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Rear Platform and Other Informal Remarks in Colorado

September 20, 1948

[1.] DENVER, COLORADO (Inter-American Conference on Conservation of Renewable Resources, State Capitol, 11:17 a.m.)

Mr. Secretary, Mr. Chairman, and members of this historic conference:

It certainly is a very great pleasure to me to have this opportunity to address the first hemispheric conference on conservation. That is a step which will make history. That is a step that I hope will thoroughly cement the friendship between the 21 Western Hemisphere Republics.

As you know, I have been exceedingly interested in the friendship and the good neighbor policy of the United States of America. It was my privilege to officially visit Mexico and Brazil and Canada, and officially to receive the President of Chile, the President of Colombia, and several other Western Hemisphere Presidents, including the President of Mexico. He paid an official return visit to Washington to me for the one I gave him.

If we can just continue that sort of feeling, there isn't any question of doubt in my mind that our natural resources will meet the population's demands, no matter what that may be. There are resources in this Western Hemisphere that have never been touched. If those resources can be properly conserved, if we can go through with a program such as you are working with here, there isn't any question in my mind but what eventually we will have peace in the world and there will be enough of the good things in life for every citizen of the world to enjoy a good living, plenty to eat, and plenty to wear, and a pleasant place to stay and call it his own.

That, my friends, is what we are working for in other nations, that is what we are working for in the Pan American conference, and that is what we are working for right here in this hemispheric conservation conference.

I want to thank you most sincerely for your kindness in asking me to come and meet with you this morning. I wish I could stay longer, and I wish I could hear some of the speeches and the lectures that will be given here. I am vitally interested, but I am here for another purpose, and if you are interested in American politics, I will tell you all about it right here on the lawn.

Thank you.

[2.] DENVER, COLORADO (Address, 12 noon, see Item 199)

[3.] DENVER, COLORADO (Luncheon given by the Colorado Truman-Barkley Club, Shirley-Savoy Hotel, 1:55 p.m.)

Mr. Chairman, Mr. Mayor, Senator Johnson:

I can't tell you how very much my family and I are in your debt for the wonderful welcome you have given us here today. We had not anticipated the turnout that you gave us. I can't tell you how very much I appreciate it. It goes to show that the people can't very well be fooled. They want to know facts, and when the people know the facts, the Government of the United States is in safe hands.

You know, in 1946 the people were tired. They had been through a long war. They had to be regimented, their sons and daughters had been in the fighting forces and they felt that they would like to have some relief.

A great many of them, in fact, two-thirds of them, did not exercise that great privilege for which our forefathers fought from 1776 to 1781, and for which they fought an internecine war from 1862 to 1865 to keep the free ballot. They did not exercise that privilege, and look what they got--just look what they got!

They got a change all right. Remember the signs all over the country "Had Enough?" Well, they apparently thought they had had enough and now they have had too much.

It is your civic duty, no matter how you feel, to go to the polls on election day, after you have been properly registered on the registration date, and vote your sentiments, because you are the Government of the United States, the only Republic in the history of the world where the people are the Government. You elect local officials, nonpartisan mayors and councils, nonpartisan judges; and partisan congressmen and senators, and partisan Presidents and Vice Presidents. In that way, you are the Government.

Now, I want you to tell all your friends and everybody you know, whether a Republican, a Mugwump, or a Democrat, to come out and do his duty civically on the 2d day of November.

Now this is a wonderful club, and they are springing up all over the United States. You know, back in April of this year, they had your President out in the Atlantic Ocean, so far as politics were concerned. And in May we heard people deciding that it would be best for the country if certain other persons, many of whom you have in mind, could be named to head the Democratic ticket. And then, along in July, after the Republicans had had a convention and had written a platform--which, in my opinion, is the most hypocritical document that has been put into writing--people began to understand that for 3 long years the President of the United States had succeeded to an almost impossible situation.

There were 12,800,000 men and women under arms on September 2, 1945. Two wars had suddenly come to an end, one of them 6 months ahead of the estimated time, and the other one a year and six months ahead of the estimated time; and people began to talk it down, they did not understand that the period succeeding a world conflagration like that would, in all probability, be much more difficult to handle than the carrying on of a war when everybody was behind the Government putting everything he had into it to make it work.

