Document Type


Date of Award



United States, Politics and government, 1945-1953, Truman, Harry S.

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Richard M. Dalfiume

Second Advisor

Norman F. Cantor

Third Advisor

Melvyn Dubofsky


The role of the Budget Bureau in the domestic legislative program of Harry S. Truman began in the latter years of the Presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Long before his death, Roosevelt had lost the ability to lead Congress in the direction of liberal domestic reform legislation. He did, however, retain the power of his style, and maintained a majestic image of leadership and accomplishment. In hopes of regaining the legislative initiative after the war had been won, Roosevelt campaigned in 1944 on a platform of victory overseas and an “Economic Bill of Rights” at home. With the death of Roosevelt in 1945, it was left to his little-known Vice-President to extend the horizons of the New Deal.

The legacy of Roosevelt was a handicap to the new President. FDR was quickly incorporated into the liberal mythology as a secular Christ figure who had given his life to save America from depression and the world from fascism. On taking office, Harry Truman was confronted with a strong opposition bloc in Congress and the image of an omnipotent predecessor. Truman was never to have a workable majority in the Congress willing to follow his lead without question: on the contrary, the anti-New Deal coalition, “always potent after 1937,” was quite strong throughout the Truman years.

The new President's public image contrasted sharply with that of the martyred Roosevelt, and Truman suffered in comparison. Never very close to FDR, and not kept abreast of Presidential business, Truman was ill-prepared to assume the Presidency, and needed immediate help to deal with many pressing issues. Fortunately for Truman there was within the Executive Branch an agency to which he could turn for aid in meeting many of the problems of the post-war situation. That agency was the Bureau of the Budget.


This study will seek to investigate the nature and extent of the Bureau's role in the legislative program of President Truman by examining four major issues included in that program; atomic energy control, unification of the armed forces, housing, and civil rights.