Study Guide

Truman Doctrine Timeline

By Harry Truman

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February 4, 1945

Yalta Conference

FDR, Churchill, and Stalin (the "Big Three") meet to discuss plans for post-war Europe. Stalin later violates agreements made at the conference, really irritating the Western powers. Truman specifically mentions violations at Yalta in his speech.

April 12, 1945

Death of FDR

Franklin Delano Roosevelt dies of a stroke, leaving Vice President Harry S Truman to succeed him as President.

May 8, 1945

V-E Day

Germany surrenders, Victory in Europe (V-E) is celebrated.

August 6, 1945

Bombing of Hiroshima

The U.S. bombs the Japanese city of Hiroshima, marking the first time nuclear weapons are used for warfare. This date is also sometimes seen as the beginning of the Cold War.

August 15, 1945

V-J Day (Victory in Japan)

After a second atomic bomb is dropped on the city of Nagasaki (August 9), Japan surrenders to the allies, marking the end of World War II throughout the rest of the world.

October 24, 1945

The UN is Born

The United Nations is established as a global, diplomatic peacekeeping force. Many believe it should be the UN's responsibility, not the United States,' to keep the Soviets in check. Truman gives the UN a shout-out in his speech.

February 22, 1946

Kennan Telegram

U.S. Diplomat in Moscow George Kennan sends a really long telegram—like longer than your friend triple texting you about a fight with their SO—to Truman warning of aggressive expansionist movements in Russia. In response to these movements, he recommends the U.S. pursue a policy of "containment" to stop Soviet expansion and the spread of communism. This is a major game-changer, setting the tone for Cold War foreign policy.

March 30, 1946

Civil War in Greece Begins

A civil war between opposing communist and government forces breaks out in Greece. The threat of losing such an important country in the Middle East leaves Truman and his advisors less than thrilled.

September 24, 1946

Clifford-Elsey Report

Clark Clifford and George Elsey submit their report outlining "Soviet-disregard" for postwar agreements like those made at Yalta as well as the "Soviet threat" to world peace. Clifford and Elsey will do a lot of copying and pasting of their report to write the TD. (Pro tip: Always save your work.)

February 21, 1947

An Urgent Message from the British

British ambassador, Lord Inverchapel (say that five times fast), delivers a message to the State Department announcing that Great Britain can no longer provide economic and military support to Greece and Turkey.

Truman knows he needs to come up with something—and fast—before it's too late.

March 7, 1947

The First Draft is Written

Clark Clifford, George Elsey, and Dean Acheson write a draft of the speech Truman plans to give before Congress the following week. Truman will request some changes and approve the final draft in the next few days.

March 12, 1947

The Speech is Given

Truman goes before a joint session of Congress, a few minutes after one o'clock to give his historic speech. It lasts about eighteen minutes, which is good, because it was short enough for everyone there to follow along.

April 22, 1947 / May 9, 1947

Congress "Approves"

Congress (the Senate in April, the House in May) grants Truman's request to send aid to Greece and Turkey.

June 5, 1947

Marshall Announces his Plan

George Marshall gives a commencement speech at Harvard outlining his (Marshall) Plan to help finance Europe's recovery.

November 2, 1948

Truman Elected

Truman sticks it to everyone (including his wife, and the press) when he's surprisingly elected president in 1948. His strong stance on foreign policy was a major campaign issue.

April 4, 1949


The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is created, and the U.S. enters its first, permanent alliance with another country. Another example of containment, TD principles, and Cold War foreign policy.

June 27, 1950

The U.S. Enters the Korean War

Truman makes the difficult decision to enter the Korean conflict. The decision is greatly influenced by the principles and commitments outlined in his doctrine.

November 1, 1955 – April 30, 1975

Officially Recognized Dates of U.S. Involvement in Vietnam

America's entry into Vietnam also has significant ties to the Truman Doctrine and Cold War policy of containment.

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