1. Harry S. Truman
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  4. Prepresidential years: (1840 family history - 1945)

Prepresidential years: (1840 family history - 1945)

Chronology Harry S. Truman's Life and Presidency

Prepresidential - 1840s-1945


The families of Solomon Young and Anderson Shipp Truman moved from Kentucky to the vicinity of Westport, Missouri, on the American frontier. Young and Truman were grandparents of Harry S. Truman. His father, John Anderson Truman, was born in 1851, and his mother Martha Ellen Young, was born in 1852.


8 May: Harry S. Truman was born in Lamar, Missouri.


Family moved to farm near Harrisonville, Missouri.


Moved to a farm owned by Solomon Young near present-day Grandview, Missouri.


Moved to 619 Crysler Street in Independence, Missouri. Young Harry met Bess Wallace for the first time in First Presbyterian Church's Sunday School.


Entered elementary school (Noland School) in Independence, Missouri.


Moved to 909 West Waldo Avenue in Independence, Missouri.


Served as a page at the Democratic National Convention in Kansas City, Missouri. Heard William Jennings Bryan speak.


Graduated from Independence High School with forty other students.

Visited aunts in Illinois and St. Louis.

Attended Spalding's Business College.

His father, John Anderson Truman, lost his savings in grain-futures market.


Worked for two weeks in mailing room of Kansas City Star.


Worked as timekeeper for L.J. Smith on Santa Fe Railroad construction project.


Joined Baptist church at age eighteen (Benton Boulevard Baptist in Kansas City, Missouri).

Moved with family to 902 N. Liberty Street in Independence, Missouri, and then to 2108 Park Avenue in Kansas City, Missouri.


Worked as clerk for National Bank of Commerce in Kansas City, Missouri.


Worked as bookkeeper for Union National Bank in Kansas City, Missouri.


Moved to rooming house at 1314 Troost Avenue in Kansas City, Missouri.


Served in Battery B of Missouri National Guard,. Entered as a private, but was soon promoted to corporal.


Moved to 600-acre family farm near Grandview, Missouri to help parents and brother, Vivian, manage and operate it.


Joined Masonic Order, Lodge No. 450, Belton, Missouri.


Began courting Bess Wallace.


Organized the first Masonic lodge in Grandview, Missouri.


Purchased his first automobile, a 1911 Stafford.


2 November: His father died.

Appointed road overseer in southern half of Washington Township.


Appointed postmaster in Grandview, Missouri.

Invested and lost money in a zinc-mining venture.


Helped organize an oil-drilling company, later named the Morgan Oil and Refining Company, and invested $10,000 in it, managing perhaps to break even before the company was dissolved in 1919. Served as its treasurer.

Joined Grandview Baptist Church, Grandview, Missouri.


June: Rejoined National Guard and was elected first lieutenant of Battery F, 2nd Missouri Artillery.

August: Sworn into regular army service as a member of 129th Field Artillery regiment.

September: Assigned to Camp Doniphan, Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and appointed canteen officer, with Sgt. Edward Jacobson as assistant.


13 April: Arrived in Brest, France, on board USS George Washington.

May: Promoted to captain, although he did not receive official notification until October.

11 July: Assigned command of Battery D, 129th Field Artillery regiment, 35th Division. Battery was composed of 188 men, 167 horses, and a complement of French-designed 75mm guns.

6 September: Engaged in first combat operation in Vosges Mountains.


11 November: Battery D fired last round at 10:45 am.


9 April: Sailed from Brest aboard liner USS Zeppelin.

6 May: Discharged from the army.

28 June: Married Elizabeth (Bess) Virginia Wallace at the bride's church, Trinity Episcopal, in Independence, Missouri and moved into home at 219 N. Delaware, Independence, Missouri, the residence of his mother-in-law, Madge Gates Wallace.

November: Opened men's haberdashery store, in partnership with Edward Jacobson, at 104 West 12th Street, Kansas City, Missouri.


Appointed major in Field Artillery, Officers Reserve Corps.


Helped form the first Reserve Officers Association unit in the United States, in Kansas City, Missouri. Became a chapter in new national association in 1922.


Haberdashery business failed as a result of business recession, but Truman refused to file a petition of bankruptcy and paid off his share of the firm's debts during the ensuing fifteen years.

With the endorsement of county Democratic party leader, T.J. Pendergast, won election as eastern judge on the Jackson County Court, an executive body that administered affairs of the county.


Attended Kansas City School of Law.


