Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

December 31, 1947

THE PRESIDENT.. [1.] Ladies and gentlemen of the press conference, I thought it would be more convenient for us to have a conference on the day before New Year's, rather than at 8 o'clock on New Year's morning, or the day after New Year's--[laughter]-so we set it. Since we missed last week, we thought you would want one for this week.

I want to wish all of you a happy and prosperous 1948, and to say to you that I think 1947 has been a good year--not as good as we would like to have it, none of them ever are--and that I am still confidently looking forward to a world peace on which all the nations can agree, and the proper implementation of the United Nations.

I always think of the Constitution of the United States and the difficulties that took place in the Colonies between 1781 and 1789, and then the difficulties that took place between 1789 and 1809. If you carefully look over that situation, you will find that they had tremendous difficulties in those days, almost exactly the same situation with which we are faced now, both in Europe and here, and that it took just about 80 years, really, to get the Constitution properly implemented. In fact, it was not the Constitution of the United States until 1865.

So I don't think we ought to be discouraged at things that sometimes get in our way in making this tremendous peace organization work. I did not intend to make you a speech, but I am very much interested in that situation, and I have every faith in the final working of the United Nations as a means of general world peace, for the simple reason that we can't afford anything else. It is to our selfish interests and to the selfish interests of every country in the world that we do have a workable world peace.

Q. Mr. President, that is a very good speech. Could we have the text of that for direct quotes ?


Q. It's quite well worth it.

THE PRESIDENT. I didn't intend to make you a speech, but I am highly interested in that, and that's all I have been working for since September 1945.

Now if you have any questions that I can answer, I will be glad to hear from you.

[2.] Q. I would like to ask you a question about the General Electric Company's cut. Have you any comment on their promise of reduction in prices to help reverse the spiral ?

THE PRESIDENT. I will read you a telegram I have here to Mr. Wilson,1 who happens to be a personal friend of mine.

1 Charles E. Wilson, president of the General Electric Co.

[Reading] "The Company's announcement of a price reduction for consumer goods is extremely heartening in the Nation's fight against inflation. Should other industries follow your example, a real bulwark will be built against rising prices."

Mr. Wilson, as you know, was here all during the war, with the War Production Board, and he was chairman of the committee which wrote the report on the bill of rights.

Q. Mr. President, did he get in touch with you personally before he made the cut?

THE PRESIDENT. No, he didn't talk to me at all. He did not talk to me at all. I didn't know it was going to happen until I heard about it this morning.

[3.] Q. Have you decided whether or not to reappoint Guy Mason for District Commissioner?

THE PRESIDENT. NO I have not. I will make that announcement when I come to the conclusion of it.

Q. Mr. President

[4.] Q. Mr. President, there are now two vacancies on the CAB--

THE PRESIDENT. JUST a moment, let me get Mr. Wright's--

James L. Wright, Buffalo Evening News: That was the same question I was going to ask, so let him ask it.

Q. Two vacancies on the CAB?


Q. Yes. Mr. Landis and Young.

THE PRESIDENT. Oh yes, that's right. Well, I am going to fill those just as quickly as I can.

Q. Mr. President, would you give us the reason why you are not going to reappoint Mr. Landis ?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment to make on that.

Q. Mr. President, one other question related to that. I believe it is the rule that the President appoints only for action January 31st the Chairman and the Vice Chairman of the Board.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, there is a Vice Chairman who will act as Chairman now until the Chairman is appointed, which will be done just as quickly as I can get around to it.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, just one more question.


Q. I understand that the safety report has been made to you?

THE PRESIDENT. It hasn't reached me yet. I understand that it is finally finished, but that report has not reached me yet.

Q. Will that be made public after

THE PRESIDENT. It will, as soon as I have seen it.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, is Jim Mead under consideration for one of these vacancies, can you tell us ?

THE PRESIDENT. NO, I do not want to answer that question in the affirmative or in the negative. I am considering Jim Mead for several positions, but not particularly for these two.

[7.] Q. Mr. President, have you set a date for the transmittal of the message to Congress ?

THE PRESIDENT. The Message on the State of the Union will go down on January 7th, the Economic Message on the 9th, and the Budget Message probably the following Monday. We have to get all those things ready, and it's a tremendous job.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, what effect do you think Henry Wallace's action 1 will have on the 1948 political picture?

THE PRESIDENT. NO comment on that.

1 On December 29, 1947, Mr. Wallace announced his decision to run for President in 1948.

Q. Mr. President, do you think the Democrats will have a happy new year?

THE PRESIDENT. Sure they will. I am having one. [Laughter]

[9.] Q. Mr. President, can you say anything to us about what your conversation with Secretary Morgenthau--former Secretary Morgenthau was about?

THE PRESIDENT. We discussed various matters, and I think he announced to you all that was of importance in that conversation when he went out the door.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, will you go to Congress in person with any of these messages ?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't answer that yet. I will let you know in plenty of time.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, did Mr. Morgenthau tell you whether or not he was in the market--commodities market?

THE PRESIDENT. We didn't discuss that.

