Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

February 21, 1946

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I haven't any special announcements to make to you this morning, so any questions you want to ask I will try to answer.

[1.] Q. Mr. President, have you decided on the membership of the civilian board to--


Q.-- preside at the atomic tests?

THE PRESIDENT. No. They are not a presiding board. They are merely a jury. I have not decided because I have not heard from those that have been asked. As soon as they reply and decide to go, I will announce them to you.

Q. You have asked some people?

THE PRESIDENT. I have asked some people to act.

Q. Mr. President, do you contemplate going out there


Q.-- to see any of those tests?

THE PRESIDENT. I wish I could, but I can't go.

[2.] Q. Mr. President, have you made any decision on the man you would like to have head up the civil commission on atomic energy?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I have not.

Q. How many invitations have gone out, Mr. President?


Q. Five?

[3.] Q. Have we made our decision yet on the American representative on the United Nations Atomic Commission?


Q. Mr. President, several months ago, you said--at a press conference--that you didn't share the unholy fear of Russia that was manifested by some people, and that sometime you would comment at length on that. I wonder if you could comment now, in view of the current revelations about the atomic secrets

THE PRESIDENT. No comment.

Q. --recently by the--

THE PRESIDENT. No comment.

[4.] Q. Mr. President, do you have any comment on Mr. Macmillan's speech before members of the British cabinet, that we should return to the procedure of Big Three meetings, in order to improve Big Three relations, which he believes are rather strained at this point?

THE PRESIDENT. I haven't read Mr. Macmillan's speech, so I have no comment to make on it.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, in view of the rather strong reports in the Justice Department that certain activities--agents of foreign powers--have been observed in this country, would you say anything to put the situation in its proper perspective, for general guidance, on the Justice Department's activities?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment on it. I know nothing about it.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, is there any news on the Governorship of Puerto Rico?

THE PRESIDENT. No. Not this morning. I will answer that at the proper time.

[7. ] Q. What about the Secretary of the Interior, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. I have made no decision as yet.

Q. Has it been offered to Mr.--to Justice Douglas?

THE PRESIDENT. It has been discussed with Justice Douglas.

Q. Not necessarily mean it has been offered--


Q. --to him? [Laughter]

Q. You didn't say it had not been, did you, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. I did not. I said it had been discussed.

[8.] Q. Do you intend to withdraw Mr. Pauley's name, in view of Senator Stewart's suggestion that Pauley ought to get out now?


Q. Does that mean, Mr. President, that Mr. Pauley will have your full support, if he wants to stay in and fight for confirmation?

THE PRESIDENT. That is my policy. And when I get behind a man, I usually stay behind him.

[9-] Q. Mr. President, if I might return to the Russian question a moment, do you have any plans to ask Congress for a Russian loan--loan to Russia?


[10.] Q. Mr. President, this full employment board--bill that you signed yesterday, sets up a three-member council. Have you decided who--

THE PRESIDENT. No, I have not.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, does your answer that you have no plans to ask Congress for a loan to Russia exclude the possibility of a loan?

THE PRESIDENT. No, it does not.

Q. When is the Advisory Council's foreign lending policy report to be released by the White House, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. I didn't hear the question.

Q. When will the Advisory Council's report on foreign lending policy be released by the White House?

THE PRESIDENT. It isn't ready yet. Whenever it is ready, it will be released.

[12.] Q. Mr. President, the report of Edwin Locke on China is sort of gathering dust. I wonder if you could tell us when that is going to be released, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. It isn't proper to release it as yet. It will be released when General Marshall's work is completed in China.

Q. Would you give us any idea when General Marshalls work will be completed?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I can't. I can't give you that.

[13.] Q. Would you care to tell us if Governor Wallgren is among those that you are considering

THE PRESIDENT. Governor Wallgren would make a fine Secretary, but I can't possibly have two Cabinet officers from the great State of Washington.

Q. Mr. President, that would seem to bar Justice Douglas.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, you draw your own conclusions.

Q. Well, he is a legal resident of Connecticut, though, as I understand it?

THE PRESIDENT. No. He is a legal resident of Washington-lives at Walla Walla.

Q. Who is that?

THE PRESIDENT. Justice Douglas.

Q. I thought his legal residence was Connecticut ?

[14.] THE PRESIDENT. Now, wait a minute, I want to show you something I think you will enjoy. Lieutenant General Richardson showed me some GI drawings that are rather unusual, due to the fact that they are drawn apparently by artists who believe in an infinite ability for taking pains. They are not "dogs." [Showing some large drawings] These are soldier drawings that were sent me. They are, I think, most remarkable. I thought maybe you would like to see them. These young artists ought to be complemented, because they do not belong to the "ham and egg" class of artists-[laughter]--which--. Look at this--[indicating]--don't you think those are wonderful?

Q. Are they all drawn by one man?

THE PRESIDENT. No. Three or four artists represented.

Q. What do you define as "ham and egg," Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. What was that? I didn't hear it.

Q. What do you define as "ham and egg" in art?

THE PRESIDENT. These so-called pictures that look as if they had stood off and thrown an egg at them--smeared them--[laughter].

These young men don't belong in that class. They still believe that there is--a good deal depends on careful work, and trying to make you see what they intend you to see, and not leave it to your imagination. [Laughter]

Q. Mr. President, is there a moral in that--an implied--

THE PRESIDENT. Draw your own conclusions. [More laughter] I believe in infinite taking of pains in anything you try to do.

Q. May we quote that, sir?


[15.] Q. There is still confusion in my mind. You said you can't have two members of the Cabinet from one State . .

