist because I think that sect gives the common man the shortest and most direct approach to God."
In his Memoirs-Volume Two: Years of Trial and Hope (1956), he wrote:
"When I was in the Senate, I had told my colleagues, Senator Wagner of New York and Senator Taft of Ohio, that I would go along on a resolution putting the Senate on record in favor of the speedy achievement of the Jewish homeland."
Senator Harry S. Truman was chosen to be Vice-President under Franklin D. Roosevelt.
On February 14, 1945, Franklin Roosevelt, in poor health, met with King Abdul Aziz ibm Saud on the USS Quincy in the Suez Canal on his way back from the Yalta Conference.
Roosevelt then wrote to King Abdul Aziz ibn Saud, April 5, 1945, promising that as long as he was President, America would not recognize a Jewish State:
"I communicated to you the attitude of the American Government toward Palestine ... that no decision be taken ...
I assured you that I would take no action, in my capacity as Chief of the Executive ... with regard to the question of Palestine ... The policy of this Government ... is unchanged."
Within a week of that letter, the ailing Roosevelt died.
Harry S Truman became the 33rd President.
Truman quoted an Old Testament scripture in his first address Congress, April 16, 1945:
"Our forefathers came to our rugged shores in search of religious tolerance, political freedom and economic opportunity. For those fundamental rights, they risked their lives.
We well know today that such rights can be preserved only by constant vigilance -- the eternal price of liberty! ...
At this moment, I have in my heart a prayer.
As I have assumed my heavy duties, I humbly pray Almighty God, in the words of King Solomon:
'Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad; for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?' (I Kings 3:9)
I ask only to be a good and faithful servant of my Lord and my people."
Since World War I, Britain controlled the Palestine area of the Middle East, but limited Jewish immigration there with the British White Papers.
Frustrated with Arab-Israeli tensions, British foreign minister, Ernest Bevin, declared:
“England is going to leave on May 15, 1948. We give the problem to the United Nations.”
The UN’s solution was a partition plan of an Arab state and a Jewish state, which Israeli leader Ben Gurion accepted, but Arabs refused, leaving it up to the U.N. General Assembly to decide.
It looked as though the U.S. did not favor the plan and it would be voted down.
Israeli leader Chaim Weizmann traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet with President Truman, but he declined.
Then Eddie Jacobson, Truman's longtime Jewish friend, placed a call:
“Mr. President, Harry, you’ve got to do me this one favor. See this tired, old man. He’s come halfway across the world to see you. Just give him a few minutes of your time.”
Truman agreed to meet.
Weizmann told him:
“You have the opportunity of the ages. If you’ll stay strong now, you’ll go down in history for all eternity.”
Truman was so impressed with Weizmann that he agreed to support the new State of Israel.
The message was immediately sent to U.S Ambassador Warren Austin at the United Nations, which, providentially, interrupted his speech where he was explaining that the U.S. did not back the plan.
After talking with Truman on the phone, Warren Austin returned to his audience, saying:
“President Truman has instructed me that the United States supports in full the partition plan as adopted by the United Nations and will work to see it implemented.”
On May 15, 1948, the United Nations voted to recognize the State of Israel.
The chief negotiator of the 1949 Armistice Agreements between Israel and Egypt, Lebanon, Jordon, and Syria was African American Ralph Bunche -- for which he became the first black to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
Truman offered Bunche numerous high-level foreign policy positions, but Bunche respectfully declined.
Truman commented at a Press Conference (New York Times, August 17, 1945):
"The American view on Palestine is that we want to let as many of the Jews into Palestine as it is possible."
He wrote to Winston Churchill, July 24, 1945:
"The drastic restrictions imposed on the Jewish immigration by the British White Paper of May, 1939, continue to provoke passionate protest from Americans most interested in Palestine and in the Jewish problem.
They fervently urge the lifting of these restrictions which deny to Jews, who have been so cruelly uprooted by ruthless Nazi persecutions, entrance into the land which represents for so many of them their only hope of survival."
President Harry S Truman stated, April 3, 1951:
"There is a lesson for us in the passage from the Bible ...
The Book of Ezra describes the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem after the long captivity in Babylon ...
The writer describes the people shouting with a great shout when the foundation of the new temple was laid ... Some of those in the crowd, particularly the old men, did not shout. They wept ...
These were the men who remembered all the sacrifices -- all the suffering of all the people -- what their people had undergone during the captivity.
They knew that these sacrifices had not been made in vain. They realized that, in spite of all their troubles, and in the face of overwhelming odds, their faith had prevailed.
And so they were too deeply moved to shout; they wept for joy. They gave thanks to God 'because He is good, for His mercy endureth forever.'"
In Memoirs-Volume Two: Years of Trial and Hope, 1956, President Truman referred to a note he had written to an assistant:
"I surely wish God Almighty would give the Children of Israel an Isaiah, the Christians a St. Paul, and the Sons of Ishmael a peep at the Golden Rule."
"Golden Rule" is a reference to Jesus' Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 7:12):
"Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you: do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets"
Truman told the Attorney General's Conference, February 15, 1950:
"The fundamental basis of this nation's laws was given to Moses on the Mount.
The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings we get from Exodus and St. Matthew, from Isaiah and St. Paul.
I don't think we emphasize that enough these days.
If we don't have a proper fundamental moral background, we will finally end up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in rights for anybody except the State!"
On March 29, 1949, Pastor Welburn Bowman of the Grandview Baptist Church visited President Truman at the White House regarding plans rebuild the church on a larger site.
