Blomstedt, Larry Wayne (2008-05). Truman, Congress and the struggle for war and peace in Korea. Doctoral Dissertation. Thesis uri icon

abstract

  • 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.
  • 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.

publication date

  • May 2008