AbstractsPolitical Science

Truman, Congress and the struggle for war and peace in Korea

by Larry Wayne Blomstedt

Institution: Texas A&M University
Year: 2009
Keywords: Truman
Record ID: 1854439
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/1969.1/ETD-TAMU-2753


This dissertation analyzes the roles of the Harry Truman administration and Congress in directing American policy regarding the Korean conflict. Using evidence from primary sources such as Truman?s presidential papers, communications of White House staffers, and correspondence from State Department operatives and key congressional figures, this study suggests that the legislative branch had an important role in Korean policy. Congress sometimes affected the war by what it did and, at other times, by what it did not do. Several themes are addressed in this project. One is how Truman and the congressional Democrats failed each other during the war. The president did not dedicate adequate attention to congressional relations early in his term, and was slow to react to charges of corruption within his administration, weakening his party politically. For their part, the Democrats gave HST poor advice concerning congressional involvement in the decision to take the nation to war. A number of them allowed their personal dislike for Secretary of State Dean Acheson to poison their support for the administration whenever U.S. fortunes in the war soured. Another issue was Truman?s interpretation and use of the concept of bipartisanship in foreign policy. HST generally manipulated the idea for political advantage. Ironically, had he listened to the counsel of an administration Republican early in the war, Truman could have mitigated the explosion over the firing of General Douglas MacArthur. A topic heretofore overlooked by historians concerns congressional peace initiatives proposed during the first half of the war. Analysis of the effectiveness of these resolutions, particularly during the heyday of McCarthyism, yields surprising conclusions.