Franklin D. Roosevelt

Excerpts from the Press Conference

October 27, 1942

THE PRESIDENT: I think about the only thing I have is a letter that was sent on September 26 to Admiral Land, Mr. Nelson, the Army and the Navy, the Defense Plant Corporation, and the Federal Housing Agency, in regard to trying to keep down the cost of war production in relationship to the use of power.

I say (reading):

"In arranging for the electric power supply for war plants or establishments, the cheapest sources of power consistent with war requirements should be used."

In other words, it will save the Government a lot of money.

(Continuing reading): "Public and private power-supplying agencies should be advised as far in advance as possible of the prospective location and requirements of plants or establishments on or near their systems, in order that they may assist in solving the power supply problem involved, at the lowest possible cost. In many instances it should be possible to lessen power costs, if provision is made for power to be supplied to the consuming agencies directly from the power-generating agency. If the lines of the lowest cost power-supplying agency do not connect immediately with the war plants, there is no reason why connecting lines of other companies or agencies should not be utilized, for a reasonable transmission charge. I am asking the Federal Power Commission to co-operate by using its emergency powers, when necessary, to make available transmission and other appropriate services for the effectuation of the policy."

Q. Mr. President, did you listen to your radio from ten-thirty to eleven last night?

THE PRESIDENT: I did. Several people dining—we listened to it. [Wendell Willkie's address to the Nation on his 32,000-mile trip.]

Q. Anything you could say about the speech, sir?

THE PRESIDENT: I don't know. I suppose the easiest thing to say is to paraphrase an old cigarette advertisement: there isn't a controversy in a carload of speeches.

Q. Mr. President, did you feel that Mr. Willkie supported all of your objectives?

THE PRESIDENT: I just said I didn't think that there was a controversy in a carload.

Q. Does that mean that you agree with him on—

THE PRESIDENT: (interposing) I told you there wasn't a controversy in a carload.

Q. (continuing)-most of those points?

THE PRESIDENT: (continuing) I will sing it, if you want. (Laughter)

Q. Mr. President, Mr. Willkie suggested in his speech that—

THE PRESIDENT: (interposing) Is this just another form of the same question?

Q. I think not, sir.


Q. (continuing) But in the countries which he visited, some of them had given a local and a limited significance to the Charter signed by you and Mr. Churchill because of its name, the Atlantic Charter. I wonder if you could explain—

THE PRESIDENT: (interposing) I think that's in a perfectly proper form to answer, because it's a matter of record. If you look back in the record, you will find that I, twice last spring, and Mr. Hull on one or two occasions, have already made it perfectly clear that we believed that the Atlantic Charter applied to all humanity. I think that's a matter of record.

Q. Mr. President, is it understood generally, do you think, that the term "Atlantic Charter" refers to the fact that it was drafted while you were on the Atlantic Ocean?

THE PRESIDENT: I think so. Just the locus of the moment.

Q. Mr. President, could we put quotation marks around "the Atlantic Charter applies to all humanity"?

THE PRESIDENT: If you will add to it, "as the Secretary of State and I have said several times before." Then you can put quotes around it.

MR. EARLY: Quote the whole?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. In other words, I don't want it to appear that that is a piece of news from me today, because it isn't. It's old stuff. . . .

Q. I don't know whether the Censor will let this by, but are you going up to Hyde Park to vote, and are you speaking before the election?

THE PRESIDENT: I don't think I will speak before the election, and I don't know whether the Censorship will let it by, as to whether I am going to vote by letter or go there.

Q. If it's by mail they will, Mr. President. (Laughter)

Q. Mr. President, have you any comment on the progress of Anglo-American cooperation in the Caribbean?

THE PRESIDENT: We have been discussing, as you know, for over a year— I started it— the economic and social future for the people of the West Indies islands, which are owned by a good many different Nations. A good many of them are British; we have a number; the French have some; the Dutch have some; Venezuela has some; Colombia has some. And there may be some other scattered islands that I haven't thought of.

And I felt for a great many years, knowing the territory pretty well, that something ought to be done for their economic and social future. They have been a liability to the Nations to whose sovereignty they belong. And my thoughts have been running along certain lines which ought to be carried out for all of the islands.

I am not talking about Puerto Rico now, because that is a separate problem, like Haiti, Santo Domingo, and Cuba, all of which have very large populations. But outside of those three main islands—Haiti and Santo Domingo being on the same island—outside of that, most of the islands are small, and exceedingly poor.

I think there are certain things which are worth going ahead with the present and past studies, such as, for example, the extension of the franchise, and the putting in of compulsory education, as a starter. And then try to make the islands as a whole self-sustaining. That means a certain investment, but there probably would be a profit in the long run. I don't mean necessarily a financial profit on the investment. I think you will get your investment back, which is all that a Government could hope to do.

Just, for example, in simple illustrations, some islands can grow cattle. Others can't. And yet you can't get cattle—meat —sheep, chickens, and so forth, from one island to another because there is no refrigeration. In most of these islands it is almost impossible, as some of us know, to get any decent meat, because you can't keep it, because there is no refrigeration. And about the only meat you eat has been killed within a few hours from the time it goes on the dinner table. Other islands are eating things which are not grown on the island. Some islands, for example, buy most of their foodstuffs from long distances, which means that their own money goes to other places, which is not good economy. There are some islands where the production of cattle, for example, is under way, with distinct possibilities for the future. They buy their shoes in the United States, or in England, or a little while ago in Czechoslovakia, when they could probably make most of their own shoes themselves out of their own hides. A great many items of that kind which have been studied.

And we are working toward an economy and a social system that will be a very marked improvement, and cause those islands to take care of themselves, instead of being looked after from the outside, and help in the general world picture of a better economy.

Now these commissions that have been at work—some of them have been finished—the studies are continuing. And I hope that some method will be worked out so that all of the islands, excluding the three big ones, can be brought into an economic and social team for the benefit of all of them.

Now that is about as far as we have got at the present time, but it's one of the very interesting studies which I think we initiated over here, and about two years ago. And it's working toward a definite result. . . .

Q. Mr. President, can you tell us when you expect to have another meeting such as you had last Friday with Mr. [Frank] Knox [Secretary of the Navy] and Chiefs of Staff?

THE PRESIDENT: I have those all the time. Half the time—

Q. (interposing) Is that a formal thing?

THE PRESIDENT: (continuing) Look, what happens is this. They come in either your way, or if it is more convenient through this room, or they might come to the White House. I have them morning, noon, and night with different—with different memberships, each one depending a good deal on the individual question to be taken up. And of course a good deal of that is done by my Chief of Staff down in the Joint Staff, or the Combined Staff, and that is just a continuing process. It isn't any news when you happen to see them come in. They are doing it always.

Q. Mr. President, there is a lot of talk about a directive centralizing control over oil. Is there anything you could tell us about that?

THE PRESIDENT: The petroleum administration thing?

Q. Yes, sir.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, that is—that is under study. I haven't got— I really haven't got any news on it, except it's under study.

Q. Can you tell us anything about a directive to make greater use of indirect control over manpower? Is that under study too, sir?


VOICES: Thank you, Mr. President.

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

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