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Harry S. Truman: Informal Remarks in New York.
Harry S. Truman
264 - Informal Remarks in New York.
October 29, 1948
Public Papers of the Presidents
Harry S. Truman<br>1948
Harry S. Truman

United States
New York
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[1.] YONKERS, NEW YORK (Reception, Larkin Plaza, 12:25 p.m.)

Thank you. Thank you very, very much. I am most happy, most happy and pleased at this wonderful reception which you have given me here this afternoon. I think that Yonkers almost has it on New York City for the turnout.

You know, this is not unusual. In nearly every city where I have been the people have been turning out just this way--breaking records with the crowds, because they want to hear the truth and the facts in this campaign. And they know that I am trying to give them the truth and the facts. I think that you people of Yonkers have come here this morning for that same reason--that you want to know exactly what the issues are in this campaign.

I have been traveling all over the country-from coast to coast, from Minnesota to Texas and from Puget Sound to the Straits of Florida--telling the American people where I stand on the critical issues in this election. I have also been telling them--cause they can't find it out any other way-just exactly where the Republican Party stands, and what the country can expect if the Republican candidate for President were, by some chance, elected. I can't go into all the problems which face the Nation today, but I would like to talk to you about places to live.

I don't need to tell you that we have an acute housing shortage. You know that yourselves. There are more than 3 million families living doubled-up--two families where there is only room for one. Five million other families are living in what we are forced to call slum districts. There is a desperate shortage of apartments and houses for rent at prices that workingmen and women can afford to pay. That is a disgrace to a nation as rich as ours--and I want to correct that situation.

I have been fighting for 3 years to get a comprehensive housing law through the Congress. We need a law that will permit the Federal Government to clear away slums, build large-scale, low-cost rental housing, and help farmers as well as city folks to improve their homes. The Republican leaders in Congress, working hand in glove with the real estate lobby, stalled off action on the Federal housing bill until the last hours of the 80th Congress. And then they very quietly murdered that bill and passed a fake one with which they want to fool you people. That means we will continue to have a very great shortage of houses and apartments for a long time to come. That means that if the Republicans are elected next Tuesday you won't get any relief from the housing shortage, because the same backward-looking men will still be errand boys in Congress for the real estate lobby. The real estate lobby isn't through with you yet.

Just killing the house bill isn't all they want to do to you. Only 2 weeks ago they gave us a preview of what we can expect next spring if the Republicans win control of the Congress again.

The National Apartment Owners Association held a meeting out at Coronado, Calif. When it was over, this is what the Wall Street Journal reported in the issue of October 13th--if you want to know exactly where the Republicans stand, all you have to do is read the Wall Street Journal--"The Nation's landlords are going after rent control this year with a double-barreled shotgun." This is dated Wednesday, October 13th. "One barrel, repeating the single-shot blast used before, will renew a direct appeal to Congress to kill this last remaining wartime control. The other, aimed at enlisting John Public in the hunt, will pepper him with landlord laments and pleas to help get rid of restrictions which, he will be assured, are working to his own disadvantage."

You see, they started out with the idea of fooling you to begin with.

The Wall Street journal is a wonderful paper to read if you want to find out what the Republicans believe, and how they are going to act towards the people.

This story continues with the news that the Apartment Owners Association is planning to spend a quarter of a million dollars in trying to deceive you into believing that we don't need rent control any longer.

You know, that 80th Congress was the most thoroughly surrounded Congress with lobbies in the whole history of this great country of ours. There were more lobbyists in Washington, there was more money spent by lobbyists in Washington, than ever before in the history of the Congress of the United States. It's disgraceful, and you ought not to let that happen again. Now, those lobbyists know they won't have any trouble with a Republican Congress, but they're afraid you might rise up in wrath and keep rent control from being repealed unless you have been influenced by their deceitful propaganda.

Let's go on with the story in the Wall Street Journal. It says that the Apartment Owners Association feels that rents won't go up more than 20 percent if they succeed in killing rent control. Twenty percent!

Do you want your rent boosted 20 percent next spring? All right, if you don't, you most certainly ought to prevent it by voting the Democratic ticket straight, and then they can't do it. Cast your vote for yourselves, in the interests of yourselves. Don't cast it for those lobbyists. If you cast it for the Republican Party in this coming election you are voting to keep those terrible lobbies in Washington--and I am trying to run them out.

