Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

The President's News Conference

October 01, 1958

THE PRESIDENT. Good morning. Please sit down. I have three short announcements.

By congressional authorization, the President was directed to make a proclamation that this was the National Day of Prayer. I hope that before the day is over you people will be helpful in reminding everybody of that fact.

The next thing is that the Seawolf has now been submerged continuously for 54 days and is still going strong. I think the crew must be trying to establish a record that someone else is going to have a hard time to beat; the previous record was 31 days.

The other small announcement is a personal one: at the weekend I'm going to Walter Reed for my annual physical checkup, and so I hope no one will take the circumstance of my going over there as evidence of any new illness.

Are there any questions?

Q. Merriman Smith, United Press International: Mr. President, in the light of recent rulings and decisions by the Supreme Court, the appellate and the district courts, could you tell us, sir, what is your position on the cities in Virginia and Arkansas where the schools are closed? Do you think these public schools should be reopened immediately on an integrated basis, without their being forced into it by new moves of the Federal Government?

THE PRESIDENT. Well now, with respect to that question--of my feelings about the closing of schools, I have already put myself on record; and I am not going now to try to detail any ideas of exactly how it would be done or how these people can move to bring their affairs within the limits set for integration by the courts, federal courts from the district on up.

I will read you a little statement that I prepared. There will be copies of it, if you want it, outside. It's very short, about my idea about the situation as of now.

[Reads statement. for text, see Item 275.]

I want to remind you that a number of these cases of different kinds are still before the courts, and I am going to have nothing further to say until those judgments have been rendered.

Q. Robert J. Donovan, New York Herald Tribune: Mr. President, there is a good deal of talk in the air that the Republicans are in for a bad drubbing this year, and some of the Republicans seem resigned to the fact themselves. I wonder if you have any comment on that.

THE PRESIDENT. I hope I can do all this within the confines of the limit that we normally observe as to time around here.

I have heard these reports about apathy and about sitting on hands and complacency. To my mind, it is incomprehensible.

There was an administration elected 6 years ago, dedicated to moderate government, avoiding extremes from one side to the other, staying on the middle of the road and staying out of the gutters.

I think the record of those 6 years is remarkably good. So I don't know, from the standpoint of the record, why anyone of a like persuasion, of a like governmental philosophy, can possibly be anything but enthusiastic about his hope of perpetuating that kind of effort through the medium of elections.

Examination even of very recent elections shows that if all the registered Republicans would have voted, there would have been no trouble. The victory would have been for all candidates, even in the State of Maine. But they didn't; they stayed away.

Now, to my mind, unless Republicans who presumably are dedicated to moderate government and a moderate philosophy of government are going to help with their time, their effort, their brains, and their money, then I say the cause of that kind of government is probably going to be lost in this country. And the consequences of that, in my mind, would be--well, incalculable, because every one of us says he is an advocate of free enterprise, and free enterprise itself can possibly be made one of the issues with such failures coming along.

Q. John Herling, Editors Syndicate: Mr. President, this has to do with the so-called right-to-work law, and your attitude toward it. You have been quoted, and I think sometimes misquoted, on the subject, but I should try to quote you accurately.

You recall, sir, that in your labor message in 1954 you said, "America wants no law licensing union-busting; neither do I." Then you went on to recommend to Congress that in the construction, and I quote, "amusement and maritime industries that the employer and the union be permitted to make a union contract, a union shop contract, under which the employee--under which the employee within seven days of the beginning of his employment shall become a member of the union."

Now, sir, the so-called right-to-work law would bar such a union shop as you then recommended. Could you tell us what your position is today, whether there is any shift from 1954?

THE PRESIDENT. No, because you were talking about and quoting from a particular law. As a matter of fact, we talked about it in the building trades and the maritime and some of the others.

My own opinion has been expressed publicly time and again, both directly and through Secretary Mitchell, where we have pointed out that section 14 (b) of the labor law does allow each State to determine this question for itself. I have stood on that particular point and said I will not advocate the reversal or the repeal of that act.

On the other side, I have never urged any State to vote for a so-called right-to-work law--for the simple reason that I believe it's the State's business, and I'm not going to get into it.

Q. Mr. Herling: But--

THE PRESIDENT. That's my answer.

Q. Mr. Herling: But, sir, if a right-to-work law--

THE PRESIDENT. Thank you very much. I have answered it.