Q. Mr. President, in connection with the commodities market, in October when you criticized gambling in grain futures, I wonder if you could tell us what line you drew between what is called greedy speculation and legitimate trading?

THE PRESIDENT. It's easy enough for you to draw that line, Smitty,1 but I think I had better write you an essay on it. It's a very complicated subject; and I will do that some day. [Laughter]

1 Merriman Smith of the United Press Association.

Q. Mr. President, do you consider that Dr. Graham 2 did anything wrong in his speculation--

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think he did.

2 Brig. Gen. Wallace H. Graham, Physician to the President.

Q. Mr. President, do you know of any other member of your official family who has been trading extensively in the commodities exchange?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I do not know of any, and I didn't know that Dr. Graham was trading until the morning of the day that I announced that the names must be published. That is as soon as I found it out.

Q. Did he tell you that

THE PRESIDENT. I didn't even know Mr. Pauley was in the market until I heard them tell about it.

Q. Did Dr. Graham tell you on that day that he made--

THE PRESIDENT. That morning, yes. He told me that morning.

[12.] Q. Mr. President, would you care to discuss reports that the Democrats have a proposal to offset the Republican tax measure ?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know anything about it. I couldn't discuss it.

[13.] Q. Mr. President, it is customary to make resolutions--

THE PRESIDENT. I beg your pardon?

Q. It is customary, or used to be at this time, to make resolutions. Are you making any?

THE PRESIDENT. I think a lot of people ought to make some resolutions. I don't intend to make any.1

1 At this point the White House Official Reporter noted that there was laughter, especially from Margaret Truman and members of the Wallace family who were attending the news conference.

Q. What people particularly ?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I will let you name them, Bert.2 You and I would probably name the same people.

2 Bert Andrews of the New York Herald Tribune.

[14.] Q. Mr. President, in view of the increasingly bad military situation in Greece, are any steps planned by this Government

THE PRESIDENT. The State Department I think gave out an answer to that yesterday afternoon at 4 o'clock, did they not? They should have, if they didn't. I have no comment to make further than the statement that the State Department made yesterday afternoon at the press conference.3

3 The statement, released by the Department of State on December 30, follows:

"The claim of certain Communist guerrilla leaders that they have established at some unknown point a 'First Provisional Democratic Government of Free Greece' is a transparent device, the true purpose of which will be clear to everyone. It is only a phase in the familiar effort of certain elements to overthrow the legitimate and recognized Greek Government and to threaten the territorial integrity and political independence of Greece. It came as no surprise In itself, it would not materially change the existing situation.

"But if other countries were to recognize the group, this step would have serious implications. It would be clearly contrary to the principles of the United Nations Charter. And if the country concerned were one of Greece's neighbors to the north, the act would constitute an open disregard of the recent recommendations of the United Nations Assembly, as set forth in the resolution of last October."

[15.] Q. Mr. President, have you decided what course you are going to follow on taxes this next year? I am not trying to get you to tell me.

THE PRESIDENT. I will give you that answer in the Message on the State of the Union. I don't like to quote it in advance.

[16.] Q. Mr. President, Senator Maybank received a letter from you saying that you are going to forward a message dealing with the fuel oil shortage. Could you tell us what might be done ?

THE PRESIDENT. General Fleming has been working on that situation, and I think will have an announcement to make shortly.

[17.] Q. Mr. President, Henry Wallace said that the Democratic Party is not a peace party. Any comment on that?

THE PRESIDENT. I do not comment on anything Mr. Wallace says.

Q. Not even when he says that you can't tell the Trumans from the Republicans?

THE PRESIDENT. Now Bert! [Laughter] I don't answer leading questions either, Bert. [More laughter]

[18.] Q. Mr. President, the TVA report which you received today shows tremendous gains, in most instances new records being made in the TVA in the past fiscal year. In the light of that report, will you again this year urge river valley developments, such as the MVA and the Columbia River

THE PRESIDENT. Not necessarily in the light of that report. I would urge them anyway. I haven't seen the report, so I can't comment on it, but I am for river valley authorities.

Q. Mr. President, will you include the St. Lawrence Seaway in your messages?

THE PRESIDENT. The St. Lawrence Seaway I think I sent a special message on last year.1 I may do the same thing this year.

1See 1945 volume, this series, Item 155.

[ 19.] Q. Mr. President, does your budget for next year contemplate any funds for Greece ?

THE PRESIDENT. I will let the budget speak for itself when it comes out, and I will show it to you and talk to you about it. It isn't ready yet.

[20.] Q. Mr. President, have you found the original of that half-a-loaf anti-inflation bill yet?

THE PRESIDENT. What's that?

Q. Have you found the original of that half-a-loaf--

THE PRESIDENT. No. No. [Laughter] Half a loaf! I think you are getting it-- I don't think it was hardly one slice. [More laughter] It was lost. We couldn't find it. As it turned out, we signed a duplicate of it.

Reporter: Happy New Year, and thank you, Mr. President!

Note: President Truman's one hundred and thirty-first news conference was held in his office at the White House at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, December 31, 1947.

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/232649

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