1948 Democratic Party Platform
The Democratic Party adopts this platform in the conviction that the destiny of the United States is to provide leadership in the world toward a realization of the Four Freedoms.
We chart our future course as we charted our course under the leadership of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman in the abiding belief that democracy—when dedicated to the service of all and not to a privileged few—proves its superiority over all other forms of government.
Our party record of the past is assurance of its policies and performance in the future.
Ours is the party which was entrusted with responsibility when twelve years of Republican neglect had blighted the hopes of mankind, had squandered the fruits of prosperity and had plunged us into the depths of depression and despair.
Ours is the party which rebuilt a shattered economy, rescued our banking system, revived our agriculture, reinvigorated our industry, gave labor strength and security, and led the American people to the broadest prosperity in our history.
Ours is the party which introduced the spirit of humanity into our law, as we outlawed child labor and the sweatshop, insured bank deposits, protected millions of home-owners and farmers from foreclosure, and established national social security.
Ours is the party under which this nation before Pearl Harbor gave aid and strength to those countries which were holding back the Nazi and Fascist tide.
Ours is the party which stood at the helm and led the nation to victory in the war.
Ours is the party which, during the war, prepared for peace so well that when peace came reconversion promptly led to the greatest production and employment in this nation's life.
Ours is the party under whose leadership farm owners' income in this nation increased from less than $2.5 billions in 1933 to more than $18 billions in 1947; independent business and professional income increased from less than $3 billions in 1933 to more than $22 billions in 1947; employees' earnings increased from $29 billions in 1933 to more than 128 billions in 1947; and employment grew from 39 million jobs in 1933 to a record of 60 million jobs in 1947.
Ours is the party under which the framework of the world organization for peace and justice was formulated and created.
Ours is the party under which were conceived the instruments for resisting Communist aggression and for rebuilding the economic strength of the democratic countries of Europe and Asia—the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan. They are the materials with which we must build the peace.
Ours is the party which first proclaimed that the actions and policies of this nation in the foreign field are matters of national and not just party concern. We shall go forward on the course charted by President Roosevelt and President Truman and the other leaders of Democracy.
We reject the principle—which we have always rejected, but which the Republican 80th Congress enthusiastically accepted—that government exists for the benefit of the privileged few.
To serve the interests of all and not the few; to assure a world in which peace and justice can prevail; to achieve security, full production, and full employment—this is our platform.
Our Foreign Policy
We declared in 1944 that the imperative duty of the United States was to wage the war to final triumph and to join with the other United Nations in the establishment of an international organization for the prevention of aggression and the maintenance of international peace and security.
Under Democratic leadership, those pledges were gloriously redeemed.
When the United States was treacherously and savagely attacked, our great Democratic President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and a Democratic Congress preserved the nation's honor, and with high courage and with the invincible might of the American people, the challenge was accepted. Under his inspiring leadership, the nation created the greatest army that ever assembled under the flag, the mightiest air force, the most powerful navy on the globe, and the largest merchant marine in the world.
The nation's gallant sons on land, on sea, and in the air, ended the war in complete and overwhelming triumph. Armed aggression against peaceful peoples was resisted and crushed. Arrogant and powerful war lords were vanquished and forced to unconditional surrender.
Before the end of the war the Democratic administration turned to the task of establishing measures for peace and the prevention of aggression and the threat of another war. Under the leadership of a Democratic President and his Secretary of State, the United Nations was organized at San Francisco. The charter was ratified by an overwhelming vote of the Senate. We support the United Nations fully and we pledge our whole-hearted aid toward its growth and development. We will constitute to lead the way toward curtailment of the use of the veto. We shall favor such amendments and modifications of the charter as experience may justify. We will continue our efforts toward the establishment of an international armed force to aid its authority. We advocate the grant of a loan to the United Nations recommended by the President, but denied by the Republican Congress, for the construction of the United Nations headquarters in this country.