Q. Mr. Herling: Yes, sir.

Q. Stewart Hensley, United Press International: Mr. President, Secretary Dulles said yesterday that it would be rather foolish for Chiang Kai-shek to keep large forces on Quemoy if we could get a dependable cease-fire with the Communists. I wonder if you would tell us, sir, do you believe that demilitarization of the offshore islands may offer the eventual solution of this Formosa crisis?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, sir, all I can tell you about that is that I conceive of no possible solution that we haven't studied, pondered, discussed with others in the very great hope that a peaceful solution can come about.

As you well know, the basic issue, as we see it, is to avoid retreat in the face of force, not to resort to force to resolve these questions in the international world. And we believe if we are not faithful to that principle in the long run we are going to suffer.

Now, Mr. Dulles, who had a very long conference yesterday morning and almost solely on this subject, did one thing that I would commend to all of you: he quoted paragraphs, two paragraphs I think, from Mr. Spaak's speech recently in the United Nations, where Mr. Spaak said: "The whole free world must realize that it is not Quemoy and the Matsus that we are talking about, we are talking about the Communists' constant, unrelenting pressure against the free world, against all of it."

As a matter of fact, a magazine just, I guess, out last evening, U. S. News and World Report, gives quite a detailed and documented story of Communist aggression and activities in 72 countries.

I commend that to your reading, because we are very apt, by focusing our eyes on some geographical point, to neglect the great principles for which a country such as ours has stood, for all these years, and for which Western civilization has largely stood.

So, I should say, we want to get these things in perspective.

Now, you mentioned the question of it would be foolish for them keeping large forces there for a long time.

I believe, as a soldier, that was not a good thing to do, to have all these troops there. But, remember, we have differences with our allies all over the world. They are family differences, and sometimes they are acute; but, by and large, the reason we call it "free world" is because each nation in it wants to remain independent under its own government and not under some dictatorial form of government. So, to the basic ideals, all of us must subscribe.

Q. Peter Lisagor, Chicago Daily News: In the light of Mr. Spaak's statement, can you tell us what your view is of why so many of our allies fail to see this point you have just made?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, it's a very difficult thing, and of course an answer is speculative. But when we go back to the Manchurian incident of 1931, when we go back to Hitler's marching into the Rhineland, when we take his taking over the Sudetenland and the Anschluss with Austria by force, when finally he took over all of Czechoslovakia, where was the point to stop this thing before it got into a great major war? Why did not public opinion see this thing happening?

Now, in hindsight, most of us have condemned these failures very bitterly, going right back to 1931 in Manchuria. I don't know why the human is so constructed that he believes that possibly there is an easier solution--that you can by feeding aggression a little bit, a teaspoonful of something, that he won't see that they are going to demand the whole quart.

I don't know any real answer to that thing; it is puzzling. And of course, for those who have to carry responsibility, it is a very heavy weight on their spirits and minds; there is no question about that. But there it is.

Q. J. Anthony Lewis, New York Times: Mr. President, do you agree with Vice President Nixon that it was sabotage for State Department officials to disclose how sentiment, public sentiment on the China policy question was running in the Department mail?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I understand that the Vice President issued a personal opinion on that. I would commend you to the State Department as to what they think is the answer on that one.

Q. Edward P. Morgan, American Broadcasting Company: Mr. President, in the past you have made it very clear that you, yourself, make all the final decisions in the White House, but

THE PRESIDENT. If I didn't, wouldn't there have been chaos? [Laughter]

Q. Mr. Morgan: Conceded, sir.

In view of the vital role, as expressed by yourself, that Governor Adams has played in the White House staff, and he is now leaving, do you have any idea of changing the emphasis of the staff work in the White House in such a way that you, yourself, would participate more in the preliminaries to those decisions?

THE PRESIDENT. Let's get a little background.

General Persons will be sworn in as The Assistant to the President very early in the week. Now, the staff will have to be organized under him, and he has been very familiar with the methods that I, as a commander and now as President, have used over a great many years. frankly, I think they have been fairly successful.

Now, I will tell you this: if a President is going to participate in all of the basic studies and the initial partial decisions, then you are going to have, again, something that is just not possible.

The President must know the general purpose of everything that is going on, the general problem that is there, whether or not it is being solved or the solution is going ahead according to principles in which he believes and which he has promulgated; and, finally, he must say "yes"

or "no."

Now, I will tell you, while we don't in the White House have large, big staff conferences with every last subordinate present, the constant meetings in my office of the important staff leaders are, I think, much more frequent than they ever were in any military organization that I have known.

