Rear Platform and Other Informal Remarks in Michigan and Ohio
[1.] GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN (Rally, 9:10 a.m., E.D.T..)
My, what a wonderful crowd at 8:15 in the morning. I wonder what it would have been at 8:15 in the evening! I don't see how it could have been any greater. I am looking at three solid blocks of people spread out in three different directions from this square. It is remarkable. I never thought you could do it. It just goes to show that you are interested in the welfare of this great Nation, and that you want to hear some of the facts in connection with the coming campaign.
It is a great day for me. It is a great day for you. I am just starting on a campaign tour that is going to be a record for the President of the United States, and when I get through you are going to know the facts.
I can't tell you how very much I appreciate this welcome. It is a wonderful thing. It warms your heart--makes you feel like going out and making a fight for the people, when they turn out to see you like this.
I appreciate very much that key to the city which Acting Mayor Davis has given me, and I shall treasure it along with several more that I have. I appreciate it just as highly as I do the others. In fact, I have two keys to the city of Grand Rapids and that is a wonderful thing. That is the only city I have ever been in where I got two keys.
Your Mayor Welsh wrote to me that he was sorry he couldn't be present as he had to go abroad. He has been in to see me on several occasions with the mayors organization in the country and I have had some very pleasant talks with him.
This also is the hometown of my good friend and former colleague when I was in the Senate, Senator Arthur Vandenberg. The Senator and I have spent 10 years in the Senate. While we didn't always agree on domestic problems, I will say this to you, that Senator Arthur Vandenberg is intellectually honest and I like him.
I understand that there are three Congressional Medal of Honor men on this platform with me this morning. You know, that is a wonderful thing. That is a real record for one city, to have three Congressional Medal of Honor men. It was my privilege to hand the medals to these young men. They made wonderful records. If you haven't read those citations, I hope everyone of you will make it a point to read the citations which accompany these medals for these young men.
You know, that is the greatest honor that can come to any man. I have said it time and again, and I don't mind repeating it, that I would rather have that Congressional Medal of Honor than to be President of the United States. And I mean every word of it, and I know what I am talking about.
When the war ended there were some 12,500,000 young men and young women in the Armed Forces of the United States, and they were a cross section of the country, just as these three young men are a cross section of the country. I am not alarmed about the future of the United States as long as we have young men and young women like that.
Now these young men, and all those who were under arms when the war ended, were fighting for a principle. They were fighting for peace in the world, and they were fighting for the freedom of the individual.
We are still making that fight, and we are still making a fight for an honorable peace, and a just peace in the world. And I am here to tell you we are going to get it before we get through.
The working people of this country have demonstrated time and again that they are devoted to freedom and to world peace. They had an essential part in winning this war. Organized labor has been a leading force in international cooperation. Working people are also interested in building a better United States of America.
For the most part, workers have the same kind of problems that everybody else has-high prices, housing, schools for their children. In recent years, labor has become strong enough to have real influence. This is a development that I am very happy to see. Some people are not.
In November you will have a chance to use your influence in a manner that will be the determination of your destiny for years to come.
Now the necessity that faces us is one of voting on November 2d. You must register, you must vote, if you expect to get a square deal in this great Nation. Doesn't do any good to talk about voting, if you are not on the books. Doesn't do any good to talk about voting, if you sit around on election day, too lazy to turn out. The interests of this great Nation are such that every man and woman of voting age in this country ought to turn out and vote on November 2d.
If you will do that, I am perfectly willing to abide by these results, because I know it will be right.
You just have two parties to choose from in this election: the Democratic Party which stands for the peace and the welfare of the people and the little man, and the Republican Party which stands for special interests.
The record proves conclusively that the Republican Party is controlled by special privilege; and that the Democratic Party is responsive to the needs of the people.
Let us look at some of the instances of how that works and what it means to you. One of the things that worries you is high prices. During the war we were able to control prices, keep them at a fairly reasonable level. We could help rising prices now. It would be just as easy as it was to do it during the war. But the Republican Both Congress would not pass a price control law, although I recommended that they do that time and time again. As a result many of you and millions of other Americans are not able to buy the things you need, because prices are far higher than you can afford.
