Harry S. Truman: 33rd Retrospective
“Whatcha got ain’t nothin new. This country’s hard on people, you can’t stop what’s coming, it ain’t all waiting on you. That’s vanity.” – Ellis, No Country for Old Men (2007)
Harry Truman was not a national or worldly figure. Many people were appalled that an ignoramus from Missouri, an average man who had led an undistinguished life before getting into politics, was now the de facto leader of the free world.
Truman had been a farmer and businessman. He was plainspoken and blunt, proving a good leader is not necessarily about depth of knowledge but common sense. Truman was concerned about making what he perceived to be the right decisions morally versus politically.
Truman Finishes World War II
Roosevelt’s advisors knew that he might not live out a fourth term and that his vice president would very likely become the next president. Henry Wallace had served as Roosevelt’s vice president for four years and was popular among Democratic voters, but he was viewed as too far to the left and too friendly to labor for some of Roosevelt’s advisers. The President and several of his confidantes wanted to replace Wallace with someone more acceptable to Democratic Party leaders.
Outgoing Democratic National Committee chairman Frank C. Walker, incoming chairman Robert E. Hannegan, party treasurer Edwin W. Pauley, Bronx party boss Ed Flynn, Chicago Mayor Edward Joseph Kelly, and lobbyist George E. Allen all wanted to keep Wallace off the ticket. Roosevelt told party leaders that he would accept either Truman or Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas.
State and city party leaders strongly preferred Truman, and Roosevelt agreed. Truman did not campaign for the vice-presidential spot, though he welcomed the attention as evidence that he had become more than the “Senator from Pendergast”. Truman’s nomination was dubbed the “Second Missouri Compromise” and was well received. The Roosevelt–Truman ticket achieved a 432–99 electoral-vote victory in the election, defeating the Republican ticket of Governor Thomas E. Dewey of New York and running mate Governor John Bricker of Ohio. Truman was sworn in as vice president on January 20, 1945.
Truman’s brief vice-presidency was relatively uneventful. On April 10, 1945, Truman cast his only tie-breaking vote as president of the Senate, against a Robert A. Taft amendment that would have blocked the postwar delivery of Lend-Lease Act items contracted for during the war. Roosevelt rarely contacted him, even to inform him of major decisions; the president and vice president met alone together only twice during their time in office.
In one of his first acts as vice president, Truman created some controversy when he attended the disgraced Tom Pendergast’s funeral. He brushed aside the criticism, saying simply, “He was always my friend and I have always been his.” He had rarely discussed world affairs or domestic politics with Roosevelt; he was uninformed about major initiatives relating to the war and the top-secret Manhattan Project, which was about to test the world’s first atomic bomb. In an event that generated negative publicity for Truman, he was photographed with actress Lauren Bacall sitting atop the piano at the National Press Club as he played for soldiers.
Truman had been vice president for 82 days when President Roosevelt died on April 12, 1945. Truman, presiding over the Senate, as usual, had just adjourned the session for the day and was preparing to have a drink in House Speaker Sam Rayburn’s office when he received an urgent message to go immediately to the White House, where Eleanor Roosevelt told him that her husband had died after a massive cerebral hemorrhage. Truman asked her if there was anything he could do for her; she replied, “Is there anything we can do for you? For you are the one in trouble now!” He was sworn in as president at 7:09 pm in the West Wing of the White House, by Chief Justice Harlan F. Stone.
Battle of Berlin
The Battle of Berlin, designated as the Berlin Strategic Offensive Operation by the Soviet Union, and also known as the Fall of Berlin, was one of the last major offensives of the European theatre of World War II.
Following the Vistula–Oder Offensive of January–February 1945, the Red Army had temporarily halted on a line 60 km (37 mi) east of Berlin. On 9 March, Germany established its defense plan for the city with Operation Clausewitz. The first defensive preparations at the outskirts of Berlin were made on March 20, under the newly appointed commander of Army Group Vistula, General Gotthard Heinrici.
When the Soviet offensive resumed on April 16, two Soviet fronts (army groups) attacked Berlin from the east and south, while a third overran German forces positioned north of Berlin. Before the main battle in Berlin commenced, the Red Army encircled the city after successful battles of the Seelow Heights and Halbe.
On April 20, 1945, Hitler’s birthday, the 1st Belorussian Front led by Marshal Georgy Zhukov, advancing from the east and north, started shelling Berlin’s city centre, while Marshal Ivan Konev’s 1st Ukrainian Front broke through Army Group Centre and advanced towards the southern suburbs of Berlin. On April 23, General Helmuth Weidling assumed command of the forces within Berlin. The garrison consisted of several depleted and disorganised Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS divisions, along with poorly trained Volkssturm and Hitler Youth members. Over the course of the next week, the Red Army gradually took the entire city.
On April 30, Hitler committed suicide (with several of his officials also committing suicide shortly afterwards). The city’s garrison surrendered on May 2 but fighting continued to the north-west, west, and south-west of the city until the end of the war in Europe on May 8th (May 9th in the Soviet Union) as some German units fought westward so that they could surrender to the Western Allies rather than to the Soviets.
Battle of Okinawa
The Battle of Okinawa codenamed Operation Iceberg, was a major battle of the Pacific War fought on the island of Okinawa by United States Army and United States Marine Corps (USMC) forces against the Imperial Japanese Army. The initial invasion of Okinawa on April 1, 1945 was the largest amphibious assault in the Pacific Theater of World War II. The Kerama Islands surrounding Okinawa were preemptively captured on March 26 by the 77th Infantry Division.
The 98-day battle lasted from March 26 until July 2, 1945. After a long campaign of island hopping, the Allies were planning to use Kadena Air Base on the large island of Okinawa as a base for Operation Downfall, the planned invasion of the Japanese home islands, 340 mi (550 km) away.
The United States created the Tenth Army, a cross-branch force consisting of the US Army 7th, 27th, 77th and 96th Infantry Divisions with the USMC 1st, 2nd, and 6th Marine Divisions, to fight on the island. The Tenth was unique in that it had its own Tactical Air Force (joint Army-Marine command), and was also supported by combined naval and amphibious forces.
The battle has been referred to as the “typhoon of steel” in English, and tetsu no ame (“rain of steel”) or tetsu no bōfū (“violent wind of steel”) in Japanese. The nicknames refer to the ferocity of the fighting, the intensity of Japanese kamikaze attacks and the sheer numbers of Allied ships and armored vehicles that assaulted the island.
The battle was one of the bloodiest in the Pacific, with approximately 160,000 casualties combined: at least 50,000 Allied and 84,166–117,000 Japanese, including drafted Okinawans wearing Japanese uniforms.149,425 Okinawans were killed, died by suicide or went missing, roughly half of the estimated pre-war 300,000 local population.
In the naval operations surrounding the battle, both sides lost considerable numbers of ships and aircraft, including the Japanese battleship Yamato. After the battle, Okinawa provided a fleet anchorage, troop staging areas, and airfields in proximity to Japan in preparation for a planned invasion of the Japanese home islands.
The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization that aims to maintain international peace and security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be a center for harmonizing the actions of nations. It is the largest, most familiar, most internationally represented and most powerful intergovernmental organization in the world. The UN is headquartered on international territory in New York City, with its other main offices in Geneva, Nairobi, Vienna, and The Hague.
The UN was established after World War II with the aim of preventing future wars, succeeding the ineffective League of Nations. On April 25, 1945, 50 governments met in San Francisco for a conference and started drafting the UN Charter, which was adopted on June 25, 1945 and took effect on October 24, 1945, when the UN began operations.
Pursuant to the Charter, the organization’s objectives include maintaining international peace and security, protecting human rights, delivering humanitarian aid, promoting sustainable development, and upholding international law. At its founding, the UN had 51 member states; with the addition of South Sudan in 2011, membership is now 193, representing almost all of the world’s sovereign states.
The organization’s mission to preserve world peace was complicated in its early decades by the Cold War between the United States and Soviet Union and their respective allies. Its missions have consisted primarily of unarmed military observers and lightly armed troops with primarily monitoring, reporting and confidence-building roles.
UN membership grew significantly following widespread decolonization beginning in the 1960s. Since then, 80 former colonies have gained independence, including 11 trust territories that had been monitored by the Trusteeship Council.
By the 1970s, the UN’s budget for economic and social development programs far outstripped its spending on peacekeeping. After the end of the Cold War, the UN shifted and expanded its field operations, undertaking a wide variety of complex tasks.
The UN has six principal organs: the General Assembly; the Security Council; the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC); the Trusteeship Council; the International Court of Justice; and the UN Secretariat. The UN System includes a multitude of specialized agencies, funds and programmes such as the World Bank Group, the World Health Organization, the World Food Programme, UNESCO, and UNICEF. Additionally, non-governmental organizations may be granted consultative status with ECOSOC and other agencies to participate in the UN’s work.
The UN’s chief administrative officer is the Secretary-General, currently Portuguese politician and diplomat António Guterres, who began his five year-term on 1 January 2017. The organization is financed by assessed and voluntary contributions from its member states.
The UN, its officers, and its agencies have won many Nobel Peace Prizes, though other evaluations of its effectiveness have been mixed. Some commentators believe the organization to be an important force for peace and human development, while others have called it ineffective, biased, or corrupt.
The German Instrument of Surrender was the legal document that effected the extinction of Nazi Germany and ended World War II in Europe. The definitive text was signed in Karlshorst, Berlin, on the night of 8 May 1945 by representatives of the three armed services of the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (OKW) and the Allied Expeditionary Force together with the Supreme High Command of the Soviet Red Army, with further French and US representatives signing as witnesses. The signing took place 8 May 1945 at 21:20 local time.
