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Harry S. Truman: Rear Platform Remarks in California.
Harry S. Truman
204 - Rear Platform Remarks in California.
September 23, 1948
Public Papers of the Presidents
Harry S. Truman<br>1948
Harry S. Truman

United States
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[1.] MERCED, CALIFORNIA (6:55 a.m.)

Well, it certainly is a pleasure to see you this morning. I didn't get up quite so early this morning as I usually do. I missed a great crowd back at Tracy, but I just have to have a little sleep, I can't go all night and all day, too.

They tell me that this is the richest Valley in the United States, and I am glad to have a chance to look it over. Your interest, of course, is agricultural, and the party that has been interested in agriculture and that has made it possible for the farmers to have the greatest income they ever had in their history is the Democratic Party. I don't think the Republicans ever did anything specific for the farmer. If they did, it was by accident and not intention.

You remember the old Farm Board. Well, as soon as the Democrats took over, after everybody was broke and all the farmers in the country were being foreclosed, it was necessary for the Democrats to do something to save the farms for the farmers.

In 1932 there were 123,000 farms foreclosed. Do you know how many were foreclosed last year? Just about 800.

The farm debt has been reduced 50 percent. The farm income is the greatest ever in the history of this country; and the farmers have $18 billion on deposit in the banks.

Now that was not an accident. That happened because the policy of the Democratic Party is to see that the national income is equitably distributed, to see that the workingman, the farmer, the small businessman and the white-collar man gets his fair share of the national income.

The Republican policy is to let the big fellows get the big incomes, and let a little of it trickle down off the table like the crumbs fell to Lazarus.

That is not the policy of the Democratic Party at all. And if you will study your history, you will find that that has been the policy of the two 'parties ever since they were organized.

There is only one thing you can do to protect yourselves, and that is on the 2d of November to go to the polls and vote for a Democratic Congressman. Mr. White, I think, is the candidate from this district, and they tell me that he is a fine man. You ought to elect Mr. White to the Congress; and if you do that, of course, you will elect a Democratic President, and I won't be troubled with the housing shortage.

I am sorry to report that my family are not the early risers that I am, and I can't introduce my wife and daughter to you at this early hour in the day. I am sorry about that, because I know you would like to see them.

Thank you very much.

[2.] FRESNO, CALIFORNIA (8:12 a.m.)

Mr. Chairman, Congressman White, and citizens of the great Central Valley of California:

It has been a very great pleasure to me to receive the welcome which I have received in this part of the world. I believe you are interested in the welfare of the country as a whole, as well as in the welfare of California, when you turn out like this to see the President.

I was supposed to get up at 4 o'clock this morning for a bunch of people up here in Tracy at 5 o'clock, but I didn't make it! I was sorry about that, but then you know, a workhorse can do only so many hours in a day, and I skipped that one.

I was up at the next stop, though, to see them at 6 o'clock and 6:45 and now at 8; and I think everybody that was at those other stops is here, too-or else this great city of Fresno is much bigger than I thought it was.

You are interested in the agricultural welfare of this Nation more than any other one thing. Your interests are diversified, and a diversified farming community can only be prosperous when the Government of the United States is interested in the welfare of the farmer.

I can remember very well, I ran a farm for the best 10 years of my life in Jackson County, Mo. It had 600 acres on it, and I went there when I was 22 years old and left it when I was 33 to go to war. I didn't claim any exemption on account of that farm, nor did I claim any exemption for being 33 years old. I went over and joined a battery of field artillery. There are a few fellows on this train that have been with me in that division. I am not bragging about that because that is just what I ought to have done, but I wanted to impress upon you that I know something about the farm situation.

In that day and age we had no Federal Government interested in the farmer. Along in the 1920's they became less interested in the farmer, and if I remember correctly, in 1932 there were 123,000 farmers kicked off their farms. Do you know how many were kicked off their farms last year who couldn't pay their debts? lust 800! That's some difference--that's some difference!

Do you know what caused that difference? Because the Government of the United States became interested in the farmer and the workingman, and the white-collar man, and the little businessman.

Well, along in 1946 the farmers were all fat and rich, and had money in the bank, and they turned almost economic royalists and they didn't go and vote. That let the country become entangled under this Republican 80th "do-nothing" Congress. The first thing that happened to them--that Congress began immediately to cut the ground from under the farmer, and they have almost succeeded in doing it. They have made it impossible for the Commodity Credit Corporation to furnish storage for those crops under the support price, and that was done with malice aforethought, because that Republican Congress does not believe in price support.

