Harry & Arthur: Truman, Vandenberg, and the Partnership That Created the Free World

Harry & Arthur: Truman, Vandenberg, and the Partnership That Created the Free World

Harry & Arthur: Truman, Vandenberg, and the Partnership That Created the Free World

Harry & Arthur: Truman, Vandenberg, and the Partnership That Created the Free World


Bipartisan leadership that changed the world

With Franklin Roosevelt's death in April of 1945, Vice President Harry Truman and Senator Arthur Vandenberg, the Republican leader on foreign policy, inherited a world in turmoil. With Europe flattened and the Soviets emerging as America's new adversary, Truman and Vandenberg built a tight partnership with one another to address the challenges at hand. Working in strong bipartisan fashion at a bitterly partisan time, they crafted a dramatic new foreign policy through which the United States stepped boldly onto the world stage for the first time to protect its friends, confront its enemies, and promote freedom. These two men--unlikely partners by way of personality and style--transformed the United States from a reluctant global giant to a self-confident leader; from a nation that traditionally turned inward after war to one that remained engaged to shape the post-war landscape; and from a nation with no real military establishment to one that now spends more on defense than the next dozen nations combined.
Lawrence J. Haas, an award-wining journalist, reveals how, through the close collaboration of Truman and Vandenberg, the United States created the United Nations to replace the League of Nations, pursued the Truman Doctrine to defend freedom from Communist threat, launched the Marshall Plan to rescue Western Europe's economy from the devastation of war, and established NATO to defend Western Europe.


In march of 1951 Arthur Vandenberg was a month from death. He was still the senior senator from Michigan but, with his body ravaged by the cancer that had spread along his spine, he hadn’t attended a Senate session in ten months. At home in Grand Rapids, pale and haggard, in excruciating pain and a shell of his former imposing self, he was left to reading the get-well wishes of former colleagues like Secretary of Defense George C. Marshall and Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, a Massachusetts Republican.

From Key West, where he had taken the presidential yacht for a few days of poker with his pals, Harry Truman sent Vandenberg a telegram. “All of your friends are disturbed by reports that you have not been getting on so well lately,” he wrote. “This is just a line to let you know that I am thinking of you and hope you will be back in your old place soon. the country needs you. Best of luck always.”

Vandenberg replied by letter the next day, addressing the president as “My dear Harry” for the first time. “I am deeply touched by your telegram of March 6,” he wrote. “I know it is inspired by a long-time personal friendship which you and I enjoy. It moves me to greet you in this personal way. Your message is good for my morale. I hope you enjoy your Key West outing and that it will reinvigorate you for the heavy burdens which you carry. I have abiding faith in the future of our good old U.S.A.”

The poignant exchange between Truman and Vandenberg evoked . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.