Rear Platform and Other Informal Remarks in Pennsylvania and New Jersey
[1.] BRIDGEPORT, PENNSYLVANIA ( Rear platform, 9:40 a.m.)
Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, and fellow Democrats of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania:
I can't tell you how I appreciate this wonderful turnout in this great industrial center in Pennsylvania at this time of day. It shows to me very plainly that you are really interested in the coming campaign. It shows to me that you want to find out just exactly what the issues are, and that you want to see what your President looks like, you want to know what he stands for, and then you can go to the polls on November 2d and vote intelligently for your own interests.
Now, there are a number of issues in this campaign, but there is only one fundamental issue and that is the people against the special interests.
The Democratic Party represents the people. The Republican Party does now and always has represented the special interests.
Among the first things they did when they got control of the Congress of the United States--that awful 80th Congress which has shown conclusively that they are for the special interests--was to pass a rich man's tax bill for themselves, and to begin to take liberties away from labor.
The Democratic platform is for the repeal of the Taft-Hartley Act, and if you will elect a Democratic Congress, send Harry Keller to Congress from this district, and that will help, because if we get a Democratic Congress we will work on that Taft-Hartley bill in your interests. If you send a Republican Congress, they will take the rest of your liberties away from you.
I have been trying to get this Congress to do something in the public interest. They met first in January 1947, and I went to them with a Message on the State of the Union asking for certain things. They didn't do anything I talked with them about. Then in November 1947 I called a special session and asked them to do certain things about prices, and in the interests of the general public. They did nothing. Then in my Message on the State of the Union in 1948, I put the same proposition up to them. They did nothing.
Then they went to Philadelphia, and they wrote the most hypocritical platform that has ever been put before the public. I called them back into session to do some of the things they said they were for. Do you know what they did? They went home without doing a single, solitary thing; and now they think they are going to fool the people.
They did nothing about prices. You know, Taft said that if we would let the price controls off, everything would level off, particularly clothing. Now, all you people who have to buy clothing for your children starting school this fall, know exactly what the situation is--that prices went up, and up, and up--went through the roof. Didn't hurt Mr. Taft or the economic royalists.
Remember those things now when you go to the polls on the 2d of November, and watch what I am saying to you people. They dare not answer me. They are afraid to get on the issues. They talk about home, and mother, what a nice country it is, "you can trust us." You can't trust 'era. The 80th Congress proved that. That Congress was a special interests Congress. It had more lobbyists around its doors than any other Congress that has ever met in the history of the United States.
Don't send back another one like that, at the polls on the 2d of November. Just to be sure you are right, vote the straight Democratic ticket, and then you will have a State administration and a national administration that is in the interests of the people and not the special interests.
[2.] READING, PENNSYLVANIA (11:10 a.m.)
Mr. Mayor, Mr. Chairman, distinguished guests:
It certainly is a pleasure and a privilege for me to be back in Reading once more. I spent a most pleasant evening and day here on March 2, 1944, when I was just a plain Senator from Missouri, and I was highly entertained and shown the beauty spots of the city by Daniel Hoch, who was my host on that occasion. I addressed the Traffic Club here and explained to them something about what the accidents in this country were costing the United States.
Now, this time I've come back to Reading and I find that the Volunteer Firemen of America are meeting here. I regret exceedingly that in the town where I grew up they didn't have a volunteer fire company or I certainly would have belonged to it. But that's been remedied. Here is what I received this morning: "Mr. President: At a regular meeting of the Rainbow Fire Company No. 1 of Reading, Pennsylvania, held on the above date, the following resolution was unanimously passed: 'Resolved that Harry S. Truman, the honorable and worthy President of the United States of America, be made an honorary member of the Rainbow Fire Company No. 1 of the City of Reading, Pennsylvania.'"
Now, I--with another honor which was conferred upon me--can claim, I think, citizenship in Reading. I received a gold card at the station from the America's Club, which Samuel J. Tilden came here to address when he was running for President back in the seventies. Now, I'm a member of the America's Democratic Club, the oldest one in the country, and I am a member of the Volunteer Firemen's Association of the Reading Fire Company No. 1, which puts me in the National Association of Firemen. I think now I can proceed on a firefighting, whirlwind campaign, just like I have been in all along.
This is a wonderful reception from a wonderful town. I am more than glad that I decided to get off the train and come up here. I don't believe they could have gotten all these thousands and thousands of people around that station. It looks to me-measuring the people by the acre--it looks to me like there are 5 or 6 acres of people here this morning. I am glad so many of you want to see the President, to hear him tell the truth about the issues in this campaign.
I want to congratulate the Democrats on having out-registered the Republicans here two to one. That sure is a record. It's no good, though, if you don't get out on election day.
Some fine people come from this part of the country. One of my good friends was born near here, General Tooey Spaatz, who commanded the greatest air force that was ever assembled in the history of the world. Because of that, the Government of the United States made him a four-star General for life with full pay. That's a very great honor, and General Spaatz deserved it.
Then you have another very able man from this district, George Rhodes over here. And I'm sure you're going to send him to Congress from this district so that when Congress meets in January, we can eradicate some of the terrible things that that awful 80th Congress did to us.
There's one big issue in this campaign. That's whether the country is going to be run for the benefit of all the people by the Democrats, or whether it's going to be run for just a few special interest groups by the Republicans.
The Democrats believe we can keep our prosperity and have it fairly equally distributed.