I wonder where you raisin fellows would be out here in the valley if it weren't for the farm policy of the Democratic Party? I wonder where you cotton fellows would be if it weren't for the price support policy of the United States Government? Here's a cotton man right here, he can tell you something about that.

Now, you want to analyze this situation carefully and thoroughly. I am not asking you to vote for me alone. I want you to vote for yourselves. Vote for your own interests. Vote for the interests of the whole country.

Of course if you are not interested in the interests of the whole country, then vote for these economic royalists and let them take you over. That is what they hope to do. This Republican 80th Congress is only the first step. It doesn't make any difference what they say they believe. Actions speak louder than words. What you need to do is understand what this 80th Congress did to the farmer and the laboringman and the white-collar worker, and you can't help but make your mind up in the right direction.

Now, on November the 2d I want you to get up and work just as hard to win this election for the party that is for the people as you have worked this morning to get here to look at the President of the United States.

While you are doing that, elect Mr. White to the Congress. You have got a terrible Congressman here in this district. He is one of the worst. He is one of the worst obstructionists in the Congress. He has done everything he possibly could to cut the throats of the farmer and the laboringman. If you send him back, that will be your fault if you get your own throat cut.

I am speaking plainly these days. I am telling you facts. Nobody else will tell 'era to you.

If you will just sit down and analyze this situation, you can't do but one thing, and that is send the Democrats into power in Washington for the next 4 years.

It is a great pleasure and a privilege for me to come out here and talk to you people and tell you just what I believe in. I have made it perfectly plain in Des Moines what my program is with regard to the farmer. I made it perfectly plain in Detroit what my program is in regard to the workingman. And they don't clash. The prosperity of the farmer and the workingman march side by side. When one is prosperous, the other is. When one is not prosperous, the other is not prosperous, and he is out of a job. I told them at Salt Lake City just where I stand on conservation and public power, and I also reiterated that last night at Oakland, Calif.

You don't have to worry about where I stand. You know! I want you to see whether you can find out where the opposition stands. I'll bet you can't.

[3.] TULARE, CALIFORNIA (9:26 a.m.)

Mr. Chairman and ladies and gentlemen:

My, what a wonderful turnout! I certainly do appreciate your courtesy and I'm glad of the privilege of having a chance to meet you face to face and talk to you a little bit about some of the things in which you are interested.

You not only raise wonderfully diversified crops in this part of the world, but you also raise some mighty fine people. Bob Mathias was in to see me the other day and I had a grand visit with him. That young man is, in my mind, typical of what future generations of Americans are going to be, and you know, the reason for that is because they have a wholesome home life. It's because they have plenty to eat and plenty to wear, and they're not raised under a fear complex.

This coming generation, I think--and I wish I was a part of it--will see the greatest age in history. I think you are going to see atomic energy developed for the peaceful welfare of the world. I think you are going to see more gadgets and more things to make life worth living in the coming hundred years than we had over the last hundred.

You know, while I was on the Appropriations Committee of the United States Senate, I ran across a document, a report by the Commissioner of Patents in 1843 in which he recommended to the Appropriations Committee of the Senate that no more money be appropriated to support the Patent Bureau, and that it ought to he abolished--that everything worthwhile had been invented and there was not any use of the Government to go to the expense of maintaining the Patent Bureau.

That was in 1843. That was before we had the telephone and the electric light and all these things which we take as everyday things and are used to them.

I think the next age is going to be greater than the one we have just been through and all these young people are going to see something that will make life not only happier but better. And we are going to have that situation, I'm sure, throughout the whole world.

Now, in order to do that, we have got to be in a position to raise plenty to eat, plenty of things that make the clothes that we wear.

This valley, I am told, is one of the most diversified in the world--that you raise everything in this valley that goes to make life worthwhile in the world. Keep that up.

In order to keep that up, you have got to have a Government that is in sympathy with what you are trying to do. You have got to have a Government that understands what it means to the everyday man to put the sweat of his brow into a piece of land.