And so dissension. We had dissension in the Democratic Party and had dissension in the Republican Party. Look at the votes, and on the Congress of the United States in 1945 after war ceased, and in 1946; and then look at what they did in the elections of 1946. It is hard to understand how we could continue to make the Government run.

But it did run. We had no riots--we had no bloodshed--we had no Ku Klux Klan. But we did make an effort to keep the country running, and we have succeeded in putting 61,000,000 people to work. We have succeeded in creating the greatest national income in the history of the world, and that income has not been just in the hands of a few people. It has been distributed to the farmers, to the man who works with his hands, and to the white-collar man; and since the Republican Both Congress came in, the special interests have been getting a lot of it, too.

Now I want you to weigh all these things in this Truman-Barkley Club, and I want you to go out and tell the citizens exactly what the situation is, and I don't believe there is a man in the country, if he thinks, that would want to turn the clock back. That is what you are being asked to do.

Weigh all these things, read all the speeches of the opposition, read all the statements of your President--not one of these statements but what are based on absolute fact. I know! And then, on November 2d, I am not going to ask you to vote just for me. Vote for yourselves. Vote for yourselves, and tell everybody else to vote for themselves, and you won't have to worry who will live in the White House for the next 4 years.

[4.] COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO (Rear platform, 4:26 p.m.)

I am very happy to be in Colorado Springs again. I have been here on numerous occasions. It's a lovely place, beautifully situated, and you don't dare talk about the climate of Colorado Springs in California-or Florida either, for that matter.

One of the reasons you are prosperous and happy is because you've learned how to use your resources to the very best advantage, especially your water resources.

You know, the Reclamation Act has been on the books for more than 30 years, but nothing much was done about it or the development of this part of the world until 1932, when you elected Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Most of you in 1932 had given up hope and were thinking of going somewhere else, along with the Okies and the other people who were moving around the country; but much to your satisfaction you didn't do that.

At that time the income of the great State of Colorado was about $350 million. Do you know what it was last year? It was a billion, five hundred million dollars. And that wasn't due to any accident. That was due to the development of the resources of this great State.

It's a wonderful thing that has happened to this part of the world in the last decade, and I am wondering whether you are going to let the present propaganda machine fool you into turning the clock back to 1932 again. I am very sure you won't do that. If you'll just study the facts and the figures, you can't do anything else but keep an administration in power that has been trying to do things for this part of the world.

I made a speech in Denver at noon, in which I made the statement that due to the example of that terrible 80th Republican Congress elected in 1946, I could say definitely that the Republicans ¶re trying to sabotage the West.

In 1946, you know, two-thirds of you stayed at home and didn't vote. You wanted a change. Well, you got it. You got the change. You got just exactly what you deserved.

If you stay at home on November the 2d and let this same gang get control of the Government, I won't have any sympathy with you. But if you go out to the polls on that day and do your duty as you should I won't have to worry about moving out of the White House; and you won't have to worry about what happens to the welfare of the West. Those two things go together.

I have been most happy today to travel around over Colorado with your Democratic candidate for Congress and your Democratic candidate for the Senate, Ed Johnson, and with your wonderful and able Democratic Governor who introduced me up in Denver today. It's been a pleasure to be with those gentlemen, and I want to see Colorado come out of the kinks entirely and send us a Democratic delegation in toto to the Congress.

[5.] PUEBLO, COLORADO (Rear platform, 6:07 p.m.)

Mr. Chairman, Governor Knous, Senator Johnson:
I am most happy to be in this great city of pueblo. I have been here many a time. One of the times I was here was a very, very sad one. I was here at the funeral of Alva Adams, one of the great Senators from Colorado. He was my personal friend. I was very fond of him, and he made history while he was in the Senate.

I hope that Pueblo will always stay in the Democratic column.

I understand that you've almost doubled your population in the last 10 years; and that wasn't by accident. It was because the Democrats in power in Washington were able to help you improve your conditions here.