You know, at this time the farmers have the greatest income in the history of the world. The farmers are getting a fair share of the income of this country. Last year we had an income of $217 billion in this country, and it was reasonably fairly distributed. The farmers got their share, the workingman got his share. Everybody--small business, big business, and all the businesses, all the white-collar people and everybody else got a reasonably fair share of that income.
Now, if the Republicans would have listened to me, it would have been much more fairly distributed. But they didn't, as I'll tell you a little bit more about later on.
I've been fighting for laws to curb high prices and see that everybody gets what he needs at prices he can afford to pay.
The Republicans don't want any price control for one very simple reason: the higher the prices go up, the bigger the profits for the corporations.
Just think of this: the profits of corporations have gone up 70 percent since the Republicans killed OPA. When we had price control in 1943 and 1944 the corporations earned twice what they did before the war, and in 1947 they had the greatest income, after taxes, in the history of the country. And that income is much greater this year. Last year it was $17 billion and it is estimated to be over $20 billion this year.
I think the American people are more interested in lower prices than they are in big profits, and I'm going to continue the fight for price control from here on.
Now we have another situation. Take a look at the record of the Republicans on minimum wage laws. I believe that minimum wages should be raised to at least 75 cents an hour. But the Republicans say $16 a week is enough, and in the 80th Congress they wouldn't touch the 40 cent minimum wage, although I asked them time and again to raise that minimum wage. The Republicans were too busy in the 80th Congress even to consider raising wages, but they weren't too busy to pass the Taft-Hartley law.
I want to raise minimum wages because it will help workers who are just barely getting along under today's Republican high prices. But I want to raise the minimum wages because it will also help the people all over the country, and particularly here in Reading. It will end the unfair competition that you are now getting from low-wage areas.
Let's take a quick look at another issue in this campaign. I wish I had time to thrash them all out for you but this is another in which you are interested: that is, housing.
The Democrats believe the Federal Government ought to step in and meet the acute housing shortage that exists all over the country. But the Republicans don't want to do anything to help clear the slums, build more rural housing, or build low-rent city housing. Now, those things are absolutely necessary for the welfare of this country, and that doesn't mean that that is going to cost the taxpayers more money because those are investments, and over a long period of time, the investment of the Federal Government can be amortized in such a way that everybody will benefit--everybody but the real estate lobbies who have been trying to get away from that sort of thing.
There's one thing for you to do if you want to get some help on high prices and housing and on minimum wage laws and other things that are needed. That is to be sure that on the morning of November 2d, you get out to the polls and you vote early, and vote a straight Democratic ticket, and then the country will be in safe hands and I won't be troubled with the housing shortage--I can still stay in the White House another 4 years if you do that.
I can't thank you enough for this wonderful turnout. As I say, I wish I wasn't on such a tight schedule. I would like to stay here all day. Thank you very much.
[3.] ALLENTOWN, PENNSYLVANIA (Rear platform, 1 p.m.)
Thank you very, very much. I certainly do appreciate most highly this wonderful turnout here in Allentown. I think every time I go into a town that I will never see another turnout like it, yet the next one is just as great or better than the one before. Isn't that wonderful
I want to compliment this great city. This is the first time I have been met by a mounted color guard. I appreciate it most highly. You know, when I met your Mayor this morning, I had some detailed information about Allentown, and it made the statement at the head of the information, that Allentown is 254 feet above sea level. Immediately, there began an argument between the Mayor of Pittsburgh and the Mayor of Allentown as to which town was the higher. I don't know which won, but the Mayor fell out with me when I said Allentown had only 92,000 people and he said there were 125,000 people in Allentown. Well, of course, that is the Mayor's privilege. I imagine he is right.
I'm awfully glad to be able to talk with you just a few minutes about the issues in this campaign. You know, you never get a chance to hear those issues unless you listen to the remarks of the Democratic side of the program, because the press is very careful to make you believe there are no issues in this campaign.
The Democrats in this campaign are fighting for continued prosperity for all the people, but the Republican Party believes in the trickle down theory. They think that if a few people on the top of the heap are well off, some prosperity may trickle down to you and me. Now that is what Joe Grundy preaches all the time. That is what he believes in. That is why he is such a power in the Republican Party. He is one of the pillars of that great organization--I call it great because they might, like they did in the 80th Congress, get control of this Republic and then where would the common people be ?
The Democratic Party since the days of Jefferson has always believed in and fought for all the people; and if you want to be sure that these policies are carried out in the interests of the people, you had better send Wynn James, Jr. to the Congress from this district--and I believe that is what you are going to do.
I would like to tell you about the fights the Democrats are making for more houses, lower prices, better labor laws, and many others; but unfortunately there isn't time for all that. I will just tell you about one of those issues, and then I hope you will get interested in it and inform yourselves on the facts about the others.
I want to tell you about the battle the Democrats have been fighting for a decent minimum wage. The minimum wage law in our history was put through under the leadership of Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 protects nearly 20 million workers. Twenty million men and women know there is a 40-cent floor below which their Government will not permit their wages to fall. Even when the law was being passed, the Republicans fought it tooth and toenail. Sixty-one percent of the House Republicans and 87 percent of the Senate Republicans voted against it; but the Democrats voted for it by an overwhelming majority and it passed both Houses.
By the end of the war, increases in the cost of living had made the 40 cent minimum wage obsolete. Now that is only $16 a week--40 cents an hour is only $16 a week. I wonder how many of you--if you are single--could live on $16 a week? Yet, the Republicans think you ought to live on $16 a week and support a family.