An earlier version of the text had been signed in a ceremony in Reims in the early hours of 7 May 1945. In most of Europe, May 8th is celebrated as Victory in Europe Day; May 9th is celebrated as Victory Day in Russia, Belarus, Serbia and Israel. There were three language versions of the surrender document – Russian, English and German – with the Russian and English versions proclaimed, in the text itself, as the only authoritative ones.
The Potsdam Conference was held in Potsdam, Germany, from July 17 to August 2, 1945. (In some older documents, it is also referred to as the Berlin Conference of the Three Heads of Government of the USSR, the USA, and the UK.) The participants were the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States, which were represented respectively by Premier Joseph Stalin, Prime Ministers Winston Churchill and Clement Attlee, and President Harry S. Truman. They gathered to decide how to administer Germany, which had agreed to an unconditional surrender nine weeks earlier, on May 8th (Victory in Europe Day). The goals of the conference also included establishing the postwar order, solving issues on the peace treaty, and countering the effects of the war.
The foreign ministers of the three governments—James F. Byrnes, Vyacheslav Molotov, and Anthony Eden and Ernest Bevin, as well as other advisers, also participated in the Conference. From July 17 to July 25, nine meetings were held, when the Conference was interrupted for two days, as the results of the British general election were announced. By July 28, Attlee had defeated Churchill and replaced him as Britain’s representative, with Britain’s new Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Ernest Bevin, replacing Anthony Eden. Four days of further discussion followed.
During the conference, there were meetings of the three heads of government with their foreign secretaries, as well as meetings of only the foreign secretaries. Committees that were appointed by the latter for precursory consideration of questions before the conference also met daily. Important decisions and agreements were reached and views exchanged on a plethora of other questions. However, consideration of those matters was continued by the Council of Foreign Ministers, which was established by the Conference. The conference ended with a stronger relationship between the three governments as a consequence of their collaboration, which renewed confidence that together with the other United Nations, they would ensure the creation of a just and enduring peace.
Hiroshima and Nagasaki
The United States detonated two nuclear weapons over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6th and 9th 1945, respectively. The two bombings killed between 129,000 and 226,000 people, most of whom were civilians, and remain the only use of nuclear weapons in armed conflict.
In the final year of World War II, the Allies prepared for a costly invasion of the Japanese mainland. This undertaking was preceded by a conventional and firebombing campaign that devastated 67 Japanese cities. The war in Europe concluded when Germany surrendered May 8, 1945, and the Allies turned their full attention to the Pacific War.
By July 1945, the Allies’ Manhattan Project had produced two types of atomic bombs: “Fat Man”, a plutonium implosion-type nuclear weapon; and “Little Boy”, an enriched uranium gun-type fission weapon. The 509th Composite Group of the United States Army Air Forces was trained and equipped with the specialized Silverplate version of the Boeing B-29 Superfortress, and deployed to Tinian in the Mariana Islands. The Allies called for the unconditional surrender of the Imperial Japanese armed forces in the Potsdam Declaration July 26, 1945, the alternative being “prompt and utter destruction”. Japan ignored the ultimatum.
The consent of the United Kingdom was obtained for the bombing, as was required by the Quebec Agreement, and orders were issued on July 25th for atomic bombs to be used against Hiroshima, Kokura, Niigata, and Nagasaki. These targets were chosen for their military significance and for being “large urban area[s] of more than three miles in diameter” so to assess the full extent of the bombs’ destructive power.
On August 6th, a Little Boy was dropped on Hiroshima; three days later, a Fat Man was dropped on Nagasaki. Over the next two to four months, the effects of the atomic bombings killed between 90,000 and 146,000 people in Hiroshima and 39,000 and 80,000 people in Nagasaki; roughly half occurred on the first day. For months afterward, large numbers of people continued to die from the effects of burns, radiation sickness, and injuries, compounded by illness and malnutrition. Most of the dead were civilians, although Hiroshima had a sizable military garrison.
Japan surrendered to the Allies on August 15, six days after the Soviet Union’s declaration of war and the bombing of Nagasaki. The Japanese government signed the instrument of surrender on September 2, effectively ending the war.
Scholars have extensively studied the effects of the bombings on the social and political character of subsequent world history and popular culture, and there is still much debate concerning the ethical and legal justification for the bombings. Supporters believe that the atomic bombings were necessary to bring a swift end to the war with minimal casualties and to deter future wars (under the doctrine of mutually assured destruction), while critics argue that the Japanese government could have been brought to surrender through other means, while highlighting the moral and ethical implications of nuclear weapons and the deaths caused to civilians.
The surrender of Imperial Japan was announced by Japanese Emperor Hirohito on August 15 and formally signed on September 2, 1945, bringing the hostilities of World War II to a close. By the end of July 1945, the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) was incapable of conducting major operations and an Allied invasion of Japan was imminent. Together with the British Empire and China, the United States called for the unconditional surrender of the Japanese armed forces in the Potsdam Declaration on July 26, 1945—the alternative being “prompt and utter destruction”. While publicly stating their intent to fight on to the bitter end, Japan’s leaders (the Supreme Council for the Direction of the War, also known as the “Big Six“) were privately making entreaties to the publicly neutral Soviet Union to mediate peace on terms more favorable to the Japanese. While maintaining a sufficient level of diplomatic engagement with the Japanese to give them the impression they might be willing to mediate, the Soviets were covertly preparing to attack Japanese forces in Manchuria and Korea (in addition to South Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands) in fulfillment of promises they had secretly made to the United States and the United Kingdom at the Tehran and Yalta Conferences.
On August 6, 1945, at 8:15 AM local time, the United States detonated an atomic bomb over the Japanese city of Hiroshima. Sixteen hours later, American President Harry S. Truman called again for Japan’s surrender, warning them to “expect a rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth.”
Late in the evening of August 8, 1945, in accordance with the Yalta agreements, but in violation of the Soviet–Japanese Neutrality Pact, the Soviet Union declared war on Japan, and soon after midnight on August 9, 1945, the Soviet Union invaded the Imperial Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo. Hours later, the United States dropped a second atomic bomb, this time on the Japanese city of Nagasaki.
Following these events, Emperor Hirohito intervened and ordered the Supreme Council for the Direction of the War to accept the terms the Allies had set down in the Potsdam Declaration for ending the war. After several more days of behind-the-scenes negotiations and a failed coup d’état, Emperor Hirohito gave a recorded radio address across the Empire on August 15. In the radio address, called the Jewel Voice Broadcast (玉音放送, Gyokuon-hōsō), he announced the surrender of Japan to the Allies.
On August 28, the occupation of Japan led by the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers began. The surrender ceremony was held on September 2, aboard the United States Navy battleship USS Missouri, at which officials from the Japanese government signed the Japanese Instrument of Surrender, thereby ending the hostilities. Allied civilians and military personnel alike celebrated V-J Day, the end of the war; however, isolated soldiers and personnel from Japan’s far-flung forces throughout Asia and the Pacific refused to surrender for months and years afterwards, some even refusing into the 1970s.
The role of the atomic bombings in Japan’s unconditional surrender, and the ethics of the two attacks, is still debated. The state of war formally ended when the Treaty of San Francisco came into force on April 28, 1952. Four more years passed before Japan and the Soviet Union signed the Soviet–Japanese Joint Declaration of 1956, which formally brought an end to their state of war.
Given his background, Harry Truman was an unlikely champion of civil rights. Where he grew up—the border state of Missouri—segregation was accepted and largely unquestioned. Both his maternal and paternal grandparents had even owned slaves. Truman’s background notwithstanding, some would say it was Truman who energized the modern civil rights movement.
World War II
In 1940, the U.S. population was about 131 million, 12.6 million of which was African American, or about 10 percent of the total population. During World War II, the Army had become the nation’s largest minority employer. Of the 2.5 million African Americans males who registered for the draft through December 31, 1945, more than one million were inducted into the armed forces. African Americans, who constituted approximately 11 per cent of all registrants liable for service, furnished approximately this proportion of the inductees in all branches of the service except the Marine Corps. Along with thousands of black women, these inductees served in all branches of service and in all Theaters of Operations during World War II. After the war, now-president Truman faced a multitude of problems concerning civil rights for blacks that could not be ignored any longer, in part, because of their service in World War II.
Airport Homes Race Riots
The Airport Homes race riots were a series of riots in 1946 in the West Lawn and West Elsdon neighborhoods of Chicago, Illinois. It was the worst episode of racial inspired violence that the city faced in some thirty years.
“Airport Homes” was the name of the site in nearby West Lawn established by the Chicago Housing Authority to provide temporary housing to returning veterans and their families during the postwar housing shortage. Residents of West Lawn and West Elsdon rioted and succeeded in intimidating a few black war veterans and their families from joining white veterans in the homes. The upheaval against blacks happened during the working hours while the white men were at work, which meant that the elderly and the women were the ones who started the riot.
The West Elsdon Civic Association became one of the first vocal political enemies of the CHA and its first executive secretary, Elizabeth Wood. Opposition to public housing remained strong in the area. In the early 1970s the West Elsdon Civic Association was an active participant in the “No-CHA” citywide coalition opposing scattered-site public housing in predominantly middle-class white neighborhoods.
Chicago’s major newspapers published very few details about the riots at the recommendation of the city’s Commission on Human Relations (CHR), who feared that excessive coverage would make the riots worse. As a result, there is very little information available on the riots. In total, the CHR recorded 357 serious incidents related to blacks moving into white Chicago neighborhoods between 1945 and 1950.
Columbia Race Riot of 1946
On February 25, 1946, a civil disturbance, dubbed “the Columbia Race Riot,” broke out in the county seat. It was covered by the national press as the first “major racial confrontation” following World War II.