Another thing that troubles you in Grand Rapids is the housing shortage, and the shortage of school facilities. School facilities are short all over the Nation. Not only are we short in facilities, we are short in teachers and people to guide the young people through the lower grades in the schools. I tried every way within my power to get the Congress to do something about that. The Senate passed the bill. Most of the Democrats in the Senate voted for that bill, and some of the Republicans did. In the House that bill died along with the housing bill. I am told that within sound of my voice there are 62 veterans and their families with small children living in what was formerly a furniture factory, here in the heart of this city, subject to all the noise and confusion that goes on in a busy city.
There are other veterans in this community who are housed in temporary buildings with no early prospects of anything better. I have been doing everything within my power to get that Republican Both Congress to pass a housing bill to help meet the housing shortage. But the real estate lobby did not want low-rent housing, and did not want slums replaced by decent housing. That real estate lobby is one of the most powerful lobbies that ever came to Washington, and along later in this campaign I am going to tell you about a lot of other lobbies that came to Washington and got just what they wanted out of that 80th Congress--and the people didn't get a thing!
The housing bill passed the Senate in the 80th Congress and was voted out of the House committee by 11 Democrats and 3 Republicans against 13 Republicans on the other side. But the Republican leadership wouldn't even let the full membership of the House vote on that bill.
Finally the special session of Congress in July--after I had made things so hot for them; it looked for a while like we might get some action on that bill--still managed to kill it in the Rules Committee of the House. In fact, Senator Taft ran out on his own bill. You know, the bill in the first instance was called the Wagner-Ellender-Taft bill. That is the bill that passed the Senate and died in the House. Along came the 80th Congress in 1947 and it passed the bill again. This time it was called the Taft-Ellender-Wagner bill--a slight change. But when it was time for that bill to be pushed through the House, the Republicans voted against it, and Senator Taft ran out on his own bill. I am sorry to say that.
The veteran who needs a home is not greatly interested in the quarrel between the Congress and the President. What he wants to know is if he is going to have a place to live. The record shows that the Democrats want to use the full power of Congress to help provide homes. The Republicans do not want to do that.
Now you make your choice. You are going to have a chance in November.
There are many other ways in which the Republicans have proved that they serve special privilege and the privileged few at the expense of the people. I am going to talk about them a lot in this campaign, and I hope you will learn all about them. The fact that we have had a Republican Congress for 2 years has at least given you a chance to see what they are like and what they will do.
I call it the worst Congress, except one, this country has ever had. Because I was in the White House, however, they didn't get to walk backwards quite as fast as they wanted to. They have interrupted the progress which we have made, though, since 1932. If you want to resume the progress to go on as we have been going on, under this administration that believes in the welfare of the whole people and not just in the welfare of the real estate lobbies and a few other great lobbies, you will send the Democrats back to power on November 2, 1948.
Thank you very much.
[2.] LANSING, MICHIGAN (Rear platform, 11:05 a.m.)
Governor Sigler, the citizens of Michigan, fellow Democrats:
It is a very, very great pleasure to me to see this turnout in Lansing at this time of day. I appreciate it most highly. I want to thank the Governor most cordially for his kind welcome to me. I appreciate it most highly. I have had the Governor at the White House, and I know he will be there several times again before I leave there.
We have had a wonderful day today. I opened the proceedings at Grand Rapids at 8:15 in the morning and it looked to me as if everybody in western Michigan was there. I think everyone in central Michigan is here.
You know we are facing a very important situation. We are celebrating Labor Day today, and it is going to be my privilege to address the combined labor organizations in Detroit at 12:30 this afternoon, a most momentous occasion.
I am starting out on a campaign for the Democratic election on November 2d, and I want you to bear in mind that the issues are very plainly drawn.
It is the people against the special interests--the people against the special interests. Bear that in mind. The people are made up mostly of those who work with their hands.
When the 80th Congress assembled in January 1947, I asked them to give me the opportunity to control prices. We had successfully controlled prices during the war and we could have successfully controlled prices during the peace, or the coming of the peace--awaiting the coming of the peace. And that peace is coming. All of you want it, and so do I.