You know, Pueblo is the site of one of the greatest controversies that ever took place in the history of the country; and as a result of that controversy and the Pullman strike in Chicago, and the Homestead Steel strike in Pittsburgh, labor began to come into its own. And, when Franklin Roosevelt was elected President of the United States, we got a bill of rights for labor. That bill of rights became effective, known as the Wagner Act, 13 years ago.

Well, in 1946 labor stayed at home and didn't vote, and a lot of other people stayed at home and didn't vote because only onethird of the people entitled to vote in 1946 did vote; and we got the Both Congress.

The first thing that Both Congress did-and I vetoed it 3 times; it took 3 times to get it; I vetoed it 3 times--they passed a rich man's tax bill. They began to line their own pockets.

And the next thing they did was to take some of the freedom away from labor, that famous Taft-Hartley Act.

Well, now, you're faced with this situation; as I told you a while ago, you thought you wanted a change in 1946. You got it. You got that rich man's tax bill and you got the Taft-Hartley Act. I wonder if you want to go any further with that sort of change? All right; if you don't, on November the 2d you better get out and vote. You better get out and vote, and you better elect a Democratic Senator and a Democratic Congressman from this district. And, well, if you do that, you can't help but elect the President because he's on the ticket ahead of them.

There are a lot of other things besides those two things which I shall just call to your attention. One of them is reclamation and irrigation.

The Reclamation Act was passed about 30 years ago. Not much was done about it until you elected a Democratic administration in 1932, and then things began to happen. Since that time, more than 5,000,000 acres have been put to work, that otherwise would be desert, by the Democratic policies, and more than 90,000 farms have been put under cultivation as a result of that policy.

Now, you've got a great project here in this neighborhood, known as the Gunnison-Arkansas project. If that project is carried out--and it won't be carried out if the Republicans have their way, and if you let them have their way that will be your fault--if that project is carried out, that one project will create more power by 10 or 15 times-22, I think--22 times as much power as is used right here in Pueblo. That will mean more industries for this part of the world. It will mean more desert land under cultivation. It will mean prosperity for this part of the West.

And that's what the Democratic administrations have stood for: the welfare of the common people. And the big interests don't like that. They are interested in their own special privileges. And if you stand around on election day and let them get away with it, you'll get just exactly what you deserve, as you did in 1946.

You'll get a Republican administration that's interested in the real estate lobby, that's interested in the power lobby, that's interested in the grain speculators' lobby, and a dozen others that some day I'm going to name to you and tell you just how much money they spent in Washington on this "do-nothing" 80th Congress. It's most interesting.

The public interest was not looked after one little bit after that Congress went into effect. I can stand here and talk to you for an hour and tell you what they didn't do that they ought to have done, and tell you what they did do that they should not have done. But you all know it. I don't have to tell you.

Now, use your judgment. Keep the people in control of the Government who work for your interests, the interests of the common people and who are not working for the special interests.

Why, the campaign funds subscribed by the big interests for the Republican campaign-well, I'd say a very small part of it would make the Democrats the happiest people in the world. You know, we never do have any money. I've been told that when a man gets as much as a thousand dollars in his pocket, he votes the Republican ticket. Some of these thousand dollar fellows and some of these farmers are finding out that their best interest is with the Democratic Party whether they have a thousand dollars or a hundred thousand dollars. And they better keep that in mind.

I do appreciate most highly your courtesy to me and the courtesy of your Governor and the public officials who have been so kind to me all day today.

I've had a grand time in Denver and we had a crowd about half this big in Colorado Springs, and if Colorado Springs was as big as Pueblo, I guess the crowd would have been bigger.

And I can't tell you, as I say, how much I appreciate all these courtesies. It makes me feel good that I've taken the effort to come out here and tell you just exactly what the facts are.

I hope you'll study the speech I made in Des Moines, Iowa, yesterday--or Saturday-and the one I made in Denver this morning. You'll find that the interests of the common people are at stake, that I'm trying to look after the fellow who has to work for a living, either on the farm or as a laboringman, or as a white-collar worker. I don't think you'll find anybody in the Republican Party that's very much interested in the welfare of these people.

[6.] CANON CITY, COLORADO (Rear platform, 7:32 p.m.)

