Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

The President's News Conference

May 14, 1958

THE PRESIDENT. Good morning. Please sit down. This morning I have one short announcement.

You people know that there are very delicate situations now in Lebanon and Algeria. These situations can well be very grave as they develop.

We are watching them closely, and that is all I can say about the matter, because I believe any words now when emotions are so stirred and extremism can be voiced all around the world that it is best for the moment to say nothing about them. So I will have nothing to say.

This is not usual, I assure you. It is not my custom to do this, but that is what I think should be done this morning.

Q. Marvin L. Arrowsmith, Associated Press: Mr. President, how do you assess the current wave of anti-American demonstrations in South America against the Vice President? Do you see any pattern of Communist inspiration, or could it also be a case of genuine resentment against U. S. policies?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, you have raised a very interesting but a very complex picture. I don't think there is any single cause.

There are economic causes. for example, in Uruguay, you may know about the difficulty there has been about these packing plants that were originally owned by the United States and which can no longer make a living, where they want to get rid of them. In Bolivia, you have always the tin problem. In Peru, you have the very low current prices of lead, zinc, copper, and so on. And in Venezuela, on the economic side, you have had these rumors that the United States was trying to impose quotas on the oil-producing countries. Of course, there is no truth to this last one at all.

But there have been economic difficulties, and it's one reason that we are so certain these developing countries, with many of them dependent on raw materials for their living, have got to have trade. They have got to trade with us. They have got to have some aid, and the economic aid programs and trade programs of this country today, in my opinion, are as vital to our security as any defensive measure we take.

Now, as to whether or not there are Communists in all these, there is a habit, as we know, of the Communists to try to exploit and take leadership in any unrest that is latent or developing; and if they can bring it out in the open as a real riot, why, that seems to be a practice of theirs. There has been sort of a pattern around the world--in Burma, in Jakarta, in South America, other places--that looks like there is some kind of concerted idea and plan that is followed.

So, while I think no one would be so bold as to make direct accusation, the fact is that it looks like a case of where there is a lot of smoke; and, therefore, there is probably some fire.

Q. Ray L. Scherer, National Broadcasting Company: Mr. President, could you discuss the considerations which led to the dispatch of troops to the Caribbean?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, it is the simplest precautionary type of measure in the world. We had reports yesterday that were serious. We knew nothing of the facts. We could get no reports from the outside, other than telephone calls from the Embassy; and not knowing what was happening, and not knowing whether the Venezuelan Government might not want some aid from us, we simply put it at places where it would be available in reasonable amounts and in bases that were well within the American Zone. That is all there was to it. There was no offer made to the Peruvians [Venezuelans]. The idea was only in the case they would want to ask it, would we even think of it. [Confers with Mr. Hagerty]

I said Peruvians; I meant Venezuelans.

Q. Peter Lisagor, Chicago Daily News: Mr. President, I would like to ask whether we anticipated these demonstrations would be as violent and furious as they were and whether, in the light of that, any thought was ever given to canceling out a part of the Vice President's schedule to prevent them?

THE PRESIDENT. No. These things were discussed, but there was no thought given to canceling Mr. Nixon's visits to these countries. In each case he was invited by the government and, as you know, many of these state leaders or Presidents-elect have come to visit this Government.

It is a courtesy to return their call when you can. Moreover, it was because of his ability to discuss with leaders down there some of the problems that I just referred to, some of your economic problems, and in the hope that we could reach better understanding, that such a trip as that was undertaken.

Now, no one, I think, anticipated the violence of particularly this last riot, and I think possibly everybody there was a bit caught by surprise.

Q. Lloyd M. Schwartz, Fairchild Publications: Mr. President, some members of the Commerce Department's Business Advisory Council have just recommended that you ask for a moratorium on price and wage increases. I wonder whether this strikes you as a practical approach to the recession problems?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, this asking a moratorium, I think that is merely trying to use persuasive powers to get them to avoid both price and wage increases. Some of them, I think, already are scheduled. I don't know, I would have to take a look at that as a feasible suggestion.