In a fight instigated by William “Billy” Fleming, a White repair apprentice, James Stephenson, a Black Navy veteran, fought back and wounded him. Stephenson had been on the boxing team and refused to accept being hit. Stephenson had accompanied his mother to the repair store, which had mistakenly sold a radio which she had left for repair to John Calhoun Fleming, Billy’s father. A White mob gathered during the altercation. The senior Fleming convinced the sheriff to charge both Stephensons with attempted murder.
Rumors were rife that the Stephensons would be lynched. As Whites gathered in the square talking about the incident, Blacks armed themselves and planned to defend their business district, which they referred to as “the Bottom”. It started about one block south of the square. Later that evening Whites drove around the area, shooting randomly into it; they referred to the neighborhood as “Mink Slide.” Armed Black men turned out some street lights and shot out others, patrolling the area for defense. Four policemen who entered the area were wounded and retreated, increasing White rage.
Worried that the small police force could not control the mob, the mayor called in the State Guard and the sheriff called in the state Highway Patrol that night. The Guard resisted Patrol requests to arm the White mob. In an uncoordinated effort, the Highway Patrol entered the district early the next morning before a planned time; they provoked more violence and destroyed numerous businesses. Eventually through the next day, they and the State Guard rounded up more than 100 Blacks as suspects in the police shootings. No Whites were charged at that point. Two Black men were killed and a third wounded, in what the police said was an escape attempt while the Highway Patrol was trying to take them from the jail to the sheriff’s office. The State Guard was withdrawn on March 3.
Twenty-five Black men were eventually charged with attempted murder of the four policemen. Another six were charged with lesser crimes, as were four White men. The main attorney defending Stephenson and other men in the case was Thurgood Marshall of the NAACP. He worked with Z. Alexander Looby, who was based in Nashville but associated with the national legal team, and Maurice Weaver, a White civil rights lawyer from Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Marshall asked for a change of venue, hoping to get the trial moved to Nashville or another major city. The judge agreed to move the trial only to nearby Lawrenceburg, Tennessee. Local residents there were unhappy to be involved in the controversial case. Marshall and his team achieved acquittal from an all-White jury for all but two men. The prosecution dropped their charges against these men, as they believed the convictions would be overturned on appeal. The Stephensons were never tried, nor were four Whites charged with murder, nor were several Blacks. Of two Black men tried for murder, only Loyd Kennedy was convicted in his trial of 1947.
The NAACP continued a publicity campaign about these events, which were also covered by national media. The case gained much attention on the issue of civil rights for African Americans in the United States. The NAACP and other organizations put pressure on President Harry S. Truman to take action to improve the situation. He appointed a President’s Committee on Civil Rights, which issued its report in October 1947. In 1948 Truman directed integration of the Armed Services by Executive Order 9981, as a result of the report and his consultation with Black leaders. Marshall was later appointed as the first Black United States Supreme Court justice.
President’s Commission on Civil Rights
The President’s Committee on Civil Rights was a United States Presidential Commission established by President Harry Truman in 1946. The committee was created by Executive Order 9808 on December 5, 1946 and instructed to investigate the status of civil rights in the country and propose measures to strengthen and protect them. After the committee submitted a report of its findings to President Truman, it disbanded in December 1947.
The Committee recommended “more adequate means and procedures for the protection of the civil rights of the people of the United States.” When the commission issued its report, “To Secure These Rights,” in October 1947, among its proposals were anti-lynching and anti-poll-tax laws, a permanent Fair Employment Practice Committee (FEPC originally established by FDR), and strengthening the civil rights division of the Department of Justice.
In February 1948, President Truman called on Congress to enact all of these recommendations. When Southern Senators immediately threatened a filibuster, Truman moved ahead on civil rights by using his executive powers. Among other things, Truman bolstered the civil rights division, appointed the first African American judge to the Federal bench, named several other African Americans to high-ranking administration positions, and most important, on July 26, 1948, he issued an executive order abolishing segregation in the armed forces and ordering full integration of all the services.
Truman Desegregates the Army
Executive Order 9981 was issued on July 26, 1948, by President Harry S. Truman. This executive order abolished discrimination “on the basis of race, color, religion or national origin” in the United States Armed Forces, and led to the re-integration of the services during the Korean War (1950–1953). It was a crucial event in the post-World War II civil rights movement and a major achievement of Truman’s presidency.
The order stated that “there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed forces without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin.” It also established an advisory committee to examine the rules, practices and procedures of the armed services, and recommend ways to make desegregation a reality. There was considerable resistance to the executive order from the military, but by the end of the Korean conflict, almost all the military was integrated.
The Peekskill riots took place at Cortlandt Manor, Westchester County, New York, in 1949. The catalyst for the rioting was an announced concert by black singer Paul Robeson, who was well known for his strong pro-trade union stance, civil rights activism, communist affiliations, and anti-colonialism. The concert, organized as a benefit for the Civil Rights Congress, was scheduled to take place on August 27 in Lakeland Acres, just north of Peekskill.
Civil Rights Congress
The Civil Rights Congress (CRC) was a United States civil rights organization, formed in 1946 at a national conference for radicals and disbanded in 1956. It succeeded the International Labor Defense, the National Federation for Constitutional Liberties, and the National Negro Congress, serving as a defense organization.
Beginning about 1948, it became involved in representing African Americans sentenced to death and other highly prominent cases, in part to highlight racial injustice in the United States. After Rosa Lee Ingram and her two teenage sons were sentenced in Georgia, the CRC conducted a national appeals campaign on their behalf, their first for African Americans.
The CRC coordinated nationally, with 60 chapters at its peak in 1950. These acted on local issues. Most were located on the East and West coasts, with only about 10 chapters in the states of the former Confederacy, five of them in Texas.
Paul Leroy Robeson (April 9, 1898 – January 23, 1976) was an American bass baritone concert artist and stage and film actor who became famous both for his cultural accomplishments and for his political activism. Educated at Rutgers College and Columbia University, he was a star athlete in his youth. His political activities began with his involvement with unemployed workers and anti-imperialist students whom he met in Britain and continued with support for the Republican cause in the Spanish Civil War and his opposition to fascism.
In the United States he became active in the civil rights movement and other social justice campaigns. His sympathies for the Soviet Union and for communism, and his criticism of the United States government and its foreign policies, caused him to be blacklisted during the McCarthy era.
In 1915, Robeson won an academic scholarship to Rutgers College, where he was twice named a consensus All-American in football, and was the class valedictorian. Almost 80 years later, he was posthumously inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
He received his LL.B. from Columbia Law School while playing in the National Football League (NFL). At Columbia, he sang and acted in off-campus productions. After graduating, he became a figure in the Harlem Renaissance with performances in The Emperor Jones and All God’s Chillun Got Wings.
Between 1925 and 1961, Robeson recorded and released some 276 distinct songs, many of which were recorded several times. The first of these were the spirituals “Steal Away” backed with “Were You There” in 1925. Robeson’s recorded repertoire spanned many styles, including Americana, popular standards, classical music, European folk songs, political songs, poetry and spoken excerpts from plays.
Robeson performed in Britain in a touring melodrama, Voodoo, in 1922, and in Emperor Jones in 1925, and scored a major success in the London premiere of Show Boat in 1928, settling in London for several years with his wife Eslanda. While continuing to establish himself as a concert artist, Robeson also starred in a London production of Othello, the first of three productions of the play over the course of his career. He also gained attention in the film production of Show Boat (1936) and other films such as Sanders of the River (1935) and The Proud Valley (1940). During this period, Robeson advocated for the Spanish Republic during the Spanish Civil War and became active in the Council on African Affairs (CAA), supporting their efforts to gain colonized African countries independence from European colonial rule.
Returning to the United States in 1939, during World War II Robeson supported the American and Allied war efforts. However, his history of supporting civil rights causes and pro-Soviet policies brought scrutiny from the FBI.
After the war ended, the CAA was placed on the Attorney General’s List of Subversive Organizations and Robeson was investigated during the age of McCarthyism. Due to his decision not to recant his public advocacy, he was denied a passport by the U.S. State Department, and his income, consequently, plummeted. He moved to Harlem and from 1950 to 1955 published a periodical called Freedom which was critical of United States policies. His right to travel was eventually restored as a result of the 1958 United States Supreme Court decision Kent v. Dulles. In the early 1960s he retired and lived the remaining years of his life privately in Philadelphia.
McCarthyism is the practice of making unfounded accusations of subversion and treason, especially when related to communism and socialism. The term originally referred to the controversial practices and policies of U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy (R-Wisconsin), and has its origins in the period in the United States known as the Second Red Scare, lasting from the late 1940s through the 1950s. It was characterized by heightened political repression and persecution of left-wing individuals, and a campaign spreading fear of alleged communist and socialist influence on American institutions and of espionage by Soviet agents.
After the mid-1950s, McCarthyism began to decline, mainly due to Joseph McCarthy’s gradual loss of public popularity and credibility after several of his accusations were found to be false, and sustained opposition from the U.S. Supreme Court led by Chief Justice Earl Warren on human rights grounds. The Warren Court made a series of rulings on civil and political rights that overturned several McCarthyist laws and directives, and helped bring an end to McCarthyism.
What would become known as the McCarthy era began before McCarthy’s rise to national fame. Following the First Red Scare, President Harry S. Truman signed an executive order in 1947 to screen federal employees for possible association with organizations deemed “totalitarian, fascist, communist, or subversive”, or advocating “to alter the form of Government of the United States by unconstitutional means.”