I asked for an increase to protect the standard of living of 5 million workers at the bottom of the economic ladder, and ever since then I have been fighting for at least a minimum wage of 75 cents an hour; but the Republicans and their big business allies are still fighting against the minimum wage--94 percent of them voted against increasing even to 60 cents an hour when it came before the Senate last year.
Maybe the Republicans think $24 a week is too good a wage for the average man. That is what 60 cents an hour would mean-they think $24 a week is too much for the ordinary fellow to get.
You people of Allentown are going to have to decide on November 2d whether or not you want a higher minimum wage law that will help everybody. It would help these people at the bottom who are having a hard time getting along, and it would help the high wage areas to stay away from unfair competition with the cheap wage areas. You are going to decide whether or not you want a decent housing program. You know, I made a recommendation for a housing program for this great country of ours to meet the situation, and which would require about an million houses between now and 1960--20 million dwellings, I will say, not houses, we want low-rent houses as well as dwellings. The Republicans have said that that is a socialistic approach, although it is an approach which would give us the necessary housing to meet our terrible shortage. Joe Grundy says that that is socialistic, and Mr. Taft had his name on that bill and I understand Joe Grundy turned him down because he said Taft was sponsoring a socialistic housing bill. Taft came back to the Senate and voted against his own bill.
You are going to have to decide whether or not you want to bring prices down. We have all learned from experience that a Republican President and a Republican Congress won't do anything on any of these matters.
Now, if you want to protect yourselves and vote for your own interest, let me advise you what to do on November 2d. Get out there to the polls early in the morning and vote the straight Democratic ticket, and you will be voting for yourselves and your own interest--and you will put me in the position where I won't be up against the housing shortage, I can stay in the White House another 4 years.
[4.] BETHLEHEM, PENNSYLVANIA (At the railroad station, 1:40 p.m.)
Congressman Walter, and fellow Democrats of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania:
I can't tell you how very much I appreciate this wonderful welcome. I think every time I stop, I've seen the biggest crowd, and they get bigger and bigger and bigger. The people of Pennsylvania apparently are just as much interested in the issues in this campaign as the people of every other State.
I was told, when I started for Pennsylvania, that people would not be interested in seeing and hearing the President. What a mistake that was!
Tad Walter told me what wonderful people he had here in Bethlehem. I can well believe it. If you send him back to the Congress for the 9th term, it will be proof that you're not only fine people, but that you know what's good for you as well.
I have seen a lot of this country in the last 3 weeks and it looks exceedingly prosperous. More people have jobs than ever before in the history of our country. Over 61 million people are working now. Here in eastern Pennsylvania I understand there is even a labor shortage. There are more jobs than there are people to fill them. That's a record.
Compare that with 1932 when half your population didn't have jobs, and then see whether you want to go back to that or not. That's what 16 years of Democratic administrations have done for the whole country.
It wasn't that way in 1932 after 12 years of Republican rule. And yet there are a few people who seem to want to let the Republicans wreck the country again.
Well, two-thirds of you stayed at home-you didn't, here--but two-thirds of the people of the United States stayed at home in 1946 and they put in the Republican "donothing" Both Congress that has already done as much wrecking as it possibly can. Don't let that happen again.
I know you're not going to let it happen because you were not in that two-thirds. You sent Tad Walter back to the Congress-the right sort of a man.
High prices are a real threat to every one of us because if they aren't checked, they will lead straight to another bust, like we had under Herbert Hoover. But the Republicans absolutely refuse to act. The Democratic program of price control during the war kept a ceiling on prices. Everybody got what he needed at a fair price, and he got his share of what was to be distributed. The Republicans killed price control and they refused to do anything to help slow down the fantastic increases in the cost of living. I even called two special sessions of that 80th Republican Congress and asked for price control laws. Both times I asked for price control each year in the Message on the State of the Union.
My great running-mate, Albert Barkley, forced a showdown in the special session last July. He put my price control program directly before the Senate. He forced the Republicans to stand up and be named if they were going to vote against this bill to keep prices down. Believe it or not, 98 percent of the Republicans in Congress stood up and voted against controlling prices.
You here will determine on election day what kind of government you're going to have during the next 4 years. If you want to, you can turn your Government over to those who like inflation and high prices because they are thinking of making more money at your expense. Or, you can send an administration and a Congress to Washington that will extend social security, keep down the cost of living and not kick labor unions in the face, but help them move forward to greater things.
All I ask you and all your friends and neighbors is just to look at the record. If you look at the record, you can't help but go to the polls on election day, as you have usually done here in this district, only do it with a more overwhelming majority this time. Vote the straight Democratic ticket and let us have a Government that believes in the welfare of the people, and not a Government that believes in the welfare of special interests.
It's a wonderful thing, a wonderful thing to have you turn out like this at this time of day. It shows that you are interested in the issues in this campaign. It shows that the Republicans are not fooling you a bit, and I'm glad of that.
[5.] EASTON, PENNSYLVANIA (2:15 p.m.)
Congressman Walter, and fellow Democrats of Easton, Pennsylvania:
It has been a very great privilege to me to travel through Pennsylvania this morning, and to receive such a warm and cordial welcome. Everywhere I have been, it has been just like this, and I appreciate it more than I can tell you.
I want to say to you, also, incidentally, that it is a great surprise to some people.