I have constantly urged that both business and labor leaders take a very long look at this problem to see whether the persistent wage-price spiral is not a thing that we must get away from in the long run or we are going to suffer for it.

Q. Mrs. May Craig, Portland (Maine) Press Herald: Mr. President, Governor Collins of Florida, in a recent article in "Look" magazine, surveys the segregation system in the South, and what he says he is determined to see in Florida, Point 2, is this: "Segregation of the races in public schools and recreational facilities will continue in any community where its abandonment would cause deep and dangerous hostility."

My question is: do you intend to follow the Little Rock pattern in other States where there is hostility to it?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, what do you mean by the "Little Rock pattern" ?

Q. Mrs. Craig: Sending in the federal troops.

THE PRESIDENT. For what?

Q. Mrs. Craig: As you said, to obey a court order.

THE PRESIDENT. That is right, to obey a court order; and that is the point.

I did not send troops anywhere because of an argument or a statement by a governor about segregation. There was a court order, and there was not only mob interference with the execution of that order, but there was a statement by the Governor that he would not intervene to see that that court order would be exercised. That is exactly what I did.

Now, I don't know, I am not going to try to predict what the exact circumstances in any other case will be. But I do say this: I deplore the need or the use of troops anywhere to get American citizens to obey the orders of constituted courts; because I want to point this one thing out: there is no person in this room whose basic rights are not involved in any successful defiance to the carrying out of court orders.

For example, let us assume one of you were arrested, and you were arrested by a sheriff who didn't think what you were doing in the particular town was correct, and the town was inflamed against you; but the Federal judge says--this taking place, let's say, on some Federal property-the Federal judge comes in and says he will issue a writ of habeas corpus. You are in jail, unjustly, illegally, unconstitutionally; but there is no power there--the governor won't intervene; the marshal of the court is powerless; no one can do anything.

Now, what is a President going to do? That is a question you people answer for yourselves. I answered it for myself.

Q. Chalmers M. Roberts, Washington Post: Mr. President, you said a few moments ago that these anti-American demonstrations or outbursts of one kind or another around the world appeared to look like some kind of a plan or concerted idea by the Communists.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I said no one thing could take the full blame for any of these, but I did say that, in this particular case, there was a pattern.

Q. Mr. Roberts: What I wanted to ask, sir, was do you see this as an effort to provoke these incidents or to exploit incidents arising for other reasons?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think that the largest part of it would be exploitation. As a matter of fact, I have been through this myself. In January 1951, the President sent me to 12 capitals, I believe it was, in 18 days.

It was a very difficult trip, I assure you, in midwinter; and in two, and I think three, of the big European cities, there were placards from one end to the other that there was going to be a demonstration here that would chase the Americans and particularly the "Old General" back to the United States.

Well, they fizzled out because, fortunately for me, I still have a name over there as being sort of the liberator of the country, so that the Communist papers, which in '45 were saying I was a very great fellow, had a hard time now to say I was a villain.

But I do know something of, I experienced some of, these things. When you are living in a house where the fences around are all painted "Go Home Ike," and all that, why, you feel it. But I think that they are largely efforts to exploit situations rather than to, you might say, de novo create them.

Q. Mr. Roberts: Would it violate your initial admonition to us to ask whether in this group of situations that you were talking about you do include the french Algerian and Lebanese situations?

THE PRESIDENT. I would say I really can't talk about them because they are not necessarily the same kind.

Q. Pat Munroe, Chicago American: Mr. President, several months ago, Senator Dirksen recommended Robert Tieken for the U. S. Court of Appeals in Chicago. Tieken is now being investigated by a House subcommittee. I wonder if you intend to nominate him, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. I never indicated in any way a decision about the possibility of appointing him. There are all sorts of investigations of numbers of people before an important appointment is made, and I haven't in this case anything to say at all.

Q. McLellan Smith, York (Pennsylvania) Dispatch: Mr. President, the day before Mr. Nixon arrived in Montevideo, Uruguay, the Government seized that private plant down there financed by American capital. They did that at a time when this administration is trying to get private capital to invest more money abroad in foreign countries.

