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Letter to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker of the House of Representatives Urging Action on Mine Safety Legislation.

January 22, 1952

My dear___________:

I am writing to urge that the Congress take prompt and effective action to help prevent the shocking fatalities in the coal mines of this country.

On December 21, 1951, one hundred and nineteen miners were killed in a single mine disaster at West frankfort, Illinois. Four years ago, one hundred and eleven men lost their lives in a similar disaster at Centralia, Illinois. In the years between, thousands have been killed or injured, in less spectacular mine tragedies throughout the country.

Yet little or none of this was necessary. Most of it could surely have been avoided if the Department of the Interior had had authority to enforce compliance with Federal standards of mine safety. I urge the Congress to lose no more time in enacting legislation which will give the Department the powers it needs to save the lives of men who work in coal mines.

I have received from the Secretary of the Interior a special report on the West frankfort disaster. This report explains very clearly and concisely why we must have Federal legislation to deal with the safety situation in the coal mines. I hope all Members of Congress will read this report. I am sure it will make the urgent need for action plain to everyone.

Bills are now pending before the Congress to grant enforcement powers to the Interior Department. The Secretary of the Interior indicates in his report that he believes the provisions of these bills should be strengthened in some respects, to make sure the enforcement job can be done right.

I cannot urge too strongly that the Congress take action on these bills at once. Almost every day, miners are being killed needlessly, somewhere in this country. We have got to put a stop to it. The miners and their families are entitled to protection by their Government. It is our plain duty to keep the coal mines just as safe as human skill and effort can make them.

Sincerely yours,


Note: This is the text of identical letters addressed to the Honorable Alben W. Barkley, President of the Senate, and to the Honorable Sam Rayburn, Speaker of the Home of Representatives.

The report by the Secretary of the Interior, dated January 22, 1952, is published in the Congressional Record (vol. 98, p. 362).

for the statement by the President upon signing the amendment to the Federal Coal Mine Safety Act on July 16, 1952, see Item 206.

Harry S Truman, Letter to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker of the House of Representatives Urging Action on Mine Safety Legislation. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/231109

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