Harry S. Truman photo

Address in Kiel Auditorium, St. Louis.

November 04, 1950

THANK YOU. Thank you very much. I can't tell you how much I appreciate this reception, but you know, this radio time, I am told, is being paid for by the National Democratic Committee at so much a minute, and I want to get the full benefit of it.

This reminds me of another meeting we had here in 1948. If I remember correctly, that was on the Saturday night before election, too. If I remember correctly, we had just such an enthusiastic audience as this right here.

When we met here in 1948 the Democratic Party was on its way to victory. Tonight the Democratic Party is on its way to victory again.

Here in Missouri we are going to elect Tom Hennings to the Senate; and we are going to send a Democratic delegation to the House of Representatives from Missouri.

You know, I had hoped to make some speeches in this campaign of 1950. I believe the President and the Vice President have a special duty to report to all the people. They are the only officials who are elected by the whole country.

But this year the critical international situation has made it impossible for me to go out and take part in this great debate that our Constitution provides for every 2 years. So I have had to leave my share of the campaigning to the other member of our team, Vice President Barkley.

He has done a magnificent job. Alben Barkley is a great American who has fought all his life for the welfare of the people.

This is my only opportunity to speak to the American people in this campaign. I intend to tell you exactly what the issues are in this election.

[At this point someone in the audience shouted, "Give 'em hell, Harry!" The President then resumed speaking.]

I'm going to! I'm going to tell you the truth. The truth has been pressed to earth in this awful mudslinging campaign. But truth crushed to earth will rise again, and the people aren't going to be fooled by this mudslinging outfit.

The Congress we elect next Tuesday will have to make decisions that will determine the kind of world we and our children are going to live in for years to come.

It is difficult for us to realize the responsibilities of the Government of the United States in the world today. In one generation we have come from an isolated country-which considered itself entirely safe with an ocean on each side--to a position of world leadership. As the most powerful nation in the world, we have to assume world responsibilities-responsibilities that go with that great power.

Since I became President in 1945, I have worked constantly for world peace. World peace is my greatest ambition. And, with God's help, I think we are making progress toward that goal.

This Nation has never done anything more important for peace than it did this summer when we took the leadership in the United Nations to put down aggression in Korea.

Even though some hard fighting still lies ahead, our men have already won a tremendous military victory in Korea. But they have done a great deal more than that. They have brought about a moral and spiritual revival among all men who seek freedom and peace. By their sacrifices, they have brought new life and strength to the United Nations.

I believe that this is the greatest step toward world peace that has been taken in my lifetime--and I am 66 years old.

I believe with all my heart that in this year of 1950 our Nation--the greatest Republic the sun has ever shone on--has taken the road the Lord meant us to take 30 years ago.

In 1920 we took the wrong road--the road away from peace. That was when the isolationists kept us out of the League of Nations. But we are on the right road now--the road of cooperation between free nations. And we must stay on that road.

I have tried my best to keep our national efforts for peace out of partisan politics. Some Republican leaders have joined with me in maintaining a bipartisan foreign policy. But other Republicans have tried to make foreign policy a partisan political issue.

There are some isolationists running for office in this election--and one of them is right over here in Illinois. They have dragged our foreign policy into politics. They want us to shut ourselves off from the rest of the world and abandon our friends and our allies.

[At this point someone again shouted, "Give 'era hell, Harry!" The President then resumed speaking.]

All right! I'm doing it!

Any sensible man knows that such a course would be an open invitation for Communist imperialism to gobble up the rest of the world. Now, if that should happen, the United States would be left alone to face the threat of Communist aggression. And the forces of communism would have the manpower and resources of all of Europe, Asia, and Africa to use against us.

That is the kind of disaster the isolationists would lead us into. A vote for isolationism in this election would be a vote for national suicide. This is the time to stand up and let the whole world know that we are going to stick to the other free nations in the struggle against communism.

Now, isolationism is one of the main issues in this election.

The other main issue is whether this country is going forward here at home toward greater strength and prosperity. Only if we are strong and prosperous at home, can we do our part to bring about world peace.

During the last 17 years the Democratic Party has led this country to the greatest period of prosperity the world has even seen.

The Republicans have fought us every step of the way. But we won those fights, and today the United States stands free and strong because we did win them.

Take the case of the farmer.

In 1932 the farmers of this country were just about flat on their backs. Corn was selling at 15 cents a bushel--and I sold some at that price--and cotton at 5 cents a pound. Farm mortgages were being foreclosed right and left, and farm families were being thrown off their land.

The Republican Party either didn't know how to remedy this situation or it didn't care what happened to the farmers. The Democratic Party changed all that.