I have been getting welcomes similar to this all over the United States. All over the United States--everywhere I have been-people have displayed interest in the issues that are now before the country, and I have been trying to place those interests before the people in such a manner that they can understand that there is just one big issue, and that is the people against special privilege. When you analyze the whole thing, that is the issue. I am on a crusade now from one end of the country to the other to let people know just exactly what that means to them.
This is your interest. This is your interest in this campaign. This is the most important campaign that we will have in the next 25 or 30 years, and it will have repercussions for just that long.
You must weigh your interests in the balance and decide whether you want to vote for yourselves and for the welfare of the country, or whether you want to vote for special privilege and send back another Congress that will be just as "no account" as the Both Congress has been. That Congress, in my opinion, from a domestic standpoint has done the country almost irreparable injury; and if you endorse that program, the one they tried to put through, you will certainly do the country an injury from which it will be a long time recovering.
The Democrats, now, came into office in 1933 when Franklin D. Roosevelt was sworn in as President of the United States. That administration and all the Democratic administrations since that time have been putting legislation on the books in the interests of the people as a whole.
In 1932, the farmers were all broke. One hundred and twenty-three thousand of them were moved off their farms because they couldn't pay the interest on their mortgages. Last year, the farmers had the biggest income they ever had in their history, and there were less than 800 foreclosures in 1947.
In 1932, there were between 12 and 15 million people out of work. In 1947 and 1948, there are more than 61 million people at work. I think that is the best answer to this Republican program, that we ought to change it back to the 1920's. Is that what you want to do?
I say you can't afford to do that. I say your own interest is the interest of this country. We are endeavoring now to assume the leadership which we should have assumed in world affairs in 1920; and a prosperous economy in the United States of America is necessary for world peace and world leadership.
I have spent the whole 3 years since I have been President of the United States in trying to attain a peaceful world. The United Nations is the background and the backbone of that peaceful world. I have given it every support I possibly can. I was present at San Francisco when the charter was signed. I have made the appointments of delegates in the United Nations on a bipartisan basis, and we are supporting a bipartisan foreign policy, which means the welfare of the world as a whole. That bipartisan foreign policy was inaugurated by President Roosevelt and a Democratic administration.
Don't let anybody tell you anything different on that.
I am urging you--I am urging you to come out on the second day of November and show the world that you believe in the welfare of the United States and in the welfare of the world; and you can do that by sending Tad Waiter back to Congress with the biggest majority he ever had, and by voting a Democratic ticket straight in Pennsylvania.
Now if you do that, a lot of people are troubled with the housing shortage, and I have been trying to remedy that. But the Republicans would not agree to it. If you go out and vote the Democratic ticket straight, your President won't be troubled with the housing shortage, he will still be in the White House for another 4 years.
Now, I am very sorry to inform you that my daughter had to go to Missouri, and she cannot appear at this time. I hope sometime she can come up here and see you, but she made some engagements before this trip was planned and organized and she had to keep her engagements. She is just as sorry as her mother and I are that she is not here today.
I appreciate again your cordial welcome and the wonderful reception I have received in this great State of Pennsylvania. I believe that Pennsylvania is going to wake up at last and go Democratic.
[6.] ELIZABETH, NEW JERSEY (5:10 p.m.)
Mr. Mayor, Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, and Democrats of Elizabeth, New Jersey:
I appreciate very much this very cordial welcome which you have accorded me. This is my first stop in the great State of New Jersey, and it is right in line with the other first stops. In every State, through which I have been, they were all just like this. People want to see their President, they want to hear what their President has to say; and I can't tell you how very much I thank you for that interest.
You are here because you are interested in the issues of this campaign. You know, as all the citizens of this great country know, that the election is not all over but the shouting. That is what they would like to have you believe, but it isn't so-it isn't so at all. The Republicans are trying to hide the truth from you in a great many ways. They don't want you to know the truth about the issues in this campaign. The big fundamental issue in this campaign is the people against the special interests. The Democratic Party stands for the people. The Republican Party stands, and always has stood, for special interests. They have proved that conclusively in the record that they made in this "do-nothing" Congress.
The Republican Party candidates are going around talking to you in high-sounding platitudes trying to make you believe that they themselves are the best people to run the Government. Well now, you have had experience with them running the Government. In 1920 to 1932, they had complete control of the Government. Look what they did to it!
They started again in 1946, when twothirds of the people in the United States stayed at home and allowed a third of the people to send that Congress which we now have down to Washington. They immediately began to try to undo all the good things that the Democrats have been doing for you for the last 14 years.
You get the truth if you listen to your candidates--Archie Alexander, one of the finest young men I know, is going all over this State telling you the facts. You ought to send him to the Senate. He is the Democratic candidate for the Senate from this great State, and he is so good that the Republican paper, the New York Herald Tribune, said about Mr. Alexander, that he possesses superior qualifications.
Of course, I think all the candidates on the Democratic ticket always do have superior qualifications, or they wouldn't be on the Democratic ticket. This country is enjoying the greatest prosperity it has ever known because we have been following for 16 years the policies inaugurated by Franklin I). Roosevelt. Everybody benefited from these policies--labor, the farmer, businessmen, and white-collar workers.
We want to keep that prosperity. We cannot keep that if we don't lick the biggest problem facing us today, and that is high prices.
I have been trying to get the Republicans to do something about high prices and housing ever since they came to Washington. They are responsible for that situation, because they killed price control, and they killed the housing bill. That Republican 80th "do-nothing" Congress absolutely refused to give any relief whatever in either one of those categories.