We pledge our best endeavors to conclude treaties of peace with our former enemies. Already treaties have been made with Italy, Hungary, Bulgaria and Rumania. [See APP note.] We shall strive to conclude treaties with the remaining enemy states, based on justice and with guarantees against the revival of aggression, and for the preservation of peace.
We advocate the maintenance of an adequate Army, Navy and Air Force to protect the nation's vital interests and to assure our security against aggression.
We advocate the effective international control of weapons of mass destruction, including the atomic bomb, and we approve continued and vigorous efforts within the United Nations to bring about the successful consummation of the proposals which our Government has advanced.
The adoption of these proposals would be a vital and most important step toward safe and effective world disarmament and world peace under a strengthened United Nations which would then truly constitute a more effective parliament of the world's peoples.
Under the leadership of a Democratic President, the United States has demonstrated its friendship for other peace-loving nations and its support of their freedom and independence. Under the Truman doctrine vital aid has been extended to China, to Greece, and to Turkey. Under the Marshall Plan generous sums have been provided for the relief and rehabilitation of European nations striving to rebuild their economy and to secure and strengthen their safety and freedom. The Republican leadership in the House of Representatives, by its votes in the 80th Congress, has shown its reluctance to provide funds to support this program, the greatest move for peace and recovery made since the end of World War II.
We pledge a sound, humanitarian administration of the Marshall Plan.
We pledge support not only for these principles—we pledge further that we will not withhold necessary funds by which these principles can be achieved. Therefore, we pledge that we will implement with appropriations the commitments which are made in this nation's foreign program.
We pledge ourselves to restore the Reciprocal Trade Agreements program formulated in 1934 by Secretary of State Cordell Hull and operated successfully for 14 years—until crippled by the Republican 80th Congress. Further, we strongly endorse our country's adherence to the International Trade Organization.
A great Democratic President established the Good Neighbor Policy toward the nations of the Western Hemisphere. The Act of Chapultepec was negotiated at Mexico City under Democratic leadership. It was carried forward in the Western Hemisphere defense pact concluded at Rio de Janeiro, which implemented the Monroe Doctrine and united the Western Hemisphere in behalf of peace.
We pledge continued economic cooperation with the countries of the Western Hemisphere. We pledge continued support of regional arrangements within the United Nations Charter, such as the Inter-American Regional Pact and the developing Western European Union.
President Truman, by granting immediate recognition to Israel, led the world in extending friendship and welcome to a people who have long sought and justly deserve freedom and independence.
We pledge full recognition to the State of Israel. We affirm our pride that the United States under the leadership of President Truman played a leading role in the adoption of the resolution of November 29, 1947, by the United Nations General Assembly for the creation of a Jewish State.
We approve the claims of the State of Israel to the boundaries set forth in the United Nations resolution of November 29th and consider that modifications thereof should be made only if fully acceptable to the State of Israel.
We look forward to the admission of the State of Israel to the United Nations and its full participation in the international community of nations. We pledge appropriate aid to the State of Israel in developing its economy and resources.
We favor the revision of the arms embargo to accord to the State of Israel the right of self-defense. We pledge ourselves to work for the modification of any resolution of the United Nations to the extent that it may prevent any such revision.
We continue to support, within the framework of the United Nations, the internationalization of Jerusalem and the protection of the Holy Places in Palestine.
The United States has traditionally been in sympathy with the efforts of subjugated countries to attain their independence, and to establish a democratic form of government. Poland is an outstanding example. After a century and a half of subjugation, it was resurrected after the first World War by our great Democratic President, Woodrow Wilson. We look forward to development of these countries as prosperous, free, and democratic fellow members of the United Nations.
Our Domestic Policies
The Republican 80th Congress is directly responsible for the existing and ever increasing high cost of living. It cannot dodge that responsibility. Unless the Republican candidates are defeated in the approaching elections, their mistaken policies will impose greater hardships and suffering on large numbers of the American people. Adequate food, clothing and shelter—the bare necessities of life—are becoming too expensive for the average wage earner and the prospects are more frightening each day. The Republican 80th Congress has lacked the courage to face this vital problem.