THE PRESIDENT. I didn't say I couldn't have. I said I didn't think I should have.

Q. You said that Douglas is a legal resident of Washington?

THE PRESIDENT. That's right.

Q. Mr. President, that has added up to four--twice now. [Laughter]

Q. Does that--

THE PRESIDENT. Shall we start over? I say, shall we start over?

Q. Does that exclude Douglas ?

THE PRESIDENT. No. It does not exclude Mort Wallgren, either.

Q. You wouldn't do something you shouldn't, would you ?

Q. You said you discussed it with Justice Douglas?

THE PRESIDENT. That's right.

Q. Were you aware then that he was from Washington?

THE PRESIDENT. Oh yes. I know all about Justice Douglas. [Laughter] He is a friend of mine--for a long time.

Q. When you discussed it with him, were you discussing the position for Douglas or for someone else?

THE PRESIDENT. I will answer that question later.

Q. The implication is that Mr. Schwellenbach is leaving?

THE PRESIDENT. Mr. Schwellenbach is going to stay Secretary of Labor. Mr. Anderson is going to stay Secretary of Agriculture. That is definite. Just so long as they want to stay.

Q. Mr. President, if Mr. Douglas came into your Cabinet, that might give Mr. Schwellenbach an opportunity to go somewhere else he would like to go, though, wouldn't it, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, let's discuss that when that happens, if it does.

[16.] Q. Mr. President, in your budget there is estimated $27 billion Internal Revenue, and $4 billion in Miscellaneous Receipts. Now I was wondering, how are you going to figure on the returns from surplus property? It looks like that is a very small return next year for all this surplus property to be disposed of.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, we will have to take the returns from surplus property for whatever it brings. We made the best estimate we were capable of making on that.

Q. Apparently only bring about a billion and a half to two billion dollars.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, your guess is as good as anybody's. From all the information we could get, we thought that was a very good guess.

Q. Supposed to have about eighty to a hundred billion dollars worth of surplus property?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, let's wait and see what it brings, and I will answer your question.

[17.] Q. Mr. President, I have been asked to ask you if you intervened in getting this new Hungarian Cardinal 1--whose name I am unable to pronounce-out of Russia and down to Rome in an American airplane?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I did not.

1 Joseph Mindszenty.

[18.] Q. Mr. President, how do you feel about the economic conditions of the country right now?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I have always been optimistic, and I still am.

[19.] Q. Mr. President, there have been some rumors floating around town that there are important things Mr. Churchill discussed with you. Was the question of American and British foreign policy toward Russia-did that subject come up?

THE PRESIDENT. It did not. The things that Mr. Churchill and I discussed were the speech--the speech and the trip to Missouri.

Q. He is not going to touch on that question in his speech?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know whether he will or not.

Q. Did Mr. Byrnes's trip down to Florida to see the former Prime Minister have any bearing on that question?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think so. I did not discuss the matter with Mr. Byrnes.

[20.] Q. Mr. President, the House Military Affairs Committee, the--Chairman May, rather--said that he is going to recommend to you that you make every effort possible to secure the banishment of international conscription, before the committee comes out with a report on a universal military training law. Do you think that that attempt to get peacetime conscription banned internationally is at all feasible?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I do not.

[21.] Q. Mr. President, do you agree that Russia has a moral right to obtain atomic bomb secrets?

THE PRESIDENT. No comment.

[22.] Q. Mr. President, when can we expect the Executive order reconstituting the OES?

THE PRESIDENT. Just as soon as it is ready. It won't be very long.

Q. Any particular reason for the delay?

THE PRESIDENT. None whatever, except that it is a detail that has to be worked out, and it takes a little time. It will be carried out in plenty of time. The Senate has to act on the appointment of Paul Porter before anybody else could take over in the Office.

[23.] Q. Mr. President, do you hear anything on the General Motors situation?


[24.] Q. Mr. President, did foreign spy activities come up at your meeting with Mr. Attlee last November, when you were talking to him?

THE PRESIDENT. What was that?

Q. Foreign spy activities in this country-- Great Britain and Canada--did that come up when you were talking to Mr. Attlee?

THE PRESIDENT. We discussed atomic energy and not spies.

[25.] Q. Mr. President, in connection with Paul Porter leaving the FCC, do you plan to make another appointment to the FCC?

THE PRESIDENT. Not immediately.

[26.] Q. Mr. President, to pursue that next to the last question a little bit farther, the White House told us that Mr. King did communicate to you the problem that he saw on his hands up there, and you know about the leaks?

THE PRESIDENT. He did. He did that on his trip to Great Britain, before the meeting of the Prime Ministers.

Q. That was prior to the--



THE PRESIDENT. --prior to the atomic meeting.

Q. And at that time, did you initiate any general check in the United States, to make sure that that situation had not extended to this country?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I didn't.

Q. You feel our security measures are adequate?

THE PRESIDENT. They have always been adequate, and I think they still are.

[27.] Q. Mr. President, when do you expect full production and distribution to hit its peak? In other words, reconversion really gets--

THE PRESIDENT. I had expected it to be at it right now. At least, that was my expectation last November. Of course, it depends altogether on contingencies. If everybody's willing to go to work and put in everything, why it will not take very long for that full production peak to be hit.

Q. Has any estimate been made of the date?

THE PRESIDENT. NO, no, No estimate has been made now. Just wait and see what works out. If everybody goes back to work as he should, it will be here very quickly.

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: President Truman's forty-ninth news conference was held in his office at the White House at 10:35 a.m. on Thursday, February 21, 1946.

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/232505

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