Harry S. Truman
If you had to ask a history student what they know about Harry S. Truman, you’d likely only hear about how he ended World War II with the use of nuclear weapons. For quite obvious reasons, this is the major ‘accomplishment’ of his presidency. For the first (and hopefully the last) time in world history, nuclear weapons were used in a war setting. It might be argued that this was the most difficult decision ever to be made by a sitting U.S. president.
From a domestic standpoint, not much can be said about Truman. Most of the reasons he is on this list are because of his accomplishments outside of U.S. borders. Truman was influential in establishing the United Nations. It can be said that his presidency kicked off the Cold War with the issuance of the Truman Doctrine, which condemned communism’s spread throughout Europe and the World. His support of the Marshall Plan was instrumental in rebuilding Europe after the war, which also led to the precursor to the European Union. Truman also sent troops to South Korea, where the U.S. still maintains a significant military presence to this day.
Another significant contribution that Truman oversaw during his presidency was the creation of NATO, which is a military support organization that is still very influential to this day.
From a foreign policy perspective, it could be argued that no other president had as much impact on history as Truman did. His influence on the rebuilding of Europe, his efforts to combat the Soviet Union’s spread of communism, and his contributions towards the creation of the United Nations can all be pointed to as very significant contributions that are still important today.