Defeated for reelection by Henry Rummel, the only election Truman ever lost.

With Spencer Salisbury, established the Community Savings and Loan Association in Independence, and served as general manager until 1932.


Worked as a membership salesman for the Kansas City Automobile Club.


Elected president of the National Old Trails Association.

Elected presiding judge of the Jackson County Court.


January: Sworn in as presiding judge of the Jackson County Court. Served two four-year terms, 1927-34.


Led successful campaign resulting in approval of a bond issue for $6.5 million to build 224 miles of paved highways in the county, and additional funds for building a county hospital.


Obtained voter approval of bond issues to complete the road system, build a new courthouse and jail in Kansas City, remodel the Independence courthouse, and construct a detention home.


Promoted to colonel in the Field Artillery Reserve.


Appointed federal reemployment director for Missouri.


May: Filed as a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate.

7 August: Won Democratic primary election with 276,850 votes; John Cochran received 236,105; and Jacob Milligan, 147,614.

6 November: Defeated incumbent Republican Roscoe C. Patterson by 262,000 votes.

27 December: Participated in the dedication of new courthouse in Kansas City.


3 January: Sworn in as U.S. Senator, along with twelve other new Democratic senators.

Assigned as a member of the Appropriations Committee and the Interstate Commerce Committee. Also served on Public Buildings and Grounds Committee and the Committee on Printing in his first term.

15 May: Introduced his first public bill -- "A bill to provide for insurance by the Farm Credit Administration of mortgages on farm property, and for other purposes." Bill died later in committee.


Named as vice-chairman of a subcommittee of the Interstate Commerce Committee to investigate American railroad finances.

Met with Justice Louis D. Brandeis on several social occasions and discussed transportation regulation.


Helped draft the Civil Aeronautics Act of 1938.


With Senator Burton Wheeler, introduced bill to reorganize the railroads and place them under the regulation of the Interstate Commerce Commission.

As member of Military Subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee, visited defense installations in the United States, Panama, Cuba, and Puerto Rico.


15 June: Launched reelection campaign at courthouse in Sedalia, Missouri.

Summer: Mortgage foreclosed on Truman farm near Grandview; mother Martha Ellen Truman and sister Mary Jane moved to town. (Farm was purchased by Truman friends and sold back to the Truman family several years later.)

6 August: Won Democratic senatorial primary election, garnering 268,557 votes; Lloyd Stark received 260,581; and Maurice Milliagn, 127,363.

18 September: Transportation Act of 1940, also known as the Wheeler-Truman Act, was signed by President Roosevelt.


September: Elevated to Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Missouri, Masonic Order.

5 November: Won reelection to the Senate, with 930,773 votes; Manvel Davis received 886,376.


10 and 13 February: Proposed that the Senate create a special committee to investigate defense contracts.

1 March: The Senate, by unanimous vote, created the Senate Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program. Became known as the Truman Committee, after Senator Truman was appointed chairman (8 March).

15 April: First hearing of the Truman Committee was conducted, with Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson as first witness.


15 January: Truman Committee presented its First Annual Report to the Senate. Helped induce President Roosevelt to replace the Office of Production Management with a new, more powerful War Production Board.


8 February: Reported that savings attributable to the work of the Truman Committee were being estimated in a range up to $11 billion.

8 March: His portrait appeared on cover of Time magazine.


29 January: Spoke at ceremony launching the battleship USS Missouri. Daughter Margaret christened the ship with a bottle of champagne.

May: Selected as one of the ten most useful officials in Washington, DC in a poll of fifty-two correspondents conducted by Look magazine.

21 July: Nominated for the office of vice-president at the Democratic National Convention, Chicago, Illinois.

3 August: Resigned chairmanship of Truman Committee. During his tenure, the committee received funding of $400,000 and grew to a staff of about twenty-five, in addition to senatorial members.

18 August: Had first meeting with President Roosevelt as his running mate.

31 August: Launched his vice-presidential campaign at his birthplace, Lamar, Missouri.

4 September: Delivered Labor Day speeches to AF of L and CIO audiences in Detroit, Michigan.

12 October: Began official campaign tour, by railroad, with speech in New Orleans. Used railroad car "Henry Stanley."

7 November: Elected as vice-president of the United States.


20 January: Sworn in as vice-president in inauguration ceremony at White House.

29 January: Attended funeral of Thomas J. Pendergast in Kansas City, Missouri.

Chronology Table of Contents