We shall curb the Republican inflation. We shall put a halt to the disastrous price rises which have come as a result of the failure of the Republican 80th Congress to take effective action on President Truman's recommendations, setting forth a comprehensive program to control the high cost of living.
We shall enact comprehensive housing legislation, including provisions for slum clearance and low-rent housing projects initiated by local agencies. This nation is shamed by the failure of the Republican 80th Congress to pass the vitally needed general housing legislation as recommended by the President. Adequate housing will end the need for rent control. Until then, it must be continued.
We pledge the continued maintenance of those sound fiscal policies which under Democratic leadership have brought about a balanced budget and reduction of the public debt by $28 billion since the close of the war.
We favor the reduction of taxes, whenever it is possible to do so without unbalancing the nation's economy, by giving a full measure of relief to those millions of low-income families on whom the wartime burden of taxation fell most heavily. The form of tax reduction adopted by the Republican 80th Congress gave relief to those who need it least and ignored those who need it most.
We shall endeavor to remove tax inequities and to continue to reduce the public debt.
We are opposed to the imposition of a general federal sales tax.
We advocate the repeal of the Taft-Hartley Act. It was enacted by the Republican 80th Congress over the President's veto. That act was proposed with the promise that it would secure "the legitimate rights of both employees and employers in their relations affecting commerce." It has failed. The number of labor-management disputes has increased. The number of cases before the National Labor Relations Board has more than doubled since the Act was passed, and efficient and prompt administration is becoming more and more difficult. It has encouraged litigation in labor disputes and undermined the established American policy of collective bargaining. Recent decisions by the courts prove that the Act was so poorly drawn that its application is uncertain, and that it is probably, in some provisions, unconstitutional.
We advocate such legislation as is desirable to establish a just body of rules to assure free and effective collective bargaining, to determine, in the public interest, the rights of employees and employers, to reduce to a minimum their conflict of interests, and to enable unions to keep their membership free from communistic influences.
We urge that the Department of Labor be rebuilt and strengthened, restoring to it the units, including the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service and the United States Employment Service, which properly belong to it, and which the Republican 80th Congress stripped from it over the veto of President Truman. We urge that the Department's facilities for collecting and disseminating economic information be expanded, and that a Labor Education Extension Service be established in the Department of Labor.
We favor the extension of the coverage of the Fair Labor Standards Act as recommended by President Truman, and the adoption of a minimum wage of at least 75 cents an hour in place of the present obsolete and inadequate minimum of 40 cents an hour.
We favor legislation assuring that the workers of our nation receive equal pay for equal work, regardless of sex.
We favor the extension of the Social Security program established under Democratic leadership, to provide additional protection against the hazards of old age, disability, disease or death. We believe that this program should include:
Increases in old-age and survivors' insurance benefits by at least 50 percent, and reduction of the eligibility age for women from 65 to 60 years; extension of old-age and survivors' and unemployment insurance to all workers not now covered; insurance against loss of earnings on account of illness or disability; improved public assistance for the needy.
We favor the enactment of a national health program far expanded medical research, medical education, and hospitals and clinics.
We will continue our efforts to aid the blind and other handicapped persons to become self-supporting.
We will continue our efforts to expand maternal care, improve the health of the nation's children, and reduce juvenile delinquency.
We approve the purposes of the Mental Health Act and we favor such appropriations as may be necessary to make it effective.
We advocate federal aid for education administered by and under the control of the states. We vigorously support the authorization, which was so shockingly ignored by the Republican 80th Congress, for the appropriation of $300 million as a beginning of Federal aid to the states to assist them in meeting the present educational needs. We insist upon the right of every American child to obtain a good education.
The nation can never discharge its debt to its millions of war veterans. We pledge ourselves to the continuance and improvement of our national program of benefits for veterans and their families.
We are proud of the sound and comprehensive program conceived, developed and administered under Democratic leadership, including the GI Bill of Rights, which has proved beneficial to many millions.
The level of veterans' benefits must be constantly re-examined in the light of the decline in the purchasing power of the dollar brought about by inflation.