In 1949, a high-level State Department official was convicted of perjury in a case of espionage, and the Soviet Union tested an atomic bomb. The Korean War started the next year, significantly raising tensions and fears of impending communist upheavals in the United States.
In a speech in February 1950, McCarthy presented a list of alleged members of the Communist Party USA working in the State Department, which attracted substantial press attention, and the term McCarthyism was published for the first time in late March of that year in The Christian Science Monitor, along with a political cartoon by Herblock in The Washington Post. The term has since taken on a broader meaning, describing the excesses of similar efforts to crack down on alleged “subversive” elements. In the early 21st century, the term is used more generally to describe reckless and unsubstantiated accusations of treason and far-left extremism, along with demagogic personal attacks on the character and patriotism of political adversaries.
The primary targets of McCarthyist persecution were government employees, prominent figures in the entertainment industry, academics, left-wing politicians, and labor union activists. Suspicions were often given credence despite inconclusive and questionable evidence, and the level of threat posed by a person’s real or supposed leftist associations and beliefs were often exaggerated. Many people suffered loss of employment and the destruction of their careers and livelihoods as a result of the crackdowns on suspected communists, and some were outright imprisoned. Most of these reprisals were initiated by trial verdicts that were later overturned, laws that were later struck down as unconstitutional, dismissals for reasons later declared illegal or actionable, and extra-judiciary procedures, such as informal blacklists by employers and public institutions, that would come into general disrepute, though by then many lives had been ruined. The most notable examples of McCarthyism include the so-called investigations of alleged communists that were conducted by Senator McCarthy, and the hearings conducted by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC).
Cicero Race Riot of 1951
The Cicero race riot of 1951 occurred July 11–12, when a mob of 4,000 whites attacked an apartment building that housed a single black family in a neighborhood in Cicero, Illinois. The aftermath of World War II saw a revival of white attacks on blacks in the Chicago area, mostly on the city’s South and Southwest Sides, but also in the western industrial suburb of Cicero. Aspiring African-American professionals seeking to obtain improved housing beyond the increasingly overcrowded South Side ghetto, whether in private residences or in the new public housing developments constructed by the Chicago Housing Authority, were frequently greeted by attempted arsons, bombings, and angry white mobs often numbering into the thousand.
In early June 1951, Mrs. DeRose, who owned an apartment building at 6139–43 W. 19th Street in Cicero, got into a controversy with her tenants and was ordered to refund a portion of the rent. Afterwards, out of anger and/or profit, she rented an apartment to Harvey E. Clark Jr., an African-American World War II veteran and graduate of Fisk University, and his family in an all-white neighborhood. A high-ranking Cicero official learned that an African-American family was moving into a Cicero apartment and warned Mrs. DeRose that there would be “trouble” if he moved in.
At 2:30 pm, on June 8, a moving van containing $2,000 worth of Clark’s furniture was stopped by the police. The rental agent was ushered out with a drawn revolver at his back. A jeering crowd gathered and Clark was told by the police to get out or he would be arrested “for protective custody.” A detective warned Clark that, “I’ll bust your damned head if you don’t move.” At 6:00 pm, Clark was grabbed by 20 police officers. The chief of police told him, “Get out of here fast. There will be no moving into this building.” Clark was hit eight times as he was pushed towards a car which was parked across the street and was shoved inside the car. The police told him, “Get out of Cicero and don’t come back in town or you’ll get a bullet through you.”. A suit was filed by the NAACP against the Cicero Police Department on June 26, and the Clark family moved in.
With the Clarks now living in the apartment, word was passed along that there would be “fun” at the apartment. On July 11, 1951, at dusk, a crowd of 4,000 whites attacked the apartment building that housed Clark’s family and possessions. 60 police officers were assigned to the scene to control the rioting. Women carried stones from a nearby rock pile to bombard Clark’s windows. Another tossed firebrands onto the window and onto the rooftop of the building which 21 family members fled before the rioting. The mob also destroyed a bathtub, woodworks, plaster, doors, windows, and set fires to the place. Most of the whites who joined in the rioting were teenagers. Firemen who rushed to the building were met with showers of bricks and stones from the mob. Sheriffs’ deputies asked the firemen to turn their hoses on the rioters, who refused to do so without their lieutenant, who was unavailable.
The situation appeared to be out of control and County Sheriff John E. Babbs asked Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson to send in the Illinois National Guard. As troops arrived at the scene, the rioters fought with them. Armed with bayonets, rifle butts, and tear gas, the troops ended the riot by setting a 300-meter (328-yard) perimeter around the apartment block in which the rioting was in progress. By July 14, most of the violence had ended. When the riot was over, $20,000 in damage had been done to the building
The Cicero Race Riot of 1951 lasted several nights, involved two- to five thousand white rioters, and received worldwide condemnation. It was the first race riot to be broadcast on local television. Most viewed the rioting in Cicero from their living rooms on TVs before they read it in the papers. The press in the 1940s Chicago housing attacks was largely ignored, but when the eruption occurred in Cicero in 1951, it brought worldwide condemnation for the first time and a dramatic climax to an era of large-scale residential change.
The black population continued to increase in Chicago despite the incident, and the Chicago Housing Authority reported a decrease in the number of black families requesting police protection. Although the housing assaults did not end, they became less frequent than in the aftermath of World War II.
Election Of 1948
The 1948 United States presidential election was the 41st quadrennial presidential election. It was held on Tuesday, November 2, 1948. In one of the greatest election upsets in American history, incumbent President Harry S. Truman, the Democratic nominee, defeated Republican Governor Thomas E. Dewey.
Truman had ascended to the presidency in April 1945 after the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Defeating attempts to drop him from the ticket, Truman won the presidential nomination at the 1948 Democratic National Convention. The Democratic convention’s civil rights plank caused a walk-out by several Southern delegates, who launched a third-party “Dixiecrat” ticket led by Governor Strom Thurmond of South Carolina. The Dixiecrats hoped to win enough electoral votes to force a contingent election in the House of Representatives, where they could extract concessions from either Dewey or Truman in exchange for their support. Truman also faced a challenge from his party in the form of former Vice President Henry A. Wallace, who launched the Progressive Party and challenged Truman’s confrontational Cold War policies. Dewey, who was the leader of his party’s moderate eastern wing and had been the 1944 Republican presidential nominee, defeated Senator Robert A. Taft and other challengers at the 1948 Republican National Convention.
Truman’s feisty campaign style energized his base of traditional Democrats, consisting of most of the white South, as well as Catholic and Jewish voters; he also fared surprisingly well with Midwestern farmers. Dewey ran a low-risk campaign and largely avoided directly criticizing Truman. With the three-way split in the Democratic Party, and with Truman’s low approval ratings, Truman was widely considered to be the underdog in the race, and virtually every prediction (with or without public opinion polls) indicated that Truman would be defeated by Dewey.
Defying these predictions, Truman won the election with 303 electoral votes to Dewey’s 189. Truman also won 49.6% of the popular vote compared to Dewey’s 45.1%, while the third party candidacies of Thurmond and Wallace each won less than 3% of the popular vote, with Thurmond carrying four southern states. Truman’s surprise victory was the fifth consecutive presidential win for the Democratic Party, the longest winning streak for either party since the 1880 election. With simultaneous success in the 1948 congressional elections, the Democrats regained control of both houses of Congress, which they had lost in 1946. Thus, Truman’s election confirmed the Democratic Party’s status as the nation’s majority party.
The Cold War was a period of geopolitical tension between the United States and the Soviet Union and their respective allies, the Western Bloc and the Eastern Bloc, which began following World War II. Historians do not fully agree on its starting and ending points, but the period is generally considered to span the 1947 Truman Doctrine (March 12, 1947) to the 1991 Dissolution of the Soviet Union (December 26, 1991). The term “cold” is used because there was no large-scale fighting directly between the two superpowers, but they each supported major regional conflicts known as proxy wars.
The conflict was based around the ideological and geopolitical struggle for global influence by these two superpowers, following their temporary alliance and victory against Nazi Germany in 1945. Aside from the nuclear arsenal development and conventional military deployment, the struggle for dominance was expressed via indirect means such as psychological warfare, propaganda campaigns, espionage, far-reaching embargoes, rivalry at sports events and technological competitions such as the Space Race.
The Western Bloc was led by the United States as well as the other First World nations of the Western Bloc that were generally liberal democratic but tied to a network of the authoritarian states, most of which were their former colonies. The Eastern Bloc was led by the Soviet Union and its Communist Party, which had an influence across the Second World. The US government supported right-wing governments and uprisings across the world, while the Soviet government funded communist parties and revolutions around the world. As nearly all the colonial states achieved independence in the period 1945–1960, they became Third World battlefields in the Cold War.
The first phase of the Cold War began shortly after the end of the Second World War in 1945. The United States created the NATO military alliance in 1949 in the apprehension of a Soviet attack and termed their global policy against Soviet influence containment. The Soviet Union formed the Warsaw Pact in 1955 in response to NATO. Major crises of this phase included the 1948–49 Berlin Blockade, the 1927–1950 Chinese Civil War, the 1950–1953 Korean War, the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, the 1956 Suez Crisis, the Berlin Crisis of 1961 and the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. The USA and the USSR competed for influence in Latin America, the Middle East, and the decolonizing states of Africa and Asia.
Following the Cuban Missile Crisis, a new phase began that saw the Sino-Soviet split between China and the Soviet Union complicate relations within the Communist sphere, while US ally France began to demand greater autonomy of action. The USSR invaded Czechoslovakia to suppress the 1968 Prague Spring, while the US experienced internal turmoil from the civil rights movement and opposition to the Vietnam War.
