Harry S. Truman photo

Address at the Armory in Manchester, New Hampshire.

October 16, 1952

I APPRECIATE very much that most cordial welcome. I appreciate also the welcome which I received out on the street. I don't think I ever had a more cordial welcome in my whole political career than I had here tonight.

Now, I don't know whether it is necessary for me to explain to you that I am on a campaign trip. I've been talking to New England voters all day, asking them to vote for Adlai Stevenson for President and John Sparkman for Vice President.

These are outstanding men--men of whom the Democratic Party is extremely proud. And they have carried on an outstanding campaign. They have presented their position on the issues very clearly. You know where they stand, and you know they have the courage of their convictions.

They don't tell you that they believe in one thing in one part of the United States, and then tell you they believe in something else somewhere else. Their convictions are straight down the line on the Democratic platform.

I believe that Stevenson and Sparkman are going to win this election.

I believe that, because I have faith in the American people. I believe the American people will vote for men who have the courage and the honesty to tell them the truth.

I hope that you people in New Hampshire will send some good Democrats to Congress this year. Stevenson and Sparkman will need men like Peter Poirier and John Guay. They will need men like that to help them look after your welfare and the welfare of the whole American people.

I would also like mighty well to see you elect Bill Craig as your Democratic Governor here in New Hampshire. I have been greatly encouraged by the reports I have had of the favorable prospect for that happy event.

This is going to be a very critical election, my friends--perhaps the most critical in our generation. I have said today that I think it probably is the most critical election since the Civil War. In some ways, I think it is of even greater importance to New England than it is to the rest of the country. That is because New England is one of the most vulnerable areas in the country in regard to unemployment.

The Democratic Party is the party of full employment. We believe in full employment and we believe in doing something about it.

That is why we are deeply concerned about the unemployment you have been having for some months in certain of your manufacturing centers here in New England. In most of the country, production and employment are at a high level--one of the highest in history. But in your textile and shoe manufacturing centers, including Manchester, there has been a measure of unemployment that we have not yet been able to cure.

I understand there has been some improvement in the employment situation in Manchester, and that this is no longer considered an area of heavy unemployment. In addition, I am told that prospects for the coming winter are still better. This is good news, but it is not good enough.

I want to talk to you tonight about the reasons for unemployment in New England, and what we can do to cure it. But before I get into that subject I want to say something about our economy as a whole.

As I have gone around the country, I have detected an undercurrent of uneasiness, in the minds of some people, about what is going to happen to our economy in the future. This concern is due in part to the flood of Republican propaganda about this being a "war-boom prosperity." This propaganda is entirely untrue. Oar economy ought to do even better in the future than it is doing now under the heavy burdens and restrictions of our defense program. Our defense program, in reality, is holding us back. It is using up materials and manpower that could be used for other things we want and need. When we can lessen the defense burden in the future, we ought to be better off--not worse off-than we are now.

Of course, there will be a period of adjustment from defense orders to civilian orders. There will be job changes and other changes. But we can handle this period of adjustment, if we have a Democratic administration in Washington that knows what to do. We can handle the transition if we have in Washington an administration that knows how to put the resources of the Government into making that transition run smoothly.

This is one of the questions you ought to be thinking about very hard at this election time. Which party do you think you can trust at the throttle of our economy in the period of change ?

The Republican Party has never believed in using the resources of the Government to make the economy run properly. They were never willing to use the Government to provide jobs when jobs were needed. They called that "interference with private enterprise" and they called it "socialism."

The reason for this Republican attitude is that the Republican Party is dominated by men who don't have to work for a living. These men regard jobs and wages as something secondary to what they call the "interests of business." To them, wages are something that's paid out. To them, jobs and wages are entered on the cost side of the ledger, and the costs are something to be held down.

The Democratic Party, on the other hand, is made up of common ordinary people. It's their party. They determine its policies. To them, wages are not a cost but a benefit. A job to them is not an expense--it's an income It's a matter of bread and butter, and it can be a matter of life and death, in some cases.

The Democratic Party is committed to the objective of full employment. That's why the Democrats were put into office in 1932, and that's one of the big reasons why we have been kept in office ever since.

Moreover, the Democrats have never been scared by phony slogans. If action is needed, and if the only way to take action is through the Government, then we'll act through the Government. The shopworn cries of socialism and national bankruptcy are not going to make us sit still and twiddle our thumbs while we wait for something to come "around the corner."

Let me tell you a story about the subject of full employment. During World War II, when I was in the United States Senate, some of us got the idea that it was not necessary to have a depression after that war, as we had had after every other big war in our history.

So we drafted a bill which would establish a national policy of full employment, and set up the machinery to carry out that policy.

What a furore we created! Why, the very idea was said to be immoral. The National Association of Manufacturers and the other big business organizations rolled out their propaganda machines. All the big guns that had been firing on the New Deal legislation ever since 1932 were hauled out again.