Employment and economic security must be afforded all veterans. We pledge a program of housing for veterans at prices they can afford to pay.
The disabled veteran must be provided with medical care and hospitalization of the highest possible standard.
We pledge our efforts to maintain continued farm prosperity, improvement of the standard of living and the working conditions of the farmer, and to preserve the family-size farm.
Specifically, we favor a permanent system of flexible price supports for agricultural products, to maintain farm income on a parity with farm operating costs; an intensified soil conservation program; an extended crop insurance program; improvement of methods of distributing agricultural products; development and maintenance of stable export markets; adequate financing for the school lunch program; the use of agricultural surpluses to improve the diet of low-income families in case of need; continued expansion of the rural electrification program; strengthening of all agricultural credit programs; intensified research to improve agricultural practices, and to find new uses for farm products.
We strongly urge the continuance of maximum farmer participation in all these programs.
We favor the repeal of the discriminatory taxes on the manufacture and sale of oleomargarine.
We will encourage farm co-operatives and oppose any revision of federal law designed to curtail their most effective functioning as a means of achieving economy, stability and security for American agriculture.
We favor provisions under which our fishery resources and industry will be afforded the benefits that will result from more scientific research and exploration.
We recognize the importance of small business in a sound American economy. It must be protected against unfair discrimination and monopoly, and be given equal opportunities with competing enterprises to expand its capital structure.
We favor non-discriminatory transportation charges and declare for the early correction of inequalities in such charges.
We pledge the continued full and unified regional development of the water, mineral, and other natural resources of the nation, recognizing that the progress already achieved under the initiative of the Democratic Party in the arid and semi-arid states of the West, as well as in the Tennessee Valley, is only an indication of still greater results which can be accomplished. Our natural resources are the heritage of all our people and must not be permitted to become the private preserves of monopoly.
The irrigation of arid land, the establishment of new, independent, competitive business and the stimulation of new industrial opportunities for all of our people depends upon the development and transmission of electric energy in accordance with the program and the projects so successfully launched under Democratic auspices during the past sixteen years.
We favor acceleration of the Federal Reclamation Program, the maximum beneficial use of water in the several states for irrigation and domestic supply. In this connection, we propose the establishment and maintenance of new family-size farms for veterans and others seeking settlement opportunities, the development of hydroelectric power and its widespread distribution over publicly owned transmission lines to assure benefits to the water users in financing irrigation projects, and to the power users for domestic and industrial purposes, with preference to public agencies and R.E.A. co-operatives.
These are the aims of the Democratic Party which in the future, as in the past, will place the interest of the people as individual citizens first.
We will continue to improve the navigable waterways and harbors of the nation.
We pledge to continue the policy initiated by the Democratic Party of adequate appropriations for flood control for the protection of life and property.
In addition to practicing false economy on flood control, the Republican-controlled 80th Congress was so cruel as even to deny emergency federal funds for the relief of individuals and municipalities victimized by recent great floods, tornadoes and other disasters.
We shall expand our programs for forestation, for the improvement of grazing lands, public and private, for the stockpiling of strategic minerals and the encouragement of a sound domestic mining industry. We shall carry forward experiments for the broader utilization of mineral resources in the highly beneficial manner already demonstrated in the program for the manufacture of synthetic liquid fuel from our vast deposits of coal and oil shale and from our agricultural resources.
We pledge an intensive enforcement of the antitrust laws, with adequate appropriations.
We advocate the strengthening of existing antitrust laws by closing the gaps which experience has shown have been used to promote concentration of economic power.
We pledge a positive program to promote competitive business and to foster the development of independent trade and commerce.
We support the right of free enterprise and the right of all persons to work together in co-operatives and other democratic associations for the purpose of carrying out any proper business operations free from any arbitrary and discriminatory restrictions.
The Democratic Party is responsible for the great civil rights gains made in recent years in eliminating unfair and illegal discrimination based on race, creed or color,
The Democratic Party commits itself to continuing its efforts to eradicate all racial, religious and economic discrimination.