In the 1960s–70s, an international peace movement took root among citizens around the world. Movements against nuclear arms testing and for nuclear disarmament took place, with large anti-war protests. By the 1970s, both sides had started making allowances for peace and security, ushering in a period of détente that saw the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks and the US opening relations with the People’s Republic of China as a strategic counterweight to the USSR.
Détente collapsed at the end of the decade with the beginning of the Soviet–Afghan War in 1979. The early 1980s was another period of elevated tension. The United States increased diplomatic, military, and economic pressures on the Soviet Union, at a time when it was already suffering from economic stagnation.
In the mid-1980s, the new Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev introduced the liberalizing reforms of glasnost (“openness”, c. 1985) and perestroika (“reorganization”, 1987) and ended Soviet involvement in Afghanistan. Pressures for national sovereignty grew stronger in Eastern Europe, and Gorbachev refused to militarily support their governments any longer.
In 1989, the fall of the Iron Curtain after the Pan-European Picnic and a peaceful wave of revolutions (with the exception of Romania and Afghanistan) overthrew almost all communist governments of the Eastern Bloc. The Communist Party of the Soviet Union itself lost control in the Soviet Union and was banned following an abortive coup attempt in August 1991. This in turn led to the formal dissolution of the USSR in December 1991, the declaration of independence of its constituent republics and the collapse of communist governments across much of Africa and Asia. The United States was left as the world’s only superpower.
The Cold War and its events have left a significant legacy. It is often referred to in popular culture, especially with themes of espionage and the threat of nuclear warfare.
Chinese Civil War
The Chinese Civil War was a civil war in China fought between the Kuomintang (KMT)-led government of the Republic of China (ROC) and forces of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) lasting intermittently between 1927 and 1949. The war is generally divided into two phases with an interlude: from August 1927 to 1937, the KMT-CCP Alliance collapsed during the Northern Expedition, and the Nationalists controlled most of China. From 1937 to 1945, hostilities were put on hold, and the Second United Front fought the Japanese invasion of China with eventual help from the Allies of World War II. The civil war resumed with the Japanese defeat, and the CCP gained the upper hand in the final phase of the war from 1945 to 1949, generally referred to as the Chinese Communist Revolution.
The Communists gained control of mainland China and established the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1949, forcing the leadership of the Republic of China to retreat to the island of Taiwan. A lasting political and military standoff between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait ensued, with the ROC in Taiwan and the PRC in mainland China both officially claiming to be the legitimate government of all China. No armistice or peace treaty has ever been signed.
Chinese Communist Revolution
The Chinese Communist Revolution, known in mainland China as the War of Liberation, was the conflict, led by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and Chairman Mao Zedong, that resulted in the proclamation of the People’s Republic of China, on October 1, 1949. The revolution began in 1946 after the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–45) and was the second part of the Chinese Civil War (1945–49).
The Truman Doctrine was an American foreign policy with the primary goal of containing Soviet geopolitical expansion during the Cold War. It was announced to Congress by President Harry S. Truman on March 12, 1947, and further developed on July 4, 1948, when he pledged to contain the communist uprisings in Greece and Turkey. Direct American military force was usually not involved, but Congress appropriated financial aid to support the economies and militaries of Greece and Turkey.
More generally, the Truman Doctrine implied American support for other nations thought to be threatened by Soviet communism. The Truman Doctrine became the foundation of American foreign policy, and led, in 1949, to the formation of NATO, a military alliance that still exists. Historians often use Truman’s speech to date the start of the Cold War.
Truman told Congress that “it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures.” Truman contended that because totalitarian regimes coerced free peoples, they automatically represented a threat to international peace and the national security of the United States. Truman made the plea in the midst of the Greek Civil War (1946–1949). He argued that if Greece and Turkey did not receive the aid, they would inevitably fall to communism with grave consequences throughout the region. Because Turkey and Greece were historic rivals, it was considered necessary to help both equally even though the crisis in Greece was far more intense.
Critics of the policy have observed that the governments of Greece and Turkey were themselves far from democratic at this time, and neither were facing Soviet subversion in the spring of 1949. Historian Eric Foner writes that the Doctrine “set a precedent for American assistance to anticommunist regimes throughout the world, no matter how undemocratic, and for the creation of a set of global military alliances directed against the Soviet Union.”
For years, the United Kingdom had supported Greece, but was now near bankruptcy and was forced to radically reduce its involvement. In February 1947, Britain formally requested for the United States to take over its role in supporting the royalist Greek government. The policy won the support of Republicans who controlled Congress and involved sending $400 million in American money but no military forces to the region. The effect was to end the Greek revolt, and in 1952, both Greece and Turkey joined NATO, a military alliance, to guarantee their stability.
The Truman Doctrine was informally extended to become the basis of American Cold War policy throughout Europe and around the world. It shifted American foreign policy toward the Soviet Union from an anti-fascist alliance to a policy of containment of Soviet expansion as advocated by diplomat George Kennan. It was distinguished from rollback by implicitly tolerating the previous Soviet takeovers in Eastern Europe.
The Marshall Plan (officially the European Recovery Program, ERP) was an American initiative passed in 1948 for foreign aid to Western Europe. The United States transferred over $13 billion (equivalent of about $114 billion in 2020) in economic recovery programs to Western European economies after the end of World War II. Replacing an earlier proposal for a Morgenthau Plan, it operated for four years beginning on April 3, 1948.
The goals of the United States were to rebuild war-torn regions, remove trade barriers, modernize industry, improve European prosperity, and prevent the spread of communism. The Marshall Plan required a reduction of interstate barriers, a dropping of many regulations, and encouraged an increase in productivity, as well as the adoption of modern business procedures.
The Marshall Plan aid was divided among the participant states roughly on a per capita basis. A larger amount was given to the major industrial powers, as the prevailing opinion was that their resuscitation was essential for the general European revival. Somewhat more aid per capita was also directed toward the Allied nations, with less for those that had been part of the Axis or remained neutral.
The largest recipient of Marshall Plan money was the United Kingdom (receiving about 26% of the total), but the enormous cost that Britain incurred through the “Lend-Lease” scheme was not fully re-paid to the USA until 2006. The next highest contributions went to France (18%) and West Germany (11%). Some eighteen European countries received Plan benefits.
Although offered participation, the Soviet Union refused Plan benefits, and also blocked benefits to Eastern Bloc countries, such as Hungary and Poland. The United States provided similar aid programs in Asia, but they were not part of the Marshall Plan.
The Marshall Plan’s role in the rapid recovery has been debated. Its accounting reflects that aid accounted for about 3% of the combined national income of the recipient countries between 1948 and 1951, which means an increase in GDP growth of less than half a percent.
After World War II, in 1947, industrialist Lewis H. Brown wrote (at the request of General Lucius D. Clay) A Report on Germany, which served as a detailed recommendation for the reconstruction of post-war Germany, and served as a basis for the Marshall Plan. The initiative was named after United States Secretary of State George C. Marshall. The plan had bipartisan support in Washington, where the Republicans controlled Congress and the Democrats controlled the White House with Harry S. Truman as president. The Plan was largely the creation of State Department officials, especially William L. Clayton and George F. Kennan, with help from the Brookings Institution, as requested by Senator Arthur Vandenberg, chairman of the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Marshall spoke of an urgent need to help the European recovery in his address at Harvard University in June 1947.
The purpose of the Marshall Plan was to aid in the economic recovery of nations after World War II and secure US geopolitical influence over Western Europe. To combat the effects of the Marshall Plan, the USSR developed its own economic plan, known as the Molotov Plan, in spite of the fact that large amounts of resources from the Eastern Bloc countries to the USSR were paid as reparations, for countries participating in the Axis Power during the war.
The phrase “equivalent of the Marshall Plan” is often used to describe a proposed large-scale economic rescue program. In 1951, the Marshall Plan was largely replaced by the Mutual Security Act.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance between 28 European and 2 North American countries. The organization implements the North Atlantic Treaty that was signed on 4 April 1949.
NATO constitutes a system of collective defense whereby its independent member states agree to mutual defense in response to an attack by any external party. NATO’s Headquarters are located in Haren, Brussels, Belgium, while the headquarters of Allied Command Operations is near Mons, Belgium.
Since its founding, the admission of new member states has increased the alliance from the original 12 countries to 30 with the most recent member state to be added being North Macedonia on March 27, 2020. NATO currently recognizes Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, and Ukraine as aspiring members. An additional 20 countries participate in NATO’s Partnership for Peace program, with 15 other countries involved in institutionalized dialogue programs.
The combined military spending of all NATO members in 2020 constituted over 57% of the global nominal total. Members agreed that their aim is to reach or maintain the target defense spending of at least 2% of their GDP by 2024
Vietnam under Truman
The August Revolution, also known as the August General Uprising, was a revolution launched by Ho Chi Minh’s Việt Minh (League for the Independence of Vietnam) against French and the Japanese Empire colonial rule in Vietnam, on August 19, 1945. Within two weeks, forces under the Việt Minh had seized control of most rural villages and cities throughout the North, Central and South Vietnam, including Hanoi, where President Hồ Chí Minh announced the formation of the Provisional Democratic Republic, Huế, Saigon, except in townships Móng Cái, Vĩnh Yên, Hà Giang, Lào Cai, Lai Châu. However, according to Vietnamese documents, Việt Minh, in fact, seized control of Vietnam.
On September 2, 1945, Ho Chi Minh declared Vietnamese Independence. The August Revolution sought to create a Việt Minh unified regime for the entire country.
Hồ Chí Minh fought with a variety of other political factions for control of the major cities. A few days after the Vietnamese “revolution”, Nationalist Chinese forces enter from the north and, as previously planned by the Allies, establish an administration in the country as far south as the 16th parallel north.
