Harry S. Truman: The Man from Independence

By William F. Levantrosser | Go to book overview

CONCLUSION

This paper identified all the options available to President Truman for settlement of the steel dispute of 1952, established Truman's presidential character, and then applied his character to the options available in order to explain Truman's choice of seizure over the others. From this look into Truman's presidential character and decision-making options, two things become evident. First, President Truman was at least as much concerned with the steel dispute's domestic economic repercussions as he was about the effect of a stoppage in steel production upon U.S. defense efforts in Korea. Second, that Truman's actions during the steel strike of 1952 were consistent with those you would expect of active- positive presidents in general, and of Truman's presidential character in particular.

When viewed in terms of President Truman's presidential character, his actions during the 1952 steel dispute become more clearly understandable. In 1946 it had been labor who had acted "irresponsibly" and had consequently felt Truman's wrath. In 1952 it was the steel companies who acted irresponsibly, and they were treated by Truman in an identical fashion. Hence, President Truman's actions during the steel dispute of 1952 were not those of a rash, vengeful decision-maker, but were rather consistent products of particular elements of his presidential character. The steel dispute became a matter of principle for Truman, and he acted as he had always acted in such matters. As Truman himself said, "it is much better to go down fighting for what is right than to compromise your principles."54

So was it spoken; so was it done.


NOTES
1.
Youngstown Sheet and Tube vs. Sawyer, 343 U.S. 579 ( 1952).
2.
Veto Message to the House of Representatives, June 20, 1947, Truman papers, 1947, pp. 288-97.
3.
James Barber, The Presidential Character (Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1977) Chapt. 8.
4.
What follows is a very broad-brush discussion of Barber's analytical scheme and Truman's presidential character as developed by Barber. This brief sketch will allow us to examine Truman's actions during the steel crisis of 1952 in terms of his presidential character. For those wishing to read a fully-developed explanation of both Barber's paradigm in general and his analysis of Truman in particular, please see Chapters 1 and 8 in The Presidential Character.
5.
Barber, The Presidential Character, pp. 3-4.
6.
Ibid., p. 8.
7.
Ibid., p. 7.
8.
Ibid.

-319-

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