We again state our belief that racial and religious minorities must have the right to live, the right to work, the right to vote, the full and equal protection of the laws, on a basis of equality with all citizens as guaranteed by the Constitution.
We highly commend President Harry S. Truman for his courageous stand on the issue of civil rights.
We call upon the Congress to support our President in guaranteeing these basic and fundamental American Principles: (1) the right of full and equal political participation; (2) the right to equal opportunity of employment; (3) the right of security of person; (4) and the right of equal treatment in the service and defense of our nation.
We pledge ourselves to legislation to admit a minimum of 400,000 displaced persons found eligible for United States citizenship without discrimination as to race or religion. We condemn the undemocratic action of the Republican 80th
Congress in passing an inadequate and bigoted bill for this purpose, which law imposes no-American restrictions based on race and religion upon such admissions.
We urge immediate statehood for Hawaii and Alaska; immediate determination by the people of Puerto Rico as to their form of government and their ultimate status with respect to the United States; and the maximum degree of local self-government for the Virgin Islands, Guam and Samoa.
We recommend to Congress the submission of a constitutional amendment on equal rights for women.
We favor the extension of the right of suffrage to the people of the District of Columbia.
We pledge adherence to the principle of nonpartisan civilian administration of atomic energy, and the development of atomic energy for peaceful purposes through free scientific inquiry for the benefit of all the people.
We urge the vigorous promotion of world-wide freedom in the gathering and dissemination of news by press, radio, motion pictures, newsreels and television, with complete confidence that an informed people will determine wisely the course of domestic and foreign policy.
We believe the primary step toward the achievement of world-wide freedom is access by all peoples to the facts and the truth. To that end, we will encourage the greatest possible vigor on the part of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights and the United Nations Economic and Social Council to establish the foundations on which freedom can exist in every nation.
We deplore the repeated attempts of Republicans in the 80th Congress to impose thought control upon the American people and to encroach on the freedom of speech and press.
We pledge the early establishment of a national science foundation under principles which will guarantee the most effective utilization of public and private research facilities.
We will continue our efforts to improve and strengthen our federal civil service, and provide adequate compensation.
We will continue to maintain an adequate American merchant marine.
We condemn Communism and other forms of totalitarianism and their destructive activity overseas and at home. We shall continue to build firm defenses against Communism by strengthening the economic and social structure of our own democracy. We reiterate our pledge to expose and prosecute treasonable activities of anti-democratic and un-American organizations which would sap our strength, paralyze our will to defend ourselves, and destroy our unity, inciting race against race, class against class, and the people against free institutions.
We shall continue vigorously to enforce the laws against subversive activities, observing at all times the constitutional guarantees which protect free speech, the free press and honest political activity. We shall strengthen our laws against subversion to the full extent necessary, protecting at all times our traditional individual freedoms.
We recognize that the United States has become the principal protector of the free world. The free peoples of the world look to us for support in maintaining their freedoms. If we falter in our leadership, we may endanger the peace of the world—and we shall surely endanger the welfare of our own nation. For these reasons it is imperative that we maintain our military strength until world peace with justice is secure. Under the leadership of President Truman, our military departments have been united and our Government organization for the national defense greatly strengthened. We pledge to maintain adequate military strength, based on these improvements, sufficient to fulfill our responsibilities in occupation zones, defend our national interests, and to bolster those free nations resisting Communist aggression.
This is our platform. These are our principles. They form a political and economic policy which has guided our party and our nation.
The American people know these principles well. Under them, we have enjoyed greater security, greater prosperity, and more effective world leadership than ever before.
Under them and with the guidance of Divine Providence we can proceed to higher levels of prosperity and security; we can advance to a better life at home; we can continue our leadership in the world with ever-growing prospects for lasting peace.
APP Note: The American Presidency Project used the first day of the national nominating convention as the "date" of this platform since the original document is undated.
The spelling of "Rumania" reflects the original platform text. In the 21st century this spelling is considered by some to be "archaic" but an historically correct spelling of the country name.
Democratic Party Platforms, 1948 Democratic Party Platform Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/273225