July 26 - 1948 - Harry Truman Signs Executive Order 9981
Although African-Americans had served during World War II with distinction, throughout the conflict and in the years immediately after the Armed Forces were segregated. This led to many different problems inside of the military, but it was hard to overturn the way that the Army, Navy, and Air Force worked. When Harry Truman became President upon the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt, he took a more forward looking approach than his predecessor, but along the same lines. He announced the Truman Doctrine against Communism, argued for a "Fair Deal," and advocated for African-American civil rights. This was most notable at the 1948 Democratic National Convention, which saw the adoption of a Civil Rights platform and the subsequent walk out of the "Dixiecrats," Southern segregationists. The Dixiecrats, who were seen as key members of the Democratic coalition, seemed to have doomed the Democrats in 1948 over Civil Rights. Yet just two weeks later, Truman signed Executive Order 9981, which integrated the Armed Forces. Truman would win the election, but he took an unpopular political stance because he believed it was a moral imperative to end segregation in the Armed Forces.