The President's News Conference
THE PRESIDENT. Well, ladies and gentlemen, I have little of my own repertoire that I want to present this morning.
I think that the one subject that is engaging the attention of the world today, more than any other, is the illness of Generalissimo Premier Stalin, and its possible effect upon the struggle that has been going on so long between the free world and the Communist world.
I did issue a statement yesterday, to express the hope--which I believe is that of all America--that no matter what these personalities are, who they may be, that all of us will seriously pursue the goal of peace, to see whether or not we cannot resolve questions so that real progress can be made.
As to the effect this change in Russia will have upon us, upon this whole struggle, I cannot say. Of course, we discuss it--all of us, my most intimate advisers. We take the various possibilities and we end up largely where we started, I imagine just as you folks do.
But in all of the possibilities, we all must--as I see it--cling to the one determination: to make progress in this line.
Two other subjects I have meant to mention briefly: one was reorganization, which you know we have been working very hard on. It is progressing, and I think that next week the first of our plans will be ready to go before the Congress. Not that it has priority of itself, but merely because it is more nearly ready to go than any other. It will involve the Federal Security Agency, and will be presented, I think, next week.
The other item was just to make a comment about the removal of price controls. I have been gratified to see that there has been little discernible evidence that anyone is trying to gouge, or take advantage of the situation. There has been a moderation and a restraint observed that I think have been noticeable and admirable.
The only real price change was one that everybody knew would occur, which was in copper, in which we had a control price of 24½ cents and the world price was considerably higher. There has been a shift upward of 6 or 7 cents a pound, I think, in our own domestic market, or a little less in some cases. But in any event, it inspires, or you might say it certainly confirms, my belief that the American people are ready to be considerate, to be moderate. I am very hopeful that there is going to be a climate established that will involve labor-management relations and all of the other difficult problems here at home, which will minimize the inflationary pressures on our economy.
That is to be done, and can be done, as I see it, only as each of us, all of us, tries to weigh his opportunity for immediate gain against the long-term good of the country--which means the long-term good of all of us. And I hope that the experience, so far, in this removal of price control gives renewed evidence that we are not entirely naive in looking for such a development in all fields.
Now, with those brief comments, we will start the questions.
Q. Merriman Smith, United Press: Mr. President, in view of what seems to be an inevitable change in Russian leadership, do you think that such a change will worsen or improve the anti-Semitic situation which Russia seems responsible for now?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, no, I can't tell, of course; and it would be foolish to give anything that would appear to be an authoritative conclusion. Here is something that has come up that is distressing to all of us. We deplore it. In a way it is heartbreaking, particularly so for one who, like myself, had so much experience with the horror camps of World War II, and saw these remnants of these people of this same faith and blood ground down to nothing but just remnants of humanity.
And to think of that going on again, it is--it is rather depressing; it's worse--it's just heartbreaking, as I said.
Now, as to exactly what effect this change will have on that, Mr. Smith, I am just not prepared to say. But certainly, we can hope for the best. And you are even puzzled as to whether it is wise to say anything, because anything that one in my position might say could be used as an excuse to make these conditions worse. So it comes down to it that it is a part, again, of this whole world effort that we are making, and which is going to be successful only as all America--indeed, all the free world--keeps its heart right into the job.
Q. [Speaker unidentified]: Mr. President, will the discussion with Foreign Secretary Eden now be broadened to include eventualities in connection with this illness of Premier Stalin?
THE PRESIDENT. I would scarcely say broadened, and I would scarcely talk about eventualities, for the reason that whatever is going to happen is going to happen inside of the Soviet Union. We would have nothing to do about that. We might, say, discuss some of the results or possible consequences. But as I say, only time can foretell what that can be.
The talks are informative. The British officials have come over here to apprise us of certain developments in the Commonwealth conferences of some months back, and they are not intended to be the basis of an immediate agreement of any kind. So these talks will be informative for us. I think there will be a communique issued--probably a joint one, when they have finished these conferences. That is about all I can say.
Q. [Speaker unidentified]: Did you discuss the economic aspects of Anglo-American relations with Mr. Eden yesterday or, specifically, the illness of Premier Stalin?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, all I discussed in the world was old friendships--he brought me greetings from an old friend of mine, the Prime Minister--we had a friendly talk, and then we discussed the world situation as we saw it, the identity of our hopes in many ways, but nothing that was specific enough to make the subject of a talk here at all.
Q. Douglas Cornell of United--Associated Press--[loud and prolonged laughter]. Going back to old relations of my own.
I would like to ask you, sir, whether you favor the adherence to the wording of the enslavement resolution as you originally presented it, or whether it is satisfactory to you the way the Senate has now changed it?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think I mentioned last week that I had sent a resolution to Congress that I thought was representative of the convictions of the American people in their refusal to recognize the enslavement of any people. I also said at that time, as I recall, that I had no particular authorial pride, and if it was found necessary to change some wording, I had no objection.