Assassination and French Occupation
On September 26, 1945, Office of Strategic Services (OSS) officer Lieutenant Colonel A. Peter Dewey — who was working with the Viet Minh to repatriate Americans captured by the Japanese was killed by a member of the Viet Minh who mistakenly believed him to be French. In October,
British troops landed in southern Vietnam and establish a provisional administration. The British free French soldiers and officials imprisoned by the Japanese. The French begin taking control of cities within the British zone of occupation.
French, Chinese and Viet Minh Negotiations
In February 1946, the French sign an agreement with China where France gives up its concessions in Shanghai and other Chinese ports. In exchange, China agrees to assist the French in returning to Vietnam north of the 17th parallel.
On March 6, 1946, after negotiations with the Chinese and the Viet Minh, the French sign an agreement recognizing Vietnam within the French Union. Shortly after, the French land at Haiphong and occupy the rest of northern Vietnam. The Viet Minh use the negotiating process with France and China to buy time to use their armed forces to destroy all competing nationalist groups in the north.
In December 1946, negotiations between the Viet Minh and the French break down. The Viet Minh are driven out of Hanoi into the countryside.
Growth of the Viet Minh
From 1947 to 1949, the Viet Minh fight a limited insurgency in remote rural areas of northern Vietnam. In 1949, Chinese communists reach the northern border of Indochina. The Viet Minh drive the French from the border region and begin to receive large amounts of weapons from the Soviet Union and China. The weapons transform the Viet Minh from an irregular large-scale insurgency into a conventional army.
On May 1, 1950, after the capture of Hainan Island from Chinese Nationalist forces by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, President Truman approves $10 million in military assistance for anti-communist efforts in Indochina. The Defense Attaché Office was established in Saigon in May 1950, a formal recognition of Viet Nam (vice French IndoChina). This was the beginning of formal U.S. military personnel assignments in Viet Nam. U.S. Naval, Army and Air Force personnel established their respective attaches at this time.
In September 1950, Truman sends the Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG) Indochina to Vietnam to assist the French. The President claimed they were not sent as combat troops, but to supervise the use of $10 million worth of U.S. military equipment to support the French in their effort to fight the Viet Minh forces.
Following the outbreak of the Korean War, Truman announces “acceleration in the furnishing of military assistance to the forces of France and the Associated States in Indochina…”. and sends 123 non-combat troops to help with supplies to fight against the communist Viet Min
In 1951, President Truman authorized $150 million in French support.
The Korean War (June 25, 1950 – July 27, 1953) was a war between North Korea, with military support from China and the Soviet Union, and South Korea, backed by personnel from the United Nations (principally the United States). The war began on June 25, 1950 when North Korea invaded South Korea following clashes along the border and insurrections in the south. The war ended unofficially on July 27,1953 in an armistice.
After the surrender of Japan at the end of World War II, on August 15 (officially 2 September) 1945, Korea was divided at the 38th parallel into two zones of occupation. The Soviets administered the northern zone and the Americans administered the southern zone.
In 1948, as a result of Cold War tensions, the occupation zones became two sovereign states. A capitalist state, the First Republic of Korea, was established in the south under the authoritarian leadership of Syngman Rhee, and a socialist state, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was established in the north under the totalitarian leadership of Kim Il-sung. Both governments of the two new Korean states claimed to be the sole legitimate government of all of Korea, and neither accepted the border as permanent.
North Korean Korean People’s Army (KPA) forces crossed the border and drove into South Korea on June 25, 1950. The United Nations Security Council denounced the North Korean move as an invasion and authorized the formation of the United Nations Command and the dispatch of forces to Korea to repel it. The Soviet Union was boycotting the UN for recognizing Taiwan as China, and China was not recognized by the UN, so neither could support their ally North Korea at the Security Council meeting. Twenty-one countries of the United Nations eventually contributed to the UN force, with the United States providing around 90% of the military personnel.
After the first two months of war, South Korean Army (ROKA) and American forces hastily dispatched to Korea were on the point of defeat, retreating to a small area behind a defensive line known as the Pusan Perimeter. In September 1950, a risky amphibious UN counteroffensive was launched at Incheon, cutting off KPA troops and supply lines in South Korea. Those who escaped envelopment and capture were forced back north.
UN forces invaded North Korea in October 1950 and moved rapidly towards the Yalu River—the border with China—but on October 19, 1950, Chinese forces of the People’s Volunteer Army (PVA) crossed the Yalu and entered the war. UN retreat from North Korea after the First Phase Offensive and the Second Phase Offensive, then Chinese forces were in South Korea by late December.
In these and subsequent battles, Seoul was captured four times, and communist forces were pushed back to positions around the 38th parallel, close to where the war had started. After this, the front stabilized, and the last two years were a war of attrition.
The war in the air, however, was never a stalemate. North Korea was subject to a massive US bombing campaign. Jet fighters confronted each other in air-to-air combat for the first time in history, and Soviet pilots covertly flew in defense of their communist allies.
The fighting ended on July 27, 1953 when the Korean Armistice Agreement was signed. The agreement created the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) to separate North and South Korea, and allowed the return of prisoners. However, no peace treaty was ever signed, and the two Koreas are technically still at war, engaged in a frozen conflict. In April 2018, the leaders of North and South Korea met at the DMZ and agreed to work toward a treaty to formally end the Korean War.
The Korean War was among the most destructive conflicts of the modern era, with approximately 3 million war fatalities and a larger proportional civilian death toll than World War II or the Vietnam War. It incurred the destruction of virtually all of Korea’s major cities, thousands of massacres by both sides, including the mass killing of tens of thousands of suspected communists by the South Korean government, and the torture and starvation of prisoners of war by the North Koreans. North Korea became among the most heavily bombed countries in history.
First Battle of Seoul
The First Battle of Seoul (North Korean name: Liberation of Seoul) was the North Korean capture of the South Korean capital, Seoul, at the start of the Korean War. On June 25, 1950, Korean People’s Army (KPA) forces crossed the 38th Parallel and invaded South Korea. The KPA utilized a blitzkrieg style invasion using T-34 tanks supported by artillery. The Republic of Korea Army (ROKA) had no methods in stopping the onslaught of tanks as they lacked anti-tank weapons and had no tanks at all.
On June 28, the ROKA demolished the bridge across the Han River trapping soldiers from the 5th Division and killing hundreds of refugees evacuating the city. North Korean forces were able to cross the river later that day and occupy Seoul.
On June 30, President of the United States Harry S. Truman released a statement that indicated the invasion of South Korea had grown the threat of Communism to the Pacific area and the United States. In response to the invasion, Truman ordered United States provide assistance with air and land forces in Korea. Moreover, Truman ordered the United States Seventh Fleet to prevent any attack on Formosa and strengthened the United States forces in the Philippines.
As a result of North Korea’s invasion, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) passed United Nations Security Council Resolution 84. The Resolution authorized the use of the UN flag in operations against North Korean forces and those nations partaking. The UNSC provided a recommendation to members to provide assistance to the Republic of Korea in repelling the North Korean attack and restoring worldwide peace and security.
Battle of Osan
The Battle of Osan was the first engagement between United States and North Korea during the Korean War. On July 5, 1950, Task Force Smith, an American task force of 540 infantry supported by an artillery battery, was moved to Osan, south of Seoul, the capital of South Korea, and was ordered to fight as a rearguard to delay the advancing North Korean forces while more US troops arrived to form a stronger defensive line to the south. The task force lacked both anti-tank guns and effective infantry anti-tank weapons and had been equipped with obsolete 2.36-inch rocket launchers and a few 75 mm recoilless rifles. Aside from a limited number of HEAT shells for the unit’s 105 mm howitzers, crew-served weapons that could defeat T-34/85 tanks from the Soviet Union had not been distributed to the US Army forces in Korea.
A North Korean tank column equipped with ex-Soviet T-34/85 tanks overran the task force in the first encounter and continued its advance south. After the North Korean tank column had breached US lines, the task force opened fire on a force of some 5,000 North Korean infantry that were approaching its position, which held up their advance. North Korean troops eventually flanked and overwhelmed the US positions, and the rest of the task force retreated in disorder.
Battle of Inchon
The Battle of Inchon (September 15-19, 1950) was an amphibious invasion and a battle of the Korean War that resulted in a decisive victory and strategic reversal in favor of the United Nations Command (UN). The operation involved some 75,000 troops and 261 naval vessels and led to the recapture of the South Korean capital of Seoul two weeks later. The code name for the operation was Operation Chromite.
Through a surprise amphibious assault far from the Pusan Perimeter that UN and Republic of Korea Army (ROK) forces were desperately defending, the largely undefended city of Inchon was secured after being bombed by UN forces. The battle ended a string of victories by the North Korean Korean People’s Army (KPA). The subsequent UN recapture of Seoul partially severed the KPA’s supply lines in South Korea.
The UN and ROK forces were commanded by General of the Army Douglas MacArthur of the United States Army. MacArthur was the driving force behind the operation, overcoming the strong misgivings of more cautious generals to a risky assault over extremely unfavorable terrain. The battle was followed by a rapid collapse of the KPA; within a month of the Inchon landing, the Americans had taken 135,000 KPA troops prisoner.
Second Battle of Seoul
The Second Battle of Seoul was a battle that resulted in United Nations forces recapturing Seoul from the North Koreans in late September 1950. Before the battle, North Korea had just one understrength division in the city, with the majority of its forces south of the capital. MacArthur personally oversaw the 1st Marine Regiment as it fought through North Korean positions on the road to Seoul. Control of Operation Chromite was then given to Major General Edward Almond, the X Corps commander. General Almond was in an enormous hurry to capture Seoul by September 25, exactly three months after the North Korean assault across the 38th parallel.