What do you suppose the Republicans think you ought to do about high prices?
Senator Taft, one of the leaders in the Republican Congress, said, "If consumers think the price is too high today, they will wait until the price is lower. I feel that in time the law of supply and demand will bring prices into line."
There is the Republican answer to the high cost of living.
If it costs too much, just wait.
If you think 15 cents is too much for a loaf of bread, just do without it and wait until you can afford to pay 15 cents for it.
If you don't want to pay 60 cents a pound for hamburger, just wait.
That is what the Republican Congress thought you ought to do, and that is the same Congress that the Republican candidate for President said did a good job.
Some people say I ought not to talk so much about the Republican 80th "donothing" Congress in this campaign. I will tell you why I will talk about it. If twothirds of the people stay at home again on election day as they did in 1946, and if we get another Republican Congress like the 80th Congress, it will be controlled by the same men who controlled that 80th Congress-the Tabers, and the Tafts, the Martins and the Hallecks would be the bosses. The same men would be the bosses the same as those who passed the Taft-Hartley Act, and passed the rich man's tax bill, and took social security away from a million workers.
Do you want that kind of administration? I don't believe you do--I don't believe you do.
I don't believe you would be out here interested in listening to my outline of what the Republicans are trying to do to you if you intended to put them back in there.
When a bunch of Republican reactionaries are in control of the Congress, then the people get reactionary laws. The only way you can get the kind of Government you need is by going to the polls and voting the straight Democratic ticket on November 2d. Then you will get a Democratic Congress and I will get a Congress that will work with me. Then we will get good housing at prices we can afford to pay; and repeal of that vicious Taft-Hartley Act; and more social security coverage; and prices that will be fair to everybody; and we can go on and keep 61 million people at work; we can have an income of more than $217 billion, and that income will be distributed so that the farmer, the workingman, the white-collar worker, and the businessman get their fair share of that income.
That is what I stand for.
That is what the Democratic Party stands for.
Vote for that, and you will be safe!
[7.] NEWARK, NEW JERSEY (At the Mosque, 9:06 p.m.)
Mr. Mayor, Mr. Chairman, Monsignor Kelly, distinguished guests, and fellow Democrats of this great city of Newark:
You have given me a wonderful reception, the kind of reception I knew I would get here in this great city. I have been here before and I had a reception that a Senator is entitled to, but nothing like this.
I have heard rumors down in Washington that the Democratic Party is going to get this same kind of a turnout at the polls on November 2d. Am I right?
Remember, now, keep that promise. That means that the next United States Senator from New Jersey is going to be Archie Alexander. That means that here in Newark you're going to send Peter Rodino to the Congress, and Hugh Addonizio and Harry Dudkin to the House of Representatives. Every one of these men deserves your support. They will fight your battle in Washington, and how that fight needs to be made nobody knows better than I do. They will fight your battle there, and men like them all over the Nation will be fighting that battle--and will win that battle if you're behind us--the battle for the people, a fight which started with Jefferson, continued with Jackson, was won by Franklin Roosevelt in 1934.
There was a sad thing in connection with that: two-thirds of the voters of the United States stayed at home in 1946, and the Republicans who slipped in on that minority vote have started to turn the clock back to the 1920's--and further, if you let them do it. I don't believe you're going to let them do it.
I've seen in this country on my recent trip the most prosperous that the sun has ever shone upon. Well, if the voters do their duty we can continue that situation in this country and keep on working, and I hope successfully, for peace in the world.
I would rather have peace in the world than to be President of the United States. I've spent all my time working for peace in this world, and I shall continue to do just that. That's the most important thing with which we are faced.
Now, I'm in this fight because it is in the nature of a crusade. This is a fight for the people against special interests, and if the people support me in that fight--and I believe they're going to do it--the Government of the United States will continue to be in the hands of the people, where it belongs.
Now, one of the basic propositions is our welfare as a Nation, and our prosperity as a Nation. When someone asks, "Why can't we keep our prosperity under the Republicans?" the answer to that question should be obvious. But in case there is still any doubt in anyone's mind let me speak just a little plainly tonight and try to set you straight.
The Republicans are committed to a program that benefits special interests, the powers of big business and monopoly. The only people who have prosperity under the Republicans are those who live on the fat profits made by exploiting the workers, farmers, and the common, everyday citizen. Need I remind you of what was going on here in this great city back in the Republican Hoover depression? You know what was going on. People were walking up and down the streets hunting for jobs. People were being evicted from their homes. Farmers were being thrown off their farms. Factories were closed. They gave you breadlines instead of pay lines. Remember that. That's what you're faced with now, if you let these special privilege fellows get control of ours.
The fundamental difference between the Democratic and Republican Parties is clear, and the record is there for all to see. Look at the record in the field of labor. The Democratic Party wrote the Wagner Labor Relations Act on the law books of our country in 1935, and I was there to help put it through the Senate. Every real American has been proud of the record labor has made under the provisions of this monumental labor law.
Back before the Wagner Act the union membership in this country was only about
3 million. Today nearly 17 million industrious, patriotic, hard-working Americans are proud of their membership in the AF of L and CIO and many independent unions.
The average wage of workers in this country is three times what it was before the Wagner Act became a law. The high wages earned by our people are a tremendous factor in maintaining prosperity. High wages mean great purchasing power, and great purchasing power means that our factories and our farms will run at full production-and that's what the Democratic Party stands for.
