Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

August 19, 1948

THE PRESIDENT. I have no statements for you this morning, but I will try to answer questions, if you have any.

[1.] Q. Mr. President, do you know where we can get a boat to [Laughter].

THE PRESIDENT. Tony,1 I see a great many boats down there on the wharf all tied up, I thought you could hire one of those. Somebody told me that you were going to get Joe Grundy's yacht.

1 Ernest B. Vaccaro of the Associated Press.

Q. We haven't had any luck, and we have scoured all the waterfronts.

THE PRESIDENT. I'm sorry. I wish I had one to give you, but I haven't.

Q. Have you got any Democratic friends with yachts?

THE PRESIDENT. The only Democratic friend I have who has a yacht is in it now, and down in the Caribbean somewhere, and that's Joe Davies.

Q. I understand he just started.

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I understand that is so. I don't think he would let you have it, though, because it's too fine for you fellows to tear up. [Laughter]

[2.] Q. Mr. President, are you going into Miami to speak during the campaign, at the American Legion--

THE PRESIDENT. The decision has not yet been reached on that. I will let you know in plenty of time.

Q. Mr. President, there is a report out that you are going to Tennessee. Anything to it?

THE PRESIDENT. I will give you definite information on the places where I intend to go as soon as the itinerary is made up. No decision has been reached yet as to where I will go, except to Detroit.

[3.] Q. Mr. President, could you tell us what progress, if any, has been made in Moscow on the four-power talks?

THE PRESIDENT. I Can make no comment on that.

[4.] Q. Mr. President, what do you think of Governor Dewey personally?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I like him personally.

Q. Sir?

THE PRESIDENT. I like him personally. I have been with him on several occasions. We have had very pleasant relations.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, is it your idea that Federal Reserve should use its new powers over bank credit immediately?

THE PRESIDENT. Certainly. That is what the bill was passed for, and they will use them as promptly as they can arrange them. Those things can't be done in a minute. It takes time to work them out because there are 12 Federal Reserve banks in the country, and they all have to be unanimous on a thing of that sort. It takes some time to get things worked out, but it will be, just as 'promptly as it possibly can.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, a week or two ago you said that there was a good chance of an oil shortage on the east coast this winter. The oil industry now seems to think that there is plenty of supply.

THE PRESIDENT. I sincerely hope that the oil industry is right. I doubt it very much. It depends, of course, on whether we have a hard winter or not.

[7.] Q. What do you think of the actions of the Soviet schoolteachers in New York? 1

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think that the actions of those teachers indicate that there are a lot of people who believe in the freedom of the individual, just as the whole United States does.

1 In August 1948 two Soviet schoolteachers, Mikhail I. Samarin and Mrs. Oksana Kosenkina, denounced the Soviet Union and asked for asylum in the United States. Mrs. Kosenkina was taken to the Soviet consulate in New York City and held there against her will. On August 12 she leaped from a third floor window of the consulate and was taken to a hospital in poor condition. She was dismissed from the hospital in November 1948, and she and Mr. Samarin were given asylum in the United States.

Q. Mr. President, will the same right of asylum be granted to any other Russian citizens placed in similar circumstances?

THE PRESIDENT. It always has been.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, your new Secretary of Labor, Mr. Tobin, yesterday in commenting on the Great Lakes strike situation, in which the NLRB has ruled against the hiring hall, said that he felt the Taft-Hartley Act should be repealed, on the ground that it would promote bootlegging and under-the-table dealing between labor and management. Do you have any comment on that?

THE PRESIDENT. I think I made it definite on that when I vetoed the Taft-Hartley Act. Covered it very thoroughly. And it is working out just as I stated it would work out in the veto message, if you will read it carefully. I am in agreement with the Secretary of Labor, or he is in agreement with me, whichever way you want to put it.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, is it true that agreement has been reached on a $100 million loan to Palestine?

THE PRESIDENT. It is under consideration. I do not know that any agreement has yet been reached.

