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Letter to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker of the House Concerning the St. Lawrence Seaway.

January 26, 1948

My dear :

I should like to express again the hope that the Congress will soon enact legislation approving the agreement of March 19, 1941, between the United States and Canada for the development of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway and Power Project.

This great engineering enterprise will develop one of the richest natural resources of the continent for the benefit of the whole United States. It will make deep draft ocean transportation available to the most highly industrialized area of North America. It will develop the largest potential hydroelectric power site of the Nation. It will strengthen and expand our industry, our agriculture, our domestic commerce, and our foreign trade. That is why every President during the past 25 years has given it his strong support. That is why it has been a measure strongly supported by both parties.

This momentous project will confer correspondingly great benefits on our friend and neighbor Canada. That is why every Canadian administration during the past 25 years has also strongly supported it.

Plans for this great international undertaking are now based upon the principle of making the new deep draft navigation features self-liquidating by a levy of reasonable tolls on shipping. The Government will also be reimbursed for the new power facilities. The application of the principle of self-liquidation to the navigational features as well as to the power phases of the Seaway should remove objections concerning the economic soundness of the enterprise.

The St. Lawrence project is an important measure of national defense in both its navigation and power phases. Our security rests in large measure on the development of our natural resources and our industrial potential. The transportation system and the power facilities which the St. Lawrence offers--if only we are willing to develop them--will generally strengthen our national economy and provide in particular cheap water power and water transportation facilities needed in peace as well as in a time of emergency. Our security depends also upon a vigorous and prosperous Canada, our ally in both World Wars. The St. Lawrence project will strengthen the economy and the defenses of Canada as it will our own.

I am convinced that the great majority of Americans realize that the St. Lawrence Seaway must be developed if we as a Nation are to continue to receive the fullest benefits from our natural resources. I am personally convinced of the need for this project, both from the standpoint of our common economic welfare and of our national security. I therefore strongly recommend that the Congress enact legislation authorizing this great undertaking.

Very sincerely yours,


Note: This is the text of identical letters addressed to the Honorable Arthur H. Vandenberg, President pro tempore of the Senate, and to the Honorable Joseph W. Martin, Jr., Speaker of the House of Representatives.

On the same day the White House released the text of identical letters sent by the President the Senator Albert W. Barkley of Kentucky, Senator Wallace H. White, Jr., of Maine, Representative Sam Rayburn of Texas, and Representative Charles A. Halleek of Indiana. The letters transmitted copies of the letter printed above and closed with the following statement: "I consider this legislation of outstanding importance to this country and I hope that it will receive the support of both parties."

Harry S Truman, Letter to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker of the House Concerning the St. Lawrence Seaway. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/232387

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