Now, what is the Republican attitude toward labor? One of the first acts of the Republican 80th Congress was to take steps to destroy the Wagner Act. The Republicans in Congress did this by passing the Taft-Hartley Act. The Taft-Hartley Act was passed for one main reason--to weaken the strength of our labor unions so that ultimately wages could be forced down. That's the theory of big business, which controls the Republican Party. Big business operates on a policy that if you can force wages down you can increase the already tremendous corporation profits--and that's what the Republican Party is interested in.
I reject this Republican policy of trying to force wages down as a fallacy. I shall fight with all my strength not only to keep wages up but to increase them.
Now, the old elephant never seems to learn anything. He has fixed ideas. He's trying to make you believe he has the new look, but he hasn't. That Republican policy of forcing wages down causes the purchasing power of our workers to drop. This leads to distress on farms and it closes factories and puts people out of work in the city.
To maintain high wages, to keep our prosperity, to look ahead to an even higher standard of living you must vote the Democratic ticket. Don't forget that.
I wish I could stand here all evening and discuss the differences between the Democratic policy and the Republican policy. There is another issue, however, between the Democrats and the Republicans that I would like to discuss for just a little bit, and that's the housing issue.
You have a serious housing shortage here in Newark. The same problem exists in practically every community in this country. The need is so great that private industry and the States cannot handle it. In this audience are veterans with wives and children. They need decent homes for their families but they can't find them. I've received letters from all over the country asking for help in finding homes. I went to the 80th Congress and told them the story. I asked for a law which would permit the Federal Government to give aid in building low-cost rental housing, the kind of housing that would contain decent living quarters for $50 or $60 a month. Now, that "donothing" Republican Both Congress just laughed at me.
The Republican leadership wouldn't give the American people the kind of housing they need because the rich real estate lobby opposed it.
The Hoover slogan, if you remember, back in 1929 and 1930 was, "Two cars in every garage." The Republican slogan today is, "Two families in every garage."
That terrible real estate lobby is made up of the wealthy interests who are perfectly satisfied with the housing shortage because it keeps rents up and profits higher. The Republican leadership had a clear choice between the need of the people and the greed of the lobby. They failed the people--and our housing shortage continued.
But you can correct it. If the people elect a Democratic President and a Democratic Congress we'll break that housing shortage in spite of the real estate lobby. And we'll do a lot of other things that are in the interest and the welfare of the people as a whole.
This is a decision that will affect several generations to come if you make the wrong decision. We are the leaders of the world, this great country of ours--the greatest republic that the sun has ever shone upon-and the reason for its greatness is because the power of government is reposed in you. You are the Government if you exercise your privilege. You folks are going to determine on election day what kind of government we'll have in Washington.
You want a government with a positive program, an administration and a Congress devoted to the people's interests and not to special interests. You want a government concerned with human rights and health and education and housing and the cost of living of this great people of ours.
In 1946 two-thirds of you stayed at home and didn't vote. We got that awful 80th Congress as a result. And you got just what you deserved because you didn't exercise your rights. A man who doesn't exercise the privilege of franchise on election day is a shirker and he has no right to kick about the sort of government he gets if he doesn't vote himself.
Now, you can't afford to shirk your duty as a citizen this time. You have a privilege under the Constitution to participate in your Government. You owe it to yourself to exercise that privilege in your own self-interest.
When you go to the polls and vote the Democratic ticket on the second of November you're not only voting for me for President and for all those good men for public office but you're voting for yourselves and your own interests. Just keep that in mind.
Now, if you do that and do your duty we won't appease the special interests. We'll be in a position so that the special interests will have to go along with the people and take up their fair share, just as the people will get their fair share. That won't be the case if you let the Republicans in.
We have got a fight to make, as I said in the beginning. We will fight for our rights as decent, patriotic, God-fearing men and women who want security and peace and freedom for now and for all time. That's the issue with which you are faced.
[8.] JERSEY CITY, NEW JERSEY (To State party representatives and labor leaders, 10 p.m.)
Mr. Chairman, Congressman Hart, the city Mayor, Mayor Hague, Senator Moore, the candidate for Governor:
I don't think there's any doubt but what New Jersey will stay where it belongs--in the Democratic column. New Jersey has never deserved anything but a Democratic administration because the Democrats stand for the people.
I hope that you will send a congressional delegation to Washington this time with whom I can work. You've got one man there that I can work with all right, but you've got one or two I can't work with.
I am highly pleased, highly honored, and it has been one of the grandest days I have had on the whole tour. Every time I go into a State I say, "Well, this one can't be as good as the other one." Then each one gets better. There is a buildup my friends.
We are going to win this election because we're right and they're wrong.
[9.] JERSEY CITY, NEW JERSEY (At Lincoln High School, 10:37 p.m.)
Thank you very much. I can't tell you, I can't even begin to express my appreciation for this Jersey City reception, and I want to pay my tribute to you, Mayor, and my good friend, Frank Hague, who got this thing up in so good a fashion. This is something to write home about. I have been in Rio de Janeiro, I have been in Mexico City, I have been in New York City, and in Los Angeles and San Francisco and Seattle and Denver. Call the roll of all the great cities in the country, and this tops them all. And, in each instance, I thought the next one could never be outdone, but here it is.
