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Truman Doctrine

Lesson Author
Required Time Frame
One forty-five minute class
Grade Level(s)
Lesson Abstract
The students will listen to an audio recording of President Truman's address to Congress, which requests that Congress appropriate financial aid to Greece and Turkey.

Note:  I teach world history to high school students who have severe emotional disabilities. Most of my students are either unable or unwilling to do extensive class work independently.  In order for these students to learn the material required by Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL), most work must be done together in class.  This lesson can easily be tailored for regular education classes.

The students will listen to an audio recording of President Truman’s address to Congress, which requests that Congress appropriate financial aid to Greece and Turkey in order to prevent starvation and suffering resulting from World War II and to halt the spread of communism.

Rationale (why are you doing this?)

Students need to know that the Truman Doctrine was one of the first events of the Cold War.

Lesson Objectives - the student will
  • Understand the policy of containment
  • Understand how the Truman Doctrine was one of the first of many important events in the Cold War
District, state, or national performance and knowledge standards/goals/skills met

Virginia Standard WHII.12 The student will demonstrate knowledge of events and outcomes of the Cold War

Benchmark:  SSWHII 12.a. Explain key events of the Cold War and the collapse of communism

Indicator: SS WHII 12.a.2  Describe the beginning of the Cold War (1945-1949) including  President Truman and the policy of containment (“Truman Doctrine”)

Missouri Standards

2. Continuity and change in the history of Missouri, the United States and the world

6. Relationships of the individual and groups to institutions and cultural traditions

7. The use of tools of social science inquiry (such as surveys, statistics, maps, documents)


Kansas Standards

Benchmark 3: The student uses a working knowledge and understanding of individuals, groups, ideas, developments, and turning points in the era of the Cold War (1945-1990).

1. (K) explains why the United States emerged as a superpower as the result of World War II.

2.(A) analyzes the origins of the Cold War (e.g., establishment of the Soviet Bloc, Mao’s victory in China, Marshall Plan, Berlin Blockade, Iron Curtain).

3. (A) evaluates the foreign policies of Truman and Eisenhower during the Cold War (e.g., establishment of the United Nations, containment, NATO, Truman Doctrine, Berlin Blockade, Korean War, Iron Curtain, U-2 incident).

Benchmark 5: The student engages in historical thinking skills.

1. (A) analyzes a theme in United States history to explain patterns of continuity and change over time.

2. (A) develops historical questions on a specific topic in United States history and analyzes the evidence in primary source documents to speculate on the answers.

Secondary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed

Teacher prepared study guide to be completed as students listen to and read the speech.

Truman Doctrine study guide is attached.

Primary sources needed (document, photograph, artifact, diary or letter, audio or visual recording, etc.) needed

Audio recording of Truman’s address to Congress on March 12, 1947

Written transcript of the speech

Technology Required

Computer to play Truman’s address to Congress

Fully describe the activity or assignment in detail. What will both the teacher and the students do?

The students will have previously learned about communism’s professed goal to induce revolution in every state to spread communism throughout the world. Before listening and reading the address, the class will discuss four major vocabulary terms: doctrine, containment, subjugation, and foreign policy. The students will follow the text of the speech as the audio is played.  After listening to and reading the speech, the teacher will ask questions about the speech leading to class discussion, and the students will complete the study guide as a group activity.


Truman Doctrine Study Guide                                              


                                                                                President Harry Truman

Vocabulary Terms














Foreign Policy





Questions Concerning the Truman Doctrine


What kind of document is the Truman Doctrine?



To whom did Truman deliver the speech?




When did Truman give the speech?




What major significant event in history had just occurred?



What was the purpose of the Truman Doctrine?     



Why did Truman think that his speech was so important?



How much money was Truman asking Congress to give to Greece and Turkey?





What were some comparisons between that Truman gave between the democratic way of life and the communist way of life?


   Democratic way of life










  Communist way of life










If Truman had not asked for the money to contain the spread of Communism, how might world history have changed?

Assessment: fully explain the assessment method in detail or create and attach a scoring guide

I teach high school students who have severe emotional disabilities.  Many of them are either unable or unwilling to do much written work independently.  Therefore, much of my assessment is oral.  The day following the activity I would ask questions relating to the study guide completed together in class. One analytical question I would ask my class is to have members speculate as to how world history may have change had Truman not asked for money to contain the spread of communism.  However, it would be easy to prepare a written assessment.  One assessment could be to have the students write and essay describing the Truman Doctrine and explaining its significance as it relates to the Cold War.