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Rear Platform and Other Informal Remarks in Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey

October 06, 1948

[1.] WILMINGTON, DELAWARE (Rear platform, 10:45 a.m.)

Mr. Chairman:

I am certainly highly pleased at this wonderful reception. This reception reminds me of those I have been receiving all over the United States. It shows that the people are interested in the issues in this campaign, and they are coming out to learn about them.

This is my first stop in Delaware for a speech. This is a crusade I am carrying to the people. I have many wonderful friends in this great State--former Senator Hughes served with me in the Senate, and of course, your great man, Jim Tunnell, who is fighting for the same cause I am. It was a great blow to the people of Delaware when you stayed at home in 1946 and let Jim Tunnell get beaten. I don't want you to do that any more. You have got a chance to undo that this year.

This year, the country has awakened, I think. I have seen it on my trips through the West, and I know that on election day you are going to send Alien Frear to the Senate and Carl McGuigan to the House. Last year, I am told, he was named the man of the year in Delaware. This year, all Delaware is going to name him the man of 1948. Carl McGuigan is proud that Wilmington is his hometown, and we of the Democratic Party are proud of his great labor background. This will be mighty helpful to us when we come to write some of the decent Democratic labor legislation in Washington.

Mr. McGuigan and Mr. Allen Frear tell me that some of the people who work here in Wilmington are forced to find a place to live way over in Pennsylvania. I say that is wrong. I say they ought to do something about it, and I say they can do something about it. You all know about FHA and low-rent public housing, and slum clearance and other great housing programs enacted by President Roosevelt's administration. During the war we were too busy building guns and tanks to build houses. When the war ended, it became clear that we were going to have a housing shortage, so I submitted to Congress a comprehensive housing program to take care of that shortage. We called it the Wagner-Ellender-Taft bill. It would have enabled every American family, whatever that family's income, to have a decent place to live. The Republicans and the powerful real estate lobby fought that bill tooth-and-toenail.

I proposed this great housing program to the 80th "do-nothing" Congress. I told that Republican 80th Congress that we needed 20 million more homes by 1960. I explained to them that if we continue at the present rate of construction, we would hardly have more than half that many by 1960.

The House of Representatives refused to act, so I called the special session of Congress in, just to deal with this housing, and high prices.

Republicans and Democrats had to stand up before the people and be counted. Seventy percent of the Democrats in the Senate stood up and said they were in favor of providing low-cost housing for the people of America. Seventy percent of the Republicans who controlled the leaders in the Congress stood up and said they don't want to provide the people of America with lowcost housing.

The record stands. The Congressional Record will show you just exactly how the two parties divided on that proposition.

You remember back in Hoover's campaign, the slogan was: "Two cars in every garage." Apparently, the Republican candidate is running on a slogan of two families in every garage.

You can break up the housing shortage, if you want to. You can get lower prices, more social security, health insurance for your family, fair labor laws, and all the others you want and you need. You won't have any trouble getting them, but you can only get them by coming out and voting on the 2d of November. You can only do that by going to the polls early, and making no mistake. Just vote the Democratic ticket straight and elect every one of your State officers, and the President of the United States. If you do that, I won't have any trouble with the housing shortage myself, I will still have a place to live.

I am sorry to have to inform you this morning that my daughter couldn't come with me on this trip. She had to make an engagement in the city of St. Louis before this trip was organized, and she had to go to St. Louis; but how would you like to meet Mrs. Truman ?

[2.] PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA (At the Richard Allen Housing Project, 3:45 p.m.)

I am very highly appreciative of the fact that you have shown me some of the housing conditions here in Philadelphia.

For your information, I had seen them before. I have been all over these projects on a number of occasions, and I want to say to you that it is not the fault of your President or the Democratic minority that you haven't the funds to operate here.

The housing bill died in the House of Representatives. It passed the Senate twice. I sincerely hope that eventually we will get that housing bill through, so we can promote projects like this. They are not a burden on the taxpayer. They eventually pay themselves out.

I cannot, for the life of me, understand why the real estate lobby insists on preventing our doing just such projects as this.

Thank you very much.

[3.] CAMDEN, NEW JERSEY (City Hall, 4:25 p.m.)

Mr. Mayor, ladies and gentlemen, and fellow Democrats of Camden and South Jersey:

It is a very great pleasure for me to be here today, and to be welcomed so cordially by the citizens and the officials of the great city of Camden. I have been here in times past. When I was Chairman of the Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program, I made several tours of your shipyards here and in Philadelphia, and I know something about the contribution that you made to win the war, not only in construction, but in the young men who went to war.

I just talked to a gentleman now who told me that he had six boys in the service, and three of them are disabled. You cannot make a greater sacrifice than that, my friends, for this great country--and you cannot make too great a sacrifice for this great country, I will say that to you, too.

You are faced now with one of the most important campaigns in the history of this great United States. This is a campaign, the issue of which is the people against the special interests. That is the issue in this campaign, and if you want to meet that issue, you will not fail to study just exactly what the Republican Party stands for and what the Republican candidate is preaching.

The Republican candidate was nominated over here across the river in Philadelphia, and they wrote a platform over there, and that platform is the most hypocritical document that I ever read in my life. When I read that platform, I decided I would go out and tell the people just how many lies it contained; and when I read that platform I decided I would call them back into special session and see whether they meant it or not.

They didn't mean a word of that platform, as they showed in the special session.

I asked them for price control. I asked them for housing. I asked them for several things in which you are vitally interested. And then, you will remember, that Republican Congress who claimed to have been the friend of the people, wrote that terrible Taft-Hartley Act which took the liberties away from labor.

But, they were very careful to write a rich man's tax bill, which took care of their friends, all right.

Camden is vitally interested in housing. When I first became an occupant of the White House, I asked the Congress for a housing bill which would help meet the situation with which you are faced right here, and with which they are faced over across the river in Philadelphia. But did they do anything about it? They did not. That last session of the 80th "do-nothing" Republican Congress passed a fake housing bill, and are now trying to make you believe that they passed a housing bill. That bill is not worth the paper it's written on, so far as the welfare of the people is concerned, the real estate lobby has seen to that.

I wish I had time to stand here this afternoon and discuss with you all the issues in this campaign, but it would take me all night to do it. I am going to discuss some of them over in Philadelphia tonight, and I hope you will listen to what I have to say, because it is of vital interest to you and to the country.

Now then, in order for you to do your duty, you must get out early on election day, and you must elect a Democratic Senator from New Jersey -- Archie Alexander. Don't forget that now.

And you must elect a Democratic Congressman from this district--John Dungess. Don't forget that.

If you are patriotic citizens, you will be sure, on the morning of November the 2d to get up early, and go to that polling place, ask for a straight Democratic ticket and put it in the box, and go home satisfied that you have done something for the welfare of the country.

Not only will you have done something for the welfare of the country as a whole, but you will be voting for yourselves. When you cast that ballot, you will be voting for your best interests.

Study the issues in this campaign. Then elect a Democratic Senator and a Democratic Congressman--and I won't be troubled with the housing shortage, I will still stay in the White House.

Note: In the course of his remarks on October 6 the President referred to former Senators James H. Hughes and James M. Tunnell, Democratic candidate for Senator J. Allen Frear, Jr., and Democratic candidate for Representative J. Carl McGuigan, all of Delaware; and Mayor George E. Brunner of Camden, Democratic candidate for Senator Archibald S. Alexander, and Democratic candidate for Representative John Dungess, all of New Jersey.

Harry S Truman, Rear Platform and Other Informal Remarks in Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/233330

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