They brought up all kinds of arguments as to why full employment was a bad idea. They said people would lose their initiative if they could count on having full employment. They said if everybody worked it might result in an unbalanced budget. One distinguished witness said it was good for business to have a "floating pool of unemployed."

The president of the National Association of Manufacturers said that all the Government should do, in case of a depression, was to make contributions to the States, so that the unemployed could be carried on relief rolls.

The NAM flooded the country with propaganda leaflets against the full employment bill. They saw that these leaflets got into the hands of schoolteachers, editors, radio commentators, and everybody else in a position to influence public opinion. They put out the same kind of smoke screen then that the same people are putting out now, in their effort to grab control of the Government in this election.

One reactionary group, calling themselves the Committee for Constitutional Government-which specializes in calling progressive legislation communistic--put that label on the idea of full employment, too. And this refrain was picked up by other big business opponents of the bill.

That same committee's literature also attacked the goal of full employment as-quote--"sentimental humanitarianism."

Right after the fight started, I became Vice President and then President, and I .continued to help whenever I could. Finally, in 1946, an act was passed and I signed it.

But the opposition had succeeded in getting the act watered down. The title had been changed from the full Employment Act of 1946 to just the Employment Act of 1946. And the right-to-a-job idea had been killed and the rest of the provisions had been changed accordingly.

The men you want to beware of are those men who took the "full" out of "full employment."

They're the men you don't want in power.

They're the men who advocate a floating pool of unemployed, because that keeps wages down and costs down.

They're the men who think it's bad for your initiative if you can secure a job.

They think that the idea of full employment is just sentimental humanitarianism, and that sentiment and humanity have no place in government.

You know who those men are. They're the National Association of Manufacturers and other big business organizations, and the Republicans in Congress who vote as those organizations dictate.

The Republicans in the House of Representatives voted almost 2 to 1 against the full Employment Act of 1946. The Republicans provided 80 percent of the House vote against the bill on final passage.

When we finally got this law through Congress, it was not as strong as it should have been; but we've worked with what we had. Twice a year I've sent an Economic Report to the Congress, and in those reports I've set higher and higher goals for employment and production and purchasing power.

The Republicans have always sneered at those goals. You remember how they hooted at the idea of 60 million jobs. Now we have 62 million jobs. And the Republicans still can't understand how it happened. It's just about to drive them crazy.

What the big businessmen have never been able to understand is that full employment is good for them, too. So are good farm prices. When people are working at decent wages, and when farmers have a decent income, they can buy the things that business has to sell. When people are not working, they can't buy.

At the bottom of the Republican depression, wages were about as low as they could get. So were farm prices. And the net losses of the corporations in this country, taken all together, were $3 billion.

Now, in 1950, when we had full employment, corporations had to pay high taxes, it's true. But they still made profits of $40 billion. Even after the taxes they scream about, they made profits of $21 billion. And they paid out $9 billion in dividends.

Business has never done so well as it has under the Democratic policies in Washington. Not only are workers and farmers better off, but corporations are better off, too.

And that's fine with us. We're all for keeping business profitable. But we don't want to do it by applying the false and vicious notion that you have to have a floating pool of unemployed. We're not only sentimental and humanitarian--as the so-called Committee for Constitutional Government complained to its readers--but we're hardheaded as well.

But do you think the Republicans have learned anything all these years? They just haven't learned a thing.

Now, you can read their platform clear through, in this year 1952, and you won't find a word about full employment. Do you know what it says instead? It says that under the Democrats, initiative has been deadened, invention has been discouraged, and self-reliance has been weakened. It says that under the Democrats free enterprise has been wrecked.

Well, I have just been across the country and back again, and all I can say is--it's a most wonderful wreck! In fact, my friends, it's the most prosperous looking wreck I have ever seen.

I want to ask you a question. Has the Republican candidate for President said anything about full employment? I don't know. I am not sure he has even heard of it, yet. And if he is like the other economic thinkers in his party, it's probably one of the things he will want to change.

I started out by saying that New England has some special problems.

There are two big reasons why industry in this part of the country is at a competitive disadvantage.

One is the lack of cheap power. A manufacturer in this county gets a bill for electric power 71 percent higher than a manufacturer in Chattanooga, Tennessee, gets for the same amount of power--and 66 percent higher than a manufacturer in Spokane, Washington. The housewife using 250 kilowatt hours a month pays $27 more a year than the Chattanooga housewife.

Yet the Merrimack River flows right through this county, and less than one-third of the hydroelectric possibilities of this great river basin have been developed.

In the Tennessee Valley and in the Northwest the cheap power has been the outgrowth of the great multipurpose development of the Tennessee and the Columbia River basins. These developments serve flood control, transportation, recreation, and many other purposes besides just generating power.