We saved the farmer's. land and the farmer's home.

We brought back good prices for farm products.

Through rural electrification, we brought electric power to the farms and eased the burden of the farm wives.

Then came the 1946 election, when twothirds of the people stayed at home and didn't vote. As a result we got that Republican no-good, do-nothing 80th Congress, about which I told you in 1948.

Right away the Republicans began to tear down what we had done for the farmer.

They cut the soil conservation program and tried to weaken the farmer committee system. They attacked the price support program. They cut down the authority of the Commodity Credit Corporation to store grain. In 1948, for this very reason, many farmers were forced to sell corn at 40 or 50 cents less than the support price.

The people saw that the Republican Party hadn't changed a bit. It didn't care what happened to the farmer. So the people threw the Republican no-good, 80th Congress out. I might say the people kicked that no-good, do-nothing 80th Congress out of office, and I helped them to do it.

The Democratic 81st Congress repaired the damage the Republicans had done. We restored the power of the Commodity Credit Corporation to store grain. We started a rural telephone program. We strengthened the soil conservation program and the price support program.

Today farms and farm people are strong and prosperous. And because farmers are better off, why the whole country is better off.

But the Republicans say: "Vote for us again. Vote us back in," they say. "Vote us back in so we can save you from this terrible Democratic farm program that has made you farmers so prosperous."

I said in this hall in 1948 that any farmer who votes for the Republican Party is voting against his own interests--and he ought to have his head examined. That is just as true now as it was true then, and any farmer who does vote that way should and will have his head examined; you can be assured of that.

Now the same thing is true of the workingman.

In 1932 unemployment rose to more than 15 million. Wages were low. Labor was disorganized. The Democratic Party set out to help the workers. In spite of the bitterest kind of Republican opposition, the Democratic program went through. And as a result, the working people of this country got better wages, a higher standard of living, and social security.

Then came along that no-good Republican 80th Congress again. And they started out to tear down the progress we had made.

They took away social security from nearly a million people.

They started to destroy the unions through the infamous Taft-Hartley law.

They were on the way back to the conditions the special interests like--low wages, unemployment, weak unions.

But the people found out what they were up to, and elected a Democratic Congress. And the Democratic 81st Congress set out to correct the damage the Republicans had done in their short 2 years.

The 81st Congress raised the minimum wage from 40 cents an hour to 75 cents an hour.

The 81st Congress put a stop to the Republican effort to undermine the labor unions. And just as sure as I am standing here, we are eventually going to get rid of the unionbusting provisions of the Taft-Hartley Act.

The Democratic 81st Congress broadened social security to cover 10 million more people. We raised social security benefits by 77 percent.

Today labor is a responsible and prosperous element in our community and our national life. And because workers are better off, the whole country is bound to be better off.

Now the Republicans would like to get back in. I don't blame them for that. But what are they offering labor?

Just to be frank with you, I don't know. I think they have about given up talking to the workingman. They know that no matter what they say, nobody is going to believe them--the Republican record on labor is as plain as the nose on your face; it's no good, just as their farm record is no good.

Now I have got something most interesting to talk to you about. Let's take the Republican record on business.

For a long time now the Republican Party has been claiming that it is good for business. There is no evidence to support this claim, however. I am getting sick and tired of it. The special interests are just as bad for business as they are for the rest of the country.

Back in 1933, business turned to the Democratic Party and cried, "Save us!" And we did save them.

In 1932 the corporations of this country were $3 billion in the red. They had $3 billion less than nothing, and they had to borrow money to pay it. Under the program of the Democratic Party, corporate profits had increased to $23 1/2 billion by 1946, which was $26 1/2 billions more than it was in 1932.

Then along came the Republican no-good Both Congress and the special interests. And they tried to please the real estate lobby, and the oil lobby, and all the other lobbies. And they passed a rich man's tax bill. I vetoed that bill three times, and then went out and ran for office in 1948, and got elected because I did--the first time in history that a man ever vetoed a tax bill and got elected.

By the end of the 80th Congress business was headed for trouble again, just as it always is when the special interests are in the saddle.

The Democratic Party and the 81st Congress put a stop to that.

We got the economy of the country back on the right track.

And today business is better off than it ever was in the history of the country. The Democratic Party has been the salvation of free enterprise in this country, and don't let anybody tell you anything different.

I ran across something in Time magazine--you know, Time magazine is not fond of the Democrats. And it was talking about a quotation from the Wall Street Journal, and it says:

"Under two waves of heavy selling in one day last week, the New York stock market suffered its worst drop in 15 weeks-- As usual, Wall Street had no explanation for the break, other than such old standbys as 'profit taking, the Korean situation, and fear of more taxes, etc.' But the Wall Street Journal made a valiant try to find something. The trouble was that business was too good--In short, there were so many good buys that investors simply couldn't make up their minds just how to spend their money"-which they had made under a Democratic administration.

