Truman the Great

You have most definitely heard of Alexander the Great, and you are probably even familiar with his greatest achievements. But, do you know his father? King Philip II of Macedon is not very well known, except for being the father of Alexander the Great. To historians, however, King Philip II was much more than just the father of one of the greatest conquerors of all time. In reality, Philip II was one of the greatest tacticians ever and marshalled one of the most brilliant and innovative armies relative to its era ever. Alexander the Great owes all of his accomplishments to his father.

While Philip II was still alive, he managed to consolidate and organize several tribes of Macedonians. He brought them up to their full strength by paying for their armor, enabling the amount of recruiting opportunities to be much higher, and organized them into a real fighting force. He organized the army based off of the pushing tactics of the Greek phalanx, but he sought to improve upon this design in nearly every fashion imaginable. First, he lengthened the pilum, or the spears, of his army so that several rows would be able to reach the enemy lines at the same time. Additionally, with such long spears the Greeks would have a nearly impossible time getting close enough to the Macedonians for their tactics to work. To compensate for the longer and heavier weaponry, Philip II gave his men shields that hung around their necks and lighter armor. Philip II also utilized horses, or the Companion Cavalry. These elite fighters were often able to turn the tide of battle; cavalry was never before used in such an effective fashion. Finally, Philip II ordered engineers to travel around with his army, which enabled him to construct creative and powerful siege weapons which rained destruction down on his enemies.

With all of these innovations and with the training and experience that he and the army had received under Philip II, it would have been difficult for Alexander the Great to fail. However, he still nearly did so, as his army threatened to mutiny at Opis in Mesopotamia. According to the historian Arrian, Alexander’s speech to his soldiers centered around “the contributions of his father Philip II… to Macedon” (Nagle & Burnstein 238). Alexander describes how Philip found the Macedonians poor and struggling, and how Philip “gave you cloaks to wear” and led them down from the mountains into victory against their enemies (238). Even Alexander, in his time of need, admits that it all began with Philip.

One of the most prominent regimes which benefited from the regime before it is President Truman’s White House. Truman benefited greatly from Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s reign, in which he expertly navigated the most chaotic global turmoil ever in the wake of WWI, throughout the Great Depression, and then through almost all of WWII. FDR implemented the New Deal to battle the Great Depression and proceeded to defeat it, subsequently lighting a fuse under the United States economy before WWII. During WWII, FDR essentially catapulted the United States into a global superpower status in every aspect measurable, all while winning the war on two fronts. Upon FDR’s sudden death and the ascension of Truman’s White House, Truman essentially held to the course that FDR had paved for him and made important decisions cooperatively with people that FDR had established relationships with and had groomed. The United States thrived during, but not because of, Truman’s reign. Like Alexander the Great, Truman merely proved himself to be competent by not messing anything up.

Seth Viani 596

4 thoughts on “Truman the Great

  1. Although I do agree that much of Alexander the Great’s success was largely thanks to his father’s militaristic developments, I would have to disagree with the statement that all of his successes were thanks to Philip II. Alexander was heavily dependent on the innovations his father laid down before him, but without the leadership and experience in combat that Alexander had, his armies would not have been able to persist. His charisma and experience allowed him to muster his soldiers together to take down their adversaries.
    Take, for example, the encounter the Macedonians had with the Indians and their war elephants. Were it not for the expert timing of Alexander to deploy his cavalry, they may not have won the engagement: “Alexander, seeing his opportunity exactly in this redeployment of the cavalry, attacked those on his front with such effort that the Indians… were broken and driven back to their elephants…” (Arrian 5.17.2-7.25). The initial strike allowed the Macedonians to gain the upper hand, thanks to Alexander’s battle prowess. The Macedonians later stood triumphant against the Indians, after utilizing a deadly combination of the cavalry and the improved phalanx.
    Alexander the Great definitely pays homage to the innovations of his father, but he also has his own specialties that allowed him to become so great. Alexander’s brains paired incredibly well with his father’s brawn.

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  2. While I agree with the majority of Seth’s post, I feel that Alexander’s reign and accomplishments were not owed entirely to his father. While his father made many of the technological, strategical, and personal improvements to the Macedonian army, I still feel as if Alexander was the one who when his father died, pushed the Macedonian army to the next level. He motivated them to push through the campaign that he led them on, and while in the end some of mistakes cost him a much greater empire, he created a large part of their empire. In regards to the Truman administration being similar to this, I would agree with Seth. Truman took over in a rough time for America, and with FDR having put America on a good path to success, for him his best possible option I feel was to continue on the same course. This is like Alexander because Philip put him on a path to success, and he simply continued with it.

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  3. In response to Seth’s post, I completely agree with both his views of Alexander the Great and President Truman. I think too often in history we get caught up with who is in charge when good things happen instead of looking to why those things actually happened. Seth gives a great example here, as Truman’s success can be mostly contributed to FDR setting a foundation for him. It seems that there are numerous cases in history where a good ruler’s relief gets credit, in large part because the preceding ruler was successful and well liked. Another good example of this is George H.W. Bush, who served alongside Ronald Reagan before becoming president. Bush had an incredibly high approval rating at the beginning of his presidency, largely due to Reagan’s success, but then he fell dramatically in approval after Reagan’s effect wore off. Overall, a valuable lesson learned from this is that a very successful ruler can have a crucial impact on the perception and success of the following ruler.

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  4. After reading your post, I can definitely agree with what you have to say on it. I love how you start your blog with appealing to the audience and hooking them in with a question. It is almost as if you begin with trying to debunk a common misconception. This left me wanting to continue and read more. In many ways, King Phillip, the way you describe him, can be compared to many great Naval Officers we have seen that have lead in the Fleet. King Phillip took care of his people, just as they teach us to care for our enlisted, and engrave in us that it is something we must strive for. What is unique about King Phillip III, is that he was a pioneer of this, during his era, it had never really been seen that someone would take care of their people in such a way, and put their soldiers first. By paying for the armor, making it lighter so that the warriors weren’t carrying so much of a load, being involved. I think you do a great job of conveying this message, and your blog convinced me that Alexander the Great had his father to thank for many of his successes.

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