Now, I'm not going to say that a Tennessee Valley Authority or a Columbia River Development is just what you want in New England. They've worked extremely well where they are. But, in the interest of your own welfare, you ought to study carefully those two programs, and any other plans that may be proposed. Then you need to arrive at some plan that will result in the full development of your river resources. And if selfish interests are standing in the way, then you've got to insist that those selfish interests stand aside, for the welfare of the whole of New England.

I know that the study of the New England economy made under the auspices of the Council of Economic Advisers has been useful to you. I am sure that the survey now being made by the New York-New England Inter-Agency Committee which I established will further point the way toward full development of your resources.

The second thing that puts New England at a competitive disadvantage is the operation of the Taft-Hartley Act which was passed by the Republican "do-nothing" 80th Congress. That's one of the things they did. That Congress spent its time doing things to you, and not for you.

That act has virtually stopped the organization of unions in some areas of the country. The result is that wages in those areas are lagging behind, and manufacturers there have an unfair competitive advantage over the manufacturers in New England. In the long run, a situation like this is bad for the whole country. We cannot build lasting prosperity on depressed wages.

The Taft-Hartley Act is not an academic matter in New England. It's hurting you badly; it's hurting you now. You ought to be leading the fight to get rid of it.

The Republicans have done many other things to shackle the economy of New England. They have cut appropriations for the enforcement of the Walsh-Healey Act and the minimum wage law, which are important weapons against unfair wage competition that hurts New England. A majority of them have joined in the fight against the St. Lawrence Seaway and Power project, which would bring cheap power and new industry to New England.

Now, I am very much interested in the power developments of this great Nation. We have a Northwest power pool on the Columbia River. We have a Southwest power pool on the Colorado River. We have a Central power pool on the Red River and the Arkansas River, and the rivers in northwest Arkansas and southwest Missouri. We have the Tennessee Valley in the Southeast power pool. What I have been trying to get for this part of the world is a Northeast power pool made up of the proper developments of your rivers, and the St. Lawrence, and the Bay of Fundy project, and then you wouldn't be at a disadvantage.

Now, my friends, we need to break up the unholy alliance between the special interests and the Republican Party that has stifled the growth of this historic section of the country.

We need to do that, and we have got to take steps to do it; and you have got to do it yourselves, because the power is in your hands.

We need to keep the country in the hands of people who believe in full employment. We need to keep the country in the hands of people who reject the notion that floating pools of unemployed are good for business. We need to keep the country in the hands of people who are not afraid of a little humanitarianism in government--even a little sentiment, if you will.

When the time comes to make a switch from large-scale defense work to large-scale production of consumer goods, you will be mighty glad that you have Adlai Stevenson in the White House. You'll be glad you have somebody there who understands the nature of the American economy, who believes in government with a heart, who believes in full employment.

My friends, I am going up and down this country, not that I am running for office, or that I expect to gain anything by it but the welfare of this great Nation. When it comes to the 20th of January, I will have been in elective public office for 30 years--30 years I have been in elective public office. I was elected the first time in November 1922. I have given all I have into. public service in every office that I have held, and it finally got me into more trouble than any other man in the history of the country has ever been in--for the last 7 years.

What I am doing is going up and down the country, as I started to say, to get you people to think. I want you to think for yourselves. I want you to study the record. I want you to consider the things which I have said to you here tonight. I want you to consider them in the light of your own welfare. You yourselves have the power to do the things that are necessary to put this great section of the country back where it belongs--in the forefront of the industrial part of this country. You can do it. You can do it. But you can't do it by letting somebody else do your thinking for you. You have got to think for yourselves. All I want you to do is just to study the record. I want you to know the record of the people in the Congress, the Democratic side and the Republican side, and I want you to see what the policies we have tried to pursue amount to, so far as your welfare is concerned.

If you do that, I have no doubt but what you will do the right thing by yourselves. You will do the right thing for the welfare of the greatest Nation in the history of the world. You will do the right thing for the welfare of the whole free world. You will do the right thing--with us, who are trying by direct action to head off communism in the world--and that is the only way you can head it off.

I hope now--I sincerely hope now that you will go home and do some thinking, and do a little praying along with it, for the welfare of this great Nation. And I hope that on election day you will go to the polls with your mind made up to do what is best for the country. And if you do that, Adlai Stevenson will be the next President of the United States.

Note: The President spoke at 9:05 p.m. in the National Guard Armory, Manchester, N.H. During his remarks he referred to Peter Poirier and John Guay, Democratic candidates for Representative from New Hampshire, and William H. Craig, Democratic candidate for Governor of New Hampshire.
The address was broadcast.

Harry S. Truman, Address at the Armory in Manchester, New Hampshire. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/230814

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