The American Presidency Project
John T. Woolley & Gerhard Peters • Santa Barbara, California return to original document
• Harry S. Truman
Statement by the President Upon Signing the Federal Civil Defense Act of 1950.
January 12, 1951

THE Federal Civil Defense Act of 1950, which I have signed today, is designed to protect life and property in the United States in case of enemy assault. It affords the basic framework for preparations to minimize the effects of an attack on our civilian population, and to deal with the immediate emergency conditions which such an attack would create.

I congratulate the Congress for its speedy and thorough consideration of this legislation. I shall soon transmit to the Congress a request for an initial appropriation of funds to carry on the Federal responsibilities under the new act.

The act will permit the Federal Government to provide matching grants of funds to the States for constructing air raid shelters. The act also allows certain measures to be taken by the Federal Government directly, such as the procurement and stockpiling of necessary medical and other materials and supplies and the provision of suitable warning systems.

Each of these fields of action pose complex problems that cannot be solved overnight. We have carefully developed plans to meet those major problems.

The master plan for meeting attacks by an aggressor against our cities and their people was published last September. It was the result of several years of study and work on the part of many people, both in and out of government, in this country and abroad.

This master plan, entitled "United States Civil Defense," is now serving as a blueprint for American States and cities in their preparations to safeguard American lives and homes.
The Federal Government can and will provide the necessary coordination and guidance for the civil defense program. I have named Millard F. Caldwell, former Governor of Florida, to head the Federal Civil Defense Administration.

It is the expressed policy and intent of Congress, however, that the responsibility for civil defense should be vested primarily in the States and their political subdivisions. I, therefore, call upon all citizens to lend their support to civil defense in their own communities.

Much has been done, but much remains to be done. It will require the best efforts of all of us to get ready, and to stay ready, to defend our homes. No true American would want to give less than his best to that cause, and no one who knows the American people could ask for more.

Citation: Harry S. Truman: "Statement by the President Upon Signing the Federal Civil Defense Act of 1950.", January 12, 1951. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=13777.
 
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