Now, the party that killed price control and killed the housing bill now wouldn't mind killing rent control. The Republican Party believes, apparently, that there ought to be two families in every garage. You know they said, "two chickens in a pot," one time. Now they want to put two families in every garage.

If you want a decent place to live at a decent price, if you want lower prices, if you want permanent prosperity fairly shared by all of us, if you want a prosperous United States and a peaceful world, I say to you, the best way to get that is to vote in your own interests on the 2d of November by voting the Democratic ticket straight--and you can't make any mistake on that.

[2.] YONKERS, NEW YORK (Alexander Smith Carpet Works, 12:40 p.m.)

Mr. Chairman, and ladies and gentlemen:

I certainly am highly pleased and much impressed by your wonderful turnout here this afternoon.

During the past 6 weeks I have been going around the country, talking to the American people about two different ideas of government. I have been proving by the record that the Republican Party, no matter what its candidate may say during the election campaign, works for the benefit of special interests. And I have been proving by the record that the Democratic Party works for the benefit of all the people. I have been asked a lot of questions. I have given straight answers and honest facts and correct figures. I think by this time you know exactly where I stand. There is good reason why I can be frank and honest in this business. It's because I have made no secret deals with lobbies or big business. I have no commitments except the commitment to serve the American people for the benefit of the whole country. I don't resort to double talk to conceal what I stand for and what I propose to do. I have told the people time and again what I think about high prices, the housing shortage, social security, and labor laws, and minimum wage. I have told exactly what I think ought to be done. Maybe my way isn't the way to run an election campaign. Some people say I would have more money for publicity if I wasn't so frank--the radio commentators and the newspapermen wouldn't be against me if I hadn't been against so many big corporations and so many lobbyists. But keeping quiet on the issues that are in the interests of the American people is not my way. I would rather be defeated trying to do what's right than to be elected under false pretenses. I never sit on the fence. Nor do I hang out on an upside-down farm gate trying to fool the people into believing that I know all about the farm. I spent 10 of the best years of my life on the farm.

One issue on which I have made my position clear is the Taft-Hartley Act. The Taft-Hartley law was passed by the Republican 80th Congress for just one reason--to crush the power of organized labor. The Republican bosses think that labor unions have too much power. They want to weaken unions so that you can't bargain for better wages and better working conditions.

The Taft-Hartley law is only a first step in what the Republicans have in mind to do to you if they get another chance. They intend to pass even more oppressive labor laws. I still say that that's wrong. I believe the Taft-Hartley Act ought to be repealed, and I am working to get that done. I believe that labor must always be in a position to bargain for wages which will enable the workingman of this Nation to maintain good standards of living. A time when Republican high prices are squeezing every one of us to the wall is no time to strip from American workers their best weapon of defense.

If you want a Government that will repeal the Taft-Hartley Act, provide good houses and apartments at prices you can afford to pay, build more schools and hospitals, extend social security and raise the minimum wage, and put a stop to rising prices--if you want a Government that will do these things for you, then you had better go to the polls next Tuesday and vote the Democratic ticket straight. Then you'll be voting in your own interests.

Vote for Richard McSpedon and Charles Nager for Congress. If you send fine men like these to Congress you won't be in the position you are in now. You really don't have representation in this district now.

Get out to the polls on the morning of election day. Vote in your own interests. If you do that, you'll have a Democratic Congress, a Democratic President, and your interests will be safe.

[3.] BRONX, NEW YORK (Democratic Women's Club Luncheon, Grand Concourse, Plaza Hotel, 2:38 p.m.)

Madame Chairman, Mrs. Sullivan, Ed Flynn--the boss of the Bronx, for 27 years, she said:

That's really some career. And he has done a lot of other things besides that for the Democratic Party, too. I'm very grateful.

You know, the reason I am making this terrific fight--this crusade, I call it--is because the welfare of this great Nation rests with the Democratic Party, and the Democratic Party will come out of this campaign a Democratic Party which will represent the people; and that's what I am trying to do.

I am very grateful for your warm hospitality, and I appreciate the opportunity you have given me to speak to you today.

