Franklin D. Roosevelt

Excerpts from the Press Conference

April 24, 1942

THE PRESIDENT: I have a request to make. The U.S.O., the Red Cross, and the American Library Association have sponsored a campaign to provide ten million books for soldiers, sailors, and marines wherever they may be, and they are planning to have Friday, April 17, as Victory Book Day. This campaign has been going on for a short time, and they have already got five million books for the soldiers, sailors and marines, and they want five million more.

The plan is that on Friday the milkman, the baker, the department store delivery truck, and everybody else, is to be authorized to pick up the books. And school children and boys and girls in high schools and college will be asked to bring books for the fighting men to their school on that day. Motion-picture houses are going to collect books on that day. This campaign has already had a great deal of support from many newspapers throughout the country, who have put on the "Give a Book" campaign. They deserve a word of thanks, plus a request to renew their efforts, and the efforts of the radio people, to carry on until the needed ten million books are in the hands of the armed forces of the country.

So that is a word of encouragement to all of you to get in on this campaign.

Q. Mr. President, do you have any suggestions as to what sort of books should be contributed?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. Anything—except algebra. (Laughter) Well, in other words, the kind of book that you would read in your own family. I suppose that is the easiest criterion anything that would interest you and the family.

Q. Mr. President, is Governor [Herbert] Lehman of New York coming to Washington, or going to enter the Government in some official capacity?

THE PRESIDENT: Oh, I have never heard of it, except from news-paper stories.

Q. (interposing) Do you think it would be a good idea?

THE PRESIDENT: (continuing) The only information I have what-soever.

Q. Mr. President, have you found a name yet for the global war?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I took it up with the- I talked to the meeting of the Pan American Union and the Ambassadors and Ministers of our sister Republics this morning about it, and I suggested a name myself—The Survival War.

Q. (interposing) Survival?

THE PRESIDENT: (continuing) I always liked the idea. What was said this morning, it was taken down, and Steve has it for you. (Turning to Mr. Early)

MR. EARLY: Afterwards.

THE PRESIDENT: As soon as you have finished you can get it.

Q. Mr. President, is that going to be it, Mr. President?


Q. Is it officially named?

THE PRESIDENT: No, no. I just threw that name out. They liked it.

Q. Mr. President, speaking of newspaper stories, there is also one that Joseph Kennedy might come back to take some kind of job in connection—

THE PRESIDENT: (interposing) I also read that in the newspapers.

Q. You don't know any more-

THE PRESIDENT: (interposing) No. Certain papers. I wouldn't say that was a connotation of what I have in mind for all newspapers by any means. The connotation might apply to a few papers.

Q. One paper started off that story by beating the life out of him. Was that the story that you read?

THE PRESIDENT: (laughing) I don't know.

Q. Mr. President, anything new on the over-all inflation—anti-inflation campaign?

THE PRESIDENT: No. We are working on it right along.

Q. Is there a Message going up on it?


Q. Is there a Message to go to Congress on it?

THE PRESIDENT: I don't know. I haven't made up my mind as to date or method. I wish you could—all of you—give up the word "inflation," because very few people know what it means. Very few people in this room know what it means. I am not quite clear myself, so I am not using the word.

Q. What word are you using?

THE PRESIDENT: You will see, in time.

Q. Having a contest to name it?

Q. Mr. President, there is a great deal of disturbed feeling in Australia as reflected by dispatches by American correspondents from there, as to the authority that General MacArthur has, and as to what naval forces are at his disposal. Could you tell us, sir, whether—

THE PRESIDENT: (interposing) I can only tell you in a negative way. There has been singularly little error—there has been overwhelming correctness on the part of the press in talking about the command of General MacArthur. There has been a very minor part of the press or newspapers which have—I trust not deliberately—completely falsified what I did say the other day.

What I have in mind is that this particular little group has talked about the command of the Pacific being under General MacArthur. Of course, any reference to the stenographic minutes of the press conference will show that nothing like that was said.

The phrase was Southwest Pacific. And that is true today, as it was when I stated it two or three weeks ago.

I think that's all that need be said—Southwest Pacific.

Q. In other words, he has full authority there, sir?

THE PRESIDENT: In Southwest Pacific.

Q. Including naval?

THE PRESIDENT: Including naval.

Q. Does that include New Zealand?

THE PRESIDENT: Well now, there is a difficult thing, because there are operational problems down there which might be affected by an actual public statement as to just where the area command began and where it ended. I could cite two or three examples of that, which you would readily understand if I were to cite them. But for operational reasons we can't talk in terms of whether this particular—I am not saying New Zealand, I am thinking of the other islands—little bits of islands—as to whether they fall into one zone or fall into the other zone. They may or they may not. And it is better to have the enemy do the guessing than for us to tell them.

Q. Does that difficulty apply also to the Fiji Islands and New Caledonia?

THE PRESIDENT: All of the islands down through there. I should think probably the rule of common sense would govern when I say Southwest Pacific. . . .

Q. Mr. President, getting back to the inflation program, does that contemplate any further savings in non-defense expenditures?

THE PRESIDENT: Oh, I don't know. I had an awfully funny time on that. There was a very, very famous economist who wrote to me about it—a very serious person, a very old friend of mine, I like him a lot, and he put his question to me just as you put yours. In other words, a generality.

And I wrote him back, "Have you got a copy of the Budget? If not, I will send you one. Tell me where." Well, that was six weeks ago, and he has written me three letters since, and he hasn't answered the question. So my question of course is to you just what it would be to him: Where? In what particular? What is a non-defense expenditure?

Q. Does that mean, Mr. President, there will not be any? (Laughter)

THE PRESIDENT: That is like one of his three replies to me. It begs the question which I asked.

Q. Well, Mr. President, you are very familiar, I presume, with the list of items that Senator [Harry] Byrd and his Committee have put up.

THE PRESIDENT: (interjecting) Yes.

Q. (continuing) You have no comment on that?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. Well, let me give you a very, very simple example. I think on that list was the abolishing of the whole of N.Y.A. Now at the present time N.Y.A. is training about 400,000 boys and girls each year to go into industry. All right. Now, if we abolish N.Y.A. we have to set up something else to train 400,000 people.

Query: Where is the economy?

Now that is a very good example. And of course that is a necessary part of the war work. I don't care where they are trained. Heavens, you can put them under—oh, heavens, I don't care—if you want to you can put them under the Secretary of State. I don't care where it is, as long as I get 400,000 trained boys and girls. . . .

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Excerpts from the Press Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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