Your enthusiasm shows that you take your politics seriously. That's the way it ought to be, because politics is your business. Politics is government, and you are the Government if you exercise the privilege delegated to you in this great Republic of ours. If you don't take an interest in your Government and elect the right people, you have nobody to blame but yourselves.
Now, in 1946 only one-third of the people of the United States who had the right, exercised that privilege to vote. And look what you got. And you didn't deserve a bit of sympathy for getting it because you did it to yourselves. You can't do that this year. I am warning you, the people of the United States, that the voters are not going to make the same mistake this year that they made in 1946. This time you are going to come out and vote.
The registration is up in almost every State in the country. Labor has been doing great work towards getting out the vote. The workers know that they are in a fight to protect their basic rights.
This is everybody's fight. It's not labor's fight alone. It's also the fight of the white-collar worker, the professional man, the farmer, and all the people in the United States--the fight to preserve the gains made since 1933, when President Roosevelt took office. It's a fight to buildup a greater future for all the people of the United States.
We are going to win that fight. We must win that fight. Too much is at stake in this election, my friends, to be indifferent about it. Don't make the mistake of thinking it makes no difference to you whether the Democrats or the Republicans are in control of the National Government--and don't let any of your friends make that mistake. Remember what the last Republican administration did to you in 12 years: depression, unemployment, foreclosures and evictions, bank failures, veterans selling apples. They were told that they were going to be put into business. Well, they went into business-at the street corner selling apples. We have tried to profit from that experience in this Democratic administration.
And what did the Republicans do to help it? Did the Republican leaders care what happened to you in the depression ? Did the Republican administration provide the jobs you needed? Did they save your homes or protect your bank deposits? They either didn't care what happened to you or they didn't know what to do about it. They just sat and waited for prosperity to come from around the corner.
The Democrats took action. Prosperity couldn't get around the corner until it had some help. It took a government that cared about the people, that had faith in the people. It took a government that was willing to try new ideas. It took a government that put human rights above property rights. You got that kind of government when you elected Franklin Roosevelt.
There is a basic difference between the Democratic and Republican Parties. The difference between the Republican way of meeting a depression and the Democratic way of meeting a depression is typical of the fundamental differences between the two parties. The Democratic Party has always been the party of progress and liberalism, the party that puts human rights first. The Republican Party has always been dominated by the forces of reaction. They want to go back to their own peculiar concept of government, even though it is completely out of line with modern conditions.
The people of this country can hope to get forward-looking government only through the Democratic Party.
The best way to decide how to vote is on the record: first, I want to emphasize again that what the Government does makes a great difference to you in your everyday life. It touches every individual in this Nation; two, you can do more for yourselves by going to the polls to vote on election day than you can possibly do any other way.
This is your fight. I am only waking you up to the fact that it is your fight. You better get out and help me win this fight or you're going to be the loser, not I. If you vote the Democratic ticket, you vote for yourselves and you vote for your best interest, and you want to be sure to vote the way that will do you the most good for yourselves and for the country. The only intelligent way to vote is on the basis of the record. I want to see it done that way because I know that our party has the best record.
The record shows a clear pattern. You hear a lot of speeches that try to confuse the record, but the main outline of the record is clear. The Republican Party has consistently worked for big business. The Democratic Party has consistently worked for all the people.
Now, let us take the question of high prices. I don't need to tell you how big a problem high prices are and how much they hurt you. During the war, when it was a harder job than it is now, the Democratic administration and a Democratic Congress stabilized prices. The Democrats protected you against excessive prices until the Republicans in Congress led a successful fight to destroy price control. That Republican 80th Congress has repeatedly refused to restore the power to hold down prices. They have protected the excessive profits for big business but they haven't protected the buying power of your wages and salaries.
The record is clearest of all a little further along. Republican favoritism for big business is shown most clearly by repeated attacks on the workers. This affects all workers, whether or not they are members of unions. Big business wants to keep wages low.
For years the Republican Party has been the ally of big business. The workingmen and women have turned to the Democratic Party, which has always been the workingman's friend.
Labor suffered under Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover. The false prosperity of the 1920's crumbled because workers, along with farmers, were getting the little end of the stick. The Republicans would like to give the farmers and the workers the little end of the stick again. If you are fool enough to accept that little end again, you ought to have it.
That era of the 1920's was the era of the open shop and the yellow-dog contract; and the reckless use of labor injunctions. The strength of labor unions was reduced to less than 3 million members. Sweat shops abounded and child labor was the order of the day. When the crash came, labor suffered the brunt of it.
In 1932, more than 12 million men and women were unemployed. Wages-for those lucky enough to have jobs--were about 45 cents an hour.
In 1933, this Government got a President and a Congress with a heart. They cared something about labor. They cared something about the farmers. They cared something about the people--more than they did about money.
The Democratic Party set out to do something for the people and did it. We did something for labor, not at the expense of anybody else but to round out a program for the good of all the people. We gave real protection to the right of workers to join together in their own unions. We gave national recognition to the right of collective bargaining. We established a minimum wage and outlawed the sweat shops. We saved homes from foreclosures and helped to provide new homes on terms that workers could afford.
If you remember, back in 1932, 123,000 farmers were kicked off their farms. Last year, there were less than 800 who couldn't pay the interest on their mortgage. People were pushed out of their homes so fast that when the Democrats came in, they had to form the great Home Owners Loan Corporation which saved millions of homes for millions of people. The Republicans didn't do anything about it.
We provided protection against the loss of earnings due to old age and death.
