Harry S. Truman photo

Rear Platform Remarks in Idaho

June 07, 1948

[1.] POCATELLO, IDAHO (7:50 a.m.)

Well, I can't tell you how highly pleased I am to see this turnout at this time of day. You know, I am an early riser myself, but a lot of people aren't. I have been up since a quarter to six, looking over this trail that the Union Pacific follows up here, and I have been highly intrigued at what I saw.

Coming up that valley, I saw a mare mothering a mule colt. Looked just like Missouri. And I saw sheep on one side and a herd of cattle on the other, and I can remember the day when they couldn't get that close together. You see, my grandfather on one side was strong on cattle and the grandfather on the other side was strong on sheep, and they didn't get along very well; but through my mother and father, and diplomacy of the third generation, we see that they can live together very creditably. And that is a good thing, I think.

I also saw this mountain scenery which we don't have in Missouri. We have some hills down in the south part of the State which they call mountains, which is supposed to be the oldest formation in the United States, but when you get down there, there aren't any mountains. There are hills up one side and down the other, although the elevation goes up as high as 3,000 feet. I think you are a little higher here than that.

I have been looking over a report that the Interior Department has sent to me--sent it to the train just as I was about to leave. It is really a sample of the reports that the President is supposed to read and study all the time. You know, I fool them--I get up early in the morning and I read them! I think you would be interested in seeing that report. [Holds up report] Look at that! That is only a sample! That is only a sample. That is called the Columbia River Basin Report. And I have a report like that on the Central Valley of California, on the Colorado River, on the Missouri River, and on the Ohio River, and on all the coast around the United States. And I am supposed to know all about them. Well, I try and get as familiar with them as I possibly can, and I fool them sometimes by being acquainted with things that they think I don't take time to read.

There is a map in here that is most interesting. This is a map of Idaho and the Snake River Basin, in which it shows the projects that are already in effect and those that ought to be in effect, and those that are partly in effect.

Now, from my viewpoint, I have always tried to use as much of the budget as could be distributed for that purpose, for the development of these reclamation and power projects. But we have some people in these United States who follow the lead of Daniel Webster who didn't think the West was any good, who didn't think we should do anything with it.

We also have some people in the United States who would like to restore the Insull era, when they put the welfare of the few promoters above the welfare of the people.

That situation we have to meet right now. We are faced with it in this Congress. At the last meeting of this Congress they cut the budget for the development of these reclamation and power projects. They are trying to do the same thing right now, and I hope that we may be able to save some of the funds that are necessary for the developments set out in this Columbia River Basin Report.

Had we had some of those projects which have been pending for several years, we might to some extent have alleviated the flood in the Columbia River which caused so much damage.

I am going to go out to look that situation over. I have looked over the Missouri River Basin. In fact, I am familiar with it from its source to its mouth. I should be. And I am somewhat familiar with this situation. I have been out here time and again. I have been to the Columbia River almost from its mouth to the borderline of British Columbia. I was out here when they were building plants which are dependent on the Grand Coulee Dam and the Bonneville Dam. Had we not had that power source, it would have been almost impossible to win this war.

I want to see this development out here and in every other section of the country carried out for the welfare of the people as a whole, and not for a few who want to exploit the people.

I am coming out here so you can look at me and hear what I have to say, and then make up your own mind as to whether you believe some of the things that have been said about your President.

I have been in politics a long time, and it makes no difference what they say about you, if it isn't so. If they can prove it on you, you are in a bad fix indeed. They have never been able to prove it on me.

Harry S Truman, Rear Platform Remarks in Idaho Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/232377

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