Now, in times past, you haven't always had that sympathy from the Federal Government. I think this 80th Congress has done more to turn the clock back than any Congress we have had since 1926--and that's going a long way back. You can't afford to have that sort of thing.

We don't want to turn the clock back. We want the clock to go forward, and if you want to go forward--if you want to go with the forward-looking people--go forward with the Democratic Party, and I claim that the Democratic Party is the forward-looking party in this United States, and that the Democratic Party has the interests of the farmer and the laborer and the white-collar man and the little businessman at heart. The Republican Party has always represented special interests, and I think they still represent special interests.

You can't afford to have that. The way to overcome that is to do your duty on election day. In 1946 you didn't do your duty on election day. Two-thirds of you stayed at home. Two-thirds of you didn't vote, and one-third of the people in this United States voted in that awful "do-nothing" 80th Congress-and look what you got.

If you do that again you won't deserve any sympathy--not at all.

But, if you do what you ought to do for the welfare of the country, all of you will get out there on election day and you'll vote for yourselves--and when you vote for yourselves, you are going to leave me in the White House and you're going to have a Democratic Congress.


I wonder if the officers couldn't let the crowd move right down close to the train here. Now then, since I've let you come down close, let's be orderly so you can hear what I have to say.

I have a very important message to bring you this morning, one in which I think you will be highly interested--a message in which the welfare of California, and particularly the welfare of this Central Valley, is at stake.

You are situated in one of the greatest valleys in the United States--the Central Valley. I am vitally interested in the welfare of the Central Valley of California because if the affairs of the Central Valley of California are settled in the public interest, it not only helps the great State of California, but it helps the whole United States. Not only does it help the whole United States, but it helps the world.

The situation is such that if you don't watch your p's and q's, your valley is liable to be ruined. For years and years we have been endeavoring to implement a policy of water and power in this valley that would save it, due to the water table in this end of the valley going down. In order to do that, we have got to have people in the Congress and in the Government who are interested in the welfare of the people.

You have had a sample of how the Republicans act when they get control of the Government.

Two-thirds of you stayed at home in 1946 and didn't vote, and you got a Congress that began to work for the special interests. That Congress did its level best to cut out the reclamation projects of the West. I made a terrific fight and got some of them restored-- -not all of them.

I am particularly anxious to see that the proper development is made here in this valley. It can be done.

The Democrats have created a plan for this Valley which not only will give more water to the acreage now under cultivation, but it will create a situation where we can put more acreage under cultivation in this valley and that's what you want.

The Democratic Party, as soon as it got into power in 1933, inaugurated a farm program which was in the interests of the farmers. The first thing the Republicans did when they got into power was to make an attempt to sabotage that farm program of the Government. Their first effort to do that was when they cut off the reclamation appropriations for this part of the world.

Now, that's a shining example of what's likely to happen to you if you put these people in complete control of the Government.

One of the things that has saved the farmer has been the price support program. That price support program was inaugurated by a Democratic administration, it's been administered by a Democratic administration, and if you continue the Democrats in power, it will continue to exist.

I have an idea that the Republicans are not interested in the price support 'program except from a selfish motive.

Mr. Stassen made a statement in Albany in New York in which he made the statement that the farm price support program should be revised. Now, this is an editorial from the Wall Street Journal, a Republican paper, and this is what this Wall Street Journal has to say about the price support program--and the Wall Street Journal is a wholehearted supporter, both financially and editorially, of the Republican campaign. This is the editorial, and it comes from a column called "Progress of the Week."

Now, I'm going to quote from the editorial now: "Nevertheless, the whole import of Mr. Stassen's press conference at Albany was just what Secretary Brannan said it was."

Now, this is what Secretary Brannan said: "In essence an attack on the price support system. Mr. Stassen is, in fact, proposing a far-reaching reform of the farm price support policy or he doesn't make sense." That's the end of the quotation.

Now, that goes to show you exactly how the Republicans feel on price support and the farm program.

On election day, to protect yourselves, you'd better get out to. the polls and vote to put a Democratic administration in control in Washington. If you do that, I feel like the country will be safe. If you don't do that, no telling what will happen to the farmer and the laborer.

The Democrats have given labor a bill of rights. The Democrats have given the farmers a bill of rights. The Democrats have helped the white-collar man and the small businessman. And that's what we stand for, and I have made it perfectly plain on this trip across the country, and I hope my opposition will make plain exactly where they stand on all these issues. I haven't heard them say anything yet but double talk.