The Democratic Party gave the country a New Deal. And that New Deal paid off too. It was good for the country. It was good for labor. It was good for the farmer. It was good for every citizen in the United States.
There is this difference: We have 61 million, nearly 62 million people at work in this country today. There is nobody walking the streets, hunting for a job. If a man wants a job, he has the opportunity. The farmers are in the most prosperous condition they have ever been in in the history of the world--and they are not in that condition at the expense of the country. Farmers and labor go along side by side, and when they are both prosperous the whole country is prosperous and everybody profits by it. The big corporations that they talk so much about have made more money in the last three than they ever made before in history--and that's money made after taxes. And yet they cry about it and say that we are trying to hold them down. Why, they are in better condition now than they have ever been in history.
Now, when a man does work these days, his hourly pay is about three times as much as it was in 1932. Now, labor unions have 16 million members, and that's a good thing for the whole country. Some people have complained that the Democratic Party paid too much attention to the things that labor wanted. I'm going to confess something to you; I've gotten a lot of advice from labor leaders, and most of it has been good advice. When it wasn't good, I didn't take it. They have the welfare of the country at heart just as much as anybody--and I will say, a great deal more than a lot of people. And I intend to keep getting advice like that for the next 4 years.
One of the worst things that ever happened was the election of that Both Congress. That interrupted our progress.
I have talked a lot about this Republican, "do-nothing" 80th Congress, and there is a very good reason for my talking about them. That Congress has shown clearly what we can expect from the Republican Party. That's the reason I've been going after them hammer and tongs.
So far as labor is concerned, the Republicans made this very clear. They passed the Taft-Hartley to weaken the strength of labor unions. They refused to increase the minimum wage above 40 cents an hour, although 40 cents will only buy about as much as 23 cents would buy when the minimum wage law was first passed. They wrecked the Labor Department. This tells you what to expect from them in the future.
They have done the same thing to the farmer. They started in to wreck the farmer, just as they have tried to wreck the laborer.
And the record of the 80th Congress is the handwriting on the wall--"MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN." They better beware.
Do you want an even stronger labor legislation than the Taft-Hartley law? Do you? Then you better not vote the Republican ticket. Do you want to return to sweat shop wages in the United States? All right-vote Democratic. Do you want your social security benefits endangered? Well then, you better not vote Republican. Do you want to play second fiddle to big business? All right--vote the Democratic ticket on the second of November.
The Democratic Party offers you another choice. You can apply the same test to the Democratic Party that you apply to the Republican Party. What does the Democratic Party promise you, and does its past performance back up those promises? The record of the Democratic Party is a record of performance. All we ask is that you look at the record. The record shows that you can count on the Democratic Party because it is your party, the people's party.
What do you want your Government to do ? Do you think the minimum wage ought to be more than 40 cents an hour? All right--vote the Democratic ticket. Do you think the Taft-Hartley Act ought to be replaced by a law that gives labor a fair deal ? All right, remember--vote the Democratic ticket on the second of November. Do you feel that social security benefits ought to be increased? Vote Democratic. Do you believe in a government that puts people ahead of property, that thinks the little fellow has just as many rights as the big fellow? All right--then you better vote the Democratic ticket.
Now, this, my friends, is a great Nation. This is the greatest Nation in the history of the world, the greatest Republic the sun has ever shown upon, and we got that way because we have a government of and by and for the people.
This Government believes in ideals that are an inspiration to people all over the world. Our great economic strength is the bulwark of democracy through the whole world. Our opportunities and our obligations extend far beyond our own shores. We can contribute as no other nation ever could to building a peaceful world. And, my friends, peace in the world comes before everything else.
I wish to repeat: I work for peace and I pray for peace because it's much more important to have peace in this world than for me to be President of the United States. But, we can make our full contribution to peace only if we maintain a strong and vigorous democracy at home. To do that, we must fight for the great causes in which we so deeply believe--for equal treatment and equal opportunity for all the people. A return to reactionary government in the United States would be a tragedy not only for this country but for the whole world and every person in the world.
My friends, we just can't let that happen. It will not happen if the people of America turn out in full force on election day. That, my friends, is your sacred duty. You owe that to the country.
Remember, the second of November is the day of destiny. Be sure you vote on that day and send this country down the right road.
NOTE; In the course of his remarks on October 7 the President referred to Democratic candidates for Representative Harry Keller, George M. Rhodes, and Wynn James, Jr., Mayor John F. Davis of Reading, former Representative Daniel K. Hoch, Mayor Donald V. Hock of Allentown, Mayor David L. Lawrence of Pittsburgh, former Senator Joseph R. Grundy, and Representative Francis E. Walter, all of Pennsylvania; Democratic candidates for Representative Peter W. Rodino, Jr., Hugh J. Addonizio, and Harry Dudkin, Mayor James T. Kirk of Elizabeth, Democratic candidate for Senator Archibald S. Alexander, Mayor Vincent J. Murphy of Newark, Representative Edward J. Hart, Mayor Frank H. Eggers of Jersey City, former Mayor Frank Hague of Jersey City, former Senator A. Harry Moore, and Democratic candidate for Governor Elmer Wene, all of New Jersey; Senator Robert A. Taft of Ohio; Representative John Taber of New York; Representative Joseph W. Martin, Jr., of Massachusetts; and Representative Charles A. Halleck of Indiana.
Harry S Truman, Rear Platform and Other Informal Remarks in Pennsylvania and New Jersey Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/233368