I would like to congratulate your organization for the fine work you have been doing in this campaign. I have been hearing a great deal about "Housewives for Truman." I'm going to get Mrs. Truman to join it. I think letting the women of New York and all the country know just exactly what is at stake in this election is most important for our party and for the Nation. I'm sure that a great deal of your effort has been spent in telling the housewives the facts about high prices--Republican high prices, they are.

You know, when I hear the Republican candidate--who is trying awful hard to get elected; last night I said he was a secondhand candidate, and he is--when I hear him talk about the high level campaigns, I wonder if he shouldn't be talking about the high level of all the necessities of life that you have to buy for your families. I stopped yesterday in one of the great shoe towns of the country, and that shoe manufacturing center is running on half time for the simple reason that shoes have gone so high that people have quit buying them. They are not selling as many shoes now under this Republican program as they sold when we had price control and rationing, and they're not making as much money, either. The high level cost of living is one of the penalties we are having to pay for letting the Republicans get control of the Both Congress.

But I don't think that was altogether a bad thing. I think it was a blessing in disguise, for we found out that the Republicans haven't changed one little bit in their policies since 1932.

Two-thirds of the people entitled to vote stayed at home in 1946, and as a result we got that high cost of living Both Congress, which wouldn't do a thing to help me control skyrocketing prices. Time and again I asked the 80th Congress to put the brakes on inflation. I even called it back into special session twice for that purpose. But the Republican leaders were more interested in big profits for big business than in helping you pay your grocery bill.

The 80th Congress was a mighty serious worry to me. This campaign hasn't worried me, however, because I know the Democrats are going to win. They're waking up. I've given this campaign a great deal of serious thought and a lot of hard work. That's why I am always happy to get a laugh in the middle of the campaign. I think you ladies deserve a few laughs, too, if you can see the humor in the same thing that I do. Sometimes the Madame doesn't think I'm humorous-she thinks I'm funny.

The other day I read a few speeches of the Republican candidate, who is running along behind me. He's following me around--something like a shadow. That made me think of something I used to hear a long time ago, that went:

I have a little shadow

That goes in and out with me;

And what can be the use of him

Is more than I can see.

That has several connotations, if you want to think about it just a little bit.

In 1944 he was the little shadow of one of the greatest men who ever sat in the White House, and tried to follow him around. And he's trying to follow the same tactics with me; he's following me around. And you know, it just tickles me to death, because in every city where we appear together, I think he loses votes and I gain them.

Now, I haven't been able to find out about anything that he is for. I have never heard him mention a Republican administration. I have never heard him brag of a Republican President. He's trying to convince the people that the New Deal is a good thing but that he can run it better, and that is what he said in 1944--and they didn't believe him, and I don't think they believe him this time.

There is one thing we found out, though, he's against--he's against Democrats. He would like to get control of the Government so that he could fire all the Democrats in it. I don't think he could get that done, though, even if he had a Congress like this good-for-nothing Both was.

He is against somebody else having a job when he wants it for himself.

I kept right on reading his speeches, and finally I found one that told me one thing he is for. Now, that is just as interesting as can be. I found out he is for something. He's for the future. That's what I said: He's for the future. And I'll prove it to you by some quotations.

In a prepared speech, delivered at Phoenix, Ariz., the Republican candidate solemnly informed the people at Phoenix, and I quote: "You know that your future is still ahead of you." Exciting, don't you think ?

To make sure that the people of Phoenix fully understood his views on this important question the Republican candidate elaborated, and he said: "America's future, like yours in Arizona, is still ahead of us."

Now, I was greatly impressed by this bold stand of the Republican candidate. At last I found an issue on which he was willing to take a position. But this position did remind me of another little verse I heard years ago, which goes something like this:

Nothing here but the present,
Nothing behind but the past,
Nothing ahead but the future,
My gosh, how long will it last!

Well, I hope the future will last a long time for all of you, and I hope it will be a very happy future--and I hope it won't be a future under Republicans, either.

If you want to make sure of a happy future, there is one thing you must do next Tuesday. You must vote the straight Democratic ticket, and you must work as hard as you possibly can to get all your friends and acquaintances out on that day.

There are more things at stake in this campaign than appear on the surface. This is a crusade for the right, my friends. I'm making it. And I've made a campaign unequaled by any five Presidents in the history of the United States.