Now, my question is this: if we permit this thing to occur, isn't it going to damage this program of sending of private capital abroad? Are we going to make any representations to the Uruguayan Government, or are we just--let them take the plant?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I am not going to discuss this thing in the detail that it would require if you were going into all the differing situations. But you must admit that Uruguay was suddenly facing a very emergency situation, because the American parties wanting to get out of this business, they no longer could make any money, and they were trying to find purchasers; and, therefore, it looked like there was going to be no meat packing taking place for the Uruguayan population.

Remember this: there is no country in the world that is precluded from seizing property as long as it is ready to give just compensation. In our own country, right here, a State, any State, can take private property from you. It does have to give just compensation.

To say we are ignoring the situation is, of course, beside the point. Of course we are keeping in close touch with it. But, as I say, this isn't a usual thing, and you cannot generalize that this is Uruguayan practice. They have not done this before.

Q. Garnett D. Horner, Washington Star: The Washington Star is urging in a front page editorial today, sir, that the people of Washington turn out in force when Mr. Nixon returns tomorrow to show him that there are some people around who like him.

THE PRESIDENT. I am one of them.

Q. Mr. Horner: I am asked to ask you, sir, if you plan to meet him at the airport and if you think it would be a good idea for all Government workers to be let out, so they can do likewise?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, as a matter of fact, while it would be creating a precedent, because of my admiration for his calmness and fortitude and his courage in very trying circumstances, I would like to make some special gesture.

Just exactly what my morning schedule will permit, I am not sure; because I don't know what time he is coming yet, and I certainly won't know until after his evening's program in Venezuela is completed.

But if it is feasible and you could take the governmental workers that are on the line of march, and you found out the route of entry in the city, if in a half-hour's time we could give them out 45 minutes or an hour, why, I would be all in favor of it; but I haven't yet seen any scheme for doing it. I would go along with the spirit of your editorial, anyway.

Q. John Scali, Associated Press: Mr. President, Vice President Nixon was tentatively planning to visit Europe on a good-will visit sometime this fall. In view of the demonstrations that he has encountered in Peru and in Venezuela, do you see any need for him to reconsider his trip?

THE PRESIDENT. I wouldn't think so. If I were making it, I wouldn't reconsider; and I don't think he would think of it for a second.

Q. Mary Philomene Von Herberg, Pacific Shipper: During the Senate hearing yesterday--

THE PRESIDENT. You will have to speak a little louder.

Q. Miss Von Herberg: If I have to tell you my whole name, it is kind of hard.

During the Senate hearing yesterday on a bill to construct the superliner passenger vessel for the Pacific, and one for the Atlantic--this bill passed the House by an almost 3 to 1 vote--a controversy arose between the Defense and Commerce Departments.

The Defense Department says it desperately needs these ships in operation now, so that in time of an emergency they would be able to carry troops. The Commerce Department says they want the ships for trade, but they are kind of against the financing, the only financing on which the operators say they can buy these ships. Do you have any comment on that?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, they brought the thing to me yesterday, but I have not been given an analysis which yet gives me the right to make a judgment. I will take a look at it.

Q. William McGaffin, Chicago Daily News: Mr. President, Congress will have to take a look at taxes no later than June or otherwise certain taxes will expire. And there is a feeling that in doing so Congress may decide to cut the income taxes. If they do, will you go along with them or will you veto the measure?

THE PRESIDENT. Again you are asking me to prophesy, and I really--

Q. Mr. McGaffin: The tax cut, Mr. President, is very much in the news.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, it may be, but I still don't see any reason to say anything more about the tax. I have told you people time and again that the Secretary of the Treasury, the leaders of the Senate and the leaders of the House are watching this every day--when is the time to take it up, and exactly what the measure should be. So I'm--

Q. Mr. McGaffin: Do you agree, sir, that a decision will have to be made before the end of June?

THE PRESIDENT. A decision is going to have to be made soon.

