Harry S. Truman and the Korean War: Unfinished Legacy


Harry S. Truman and the Korean War: Unfinished Legacy



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Sixty years ago North Korea invaded the south on June 25, 1950 and the United Nations/United States forces were close to total defeat. General Douglas MacArthur then on September 15, 1950, made one of the greatest strategic moves of his illustrious career by successfully landing some 50,000 Marines and Army troops at Inchon and recapturing Seoul a week later and cutting off the North Korean army from their supplies from the north. The war continued for three more years and ended in 1953 with an armistice. There is still no peace treaty. But ultimately the war led to the freedom and tremendous development of South Korea we see today.

Dr. Michael J. Devine is Director of the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library in Independence, MO. He will discuss how President Harry S. Truman responded to the unexpected invasion on the Republic of Korea by forces from North Korea and how Truman’s decision changed the course of world history in many ways. Truman made three critical decisions that set important precedents influencing how the administrations of his successors would conduct the Cold War. The three issues Truman addressed were: responding to the Chinese entry into the war, the insubordination of General Douglas MacArthur, and the repatriation of POWs.

Dr. Devine began his tenure with the Library in September 2001. He has more than thirty-five years of experience in the management of historical institutions.

The Harry S. Truman Library is one of thirteen federal presidential libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration, and the Library holds the records of the Truman administration and 25 thousand artifacts related to Mr. Truman’s life and times. The Library has a $6 million annual budget and serves the international scholarly community as well as schools and public audiences. The director of the Library serves as the Ex-officio member of the Board of Directors of the Harry S. Truman Institute for National and International Affairs.

Dr. Devine served on the faculty of the University of Wyoming from 1991-2001, where he taught courses in U.S. and diplomatic history, and directed the University’s American Heritage Center from 1991-2000. He was the Houghton Freeman Professor of American History at the Johns Hopkins University – Nanjing University Graduate Center in Nanjing, China during the 1998-99 academic year.

From 1985-1991, Dr. Devine was the Illinois State Historian and Director of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency/Illinois State Historical Society. In that position he supervised a staff of 260 and managed the Illinois State Historical Library (now renamed the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library), the Illinois State Historical Society, 50 historical sites throughout the state, and the State Historical Preservation Office.

Dr. Devine earned his BA from Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa, and a MA and Ph.D. from Ohio State University. Dr. Devine has published widely on American foreign policy, Illinois history, the history of the American West, and Public History. He served as a Senior Fulbright Lecturer to Argentina in 1983 and Korea in 1995, and has consulted on more than a dozen projects for the American Association of Museums. In 1999, he was elected President of the National Council on Public History.

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Harry S. Truman and the Korean War: Unfinished Legacy