The X Corps entered Seoul the morning of September 25. By mid-afternoon, U.S. Army forces crossed the Han River and captured Namsan peak. The 1st Marine Division began its assault at 7 a.m. The North Koreans had heavily fortified the city. Buildings were heavily defended by machine guns and snipers, and on Ma Po Boulevard, the main road through the city, the KPA had established a series of 8-foot-high barricades of burlap bags, typically filled with sand, dirt, or rice. Located about 200-300 yards apart, each major intersection of the city featured such a barricade, the approaches to which were laced with mines, and which were usually defended by a 45mm anti-tank gun and machine guns. Each had to be eliminated one at a time, and it took the Marines, on average, 45–60 minutes to clear each position.
Casualties mounted as the Americans engaged in heated house-to-house fighting. Edwin H. Simmons, a Major in 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, likened the experience of his company’s advance up the boulevard to “attacking up Pennsylvania Avenue towards the Capitol in Washington, D.C.” He described the street as “once a busy, pleasant avenue lined with sycamores, groceries, wine, and tea shops.” Anxious to pronounce the conquest of Seoul on MacArthur’s insistence by the third-month anniversary of the war, Almond declared the city liberated at 2 p.m., September 25, although Marines were still engaged in house-to-house combat (gunfire and artillery could still be heard in the northern suburbs) and the city would not be fully captured for two more days. The Government House and Changdeok Palace were captured on September 26. Sporadic resistance would continue up until September 29.
After the battle, South Korean police executed citizens and their families who were suspected as communist sympathizers in what is known as the Goyang Geumjeong Cave and Namyangju massacres.
Battle of Pakchon
The Battle of Pakchon (5 November 1950), also known as the Battle of Bochuan (Chinese: 博川战斗; pinyin: Bó Chuān Zhàn Dòu), took place ten days after the start of the Chinese First Phase Offensive, following the entry of the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army (PVA) into the Korean War. The offensive reversed the United Nations Command (UN) advance towards the Yalu River which had occurred after their intervention in the wake of the North Korean invasion of South Korea at the start of the war. The battle was fought between British and Australian forces from the 27th British Commonwealth Brigade with American armour and artillery in support, and the PVA 117th Division of the 39th Army, around the village of Pakchon on the Taeryong River. After capturing Chongju on 30 October the British and Australians had been ordered to pull back to Pakchon in an attempt to consolidate the western flank of the US Eighth Army. Meanwhile, immediately following their success at Unsan against the Americans, the PVA 117th Division had attacked southward, intending to cut off the UN forces as they withdrew in the face of the unexpected PVA assault. To halt the PVA advance, the 27th British Commonwealth Brigade was ordered to defend the lower crossings of the Taeryong and Chongchon rivers as part of a rearguard, in conjunction with the US 24th Infantry Division further upstream on the right.
During the night of 4/5 November, the PVA and Korean People’s Army (KPA) mounted a full-scale assault on the US 24th Infantry Division, pushing back an American infantry regiment nearly 2 kilometres (1.2 mi). The PVA/KPA force subsequently turned west, advancing between the Taeryong and Chongchon rivers and threatening the rear of the 27th British Commonwealth Brigade by cutting the Pakchon–Sinanju road. The following day they attacked an American artillery battery which was guarding a vital concrete bridge near Kujin. The British and Australians then successfully counter-attacked the PVA forces occupying a number of nearby ridgelines during the day but were in turn counter-attacked before being pushed off the high ground during the night. In their first battle with the PVA, the 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (3 RAR) captured a well defended hill with only limited offensive support, and held it in the face of heavy counter-attacks before confused command decisions resulted in a disorganised night withdrawal while still in contact. The withdrawal threatened to open the 27th British Commonwealth Brigade’s left flank and the Australians were ordered to immediately reposition on the ridge, yet ultimately it was too late to regain the feature in darkness. However, following heavy fighting the pressure on the Australians unexpectedly ceased after midnight, and parties of PVA were observed beginning to withdraw. By early morning the PVA attack had been checked and 3 RAR had redeployed to new positions in the paddy fields around the railway crossing north of Maenjung-dong.
The fighting was costly for both sides. Although the Australians halted the advancing PVA 117th Division and inflicted numerous casualties on them, they also suffered heavy losses. In the aftermath the inexperienced Australian battalion commander—Lieutenant Colonel Floyd Walsh—was relieved of his position by the British brigade commander, having taken over just six days earlier following the death of the previous commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Charles Green at Chongju. Nonetheless, the 27th British Commonwealth Brigade succeeded in preventing a PVA break-through at Pakchon, keeping open vital withdrawal routes across the river and securing the UN left flank. Suffering significant casualties, the PVA offensive was halted the next day due to logistic difficulties. The PVA and KPA were temporarily forced to withdraw north, while the UN successfully reinforced its positions, holding on the Chongchon Line. Yet by late November the US Eighth Army was again forced to withdraw after the PVA began their Second Phase Offensive, starting a long retreat south. The UN forces withdrew from North Korea to the 38th Parallel where they sought to re-establish defensive positions.
Battle of Chosin Reservoir
The Battle of Chosin Reservoir, also known as the Chosin Reservoir Campaign or the Battle of Lake Jangjin (Korean: 장진호 전투; Hanja: 長津湖戰鬪; RR: Jangjinho jeontu; MR: Changjinho chŏnt’u), was an important battle in the Korean War.[c] The name “Chosin” is derived from the Japanese pronunciation “Chōshin”, instead of the Korean pronunciation.
Official Chinese sources refer to this battle as the eastern part of the Second Phase Campaign (or Offensive) (Chinese: 第二次战役东线; pinyin: Dì’èrcì Zhànyì Dōngxiàn). The western half of the Second Phase Campaign resulted in a Chinese victory in the Battle of the Ch’ongch’on River.
The battle took place about a month after the People’s Republic of China entered the conflict and sent the People’s Volunteer Army (PVA) 9th Army[d] to infiltrate the northeastern part of North Korea. On 27 November 1950, the Chinese force surprised the US X Corps commanded by Major General Edward Almond at the Chosin Reservoir area. A brutal 17-day battle in freezing weather soon followed. Between 27 November and 13 December, 30,000 United Nations Command troops (later nicknamed “The Chosin Few”) under the field command of Major General Oliver P. Smith were encircled and attacked by about 120,000 Chinese troops under the command of Song Shilun, who had been ordered by Mao Zedong to destroy the UN forces. The UN forces were nevertheless able to break out of the encirclement and to make a fighting withdrawal to the port of Hungnam, inflicting heavy casualties on the Chinese. US Marine units were supported in their withdrawal by the US Army’s Task Force Faith to their east, which suffered heavy casualties and the full brunt of the Chinese offensive. The retreat of the US Eighth Army from northwest Korea in the aftermath of the Battle of the Ch’ongch’on River and the evacuation of the X Corps from the port of Hungnam in northeast Korea marked the complete withdrawal of UN troops from North Korea.
Third Battle of Seoul
The Third Battle of Seoul, also known as the Chinese New Year’s Offensive, the January–Fourth Retreat (Korean: 1•4 후퇴) or the Third Phase Campaign Western Sector[nb 4] (Chinese: 第三次战役西线; pinyin: Dì Sān Cì Zhàn Yì Xī Xiàn), was a battle of the Korean War, which took place from December 31, 1950, to January 7, 1951, around the South Korean capital of Seoul. In the aftermath of the major Chinese People’s Volunteer Army (PVA) victory at the Battle of the Ch’ongch’on River, the United Nations Command (UN) started to contemplate the possibility of evacuation from the Korean Peninsula. Chinese Communist Party chairman Mao Zedong ordered the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army to cross the 38th Parallel in an effort to pressure the UN forces to withdraw from South Korea.
On December 31, 1950, the Chinese 13th Army attacked the Republic of Korea Army (ROK)’s 1st, 2nd, 5th and 6th Infantry Divisions along the 38th Parallel, breaching UN defenses at the Imjin River, Hantan River, Gapyeong and Chuncheon in the process. To prevent the PVA forces from overwhelming the defenders, the US Eighth Army now under the command of Lieutenant General Matthew B. Ridgway evacuated Seoul on January 3, 1951.
Although PVA forces captured Seoul by the end of the battle, the Chinese invasion of South Korea galvanized the UN support for South Korea, while the idea of evacuation was soon abandoned by the UN Command. At the same time, the PVA were exhausted after months of nonstop fighting since the start of the Chinese intervention, thereby allowing the UN forces to regain the initiative in Korea.
Operation Ripper, also known as the Fourth Battle of Seoul, was a United Nations (UN) military operation conceived by the US Eighth Army, General Matthew Ridgway, during the Korean War. The operation was intended to destroy as much as possible of the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army (PVA) and Korean People’s Army (KPA) forces around Seoul and the towns of Hongch’on, 50 miles (80 km) east of Seoul, and Chuncheon, 15 miles (24 km) further north. The operation also aimed to bring UN troops to the 38th Parallel. It followed upon the heels of Operation Killer, an eight-day UN offensive that concluded February 28, to push PVA/KPA forces north of the Han River. The operation was launched on 6 March 1951 with US US I Corps and IX Corps on the west near Seoul and Hoengsong and US X Corps and Republic of Korea Army (ROK) III Corps in the east, to reach the Idaho Line, an arc with its apex just south of the 38th Parallel in South Korea.