I asked that 80th Congress to pass housing legislation, housing legislation which had been pending for 4 years. The bill known as the Wagner-Ellender-Taft bill had passed the Senate more than 4 years ago. I was in the Senate at that time and voted for that bill. It died in the House. In 1947 they introduced another bill called the Taft-Ellender-Wagner bill--a slight change you will notice. That bill passed the Senate and it slumbered in the House Banking and Currency Committee until 3 Republicans joined 11 Democrats and outvoted 13 Republicans and voted that bill out. Then it went to the Rules Committee, and the Rules Committee sat on the bill. The House of Representatives never did get a chance to vote on it because the real estate lobby did not want them to vote on it.
Now we have got a situation, I am told, right here in Lansing, that is most horrible so far as veterans are concerned. I understand in your State College out here the veterans are sleeping three deep in a gymnasium, and that there was a time when your Republican City Council here in Lansing could have helped remedy that situation. They decided not to do it.
They are running true to form, my friends. They are running true to form.
We could have passed that Taft-Ellender. Wagner bill at this session of Congress if Mr. Taft himself had not run out on his own bill. He decided that the real estate lobby should be kowtowed to. That is one of the most powerful lobbies that has ever been in Washington.
Before this campaign is over I am going to tell you about a lot more lobbies, the lobby that got the rich man's tax bill through and several others I will talk to you about. You will find before I get through the day, just why the rich man's tax bill was passed. It was not passed for the benefit of the common, everyday man. It was passed for the special interests. I will tell you all about it before the day is over, but I don't want to make all of my speeches in one place.
I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for this hearty welcome, and for this wonderful turnout. I want to say to you again that I do appreciate most highly the courtesies of your Governor to the President of the United States. I appreciate the courtesies of all the Michiganders. They have been exceedingly kind to me in times past. I was here when I was running for Vice President of the United States in 1944. I did not stop at Lansing, but I was a speaker on the Labor Day program in 1944, and they estimated that there were 130,000 people out in Cadillac Square that day. I am told that if the sky doesn't leak this morning, there will be 300,000 here today.
One thing I want you to remember is that November 2d is election day. And it doesn't do any good to vote if you are not registered on the books. I want to see every man who labors get his friends out and get them on the books and when election day comes, go and vote. Don't sit at home-don't sit at home. If you really have the welfare of this country at heart, and want to prevent the country from being turned over to special privilege, you must vote on November 2d. That is the most important thing with which you are faced now. That is the most important thing that this country is faced with, to see that everybody in this country expresses his sentiments.
When they do that, I shall be perfectly satisfied with the result. I know what that result will be.
I want to thank you again for all the courtesies you have extended to me. I appreciate this welcome.
Thank you very much.
[3.] DETROIT, MICHIGAN (Address in Cadillac Square at 1:40 p.m., see Item 184)
[4.] HAMTRACK, MICHIGAN (2:45 p.m.)
Mr. Mayor, citizens of Hamtramck:
It certainly is a pleasure and a surprise to me to come out here today. I didn't know this was on the route. I am glad it was. The Mayor tells me that this is the greatest Democratic city in the world. Now he said "the U.S." when he introduced me. He took in a little more territory when he was talking to me. I understand that you are 97 percent Democratic. Now I wonder what's the matter with that other 3 percent ? See what you can do about that in November.
Today I initiated the campaign for reelection, in Grand Rapids, in Lansing, in Detroit, here, and I shall go to Pontiac and Flint, and by that time I think the Republicans will understand that I don't believe they have done much for labor.
As you know, back in the fall of 1946 they put out a slogan that they needed a change.
Well, on January 1st you got your change. As I told the people downtown, they gave themselves a tax cut, and they cut your freedom.
Now, if you return them again this fall, you will get just what is coming to you, and I don't think you are going to return them. I don't see how you can.
I want to thank you very much for this pleasure, for the honor that you have paid me here today on such short notice. And I want you to see what you can do about that other 3 percent this fall.
Thank you very much.
[5.] PONTIAC, MICHIGAN (Oakland Park, 4 p.m.)
Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen:
I am happy to join you in celebrating labor's holiday and I want to say that I am highly complimented and very much pleased that your broadcasting company was willing to interrupt the ball game to broadcast what I am going to say here this afternoon. It is very kind of them. I know there are plenty of people who would much rather hear the ball game than hear me.
