Harry S. Truman photo

Address in the Memorial Auditorium, Gary, Indiana

October 25, 1948

Thank you, thank you very much. It's a very great pleasure to me, and a very high honor to be so cordially welcomed to this great industrial district. I appreciate most highly the Governor's introduction. I appreciate what Congressman Madden had to say--and, of course, I know you are going to send Congressman Madden back to Congress, because you did that in 1946, when a lot of other Indiana districts went wrong. And I don't have to fear but what Indiana is going to do just what the Governor said it was going to do--going to elect the Democratic ticket from top to bottom. I understand that I'm in the hometown of Chet Fleming, who is running for Secretary of State in this great State of Indiana--and I don't think that is going to take any votes away from me, is it?

I heard a story not long ago about an elderly man who was driving into Gary, and he gave a lift to a young fellow who was going his way. During their talk, the older man asked the young fellow, "What takes you to Gary?"

The young man kind of hesitated, put his head down, and finally said: "I am working for the Republican State Committee. They are sending me to Gary to see what I can do to get the people there to vote the Republican ticket."

The old man was silent for a while, and then he said: "Son, I've listened to a lot of sad stories for the last 50 years, but that's the saddest one I've heard yet."

I agree completely with the old gentleman. I can think of no harder job than to try to sell the Republican Party to the men and women of Gary, who lived through those dark years of the Republican depression in 1930, 1931, and 1932.

More than 12 million able-bodied Americans couldn't find work in those years, and the average hourly wage in industry at that time was only 45 cents, and the take-home pay was barely $17 a week.

There was no unemployment compensation, or work relief--just had breadlines.

Thousands of farmers lost their farms in those years, and the Republicans did nothing to help save them. Millions of Americans lost their homes, their jobs, their savings, and their hopes.

What did the Republicans do for the people they had treated that way? They just did absolutely nothing. The Democrats cured the depression by political action-and the Republican Party has never forgiven us for that.

By 1932 the American people had had all they could stand. They elected a great Democratic President--Franklin D. Roosevelt.

President Roosevelt brought the capital of the United States back to Washington from Wall Street and it's going to stay there just as long as the Democratic party controls the Government.

You all know what the Democratic Party has done for industrial workers in great cities like Gary. Your right to organize and bargain collectively was established by the Wagner Act, and protected by the National Labor Relations Board. Your standard of living was protected for 5 years of war and reconstruction by the price control law.

You know what the Republicans did, the very first thing, when they got into power in the Government? They introduced in the Congress--they didn't control the Government, thank goodness; I was still there. The first thing they did, you know, was to pass that rich man's tax bill. They had to pass that three times, because I vetoed that every single time, anti they finally mustered up enough votes to pass it over my veto. Then they passed the Taft-Hartley Act. They said they were going to put labor in its place. They began to tear down the Wagner Act, which is the bill of rights for labor in this country.

After the war, we restored free collective bargaining to help you adjust wages so as to protect your purchasing power which the country needs to insure its prosperity.

Now, you have got to have good pay-the workingman--and the farmer has to have good prices; and the two go side by side--they go together. And in this day and age--in the year when the greatest national income in the history of the world is this country's income--that income is evenly and fairly distributed so that the farmer gets his fair share, labor gets its fair share, the little businessman gets his fair share. That's not what the Republicans want. They want special privilege. They don't want you to have good wages. They don't want the farmer to have good prices. They immediately began to legislate to undermine all that Democratic program known as the New Deal.

Now, we put a floor under wages--by the minimum wage provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. And I have been trying to get them to increase that floor. They say they are for minimum wage--but I have come to the conclusion that the smaller the minimum the better they like it.

We outlawed child labor. We set up overtime pay at the rate of time and a half for every hour worked over 40 hours a week. We gave all industrial workers protection against unemployment and old age by the Social Security Act of 1935.

That Republican Party said it couldn't be done. We did it.

Now, this Congress--this 80th "do-nothing" Congress, elected in 1946, because twothirds of you didn't go to the polls--has been trying to tear down every bit of that program, and if you let them go back, and give them a President, too, they will succeed in tearing it down--and that will be your fault. I don't think you're going to do it. I know you're not going to do it here in Gary.

We are today the most prosperous nation on earth. More than 61 million Americans have jobs. They said that was impossible too, the Republicans did.

The average hourly rate of pay in industry is $1.33 an hour, instead of 45 cents as it was in 1932. More than three times as much--three times as much under Democratic administrations.

Average weekly earnings are $52.96, instead of the measly $17.05 that you got in 1932.

I don't see how any man--any farmer, any laboringman--can go to the polls on November the 2d and do anything else but vote in his own interests--and if he does that, he will vote the Democratic ticket.

Our farmers have money in the bank and the Government protects it by the Federal Deposit Insurance law. The Republicans said that couldn't be done either. Their farms are almost free of debt and they no longer fear foreclosure and eviction by the moneylenders.

The profits of businessmen are running so high that it's almost unbelievable. They are running at the rate--after taxes--of nearly $20 billion a year.

Yes, today we have so many blessings that the Republicans say that it is time for a change--things are too good.

The special privilege boys are at work throughout the land, crooning "unity," hoping you will open your mouths, shut your eyes, and swallow that soothing syrup, and go to sleep and not go to the polls. That's what they are trying to do.

Don't be deceived, my friends. They took you to the cleaners in 1929. They want to do it again.

They love labor and the farmers in October, but it's a little bit different after election.

They say that the Democratic Party has been in power too long. What they mean is they'd like to return the capital of the United States to Wall Street.

I say it's time for them to change. It's time for them to change their habit of opposing everything that is done in the interests of the people. It's time for them to change the Taft-Hartley Act--and repeal it. That's what ought to be done with it. It's time for them to change, and support us in raising the minimum wage to at least 75 cents an hour.

They talk about cooperation between the President and the Congress. Cooperation for what, I wonder? I say it's time for them to cooperate with us in trying to do the right thing.

They ought to cooperate in widening social security protection, increasing unemployment benefits and raising old-age payments.

I say it's time for them to cooperate to bring down those Republican high prices. Yes, I agree. I certainly agree that it is time for a change. It is time for them to mend their ways, for you, the people, to elect a Democratic Congress to cooperate with a Democratic President. That's the sort of a change we need.

It's time for them to prove that they understand and respect human rights.

I have said it before and I say it again: "The real issue in this campaign is the Democratic Party and the people against the special interests and the protected profits for the privileged few." That is the sole issue in this campaign. It is the people against the special interests.

Now, I trust the people. Every good Democrat does. I trust their commonsense, their decency, and their sense of justice. That's why I'm talking with you right now. We beat this Republican outfit in 1932. beat them in 1936. We beat them in 1940. And we beat them 4 years ago.

We'll do it again.

Note: The President spoke at 12:03 p.m. in the Memorial Auditorium in Gary, Ind. During his address he referred to Henry F. Schricker, Democratic candidate for Governor of Indiana, Ray J. Madden, Representative from Indiana, and Charles F. Fleming, Democratic candidate for Secretary of State of Indiana.

Harry S Truman, Address in the Memorial Auditorium, Gary, Indiana Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/233827

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