The story has been the same in every phase of our national life.

The Republicans have fought every great progressive measure that has been adopted for the good of the people in the last 17 years.

And they are just the same today as they always were. I am telling you they haven't changed a bit.

Now the Republicans are facing an impossible task. They are trying to win an election with a record they are ashamed to admit, and a program they want to conceal--and I don't blame them for that.

What the Republican leaders really want to do is put a stop to the New Deal and the Fair Deal. They want to turn the country over to the special interests to run as they please. But, of course, the Republicans don't dare tell the people that.

So they have been trying to scare the people--to scare them so they will forget the terrible record of the Republican Party.

As usual they are trying to scare us by saying that the country is on the brink of disaster--that the end is in sight. But nobody is going to fall for that line of tommyrot at a time when the country is more prosperous than it has ever been before and when 62 million men and women have jobs.

As usual the Republicans are trying to scare us by saying that the country is on the last mile to socialism. Well, what a long last mile that must be. According to the Republicans we have been travelers for 12 years, and we haven't got there yet. Private corporation profits are now running at a rate of more than $40 billion a year, and there are more private business enterprises than ever before in the history of the country. Nobody but an office-hungry Republican politician would call that socialism.

Now, some--some--I emphasize the some--some of the Republicans have now got so desperate they are saying that the Democratic Party is communistic. That is the craziest idea of all they have put out yet.

It is our party--the Democratic Party-that has done more to defeat communism in this country than any group, public or private.

It is our party--the Democratic Party-that saved free enterprise after 1932--when communism was feeding on the misery and despair created by 12 years of Republican misrule.

It is the Democratic Party that has prosecuted communism under the law, and now has the Communist leaders on the way to jail.

It is the Democratic Party and the Democratic administration that has strengthened and united the free nations of the world to stand up and fight against communism--to stand up and fight in Korea, and to win a smashing victory over Communist aggression.

None of these plain facts has any effect on certain vote-hungry Republican politicians. They just go fight on with their campaign lies that have no foundation in fact.

Of course, they don't believe it themselves. They are just trying to get votes. But this effort of theirs to get votes is being made at a terrible cost to the country.

These Republican politicians have maliciously and falsely made charges of disloyalty against some of our finest and ablest public servants--in Congress and in the executive branch of the Government. These Republican politicians have been willing, in their desperate pursuit of this false issue, to undermine their own Government at a time of great national peril. They have been willing to destroy the United Nations. They have attacked the bipartisan foreign policy. They have lost all proportion, all sense of restraint, all sense of patriotic decency.

I say to you--I want you to remember this--I say to you, and I say it emphatically, that politicians who are willing to do that-politicians who are willing even to condone such disgraceful acts--are not to be trusted with high public office.

But, my friends, there are in the Republican Party many honorable men and women who oppose this shameful course. I honor them for that, and I will continue in the future as I have in the past to work with those Republicans who have the best interests of our country at heart.

I honestly believe that the rank and file of the Republican Party must be ashamed of the reckless tactics of some of their leaders, and I believe they will repudiate them at the polls.

The American people are not going to be fooled. The American people know the Republican Party has been taken over by the special interests. They know the Democrats are the party of the people.

Now I promise you that the Democratic Party is going right on working for the people--for all the people.

We are going right on working for farm prosperity--and for a system of marketing farm products that will stabilize farm income and give the consumers the benefit of abundant production, without waste.

We are going right ahead working for a fair labor law.

We are going right ahead working for better education and better health--including a workable health insurance system to help people pay their doctors' and hospital bills.

We are going to work for these things for all our citizens, without discrimination on account of race, creed, or color.

The American people will continue to move forward--a mighty force--toward peace and progress. No little group of special interests or selfish politicians is going to be able to stop us.

This is a government for all the people, and we are going to keep it that way.

Now, to do that, every citizen must do his part.

And so I say to you tonight: go to the polls next Tuesday and vote. Vote for yourselves; vote for your future; vote for your children's future. Vote for progress and prosperity in the United States. Vote for peace throughout the whole world. Just go to the polls and vote the Democratic ticket.

Note: The President spoke at 9:04 p.m. at Kiel Auditorium in St. Louis. During his address he referred to Thomas G. Hennings, Jr., Democratic candidate for Senator from Missouri. The address was carried on a nationwide radio and television broadcast.

Harry S. Truman, Address in Kiel Auditorium, St. Louis. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/230422

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