As I have visited the great Labor Day celebration, I thought of the gains that labor has made in this country in recent years. You know it made tremendous gains from 1932 until 1947. Labor's gains have strengthened our democracy and increased the prosperity of the whole Nation. Whenever labor does well, of course the whole country does well. There never was a time in the history of the country when everybody and every segment of the population has been more prosperous, and that is because everybody is receiving his fair share of the national income. And that is the way it ought to be. It is possible to say that the gains are protected. We have only to look back to 1932 and realize how much things have improved for the wage earner.
In 1932 we were in the worst depression in history. Labor was bearing the brunt of it, as it does in every depression. During the last 16 years the Democratic administration managed to bring about a great improvement. People can get jobs now at decent wages, and there are more jobs than there are people to take them, for the first time that I can ever remember--and I am 64 years old.
As labor has prospered under Democratic administration the rest of the country has prospered at that same time. Farm incomes have increased. Farmers are making more money than they ever did in the history of the world. American farmers are in better condition than they have ever been in history. Business profits have increased tremendously. Corporation profits in 1947 were the greatest in the history of the country, after taxes. Our whole economy is busy turning out things which we need. All this didn't come about by accident. The Democratic Government took positive action instead of waiting for prosperity to come around the corner. You know the laws that were passed. This is the time when you ought to think carefully of how much they have meant to you and to all of us.
Let me remind you of just a few of them. The Wagner Act, which gave national protection to collective bargaining.
The Home Owners' Loan Act which saved millions of homes from foreclosure.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Act to protect banking deposits. There has not been a single loss to a depositor in a bank in 3 years. That is the greatest record in the history of the country.
The Fair Labor Standards Act which established a minimum wage and prohibited child labor.
Social security laws which provided protection for those who needed it most.
The list is longer than that, but I haven't got time to go over that whole list here this afternoon. I could go over it, but I think I will do that at a later date.
This is the kind of record the Democratic Party has made in the last 16 years, and in the face of that some Republicans are trying to tell us that the Democrats could be turned out of office and should be turned out of office, because it's time for a change.
That is the silliest thing I ever heard of. I never heard of a sillier remark than that.
I want to draw you a comparison. Years ago you used to make buggies and wagons in this town. Then you began to make automobiles. You have been making automobiles for over 40 years. Just because you have been making automobiles for 40 years, that is no reason to stop making automobiles and go back to making buggies. It will be just as sensible for you to do that as to turn out the Democrats who have done the most for you in your history.
One kind of change we do need. We need a change that will make it possible for us to resume the progress that was interrupted by the election of that Republican 80th Congress in 1946.
In 1946 we got what we might call a half a change, which turned out very badly-turned out very badly indeed.
I have been saying all over the United States that that 80th Republican Congress is the second worst one in the history of the country, and they haven't been able to disprove that statement.
The "half-a-change" Republican Congress passed a law that weakened labor unions. They have taken social security benefits away from more than 700,000 people. They have given tax relief to the rich at the expense of the poor. They have passed a rich man's tax law, which I am going to analyze for you some of these days, and you will be astonished.
What that Congress refused to do is a much longer list than what they did do to you. They refused to pass a law to control prices. They refused to provide adequate housing, though they have had a housing bill--a good one--pending in the Congress more than 4 years. They killed it this time. They called it the Taft-Ellender-Wagner bill. Before, the old bill was the Wagner-Ellender-Taft bill. You see, they changed it around a little bit. Mr. Taft ran out on his own bill. They couldn't pass it this time.
They refused to provide aid for education. In several messages I suggested that our educational situation is in the doldrums, that the education of the grades is in a condition that is going to cause us serious trouble in the next generation if we don't do something about it. Teachers are overworked--they are underpaid. There are not adequate facilities, and there are teachers who are teaching as many as 55 to 75 pupils when 25 to 30 is about as many as any one teacher can handle; and they are the poorest paid people in the country.
They had a good educational bill that passed the Senate, and that same House that killed the housing bill for the real estate lobby, killed that educational assistance bill in the House of Representatives.
We ought to do something about that when you elect Congressmen this year. You ought to see that you get Congressmen this time that are interested in the welfare of the people and not in the interests of the lobbyists.
It has refused to increase the pitifully inadequate social security benefits that millions of old people and widows and orphans depend upon. They increased their own pay but they couldn't increase the social security benefits of those people who really need it.
