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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.
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 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 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.
The first use of an atomic bomb in warfare took place on August 6, 1945. The weapon was dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima by the U.S. bomber Enola Gay, instantaneously destroying four square miles in the middle of the population center. The blast killed 66,000 men, women, and children, and injured an additional 69,000. A full 67 percent of Hiroshima's buildings, transportation systems, and urban structures were destroyed.
The next atomic bomb to be dropped in warfare was detonated over the Japanese city of Nagasaki three days later. That blast killed 39,000 civilians and injured another 25,000; 40 percent of...

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