My suggestion to you, if you want to be safe, is to get yourselves registered. I understand this is the last day of registration in California. Get yourselves on the books and, after you have done that, go down to the polls on the 2d of November and vote the straight Democratic ticket, and you can't make a mistake.

[5.] TEHACHAPI, CALIFORNIA (To schoolchildren, 12:45 p.m.)

It is a pleasure to greet you. I am most happy to see all of you young people, and I appreciate your coming out to see the President.

I wonder if you would like to see my wife and daughter? Here is the First Lady-she is the boss. And I will introduce her boss to you, Margaret.

I want to compliment you young people; you are the most orderly bunch of young people I have seen on the whole trip.

[6.] MOJAVE, CALIFORNIA (1:30 p.m.)

Mr. Chairman, it's a pleasure to me to have a chance to face all these good people of Mojave and the southern part of California.

They tell me that in 1883--that was the year before I was born--that a gentleman by the name of Webb built 10 grand, big wagons here in this town, bought himself a hundred head of mules, and began to haul borax out of the Mojave Desert--and that was the origin of Twenty-Mule Team Borax which we always kept in the house when I was a kid.

I never thought I would be here as President at the place where it originated and talking to you people about your interests in the welfare of the country. I am glad to be here to do that. You are interested. Your interests are just the same as all the rest of the country's interests. Your interests are the interests of the everyday person, just the same as mine are.

There are two theories of government in this country. One theory believes that the special interests--that is, the people who have control of everything--should get all the profits and all the welfare of the country, and what little trickles down the other people can get by chance if they are there to get it.

The theory of the Democratic Party is that there should be an equal distribution of the wealth. That is, the farmer should get his share, the laboringman should get his share, the white-collar man should get his, and the small businessman should get his.

They don't like that, and this last 80th Republican Congress conclusively proved that when they get control of any part of the Government they work only for special interests.

Now, it's in your interest to see that that party which has the interest of the people at heart is in control of the Government. In order to get that done, on November 2d you should go to the polls and vote a straight Democratic ticket, and then you won't have any trouble.

If you'll do that I won't have any trouble with the housing shortage, which I am going to talk about in Los Angeles tonight.

[7.] BURBANK, CALIFORNIA (4:25 p.m.)

Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, I appreciate that introduction.

What a crowd! Somebody tells me you are all Democrats!

I have had a wonderful trip across California. I had a grand meeting in San Francisco and Oakland last night, and at nearly every intermediate stop there have been crowds just like this, not quite so large, but everybody in town was out as well as everybody in the surrounding country. I think they are interested and anxious to know what the issues in this campaign are, and I am taking the trouble to tell you. Then you are going to have to use your own judgment. You are going to have to use your own judgment on election day, and I am sure you are not going to vote against yourselves, because if you vote a Republican ticket, you will vote against yourselves.

The issues are clearly drawn in this campaign. It is the special interests against the people. The Republican 80th Congress proved conclusively that Republican policy has not changed one bit. They are just as they were in 1920, 1924. 1928, and 1932. They haven't changed a bit.

This Congress tried its level best to turn the clock back, and if I had not been there standing in the way to protect you, they would have been a success in turning the clock way back.

They took a fall out of the farmer. They took a fall out of the laboringman. They took a fall out of business generally for the benefit of just a few.

Now, I want you to study these issues. I want you to study them carefully, and not do like you did in 1946. Two-thirds of you stayed at home and did not vote in 1946, and a third of you voted to elect this terrible 80th Congress; and see what you got.

Now, if you stay at home this time you will get just what you deserve. I don't think you are going to do it--I don't think you are going to do it!

I am urging you with everything I have to go to the polls on election day, November 2d--I hope you all get registered today-and vote the Democratic ticket straight, and then the country will be safe for another 4 years.

Thank you very much.

Note: In the course of his remarks on September 23 the President referred to Cecil F. White, Democratic candidate for Representative from the Ninth District of California, Robert Mathias, winner of the Decathlon in the 1948 Olympic Games, Harold E. Stassen, former Governor of Minnesota, and Charles F. Brannan, Secretary of Agriculture.
Citation: Harry S. Truman: "Rear Platform Remarks in California.," September 23, 1948. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=13011.
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