Well! I guess this is all the rest of Colorado. I can't tell you how very much I have appreciated the cordiality of the welcome I have received in Colorado today. In Denver I never saw such crowds. And Colorado Springs and Pueblo. I think this crowd here in Canon City is bigger than either one of the crowds in Colorado Springs or Pueblo. I believe that Colorado is interested in Democrats. Particularly in your Democratic President.

As we came down from Denver to Pueblo today, we passed by Pike's Peak, and I understand tonight we are going to pass by Mount Elbert, which next to Mount Whitney is the highest mountain in the country. And I was thinking about those high mountains and these high prices under which we live. Prices are higher than Mount Elbert or Pike's Peak or Mount Whitney, either one; and that was brought about because we have special interests who want to profit by those prices, and they have prevented a control of those prices to make things fair for the fellow that has to work for a living. I don't know whether they want to do it. I think 7 or 8 or 9 times I asked for legislation that would improve that price situation, but I didn't get anywhere with it at all.

This 80th Republican "do-nothing" Congress was not interested in your welfare and mine. They were interested in certain special interests in the country who want to control the country as they did in times past. In fact, they would like to put the West back where it was in 1860 as a sort of colony of the East.

You remember when we were trying to build the Pacific Railroad across the United States, Daniel Webster made a speech in the Senate of the United States. Daniel Webster was one of the original Republicans, and he made a speech in the Senate of the U.S., and he said he did not want to open up the West, he never did think this part of the country was any good, he didn't think it ever would be any good.

And you remember when he sat down with Lord Ashburton to write a treaty about 54-40, he and Lord Ashburton took a ruler and drew a line across the map and said this will do, the country is no good anyway.

I think the Republicans have always thought that. At least this Republican 80th Congress seems to think it, because they are trying to keep you from trying to get your projects built out here.

I have asked for funds for reclamation projects, for power projects, and for those projects in this part of the country that mean so much to you people; and they have turned me down every time.

I don't think they want you to prosper. They are afraid of you.

I want you to help me keep the Government in the hands of the people. The 'people west of the Mississippi River can do that if they want to do it, because there are enough people east of the Mississippi River who are in sympathy with what you believe in--conservation, public power, and the implementation of our national resources for the benefit of all the country, not just for a few people who speculate on the stock exchange in Wall Street.

In Des Moines on Saturday I told the farmers what was good for them. In Detroit on Labor Day I told the men who work what was good for them. Today in Denver, Colo., I told you people out here what would be best for your interests and for the interests of the country as a whole.

The Democratic Party doesn't stand for any special interests. The Democratic Party wants every man, woman, and child to have his fair share of the national income.

I am not so sure that is what the Republicans want. At least they did not show it when they had control of the country. They gave us a phony boom and a bust. They ruined the farmer, the worker, and the ordinary citizen.

And who pulled you out of that boom and bust?

In 1932 you elected Franklin Roosevelt. In 1934 you sent me to the Senate. In 1944 you elected me to be Vice President of the United States, and I succeeded the greatest President this country has ever had--Mr. Roosevelt.

I have been trying my best to carry on for the welfare of the country. Of course, I had a different situation than we had in wartime. You know, people will get together and cooperate when the country's existence is in danger. But, you know, it has been most difficult to operate things since hostilities ceased, because special interests and various other people were not very anxious to see a Democratic administration come out very successfully.

Now I have had to come out here and tell you what the facts are and to urge you to use your judgment, for your own interests. And your own interest is a Democratic administration in Washington, in the Congress, and in the White House for the next 4 years.

We had a shining example of what the Republicans intend to do to you by this 80th Congress. They have done immense damage to the farmer, to labor, and to the white-collar worker in the 2 years they have been in control of that Congress. I don't know what they would have done if they had a President in sympathy with them.

Now, you had better look out for your own interests on November the 2d, and vote for the welfare of the United States as a whole by sending the Democrats back there, on November the 2d.

Your Governor and all your public officials have been kind to us today, and I can't tell you how very much I appreciate it. If you elect the whole Democratic ticket in Colorado--if you do that, I won't have any trouble staying in the White House.