Q. Edward P. Morgan, American Broadcasting Company: Two questions relating to civil rights, Mr. President.

Senator Eastland is boasting that he is going to get re-elected by blocking your civil rights program. Your nomination of Mr. White as Assistant Attorney General, has been bottled up in his Judiciary Committee for months. Do you plan to push for his confirmation?

Item 2, Virginia schools, several of them, are under federal court order to desegregate in September. What is the federal Government doing now, if anything, say, by quiet FBI investigations, informal talks with civic leaders to prevent in advance a recurrence in, say, Arlington, of the Little Rock incident?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't believe that you can start a Gestapo around here, Mr. Morgan, and have a secret police going down into every place they can to worm out of people what their evil intentions can be.

What I think is this: everything we say, everything we do, must be to support the law of the land as interpreted by the Supreme Court, whether or not we always individually approve it.

Now, so far as getting Mr. White approved by the Senate, you do. what you can. But if a Senate Chairman wants to bottle that appointment up for a long time, you have a very difficult situation. I, for one, have not yet found a really good way to get it out of there.

Q. Raymond P. Brandt, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: The latest reports show the gross national product still going down. Have you any plans to revive your ideas about public works to increase employment and expenditures?

THE PRESIDENT. Mr. Brandt, I don't believe for one second, with minor exceptions, that there is any additional public works to be decided upon, brought into the appropriations picture and finally built that will do anything for this present recession. I don't believe that; I don't believe anything beyond small things in the agricultural field or upstream, things where workmen can go to work very quickly, and acceleration of programs already started for example, your post office and all that sort of thing. That is the kind of thing that will bring some people to work. But to start new plans, it will be 2 years before they will be actually in construction.

Q. John Herling, Editors Syndicate: This is on the extension of unemployment insurance. In your message to Congress, you asked it to act promptly, energetically, and broadly, to temper the hardship of workers--

THE PRESIDENT. That is right.

Q. Mr. Herling: --whose unemployment has been prolonged; and, under the current bill having administration support, governors of about 24 States said they can't act without special legislation or even constitutional amendment.

Now, most State legislatures are not in session or have just adjourned. It means a lot of delay. In view of this, will you continue to support the current measure? If not, sir, do you have alternative measures in mind?

THE PRESIDENT. Are you speaking of the amendment that was accepted in the House that the States themselves would have to show their readiness?

Q. Mr. Herling: Yes, sir; so-called Herlong amendment.

THE PRESIDENT. Yes.

I can't say anything further on the thing at the moment. I would have to see the bill come out as it was finally written, and then to determine exactly whether the States can do it or can they not. I, personally, think they can.

Q. Rod MacLeish, Westinghouse Broadcasting Company: Mr. President, we talked a lot this morning about demonstrations and anti-Americanism around the world. Do you think, sir, that there is a failure in articulation on the part of our country to make its intentions and philosophies well known to people, a failure to articulate clearly the things we really believe in, and the policies we hope to enact?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I tell you, I think that attempt is made, that is sure, and I think that a very great deal of it goes out.

But here is one thing we must not forget: among equals, the greatest and the richest and the strongest is bound to create some envy; and when you have any incident, therefore, that incites or brings to the surface this latent dislike or envy, well then, there is trouble.

But, by and large, we have spokesmen all over this country, we have our own press associations that are sending out news all the time. I think that so far as people want the news and the truth and the facts, including the intentions of this country and the underlying basic peacefulness of our people, I think they can get it just as easily as they can get news of their own country.

Q. Frank van der Linden, Nashville Banner: Sir, do you think that the need of the Marines and the airborne troops in the Venezuelan situation would imply that we should have an increase in strength of the Marine Corps and the airborne, or certainly no further cuts in strength?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't say any such thing.

We took two companies of troops of two types to put them at little stations where they could go somewhere. Now you are going to make out of that a great big program for revising the entire Defense Establishment. That is a little farfetched. [Laughter]

Q. John M. Hightower, Associated Press: Premier Khrushchev within the last few days has accepted, or so it appears, a proposal of yours to hold some technical talks on test control measures. Do you expect now to go forward with these talks and send him a new letter in a short time?

