Executive Order 9981: Desegregation of the Armed Forces


About the Author

Harry S. Truman, the thirty-third president of the United States (1945–1953), was born in Lamar, Missouri, on May 8, 1884. While it has become conventional to regard “S” as a middle initial, with a period, in fact the S does not stand for anything. It was his middle name, given to him by his parents to honor both of his grandfathers, whose names began with the letter S—a practice not uncommon among people of Scots-Irish descent.

Early in his life, Truman worked as a drugstore clerk before turning to farming. In the 1920s he was co-owner of a men's clothing store, leading to his reputation as the “haberdasher” who became president. He was the nation's last president to serve without benefit of a college degree. In 1905 he joined the Missouri National Guard, remaining a member until 1911. An early goal was to attend the United States Military Academy at West Point, but extremely poor eyesight rendered this goal impossible. After the outbreak of World War I, he...

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Executive Order 9981 (National Archives and Records Administration)

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