That is only a part of the list, but that gives you a general idea of what the Republican Congress did to you. That is just a sample of what they would do if they had a Republican President who would go along with a Republican Congress.
You know, they didn't get to go half as far back as they wanted to go, because I wouldn't let them. I stood there with the veto and knocked them down every time I got a chance. I think I have the greatest veto record in the history of Congress except Grover Cleveland.
The kind of change we need now is one that will put us back on the road to progress. We don't want to complete the change that threw us all off the road after the end of 1946. We don't want to get completely turned around to start backward down the road toward another depression. We don't want to go back to making buggies in Pontiac. We want to go on making cars, and cars that will sell.
What we need is a change--now listen to this--what we need to change is that Republican majority in the Congress.
The thing which is really important in this campaign is to get out and vote. A light vote favors the Republicans. You know, they have got out a pamphlet to their workers in which they urge their workers not to get out the vote. They say a heavy vote helps the Democrats and a light vote helps the Republicans. Now bear that in mind.
This election makes a lot of difference to you. Among other things, it might make the difference between whether you have a job 2 years from now or not.
Just remember that, on election day, and I think you will agree that it will be worth your while to go to the polls and vote. If you don't go to the polls and vote, and if you don't help get out that vote on election day, and you get a continuation of this Taft-Hartley backward-looking Congress, you will have just exactly what is coming to you.
You didn't go out and vote in 1946--and look what you've got. Look what this country got!
I am urging you with everything I have, on November 2d: do your duty. If you are not registered, see that you get there to register.
If all the people in this country who are entitled to vote, do vote, I will be completely satisfied with the result, and I won't have to worry about another 80th backward-looking Congress--and I won't have to worry about moving out of the White House.
[6.] FLINT, MICHIGAN (Flint Park, 7:15
Mr. Chairman, members of the American Federation of Labor, and the Congress of Industrial Organizations, visitors and guests:
It is a very great privilege for me today to have had this opportunity to wind up my trip in Michigan before this magnificent crowd. As I came up here from the station, I thought everybody in Flint was on the street. I was very much mistaken. Only about half the people of Flint were on the street, and thirty or forty thousand out here.
It is a wonderful crowd. I don't see how you do it. I think, though, the reason you do it is because you are celebrating Labor Day.
While we are celebrating Labor Day I would like to recall labor's contribution to the winning of the great war, and I know something about it. I spent most of my time during the war while I was in the United States Senate going into the contributions which labor and industry made toward winning that war.
No one made a contribution greater than in the industrial cities of Michigan, and I know that, for I was on the ground and on the spot, and I visited those places and looked through several of your factories during the war.
I have been invited today and have spoken at five Labor Day celebrations here in Michigan, and I thought at every single one of them I had seen at least half the population of Michigan, but the population of Michigan grew as I went along. It makes me feel good. I think it means that the working people feel that I am their friend. The workers are satisfied with what I have been doing in Washington. I know absolutely that I am on the right track. If the working people of the country are well off, whether they work in factories or on the farm, in offices or in stores, the country will get along all right. I don't think there has ever been a time in the history of this country when all the inhabitants have had as fair a share of the national income of the country as they are getting now, or were getting up until this Republican 80th Congress tried to take some of it, away from you.
You know, the Republican 80th Congress does not believe that. They believe in helping the wealthy people and the big corporations--and some of the benefits will trickle down the line to take care of the rest of us. They have always believed that. That is their philosophy--doesn't work out that way, as you all know. Most of us have seen complete proof of that in our own lifetime. We saw a depression that resulted from the "help the rich" policies of the 1920's. We have also seen recovery and prosperity that came when the Democrats changed the course of things in 1933.
The people in control of the National Republican Party today are just like the ones who controlled it in 1920. They gave ample proof of that during that "do-nothing" 80th Congress.
At their convention in Philadelphia they adopted a platform that was full of double talk--didn't say much; but it did represent some improvement over the way they had been acting in Congress. And, you know, I sent them message after message, begging them to implement some of the things they had said they were going to do in the 1944 platform.