Now, with respect to the diffusion, what I shall do is this--and I think here is a place that I probably have been guilty of not making some things clear: I shall probably issue a memorandum or a type of organization which will show all the American people, if they are interested, exactly the channels through which these questions come up, who are the individuals that I will hold responsible for studying them first, and then what individuals will come to me to argue them. frequently the staff officer will say, "All right, Agriculture believes this"; somebody else, "Labor believes that." I'm sort of on this side, but bring them both in, and then we have it out. And then the decision is made that way.

But I will put out that information to prevent any misunderstanding of exactly what we are doing.

Q. Richard L. Wilson, Cowles Publications: Mr. President, you spoke a little earlier of the need to stand, hold out against the Communist expansion.

There is another point of view, however, I would like to ask you to comment on in connection with Mr. Dulles' remarks: there are some who would regard Mr. Dulles' press conference yesterday as having been evidence of such a strong modification in policy that it amounted to appeasement itself. Would you discuss that point of view?

THE PRESIDENT. Well no, I wouldn't see that in it at all.

Let's go back to the language of the Formosan Resolution, which was carefully debated, thoroughly debated, and almost unanimously voted. It says that other areas than the formosa and Pescadores region will have to be considered by the President in any specific incident, as to the effect of attack upon them, upon Formosa, whether they are part and parcel of an attack on the major position or whether they are merely an effort to capture these islands so close to the mainland.

Now, the best evidence on this particular issue, as of now, is that the Communists themselves, while calling it a civil war, have stated that their effort is not confined by any manner or means to Quemoy and Matsu, and not only to formosa but to driving the United States forces out of the Western Pacific.

I should say an extra word there about their civil war: if it is a civil war, why is Russia already saying, through Mr. Khrushchev in his letters, that they are ready to participate in this war? If that is a civil war I am quite ignorant as to what the term really means.

So I do not believe, Mr. Wilson, that there is anything of appeasement. I do believe this: we want a peaceful solution, and fundamentally anyone can see that the two islands as of themselves, as two pieces of territory, are not greatly vital to formosa. But of course the Chinese Nationalists hold that if you give way to that, you have given away to exposing us to attack, and that is a different thing from just Concluding that two pieces of territory are the vital issue.

Q. William McGaffin, Chicago Daily News: Mr. President, along the line of our far Eastern policy, do you feel that Communist China will ever get into the United Nations, not out of a reward but as a move to perhaps give it more responsibility and help us in our efforts to keep the world at peace? Could you give us the benefit of your thinking on that?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, so far as I am concerned, and this particular question hasn't come up between the Secretary of State and me for some time, I have announced myself publicly before you people and others that there are certain historical facts in the history of Communist China that make it impossible for us to consider this question as an arguable one at this moment.

For example, they are still branded as aggressors in Korea, and they have taken no effective steps to remove that stigma from the record.

They have gone into Viet-Nam. They have still violated some of the terms of that armistice by continuing to train North Vietnamese and so on for armed purposes, and we don't know whether it's for eventual aggression or not.

They have refused in spite of an agreement given as long back--don't hold me to memory, but I think 2 years ago--that they would release our remaining prisoners from China. They have refused to do so.

And I think, personally, that that one thing is a sentimental, emotional thing in this United States that I well understand and share the feeling. And finally, their deportment in the diplomatic field all the way through has been such that makes this indeed a very difficult thing even to study dispassionately and disinterestedly.

Now, when these things are done, possibly we have got a different problem, but the problem as of now, I think, is pretty clean-cut.

Q. Mary Philomene Von Herberg, Anchorage (Alaska) Daily News: They are wondering up there if you contemplate a personal visit to Alaska to officially welcome it into the Union. No President, they say, has had such a privilege in 46 years! [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. Well, it's a tempting invitation, if that is an invitation. When is the actual date?

Q. Miss Von Herberg: Oh, dear! [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. I guess that answers it.

Q. Raymond P. Brandt, St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Can you clear up the conflicting stories about the resignation of Sherman Adams? One story is that you instructed Meade Alcorn to get his resignation; the other story is that he gave it voluntarily. Can you clear up your part in the resignation?

THE PRESIDENT. I did not instruct anyone to ask for a resignation. He did resign voluntarily. Now, there is no question that other people advised him very strongly at this time, during these last weeks and months, I guess it is now, but he was never advised by me to resign.