Operation Ripper was preceded by the largest artillery bombardment of the Korean War. On the middle, the US 25th Infantry Division quickly crossed the Han and established a bridgehead. Further to the east, IX Corps reached its first phase line on 11 March. Three days later the advance proceeded to the next phase line. During the night of 14–15 March, elements of the ROK 1st Infantry Division and the US 3rd Infantry Division liberated Seoul, marking the fourth and last time the capital changed hands since June 1950. The PVA/KPA forces were compelled to abandon it when the UN approach to the east of the city threatened them with encirclement.
Following the recapture of Seoul the PVA/KPA forces retreated northward, conducting skilful delaying actions that utilized the rugged, muddy terrain to maximum advantage, particularly in the mountainous US X Corps sector. Despite such obstacles, Operation Ripper pressed on throughout March. In the mountainous central region, US IX and US X Corps pushed forward methodically, IX Corps against light opposition and X Corps against staunch enemy defenses. Hongch’on was taken on the 15th and Chuncheon secured on the 22nd. The capture of Chuncheon was the last major ground objective of Operation Ripper.
UN forces had advanced north an average of 30 miles (48 km) from their start lines. However, while the Eighth Army had occupied their principal geographic objectives, the goal of destroying PVA forces and equipment had again proved elusive. More often than not, the PVA/KPA forces withdrew before they suffered extensive damage. Chuncheon, a major PVA/KPA supply hub, was empty by the time UN forces finally occupied it. As the UN troops ground forward, they were constantly descending sharp slopes or ascending steep heights to attack enemy positions that were sometimes above the clouds. By the end of March, US forces reached the 38th Parallel.
Operation Courageous (March 23-28, 1951) was a military operation performed by the United Nations Command (UN) during the Korean War designed to trap large numbers of Chinese People’s Volunteer Army (PVA) and Korean People’s Army (KPA) troops between the Han and Imjin Rivers north of Seoul, opposite the Republic of Korea Army (ROK) I Corps. The intent of Operation Courageous was for US I Corps, which was composed of the US 25th and 3rd Infantry Divisions and the ROK 1st Infantry Division, to advance quickly on the PVA/KPA forces and reach the Imjin River with all possible speed.
Battle of Kapyong
The Battle of Kapyong (Korean: 가평전투, 22–25 April 1951), also known as the Battle of Jiaping (Chinese: 加平战斗; pinyin: Jiā Píng Zhàn Dòu), was fought during the Korean War between United Nations Command (UN) forces—primarily Canadian, Australian, and New Zealand—and the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army (PVA). The fighting occurred during the Chinese Spring Offensive and saw the 27th British Commonwealth Brigade establish blocking positions in the Kapyong Valley, on a key route south to the capital, Seoul. The two forward battalions—the 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (3 RAR) and 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (2 PPCLI)—were supported by guns from the 16th Field Regiment (16 Fd Regt) of the Royal Regiment of New Zealand Artillery along with a company of US mortars and fifteen Sherman tanks. These forces occupied positions astride the valley and hastily developed defences. As thousands of soldiers from the Republic of Korea Army (ROK) began to withdraw through the valley, the PVA infiltrated the brigade position under the cover of darkness, and assaulted the Australians on Hill 504 during the evening and into the following day.
Although heavily outnumbered, the 27th Brigade held their positions into the afternoon before the Australians were finally withdrawn to positions in the rear of the brigade, with both sides having suffered heavy casualties. The PVA then turned their attention to the Canadians on Hill 677, but during a fierce night battle they were unable to dislodge them. The fighting helped blunt the PVA offensive and the actions of the Australians and Canadians at Kapyong were important in assisting to prevent a breakthrough on the UN central front, and ultimately the capture of Seoul. The two battalions bore the brunt of the assault and stopped an entire PVA division during the hard-fought defensive battle. The next day the PVA withdrew back up the valley, in order to regroup. Today, the battle is regarded as one of the most famous actions fought by the Australian and Canadian armies in Korea.
Battle of the Imjin River
The Battle of the Imjin River (Filipino: Labanan sa Ilog Imjin), also known as the Battle of Solma-ri (Korean: 설마리 전투) or Battle of Gloster Hill (글로스터 고지 전투) in South Korea, or as Battle of Xuemali (Chinese: 雪马里战斗; pinyin: Xuě Mǎ Lǐ Zhàn Dòu) in China, took place 22–25 April 1951 during the Korean War. Troops from the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army (PVA) attacked United Nations Command (UN) positions on the lower Imjin River in an attempt to achieve a breakthrough and recapture the South Korean capital Seoul. The attack was part of the Chinese Spring Offensive, the aim of which was to regain the initiative on the battlefield after a series of successful UN counter-offensives in January–March 1951 had allowed UN forces to establish themselves beyond the 38th Parallel at the Kansas Line.
The section of the UN line where the battle took place was defended primarily by British forces of the 29th Infantry Brigade, consisting of three British and one Belgian infantry battalions (Belgian United Nations Command) supported by tanks and artillery. Despite facing a greatly numerically superior enemy, the brigade held its general positions for three days. When the units of the 29th Infantry Brigade were ultimately forced to fall back, their actions in the Battle of the Imjin River together with those of other UN forces, for example in the Battle of Kapyong, had blunted the impetus of the PVA offensive and allowed UN forces to retreat to prepared defensive positions north of Seoul, where the PVA were halted.
“Though minor in scale, the battle’s ferocity caught the imagination of the world”, especially the fate of the 1st Battalion, The Gloucestershire Regiment, which was outnumbered and eventually surrounded by Chinese forces on Hill 235, a feature that became known as Gloster Hill. The stand of the Gloucestershire battalion, together with other actions of the 29th Brigade in the Battle of the Imjin River, has become an important part of British military history and tradition.
Battle of Bloody Ridge
The Battle of Bloody Ridge was a ground combat battle that took place during the Korean War from 18 August to 5 September 1951.
By the summer of 1951, the Korean War had reached a stalemate as peace negotiations began at Kaesong. The opposing armies faced each other across a line which ran from east to west, through the middle of the Korean peninsula, located in hills a few miles north of the 38th Parallel in the central Korean mountain range. United Nation and the North Korean Korean People’s Army (KPA) and Chinese People’s Volunteer Army (PVA) forces jockeyed for position along this line, clashing in several relatively small but intense and bloody battles. Bloody Ridge began as an attempt by UN forces to seize a ridge of hills which they believed were being used as observation posts to call in artillery fire on a UN supply road.
Battle of Heartbreak Ridge
The Battle of Heartbreak Ridge (Korean: 단장의 능선 전투; Hanja: 斷腸의 稜線 戰鬪; French: Bataille de Crèvecœur), also known as the Battle of Wendengli (Chinese: 文登里战斗; pinyin: Wéndēnglǐ Zhàndòu), was a month-long battle in the Korean War which took place between September 13th and October 15th, 1951. After withdrawing from Bloody Ridge, the Korean People’s Army (KPA) set up new positions just 1,500 yards (1,400 m) away on a 7-mile (11 km) long hill mass. If anything, the defenses were even more formidable here than on Bloody Ridge.
The Battle of Heartbreak Ridge was one of several major engagements in the hills of North Korea a few miles north of the 38th Parallel (the pre-war boundary between North and South Korea), near Chorwon. For the Chinese, this battle is often confused with the Battle of Triangle Hill, which occurred a year later.
Battle of Hill Eerie
The Battle of Hill Eerie (Tagalog: Labanan sa Eerie Hill) refers to several Korean War engagements between the United Nations Command (UN) forces and the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army (PVA) in March-June 1952 at Hill Eerie, a military outpost about 10 miles (16 km) west of Ch’orwon. It was taken several times by both sides; each sabotaging the others’ position.
Battle of Old Baldy
The Battle of Old Baldy refers to a series of five engagements for Hill 266 in west-central Korea. They occurred over a period of 10 months in 1952–1953, though there was also vicious fighting both before and after these engagements.
The battle for the 1952 Battle of Old Baldy was costly to both sides. U.S. forces suffered 307 killed. Chinese forces suffered 1,100 dead. Like for most of the 1951-53 battles in the Korean War there is not much detail about the aftermath of the publicized battles. The communist forces took back Old Baldy by March 1953 but there is not much information in terms of casualties for both sides as well as detailed accounts of the 1953 battle, in stark contrast to the well-publicized and over-sensationalized 1952 battle. In the end both sides lost many men with the battle lines ending up the exact same as in May 1952 before the first battle, emblematic of the whole Korean War.
Third Battle of the Hook
The Third Battle of the Hook (Chinese: 坪村南山战斗) was a battle of the Korean War that took place between a United Nations Command (UN) force, consisting mostly of British troops, supported on their flanks by American and Turkish units against a predominantly Chinese force.
The loss of wartime ally China to communism, and the stalemate that was the Korean War led Americans into mass fear and hysteria of communism by the time Truman’s presidency ended in 1953 as it appeared the containment policy was unsuccessful, aided by corruption in the executive branch. Truman’s popularity sank to an all-time low. It would not be until decades later that people would appreciate the adept conclusion to the second World War, the overwhelming success of the Marshall Plan and the bold steps he took on civil rights.
Because Truman did not have a distinguished academic background, nor much success in the private sector, they assumed that Truman could not possibly be an effective president. Furthermore, events overseas which often had little to no effect on American domestic policy dominated American domestic politics, leading to a distrust of government and all things foreign. This opened the door for populist political candidates to foment hate, fear and anxiety over the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats presented by foreign enemies.
Dwight Eisenhower (1952-1960) would follow FDR
FDR (1932-1945) would precede Truman
Woodrow Wilson (1913 – 1921) would guide the United States through World War I.
Zachary Taylor (1849-1850) would assume the presidency after the Mexican War.
Jimmy Carter (1977 – 1981) would be the only Democratic President for 25 years post Civil Rights.
George W. Bush (2000 – 2008) is the final President in our series.