When they wrote that 1948 platform, after they had done absolutely nothing for the benefit of the country, I called them back into special session to see whether they meant what they said in that platform. And they didn't! They not only didn't mean to do what they promised in that platform, but they said it was impossible to do it until they had complete control of the Government. If there ever was a piece of poppycock, that is it.
There are a great many fine people in the Republican Party but they had been disillusioned by the actions of this "do*nothing" 80th Congress, and by the actions of their convention in Philadelphia.
The 80th Congress' failure to act on the measures I have recommended is serious. It is not only serious. It is inexcusable. They failed to act on bills to control prices, to provide adequate housing, aid to education, and to increase social security benefits. But they were willing and able to pass a repressive labor law, and a rich man's tax bill. Congress not only failed to pass a law to control prices, they actually passed laws that made prices go higher. They passed that so-called tax reduction bill. They thought that would be good politics. I knew it would be bad for the country and I vetoed it; and they had to pass it three times before it was gotten through. The last, it was not quite so bad as the last two, but it was bad enough.
I thought we ought to pay off some of our war debts, and I still think so. I thought the tax bill would make these prices even higher. That is exactly what it has done. The tax bill did not do you any good. If you get $60 a week, taxes were reduced $1.50 a week, but since May when the $1.50 began to show up in your pay envelope, prices had gone up so much that that $1.50 is already wiped out, and another $1.50 with it.
The rich man fares a little better under the tax bill. If he has an income of $100,000 a year, he and his wife got a tax cut of $16,725 a year. Of course, prices haven't gone up for him any more than they have gone up for you, so he has a tremendously big gain in his income.
Is it any wonder that we call this a rich man's tax bill ?
The Republican National Committee thought it was and undertook to collect.
I want to read you something here that is just as interesting as it can be--I don't think I have ever seen anything as interesting. Now this is called "The Republican News." It gives the editors and the associate editors--it is the official publication of the Republican Party--it is published on Connecticut Avenue in Washington, D.C., as the official Republican mouthpiece. Now I want to read you something because it is very enlightening. It is exceedingly enlightening, and it is terrible for the country.
Here it is: "Don't Throw Peanuts to the Elephant!" [Laughter] Wait a minute--you will find out what that "peanuts" means. Take a look at the table below: "Many of our friends feel that, entirely apart from other important considerations, the least they can do to express their appreciation is to contribute a substantial part of their tax savings for this year to insure the reelection of the Congress which made this possible."
That is the terrible 80th Congress they are talking about that didn't do anything for the country.
Now this is the savings of a family of four under the tax plan: net income $2,500; present tax $95; new tax $16.60. That is a saving of $78.40, and the implication is that they ought to give that $78.40 to the Republican National Committee.
Then it goes on down and gives $5,000, on which is a saving of $157.40; $10,000, on which there is a saving of $501.04. Then it gives $15,000 on which there is a saving of $1,126.50; $25,000 on which there is a saving of $3,045.66; and $50,000, it says there is a saving of $7,533.08.
Just take those fellows with $25,000 or $50,000 or $100,000--I don't think many of them have four children--they expect those birds to turn those savings into the Republican National Committee.
It says: "Enclosed is my contribution. Please send me items checked: The Republican News for duration of the campaign; the 'Republican Fact Book,' a Party 'almanac'; the booklet 'There Is No Other Vehicle.'"
This is the Republican Party that has been taking things away from the public. I think that is one of the most outrageous things I ever heard. They are crying over here in another column because labor has decided to contribute a dollar a head if they can afford it. That is to pay the expenses of the Democratic Party for such broadcasts as this I am putting on now, for traveling and radio broadcasting of the National Committee of the Democratic Party. And they say that is outrageous that labor has contributed a dollar! Perfectly all right for some fellow who has had his taxes cut from, say $16,000 to $7,000, to put the $9,000 into the Republican campaign fund. That is a bay horse of a different color. Just bear that in mind. That is the most outrageous thing we have had in this country, and I don't know, I think that it is plain, outright bribery.
Instead of passing a tax bill that is helping only the rich, the Republican Congress could have passed an anti-inflation program that would have helped everybody. That is what I tried to get them to do. That is the reason I called back this Congress, after they had passed that platform up in Philadelphia. I called them back and pleaded with them to do something about inflation. But they did nothing at all, they got mad and went home, and said I was to blame for it.