I stated last night, to the Liberal Party in Madison Square Garden, a few of the things that are absolutely essential for you to understand. I know in the Bronx you're interested in Palestine, and just for your information, I am going to reiterate so that you'll understand perfectly what I am driving at, what I said last night on Palestine.

The Democratic platform of 1948 and the Democratic platform of 1944 are perfectly clear and plain on Palestine. I'm running on that platform, and I don't run on platforms as mere scraps of paper. And if you want to read my record from April 12, 1945, to the present day, you'll see that I have been following the Democratic platform of 1944 to the letter. And I helped write the Democratic platform of 1944 and I helped to write the Democratic platform of 1948, and I stand on that platform literally and for what it says. It's not a scrap of paper to me. And when you have a chance to talk to your Jewish friends, just point out that plank in the Democratic platform and that's all you need to do.

You know, I have some of the warmest friends in the world who are of the Jewish faith. And I love them. But they are just like the Irish--they're emotional.

There's only one thing missing in this campaign that would make it complete, and that would be to get the Irish question in the campaign.

I want you to convince those people that-I think I can say this candidly--they have a man in the White House who tries to do what he thinks right, who tries to follow the principles of the Democratic Party, who is working for the welfare of the whole United States, because that means the welfare of the world--the welfare of the world!

Now, I know when I face an audience of Democratic women workers like you that the Republicans haven't any chance to do anything in the Bronx. Get out to vote on election day.

[4.] HARLEM, NEW YORK (Address, 3:50 p.m., see Item 265)

[5.] QUEENS, NEW YORK CITY (Lost Battalion Hall, 8:10 p.m.)

Mr. President, distinguished guests, Mr. Mayor, Mr. Farley--and all good Democrats of Queens:

This reception is really heartwarming. In fact, I have had the grandest 2 days in Greater New York than any man in the world could want to have. I think I have seen at least 3 1/2 million people, and they have had a chance to see me, and I have also had a chance and will have a chance tonight to express to you my views on the thing with which this great Nation of ours is faced.

We haven't been able to get the candidate on the other ticket to do that, but we are smoking him out slowly.

This is the kind of reception that a winning team gets, and don't let anyone fool you.

The Democrats this time are the winning team--as they usually are.

Let me tell you why we are the winning team. We are winning because the American people are aroused. The people have learned what this election is all about. They have made up their minds to vote for the party that is working for them.

Sixty million people are going to vote on November the 2d. That is a conservative estimate in my mind. Sixty-one million people are at work now. If that 61 million will vote the Democratic ticket, we will be all right. And when those people vote, they are going to throw the Galluping polls right in the ashcan--you watch 'era. There are going to be more red-faced pollsters on November the 3d than there were in 1936, when the Literary Digest said that Roosevelt shouldn't be elected. Yes, that is what the polls showed. They said the man who wants so much to be President couldn't lose in New York State. Well, you know what happened in 1944. In 1944, when the polls showed that New York State was going Republican, you remember what happened, don't you? Well, the Democrats won in New York, and we are going to do it again.

In entering this Lost Battalion Hall tonight, I noticed pictures showing the record of the Lost Battalion. The 77th Division-28th Division--35th Division--and the 90th Division were all side by side in that drive. It was my duty to fire some 75 mm shells over into the Argonne Forest and put a battery out of action. I don't know whether that battery was firing on the Lost Battalion or not, but it was over there and they didn't fire any more after we got through with them.

I remember the late Maj. Gen. Alexander E. Anderson. I knew him very well. I had a very high regard, as did every member of the 35th Division, for the 165th Infantry. I see some men sitting down here in this audience with whom I am well acquainted, who were present in those days when the country really needed help.

I wish I had time this evening to talk to you about all the issues in this campaign. However, you people in Queens, I am sure, know the facts about housing, and the educational crisis, and the acute shortage of hospitals and doctors.

These are matters on which the Republican Party has a most disgraceful record.

The Democrats have a fine record of fighting for your interests, and I am proud to be a Democrat.

The Democratic Party was founded by Thomas Jefferson to be the party of the people. Andrew Jackson implemented that when he had his fight with the United States Bank, and kept the Biddies from owning the Government, in 1828 to 1836.

And then Woodrow Wilson revived the Democratic Party and set it on the right track once more. Franklin Roosevelt carried on in those great traditions to make the Democratic Party the party of the people, and I have been doing my best to carry on in that same line, because I believe in the Democratic Party.