THE PRESIDENT. I didn't understand the last part.

Q. Mr. Hightower: Do you expect to go forward with these talks, and will you be replying to his letter shortly?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, of course, I will be replying to his letter shortly. Meantime, we are discussing with our allies their ideas on the way this could be done, and we would certainly expect some kind of agreement very soon, and a substantive answer made to Mr. Khrushchev.

Q. Sarah McClendon, Camden Courier-Post: Sir, we hope to build that superliner in Camden, and I wanted to ask you another question about it.

THE PRESIDENT. Yes.

Q. Mrs. McClendon: I didn't quite understand. I take it you would not insist on private financing of this big vessel or these two vessels?

THE PRESIDENT. I say that--the two questions brought up--I hadn't heard of this argument until a few days ago, because I didn't know it had arisen, in the way it has, and I will have to decide between the two as far as the administration part is concerned.

Now, for my part, let's make no mistake. I believe in private financing; but if we have got to have these ships because of defense purposes-and I just had a letter, I think, last evening, a very persuasive letter on it--if we have to do that, well, of course, the Government has to pick up some more of the tab.

But, to my mind, when we go beyond the ratios and the formula set down by the Maritime Act, then we ought to have a very clear, definite need, and that is the thing that has to be decided.

Q. Carleton Kent, Chicago Sun-Times: Mr. President, has Admiral Strauss indicated to you whether he will accept reappointment?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know for sure that he will or will not. I don't know yet.

Q. Frank Holeman, New York Daily News: Sir, on May 26 the Navy plans to rebury the unselected Unknown of World War II at sea. Do you approve of that, sir, or do you think there are enough Unknowns in the ocean already?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I will tell you, this is a delicate question. I believe if any great service believes that the deep sentiment of orphans and widows would be benefited by some kind of ceremony that symbolized the sacrifices of our seamen, then I would be in favor of it.

Of course, we have lots of Unknowns. There is no question about it. Maybe the mere ceremony of another kind would do it. But these people have thought and studied and certainly have inquired from those that are the most deeply affected, and I would go along with it for that reason.

Q. Spencer Davis, Associated Press: Mr. President, you spoke a little while ago, sir, about the trade and aid program being as vital as any defense measures.

THE PRESIDENT. That is right.

Q. Mr. Davis: Are you satisfied that the programs that you have before Congress are proceeding in a manner which will be compatible with your wishes?

THE PRESIDENT. Let's make very clear the administration's first duty is to work out a program in any important subject. In these two we are talking about, MSA and world trade, you do it after long, prolonged study with all the departments and many civilians invited to contribute their knowledge and opinions. finally you put before the Congress a program. You believe in it, it is the program that you think should be enacted.

But, after all, the legislative process is largely out of the hands of the President, except for his recommendations to them, and finally his part in approval or disapproval of the legislation. I am the last one, therefore, to say that everything I want is to be done on a rubber stamp basis, and without the Congress taking the kind of action that will show their considered opinion, what they think about the thing.

Now, I will do my very best to persuade them I am right, because I think I am; but that doesn't mean that in some detail of procedure or any other thing of that kind, that I couldn't accept it cheerfully.

Q. Robert Roth, Philadelphia Bulletin: Mr. President, are you going to Gettysburg on Tuesday to vote in the Pennsylvania primaries, and if so, will you tell us for which Republican candidate for governor you will cast your ballot? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. Well, you must have asked the last part of the question for a laugh. [Laughter]

I am going to, if I possibly can make the arrangements. It is not too easy because, among other things, I have got a big engagement in New York Tuesday night, and we have got things around here these days that are on sort of an hour-by-hour basis. But if I possibly can, I will be up in Gettysburg to vote in the primaries.

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

Note: President Eisenhower's one hundred and thirty-fifth news conference was held in the Executive Office Building from 10:19 to 11:00 o'clock on Wednesday morning, May 14, 1958. In attendance: 302.

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/233369

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