The real way to happiness and prosperity in this country is to see that everybody is fairly treated. The man or woman who works for wages or for a salary ought to be paid enough to get a fair share of the things that the country produces. That is exactly what the Democrats have been working for since 1932. They ought not to have it taken away from them by excessive prices.
The farmer ought to get his fair share, a fair price for his crops. Don't let anybody tell you that farm prices are an excuse for inflation. That is not true. Before this campaign is over I will prove it. You will hear from me time and again on that subject. I will prove to you that the spread between what the farmer gets and what you have to pay is going into somebody's pockets who is profiting by this tax bill. No doubt about that--and I will prove it.
This is an election year. I suppose you all know it. If you don't, I'm telling you about it right now.
The choice is between Republican Government on the Both Congress pattern and a Democratic Government which has done more for labor and more for the farmers, and more for the welfare of the country than any party in the history of the world. I say that advisedly.
All labor stands at the crossroads today. You can select your reactionary administration and go into an era of fear. You can elect a Democratic administration which stands ready to play fair with every element of American life, and enter a period of new hope. And that is what I am asking you to do. A Republican Government will take you back to the policies which led to the disaster of the 1920's. The 80th Congress has proved that the same kind of thinking still controls the Republican Party. I gave them a lot of chances to prove that that was not so. They have proved it absolutely to my satisfaction, and when I get through with this campaign, it will be to your satisfaction,
And I know, I think, what you are going to do. You can expect a Democratic Government to go ahead with the same kind of policies that proved so successful in 1933 until the time when they began to be blocked by the Republicans in the Congress 2 years ago.
Don't let them turn the clock back--don't let them turn that clock back. You can't afford it!
You can't afford to go back to the "boom and bust" period that the Republicans would like to have. You just can't afford to do that. The way to prevent that is for all of you to turn out on election day, turn out and register so as to get your name on the books. Then on the 2d of November go to the polls and vote, and I want to say to you, if all of you go to the polls and vote, as I hope you will, I won't have any worries about moving out of the White House, and we won't have another 80th Congress.
[7.] TOLEDO, OHIO (Rear platform, 11:55 p.m.)
It is a very great pleasure to me to have the opportunity to stop here in Toledo tonight. I didn't expect to see that half the population of northwest Ohio would be here. It looks as if it is. In every city I have been to in Michigan today, I thought I would see half the population of the State of Michigan, yet it never stopped growing in population all day long. I don't know what these people will say about the crowds. You know, when I made the trip across the country, on an inspection tour to see how things were going--a nonpolitical trip, if you remember, one of these great magazines took a picture of a soldier facing a vacant lot and said that was the kind of reception I got. There never was a crowd much less than this at any place where I stopped.
I think people want to see what the President of the United States looks like, and I think they are vitally interested in finding out what the President of the United States stands for.
You see, it is most difficult to get the facts and the truth to the public under present conditions, and I am not saying that in a critical manner at all. I am merely telling you what are facts.
Now, before this campaign is over, I expect to visit every whistlestop in the United States. You remember, on that western trip, I went to Omaha, Cheyenne, Wyo., various towns in Idaho, Butte, Mont., and Spokane, Wash., Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, and Albuquerque, N. Mex., and stopped in Columbus, Ohio, too, on the way back. And the Senior Senator from Ohio said I was stopping at every whistlestop.
Well, Toledo is right in that same class. If all the rest of these cities are whistlestops, so is Toledo. And I don't think we class Toledo as a whistlestop, what I know about it.
In fact, I wonder just how the Toledo ball team stands? [Laughter] You see, Kansas City is a suburb of my hometown at home, and Kansas City is in that same American Association, too.
I have appeared before six Labor Day audiences in Michigan today, and I am glad to finish up today in this great State of Ohio. This may be the end of Labor Day, but I am just beginning the most important labor of my life. I am going to make the most important campaign that this country has witnessed since the Lincoln-Douglas debates. I intend to cover the length and breadth of this land, and take to the American people a message of the utmost significance. I am going to tell you the facts.
The message concerns November 2d. The question before you people is whether you want to go forward with the Democratic Party, or whether you want to go back to the past, go back to the horse and buggy days of the Republican Party.