[7.] SALIDA, COLORADO ( Rear platform, 9:47 p.m.)

Well, you know it certainly is a pleasure. Mrs. Thompson and the Doctor have been worrying ever since we left Colorado Springs as to whether there would be more than 50 people out here tonight. It looks to me like you've got 10 times 50 and maybe more, and I appreciate it.

We've had a grand day in Colorado today, my family and myself. Denver--well, Denver turned out with I think everybody in town and about a hundred thousand on the outside. And then at Colorado Springs I think everybody in the city was there. In Pueblo we had about twice as many, but Pueblo is twice as big as Colorado Springs. And then when we got to Canon City they said that was the center of all the Republicans in Colorado and there wouldn't be anybody out unless they opened up the penitentiary and let all the prisoners out. But they were very much mistaken. There were at least 5,000 or 6,000 people out there in Canon City, and I didn't see anybody with stripes at all.

And then look here at Salida. This is a wonderful city. You know, my family used to take their vacations up here at Buena Vista and they would come down to Salida for various reasons; my boss, Mrs. Truman, used to come down here to see the doctor, Dr. Thompson, years ago.

This is a wonderful country, in my opinion, and I think in the opinion of a lot of people; and I want to see it continue its growth. I want to see it improve and become greater and greater as the years go by. I'm not so sure that my Republican opponents want that to happen.

They have a very peculiar idea that special interest and special privilege is the reason for government. I have exactly the opposite idea.

I think the Government belongs to you and me as private citizens. That's one thing in this country that makes it great. Every single man and woman in this country can have his say and have an interest in the Government of the U.S. and his State and his county and his city, if he wants to, but he has to exercise that privilege on election day. And if he doesn't do that then he throws away his privilege.

That's what two-thirds of the population did in 1946. They were disgruntled. They said they wanted a change. They got the change, in the form of the 80th Republican "do-nothing" Congress.

That Congress did not do very much for the common people. It took some of the privileges away from labor; it passed a rich man's tax bill; it refused to do what was necessary for the farmers; it refused to do anything about prices. In fact, the things that it did not do will fill a whole page, and the things that that Congress did add up to what they did to the people and not for them.

Now, you've got another chance to redeem yourselves. On November 2d you are going to elect a Senator from Colorado and you're going to elect all the Congressmen from Colorado, and if you do what you ought to do you'll elect Ed Johnson to the Senate, you'll elect a Democrat from this district for Congress and every other district in Colorado, if you're looking after your own interests.

I not only want you to vote for me but I want you to vote for yourselves, and if you vote for yourselves, you'll vote the Democratic ticket; and if you don't vote the Democratic ticket you'll have a continuation of just what you have had in the last 2 years, and if you do that--if you want that sort of government--I'm not going to worry about your welfare. You can take what you get, just like you had to take this 80th "donothing" Republican Congress.

Now, real patriotism, if you have it, will show in your turnout on November 2d. I hope there won't be a single person who is entitled to vote in the State of Colorado, who does not go out and vote.

The income of the State of Colorado has trebled since 1932. It was about 350 million at that time, and do you know what it was in 1947? It was a billion, five hundred million dollars.

There are 61 million people at work in the United States today, and I've heard people say that that could not happen in this country. It was not a fact in 1932. There were about 12 or 15 million people who didn't have jobs in 1932, and jobs are going begging now.

The income is the greatest in the history of the world in this country, and it's being distributed so that the farmer, the laboringman, the white-collar worker, and everybody who is entitled to it is getting his share of that tremendous income.

I don't think you want to vote against your own interest. So, if you'll do what I'm asking you to do on election day I won't have to be hunting around in this housing shortage for a house after January the 20th.

Note: In the course of his remarks on September 20 the President referred to Secretary of Agriculture Charles F. Brannan; and to Mayor Quigg Newton of Denver, Senator Edwin C. Johnson, Governor William Lee Knous, Democratic National Committeewoman Marguerite Peyton Thompson, and her husband, Dr. L. E. Thompson, all of Colorado.

Harry S Truman, Rear Platform and Other Informal Remarks in Colorado Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/232867

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