Q. Is it also under consideration that American troops may be used in Palestine?

THE PRESIDENT. American troops will not be used in Palestine as American troops. We will make our contribution to the United Nations for any enforcement or police force that they may need, provided the United Nations and the rest of the members of the United Nations go along with us on the same basis. But no American troops as such will be sent to Palestine or any other place at the present time.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, will you tell us something about the ladies who are guests at your press conference today?

THE PRESIDENT. They happen to be Missourians who are friends of mine, and I just invited them to stay. All Democrats! [Laughter]

[11.] Q. Mr. President, is that $100 million loan under consideration in the Export-Import Bank, or could you tell us where?

THE PRESIDENT. It wouldn't be anywhere else. The Export-Import Bank is the one that would have to make the loan, and they have it under consideration.

[12.] Q. Mr. President, is there any change in status of the Baltic refugees in Boston who are--

THE PRESIDENT. No. I think I answered that as completely as I could at the last press conference,1 or the one before that. Their status is just the same.

1 Item 174 [4].

Q. In other words, you are still trying to find a way to keep them here?


[13.] Q. Mr. President, is there any change in the dispute with Senator Ferguson as to what documents are available to Congress and what are not, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. The same documents are available to Congress as have always been available, and that is the employment file but not the confidential files. And the confidential files have been available to the FBI and to the loyalty boards, as they always have been ever since employees have been in the service of the Government and the FBI has been in existence. And those records, where there was anything of a criminal nature have been used by the grand jury and have been available to the grand jury all the time.

[14.] Q. Mr. President, Governor Dewey is reported as saying he thought the Italian colonies should be returned to Italy. What do you think about that?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, under the Italian peace treaty, those colonies are under consideration now by the four powers: Russia, Britain, France, and the United States. And under that Italian treaty, if those four powers do not reach agreement by the time the Assembly meets in Paris, then the matter goes into the General Assembly for consideration. That is a United Nations and a four-power power treaty proposition, and cannot very well be handled politically in the United States.

[15.] Q. Mr. President, do you feel that the loyalty program as it has operated to date has added to--protected us against the infiltration--

THE PRESIDENT. I can say categorically that it has. All the things that have been presented to these committees have been FBI files and have been presented to the grand jury long before that. And the only two people who were in the Government employ who have been accused of disloyalty--which hasn't been proven on them by any means-have been placed on indefinite leave, before the committee ever started any hearings. It has had no bearing whatever on the loyalty of the Government employees that are now on the payroll.

Q. Then the program has been successful ?

THE PRESIDENT. It has been very successful. It has been entirely successful, I might say.

Q. Mr. President, in your opinion, were any vital war secrets ever carried out of this Government during the war?

THE PRESIDENT. They were not.

Q. Is it true, Mr. President, that the Department of Justice is now preparing a proposed new statute on loyalty and espionage?

THE PRESIDENT. The Department of Justice for a long time has been working on such a statute, but it is a most difficult proposition under our form of government, and under freedom of speech and freedom of the press, to get a statute that does not infringe the Bill of Rights. And I am categorically opposed to any gestapo proposition that does infringe the Bill of Rights. That is the thing for which this Government stands, that is what we have been fighting for since 1776. We can't change our position at this late date. If you will go back and read the history of the alien and sedition laws, you will be surprised to find that it is almost the same--it was brought about by almost the same situation with which we have been faced now.

Q. Mr. President, do you consider these House hearings have infringed on the Bill of Rights in any way?


[16.] Q. Mr. President, is your family going with you to Michigan?

THE PRESIDENT. My daughter is. Mrs. Truman is in Colorado and won't be able to go. Margaret will go with me.

Reporter: Thank you, sir.

THE PRESIDENT. You are entirely welcome.

Note: President Truman's one hundred and fifty-fourth news conference was held in his office at the White House at 10:35 a.m. on Thursday, August 19, 1948.

Harry S Truman, The President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/232743

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