I stopped in Pontiac today, and you know Pontiac--a city where they used to make buggies and wagons. They have been making automobiles up there for about 40 years. And I asked them if they wanted to make that sort of a change, if they would like to go back to making buggies and wagons in an automobile and airplane age. They didn't want to do that.
These are not just words. Let me give you two vital illustrations of what I mean.
Most of you people are working people, just as I have been all my life. I have had to work for everything I ever received. I never went into a political campaign in my life that I didn't have a fight to obtain what I thought was real and for the benefit of the people.
I have only been defeated once and that was for township committeeman in Washington Township in Missouri, back in 1912.
It does you a lot of good, sometimes, to understand just exactly what defeat means. In 1940 I had the bitterest campaign for reelection to the United States Senate that I think any man had in the history of this country. I had every newspaper in the State against me, the Governor of the State and his organization was against me, and at 11 o'clock that night, all the radio broadcasters and the papers said that I was defeated by 11,000 votes. I went to bed, got up next morning and found out I had been nominated, which was equivalent to election by more than 8,000 votes. I knew just exactly what it feels like to be defeated for major office.
I don't want to have that experience this time. I would like to go to bed elected on November 2d.
The Republican 80th Congress has struck you people deadly blows in each of the major fields. You are interested in security, good wages, and in the prices you are paying to support your family.
The Taft-Hartley Act was passed by the Republican Congress for the sole purpose of making it harder for organized labor to bargain for better wages and better living conditions. It was done with that express purpose in view. I vetoed that bill, and I set out in that veto just exactly what I thought the final result would be. And labor is just now beginning to feel the effects of that Taft-Hartley law.
Big business was getting worried about the strength of the organization of the people who work with their hands. The Republican Congress, that 80th "do-nothing" Republican Congress, joined with big business at the top to weaken organized labor.
What is more, it is just the opening gun in the Republican plan to go back to the days when big business held the upper hand and forced the workingman to take only what they wanted to give him. I can remember that day very well--remember the Colorado Fuel and Iron strike, the Homestead strike, and a lot of other things. I was a little bit of a boy when the Pullman strike took place. Those were historical events, and some of these people would like to turn the clock back just that far.
And if you people on November 2d do not exercise your God-given duty to go to the polls and vote, if you do not get yourselves on the books where registration is required, and you get what you got in 1946 by staying at home, you will deserve everything you get; and I won't be a bit sorry, for I will be at home enjoying myself.
I think you will find that the vast majority of labor is going to vote for me. Labor knows which side its bread is buttered on. Labor knows what is best for the country. And the best thing for the country is to go forward with the Democratic administration, and not go backward into the past with a lot of backward-looking Republicans who want to get control of this country for their own selfish interests.
Look at the tax bill they passed--the rich man's tax bill, the tax bill that helped the rich and hurt the poor.
Then what did they do about prices? You know, my sympathies are all with the mothers and wives of this country who have to buy books for the children, clothes at outrageous prices. I don't see how they do it. I just wonder how they do it. But they do manage it, some way.
I tried to get that 80th Republican "donothing" Congress to give you some help on that, and I couldn't get it done. In fact, they went to Philadelphia, after they had adjourned, after I had sent them message after message on what I thought would be the best thing for the welfare of the country. They went to Philadelphia and passed a platform in which they said they wanted to do all the things that I had been asking them to do for a year and a half!
I never was as exasperated in my life as when I read that cynical platform. I called them back into session, and they didn't do one single thing.
You know what they said? They said that platform was made to run on, and if they took any action on it at all, they would take it in 1949, after they had elected a Republican President.
Now, do you believe that? Do you believe that?
You know very well that they will do just exactly what they did with the 80th "donothing" Congress. They will turn the dock off a few hours farther back than it is now.
Remember, then, November 2d is the day. I want to say to you that if everybody who is entitled to cast his ballot on that day casts it, I will be entirely satisfied with the result, for I can assure you that we will have a Congress that will work in the interests of the people, and I will still be in the White House.
Note: In the course of his remarks on September 6 the President referred to George Welsh, Mayor of Grand Rapids, Kim Sigler, Governor of Michigan, and Stephen S. Skrzycki, Mayor of Hamtramck.
Harry S Truman, Rear Platform and Other Informal Remarks in Michigan and Ohio Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/232766