On the 12th April 1945, Harry Truman became the 33rd President of the United States when his predecessor, Franklin D Roosevelt, suddenly died while having his portrait painted. Truman was Roosevelt’s Vice-President, but had only held the position since January. Meanwhile, Roosevelt had been President for four terms and had overseen America’s recovery from the Great Depression and involvement in the Second World War.

With enormous shoes to fill, Truman told reporters that he, “felt like the moon, the stars, and all the planets had fallen on me.” Even Roosevelt’s wife, Eleanor, recognized the size of the task facing the new President. When he asked 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.”

Eleanor Roosevelt’s words were not an overstatement. The task facing the new President was huge, with World War Two still raging in Europe and the Pacific. Roosevelt had not told his Vice-President about the worsening relationship with the USSR, nor about the Manhattan Project’s development of the atomic bomb. Opting to continue with the bomb’s development, a few months later Truman truly left his mark on international politics by ordering the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It is for his role in the origins of the Cold War that he is now probably most well remembered.

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