Q. Sarah McClendon, El Paso Times: Mr. President, this concerns another one of your official family, the new appointee, Mr. Paarlberg. His statements in the past clearly show that he believes that small farmers are probably uneconomic and should get out of farming or go on to industry or to big farming. I wonder if he has indicated that he feels that way about small business?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, really, it's very difficult for me to see any great relationship in this question.

Q. Mrs. McClendon: Well, sir, he said that he was not going to be--

THE PRESIDENT. You're telling me what he said. I have never read it and I don't know in what context his statements were made.

Many people have pointed out that the very small farm, where you cannot use modern machinery, is not, in itself, economical; but I want to point out that the Agriculture Department has gone to tremendous trouble to develop a whole program of help for small farmers, to include even part-time jobs and all sorts of things to make it profitable for them to live.

Now, in a small business, we have gone time and again to the Congress and gotten some relief and I think we'll do better.

But for Mr. Paarlberg to be in position even to affect my decision on that is a little bit out of line.

Q. John M. Hightower, Associated Press: Mr. President, do you think that if a cease-fire could be arranged in the Formosa area, specifically in the area of Quemoy, now, it would be possible to make some arrangement with respect to the demilitarization of the offshore islands or reduction of forces which would do what you called, in a speech, "remove the thorns in the side of peace"?

I'm trying to ask whether there is some practical step which you foresee with respect to those islands, based on the assumption of a cease-fire?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, sir, of course, anything like this is speculative. You are dealing with independent people, independent nations. You are dealing with people that are very emotional, where their prejudices and mutual hatreds are very deep. So what you can do is this: we shall have, if we have a cease-fire, an opportunity to negotiate in good faith; and that, I think, is about all you can say.

Now, if you could demilitarize or something else, I'm not so sure that is a final answer to which everybody could agree; but I do say, to do this thing peacefully and remembering the interests of each nation, its own self-respect, why, then I think possibly we could get somewhere.

Q. Edward W. O'Brien, St. Louis Globe-Democrat: Saturday, sir, will be the first anniversary of the launching of the first Russian Sputnik. Could you discuss with us the evolution of our military position in the past year in relation to that of Russia; and as a somewhat related matter, could you tell us, sir, if we have the military power in the Far Pacific that is adequate for our possible needs in that area?

THE PRESIDENT. These guns are getting about three barreled, rather than two. [Laughter]

With respect to the Sputnik incidents of the Russians, I should say they represent, as the whole world recognizes, remarkable achievements, and they are additional evidence of the quality of the top Russian scientists right down the whole field.

Our committees that come back to the United States, our electrical committee, the steel committee and the others, they come back and they report very great, tremendous advances in the scientific character of all of their steel-making facilities and everything else. In one or two instances it has been said to me, "You know, these people in one or two kinds of items are ahead of us, even in quality, and you might say, in the height of the scientific ingenuity that has been displayed."

Now, we have, I believe in the last 7 months, put four satellites in orbit. Our plan was devised, as I pointed out before, with an entirely different purpose from that that the Soviets had.

We started it as a part of the Geophysical Year. It was our responsibility that we voluntarily assumed. When it comes to the weaponry, I point it out to you again, the Russians started with their German scientists that they had secured right after 1945.

Our own interest in this particular field was not very great. We went into long-range weapons, missiles, but they were aerodynamic. They were not the ballistic missiles. In other words, we didn't go at all into the IRBM and the ICBM's.

So, when I came in here, I got two successive scientific committees to go into this thing and find out what was going on, what we should be doing, and it took them quite a long time. But, along about a year and a half after the first committee was organized, we believed that we knew what we should do. That was the first time that anything was really dedicated--any sizable sum--to ballistic missiles of a long range. And the whole project was now put on first priority, over every other expenditure.

But, remember, with our curve starting over here, and theirs here, we had to get a very steep one. I think we have constructed a very steep curve of accomplishment but, naturally, with that length of time, there are going to be some incidents here and there where we are not satisfied with our results.

But they are going ahead, and I believe we have the biggest, strongest, finest body of scientists amply armed with money to do the job, and that's that.

Now, in the Far East, I think our weaponry is in very good shape, and our forces are in good shape.

Marvin L. Arrowsmith, Associated Press: Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: President Eisenhower's one hundred and forty-second news conference was held in the Executive Office Building from 10:31 to 11:03 o'clock on Wednesday morning, October 1, 1958. In attendance: 250.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, The President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/234041

Filed Under



Washington, DC

Simple Search of Our Archives