I want to talk to you now a little bit about Republican high prices. The Republican candidate has been busy trying to dodge this issue just like he has been trying to dodge all the other issues in this campaign. He has been conducting what he likes to call a high-level campaign.

Actually, the Republicans have been conducting a high-level cost of living conspiracy against the American people for the last 2 years. The Republicans led the fight to kill price controls 2 years ago. They bragged about how they had killed price controls. They are not saying much about it in this campaign. They used to boast about it, but since this election campaign came along, they are not saying very much about it.

The cost of living here in Queens has risen 30 percent since Republican prices began to skyrocket.

Every single one of the Republican Congressmen here in Queens voted to kill price control when I was fighting to keep them. Remember that--remember that--every single Republican Congressman in Queens voted to kill price controls when I was fighting to keep them. They were very good members of that good-for-nothing "donothing" 80th Congress. Don't send an 81st Congress back down there like the 80th Congress was. Send a Congress down there that will work for you and not for special interests.

I proposed a cost of living tax rebate nearly a year ago, which would have given the average family about a $60 income tax reduction to help meet the rising cost of living. At the same time, to make sure that your Government had enough money to stay in the black, I proposed to reimpose the excess profits tax, to put into your Treasury some of the fantastic profits of the big corporations.

The Republicans refused to pass an excess profits tax law because they want profits to stay up in the sky while you foot the bill. Instead of giving you a cost of living tax rebate, the Republicans passed a rich man's tax bill that gives a tremendous reduction in taxes to the wealthy, and leaves a heavy tax burden on the people with low incomes.

Now, let me just give you a few figures along that line--it won't take a minute. A man getting $60 a week got a reduction of about $1.58 a week in his taxes under this rich man's tax bill, and that $1.58 has been taken up by the prices that have been going out the roof--it doesn't make any difference in your pay envelope now.

But the fellow who got a $100,000 a year received a saving of more than $16,000--that is nearly four times the net salary of the President of the United States, what he saved.

And, you know what they did? I have got a very interesting document here on taxes which is--well, it's the most terrible thing I ever saw. It's a photostatic copy of a sheet that has been distributed all over these United States. I got this one in West Virginia.

It says it is money in your pocket because the Republican 80th Congress reduced your income tax. Now, if that isn't bribery, I never heard of anything. "The following table shows your approximate savings under the new tax savings law effective May 1, 1948." Then it goes on and gives the list-a fellow making $5,000 a year, he got a net savings of $157.40; a fellow making a $100,000 a year got a net saving of $16,658.44.

Now this is a Republican document, so it must be true. Then it says: "Do you want more of this sort of constructive Government action? Then use your tax saving to make a substantial investment in a Republican victory." In other words, send what we gave you rich fellows to the Republican Committee, so we can buy the election. What do you think of that?

The Republican record is plain. I want you to go to the polls on Tuesday, and vote. That is all I am asking you to do. Now, I want you to vote for yourselves. You are the Government when you want to exercise your privilege to vote.

In 1946 two-thirds of the qualified voters in this country did not vote, and look what you got--you got this 80th Congress. You got just exactly what you deserved, because you stayed at home and did not exercise, your control of the Government.

Don't do that again! I want you to vote for your own interests. Vote for better schools for your children, vote for better health, better houses for your family.

In order to make sure that you are going to do that, get up real early in the morning on November the 2d and go down there and vote a straight Democratic ticket, and will have a Democratic administration and a Democratic President--and you will have a Democratic Congress; and you will a Democratic administration locally. And the President of the United States then won't be troubled with the housing shortage. He can stay in the White House another 4 years."

Note: In the course of his remarks on October 39 the President referred to Richard W. McSpedon and Charles J. Nager, Democratic candidates for Representative, Mrs. Antoinette Sullivan, chairman of the Democratic Women's Club Luncheon, Edward J. Flynn, chairman of the Executive Committee, Democratic County Committee of Bronx County, William O'Dwyer, Mayor of New York City, and James A. Farley, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, all of New York; and the late Maj. Gen. Alexander E. Anderson, onetime commander of the 165th Infantry.
Citation: Harry S. Truman: "Informal Remarks in New York.," October 29, 1948. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=13077.
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