Pastor Bowman recalled: "He said he would give us a substantial amount ... He didn't commit himself as far as dollars and cents were concerned--but he did say, 'I'll give you a substantial gift' ... He sent two checks as I recall. I'd say that two or three weeks we got the first check for $10,000. Then, perhaps in another month, or six weeks, we got another check for $10,000." (Welburn Bowman oral history interview, Truman Library, 1981.)
Not wanting a tavern on the old church site, Truman bought it and sold it to another church.
Later, Harry and Bess Truman attended services, though very seldom, as he wrote in Mr. Citizen, 1960:
"I have found that I cannot appear regularly in church, either in Grandview or Independence without feeling like a showpiece or someone on exhibit. So I do not go as often as I would want to."
Truman stated, April 3, 1951:
"Without a firm moral foundation, freedom degenerates quickly into selfishness ...
Unless men exercise their freedom ... within moral restraints, a free society can degenerate into anarchy.
Then there will be freedom only for the rapacious and those who are stronger and more unscrupulous than the rank and file of the people."
Harry S Truman wrote in his Memoirs-Volume Two: Years of Trial and Hope:
"The men who wrote the Constitution knew ... that tyrannical government had come about where the powers of government were united in the hands of one man.
The system they set up was designed to prevent a demagogue or 'a man on horseback' from taking over the powers of government ...
The most important thought expressed in our Constitution is that the power of government shall always remain limited, through the separation of powers."
Truman recorded in a personal memorandum, April 16, 1950:
"There is a lure in power. It can get into a man's blood just as gambling and lust for money have been known to do.
This is a Republic. The greatest in the history of the world. I want this country to continue as a Republic ...
When we forget the examples of such men as Washington, Jefferson and Andrew Jackson, all of whom could have had a continuation in the office, then will we start down the road to dictatorship and ruin."
He stated, March 6, 1946:
"Dictatorship ... is founded on the doctrine that the individual amounts to nothing ... the State is the only thing that counts, and that men, women and children were put on earth solely for the purpose of serving the State."
Harry S Truman stated in his Inaugural Address 1949:
"We believe that all men are created equal, because they are created in the image of God."
He wrote to John L. Sullivan, 1949:
"America is dedicated to the conviction that all people are entitled by the gift of God to equal rights and freedoms."
Truman addressed the Federal Council of Churches, March 6, 1946:
"We have just come though a decade in which the forces of evil in various parts of the world have been lined up in a bitter fight to banish from the face of the earth both of these ideals -- religion and democracy ...
The right of every human being ... to worship God in his own way, the right to fix his own relationship to his fellow men and to his Creator ... have been saved for mankind.
Let us determine to carry on in a spirit of tolerance ... in the spirit of God and religious unity."
Harry S Truman stated at Gonzaga University in Spokane, May 11, 1950:
"Society is made up of men, who are often weak, and selfish, and quarrelsome. And yet, men are the children of God.
Men have within them the Divine spark that can lead them to the truth, and unselfishness, and courage to do the right.
Men can build a good society, if they follow the will of the Lord.
Our great nation was founded on this faith. Our Constitution, and all our finest traditions, rest on a moral basis ...
... The greatest obstacle to peace is a modern tyranny led by a small group who have abandoned their faith in God.
These tyrants have forsaken ethical and moral beliefs. They believe that only force makes right.
They are aggressively seeking to expand the area of their domination.
Our effort to resist and overcome this tyranny is essentially a moral effort."
Truman stated laying the cornerstone of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, April 3, 1951:
"The essential mission of the church is to teach the moral law. We look to our churches, above all other agencies, to teach us the highest moral standards of right and wrong.
We rely on the churches particularly to instill into our young people those moral ideals which are the basis of our free institutions.
This great Republic is founded on a firm foundation based on those very principles ...
Religion is ... a positive force ... We are under divine orders -- not only to refrain from doing evil, but also to do good and to make this world a better place in which to live ..."
"Selfishness and greed can tear this Nation apart ...
Our only defense against them is to follow those moral principles which have been handed down to us by our forefathers and which are enshrined today in churches such as this one ..."
"When organized crime and vice run loose and are accepted and patronized by the people, they threaten our free institutions and debase our national life.
These evils are clearly moral issues and our religious beliefs command us to fight against them ...
We are defending the right to worship God -- each as he sees fit according to his own conscience.
We are defending the right to follow the precepts and the example which God has set for us ..."
"For the danger that threatens us in the world today is utterly and totally opposed to all these things.
The international Communist movement is based on a fierce and terrible fanaticism.
It denies the existence of God and, wherever it can, it stamps out the worship of God.
Our religious faith gives us the answer to the false beliefs of communism.
Our faith shows us the way to create a society where man can find his greatest happiness under God ...
I have the feeling that God has created us and brought us to our present position of power and strength for some great purpose. And up to now we have been shirking it."
Harry S Truman stated December 24, 1945:
"From the manger of Bethlehem came a new appeal to the minds and hearts of men: 'A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another.'
In love, which is the very essence of the message of the Prince of Peace, the world would find a solution for all its ills.
I do not believe there is one problem in this country or in the world today which could not be settled if approached through the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount ...
... In this day, whether it be far or near, the Kingdoms of this world shall become indeed the Kingdom of God and He will reign forever and ever, Lord of Lords and King of Kings."
Read as PDF ... Harry S Truman's role in World War I, in creating new State of Israel, in defending "the right to worship God"