Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Britain and the Truman Doctrine
David Mulligan
Modern History
Time Frame:
Background lecture on WW2 and post –WW2, plus intro to Truman Doctrine Overall : 3-4 days
Cold War

Grade Levels:
11, 12

Classroom/Homework Activity to be performed:

Students will use a variety of sources to focus in on Britain’s decision to withdraw from the Mediterranean, and decide reasons why Truman decided to commit the USA unilaterally to replace Britain, based on pictures, his speech, lecture notes, and John Keegan’s Truman Doctrine article


To help students in a Modern American History Class ( grades 11-12) understand one of the

early, as well as the most significant issues of the post-WW2 world “Cold War”

District, state, or national performance and knowledge standards/goals/skills met:

Meets RI History and Social Science US History standards

Kansas Standards

Benchmark 3: The student uses a working knowledge and understanding of individuals, groups, ideas,
developments, and turning points in the era of the Cold War (1945-1990).
2. analyzes the origins of the Cold War (e.g., establishment of the
Soviet Bloc, Mao’s victory in China, Marshall Plan, Berlin Blockade,
Iron Curtain).
3. (A) evaluates the foreign policies of Truman and Eisenhower during
the Cold War (e.g., establishment of the United Nations,
containment, NATO, Truman Doctrine, Berlin Blockade, Korean
War, Iron Curtain, U-2 incident).

Benchmark 5: The student engages in historical thinking skills.
3.(A) uses primary and secondary sources about an event in U.S.
history to develop a credible interpretation of the event, evaluating
on its meaning (e.g., uses provided primary and secondary sources
to interpret a historical-based conclusion).

Missouri Standards

US History
3aW:  Describe and evaluate the evolution of United States domestic and foreign policies including the Cold War.

3aY:  Describe the changing character of American society and culture.

7C:  Distinguish between fact and opinion and analyze sources to recognize bias and points of view.


Secondary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:
  • Any standard 20th century American History text ( for background )
  • Handout article by Historian John Keegan, The Truman Doctrine
  • Ann Heiss’ powerpoint presentation at Marshall Plan Conference, July, 2012

Primary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:
  • Truman’s speech to Congress 3/12/1947, audio  available @ www.trumanlibrary.org
  • Photographs of Greek devastation available @ www.trumanlibrary.org
  • Copy of speech available @ wwww.trumanlibrary.org

Full description of activity or assignment.
  • A) Using class lecture notes and materials provided, including John Keegan article and handout of the Truman speech,briefly explain why the British could no longer meet their commitments to Greece and Turkey
  • B) Using photographs available @ www.trumanlibrary.org, research Truman Doctrine photos.
  • Then explain in brief the living conditions faced by the Greek people after WW2. Note: Additional pictures available @ Google image, Greek Civil War.
  • C) After listening to Truman’s speech to Congress and reading a copy of his speech, answer the following: 1) How did the President convince Congress that Greece particularly was in crisis and deserving of $250 million. 2) What did the President say about the U.N. and why the USA was acting alone ( paragraphs 12, 19, 32, 40 3) In paragraphs 31, 37-39, what did he say the US policy was? 4) after listening to Truman’s speech, decide if he was direct or not in what he said

And if his tone was in any way alarming. 5) write a one page letter to the editor either supporting or opposing the President’s policy  or drawn an editorial cartoon doing the same as above.

Full explanation of the assessment method and/or scoring guide:
  • Students would be required to hand in written material within three days after receiving assignment ( due to amount of material, scored as a quiz grade)
  • Student would also  take a written quiz based on lecture notes
  • Material also would be included in a general test on the Cold War