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The Buck Stops Here a lesson on Leadership and Responsibility

August 15, 2013

Lesson:  Responsibility:  The Buck Stops Here

Subject:  American History

Class:  8th Grade



  1. Responsibility:  the state, fact, or position of being accountable to somebody or  

                          for something


     Questions:  --Responsibility is something one should do or required to do?

                        --Does everyone have responsibility to someone or for something?

                        --Give examples??


  1. I.                 In our government, who has the ultimate power?  The people

        --WE the people…  (first three words of Constitution)

        -- Representative democracy—the people rule (have an equal voice) through

                                                           elected representatives in government

        --Republic (in Pledge of Allegiance) form of government in which people 

                                                                    rule through elected representatives in



  1. II.              Executive Branch

        --Head = President

        --Others =  Vice President, Cabinet (advisors)--major department heads

15 executive departments — the Secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury, and Veterans Affairs, as well as the Attorney General.


  1. V.              Roles of the President

      --Chief Diplomat—conducts foreign affairs; establishes foreign policy

      --Chief Executive—boss of government employees

      --Chief of State—represents the U. S.; inspiring example of the American people

      --Legislative Leader—influences Congress in lawmaking

      --Commander in Chief—in charge of the armed forces

            Example behaviors:

                            --Inspecting a Navy yard.

                                     --Deciding, in wartime, whether to bomb foreign cities

                                     --Calling out troops to stop a riot


  1.  Harry S. Truman

           --33rd President of the U.S.—took office after FDR died 4/12/45

           --born in Lamar, MO grew up in Independence, MO

           --farmer; opened a haberdashery—men’s outfitter

           --had not met much with President Roosevelt when serving as his 3rd VP

           --knew nothing about an atomic bomb and the escalating problems with the

              Soviet Union

"I felt like the moon, the stars, and all the planets had fallen on me."


          --served during the Cold War

                    --period after WWII where the U.S. and the Soviet Union--two

                      super powers—had great distrust for each other

                           --USSR had vast Red Army in the field

                           --US had the powerful Atomic bomb technology—how





Soviet Union

Free elections

No elections or fixed


Autocratic / Dictatorship



‘Survival of the fittest’

Everybody helps everybody

Richest world power

Poor economic base

Personal freedom

Society controlled by the NKVD (secret police)

Freedom of the media

Total censorship


Truman and the “Buck Stops Here”

         --decides to drop the atomic bomb on Japan—forcing their surrender

         --responsibility… What presidential role is he fulfilling?

                   --loss of lives

                   --mass destruction


                   --USSR—what do they think?  What will they do?



The Buck Stops Here 

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