Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

October 28, 1946

THE PRESIDENT. [1.] I am announcing some appointments, and reading you a statement on them.

Appointing John Nicholas Brown of Rhode Island to be Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Air.

[2.] [Reading]: "I have today named Mr. David E. Lilienthal as Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, and as his associates on the Commission, Robert F. Bacher, Sumner T. Pike, Lewis L. Strauss, and William W. Waymack.

"Together these men--each of whom has distinguished himself in his public and professional career--will bring to the work of the Commission abilities and experience which will command the confidence of the country. We may be grateful that they have been willing to set aside all personal considerations, and to take, as members of the Commission, responsibilities as great as any men have ever assumed in peacetime.

"The Commission will take over properties and an organization which in magnitude are comparable to the largest business enterprises of the country."

There are nine pieces of literature to be handed out to you in mimeograph form as you go out. All of you will have these things in full when I get through.

[Continuing reading]: "There is no activity--Government or business--upon which the security and the enrichment of our Nation are more heavily dependent.

"During the war, the Army was charged with the responsibility for atomic energy, and under General Groves' guidance, the Manhattan District carried the project forward with brilliant success. Now, in accordance with the Atomic Energy Act of 1946, the entire program is to be transferred to the new Commission. It will continue to move forward with the complete cooperation of the military and civilian personnel of the Manhattan Engineer District and all its many contractors, and with the full support of the War and Navy Departments.

"The Commission obviously must have a period of time in which to study the present program in detail, to analyze the broad scope of the problems facing it, and to lay plans for carrying out its very great responsibilities. The orderly transfer of functions and properties from the Manhattan District may well extend over a period of months.

"Discussion of the preliminary steps is already under way and the transfer will be accomplished as expeditiously as possible. During the period of transition, however, the Commission has asked the War Department to continue to carry on functions and operate facilities of the Manhattan project, so that there will be no interruptions in work while the actual transfers are being planned and carried out. To this arrangement, which meets with my approval, the Secretary of War and General Groves have agreed.

"Under the broad charter and the general policies which the Congress has formulated in the Atomic Energy Act of 1946, we look to this Commission to develop and carry on an ever-expanding program through which the benefits of atomic energy may be realized.

"We recognize that the full measure of these benefits cannot be achieved without the establishment of adequate international controls. We must therefore always be mindful that the most important step in realizing the promise of atomic energy for ourselves add for the world is the successful conclusion of the negotiations which are now in progress in the Atomic Energy Commission of the United Nations. Chairman Lilienthal and his associates, through their effective administration of our atomic energy program, will be of material assistance in advancing us toward that goal.

"Although the way may not appear entirely clear, we must direct all our efforts to the end that neither this nation, nor any other nation, shall suffer the penalties of atomic warfare and that the great achievements of science and industry will be instrumental in bringing a better way of life to all mankind." [Ends reading]

We want the development of atomic energy to be entirely in the interest of peace and not in the interest of war.

[3.] I am today naming Gordon R. Clapp as Chairman of the TVA, to succeed David E. Lilienthal--

Q. TVA?

THE PRESIDENT. TVA, yes. TVA. Gordon R. Cl-a-p-p--to be Chairman of the TVA, to succeed David E. Lilienthal.

[Reading] "Mr. Clapp has been TVA's General Manager since October 1939, and prior to that time served as Director of Personnel. Mr. Clapp's term of service, subject to confirmation of the Senate, will be until May 1954.

"I make this appointment of Mr. Clapp with a sense of great satisfaction, which I am sure all the millions of friends and supporters of TVA will share with me. His appointment and service mean a continuation of the superior performance in the public service that has characterized TVA in the past. It means that TVA will have at its head a man of wide experience and understanding of TVA's problems and opportunities, and one therefore uniquely qualified to provide sound leadership."

There is another page to that statement, which I hope you will use in full, just as if I had read it, because it is important.1

1See Item 244.

And you will receive Mr. Lilienthal's letter of resignation as Chairman of the TVA, and my reply.

And you will receive brief biographical sketches of the five members of the Atomic Energy Commission, and of Mr. Clapp, as you go out.

That's all, gentlemen.

[4.] Q. Mr. President, will the Commission have the operating control over all parts of the atomic program?

THE PRESIDENT. That's what the law says, and the law will be strictly complied with.

Q. Do they require Senatorial confirmation, Mr. President ?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, they do.

Q. What about the political party affiliations of the Committee ?

THE PRESIDENT. I do not know. I made no inquiries as to that. They are not political appointments.

Q. These are interim appointments? They will serve--

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, they will be interim appointments. They will go immediately to work and then they will be sent to the Senate when the Senate convenes.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, have you any news for us today on the threatened coal strike?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I have not. There will be no strike.

Q. There will be no strike?

THE PRESIDENT. No.

Q. That's quite a bit of news. [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. That will be confirmed at another press conference which is going on at the present time.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, could you make any comment on the visit of Prime Minister Mackenzie King?

THE PRESIDENT. It was a friendly call on the part of Mr. King. Discussed most everything which friends do discuss when they meet.

[7.] Q. Mr. President, will this new Commission cooperate with the United Nations Atomic Commission?

THE PRESIDENT. They will cooperate with the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission as the statement says they plan.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, can you tell us what conference is going on now about coal ?

THE PRESIDENT. Mr. Lewis is having a press conference.

Q. Mr. Lewis is having a press conference?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes.

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: President Truman's eighty-eighth news conference was held in his office at the White House at 4:10 p.m. on Monday, October 28, 1946. The Official White House Reporter noted that the new members of the Atomic Energy Commission were present at the conference.

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/232203

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