Now, on the other hand, there has developed, apparently, a sort of technical difference on the Hill as how best to express a certain thought. I think no one disagrees with the thought that has been put in this amendment. But how they settle it, I say, very definitely is their business. I would certainly hate to see the general meaning and tone of the resolution changed, but so far as I know, there is no such purpose.
Q. Roscoe Drummond, Christian Science Monitor: Mr. President, may I ask whether you feel that it would be wiser to have no resolution than to have one which could only pass by a narrow vote because of partisan differences?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, Mr. Drummond, I don't believe that I want to express a very definite conviction. I would want to see the thing exactly, know all the circumstances. But I do believe this: unless we are successful in showing that here is a thought that expresses the mass opinion of America, then it is no good.
In any dealing in a foreign problem, if America is 50-50 in looking at this, or 51 percent-49 percent, then the person abroad with whom you are dealing, or the individual, or situation, or atmosphere, is not much affected.
Q. Mr. Drummond: May I ask another question, Mr. President? May I ask whether, in view of the news from Moscow, you are considering sending Mr. Bohlen to Moscow somewhat earlier than might otherwise be the case?
THE PRESIDENT. I haven't discussed the thought, this is the first time it has occurred to me. I haven't considered it up to this moment.
Q. James B. Reston, New York Times: I wondered, sir, if you would comment on the Iranian situation, and especially whether you had made any appeal to the Shah or to the Prime Minister there recently?
THE PRESIDENT. I exchanged greetings with the Prime Minister before the inauguration, to assure him of our continued friendly interest in that region. Since this latest difficulty has arisen, I have not personally sent any message, although, of course, our whole Government watches this with the closest attention. It is a very delicate situation, and since it is an internal one, there is little that any outsider can do, even when they intend to be very helpful.
We have a lot of hopes, of course, that this thing will straighten itself out, but it is, to say the least, delicate.
Q. Mr. Reston: Do you regard the activities of the Tudeh party--the Communist Party in Iran--as an internal situation?
THE PRESIDENT. We may not. But in any country where a Communist Party is recognized, for them it is an internal situation. We would very greatly resent anyone coming in America from the outside and telling us what we should do about Communists; we think we know, or that would be our attitude. So for them, it is an internal situation, no matter where the inspiration for the Tudeh Party comes from.
Q. Leslie R. Honeycutt, Army Times: There have been reports, sir, that you are planning to name Congressman Kearney of New York to the post of Administrator of Veterans Affairs. Are those reports true?
THE PRESIDENT. This is the first time I have heard the name suggested in this connection.
Q. [Speaker unidentified]: Mr. President, you said last week that you would be willing to go halfway to a meeting with Stalin or other world leaders in the cause of peace. Does this hold for any Russian leader who might succeed Stalin?
THE PRESIDENT. So far as I can tell from this moment, yes; I have no feeling about this. If there is any way to promote the cause of peace, there is no personal inconvenience or sacrifice that I wouldn't make that I can think of. Now, the only thing that I would demand is, after all, that things be done in accordance with what America thinks is fitting to do and where there is, as I say, legitimate reason to believe that some advance can be made.
Q. Richard L. Wilson, Cowles Publications: Mr. President, I would like to put this question to you, about the resolution before Congress, a little more directly. Some people have interpreted the amendment which was made by the committee as representing a break between you and Senator Taft. Would you care to comment on that line of comment with regard to the resolution?
THE PRESIDENT. So far as I know, there is not the slightest sign of a rift or break between Senator Taft and me. And if anyone knows of any, I don't.
Q. Mr. Wilson: You are in complete agreement on the resolution?
THE PRESIDENT. I don't say the resolution itself. As to whether or not it was necessary to put in this particular point, I don't know. As I say, it is a technical point that arose. Everybody agrees on the sentiment. It's a technical point rather than one of substance.
Q. Pat Munroe, Albuquerque Journal: Mr. President, they have been getting careless with fire down in our State, and burned some ballots in the recent election--[laughter]--the Hurley Chavez election. I wonder if you have any comment to make on the upcoming contest that General Hurley is making for the seat of Mr. Chavez in the Senate?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I don't believe that the Executive has a single thing to do with such a contest. Is not a Senate committee completely responsible, a Senate group? I think they are, and it hasn't been brought to my attention.
I didn't know they had the fire. [Laughter]
Q. [Speaker unidentified], Christian Science Monitor: Do you feel the executive branch of the Government should make the loyalty files available to the legislative branch?
THE PRESIDENT. You bring up a technical question that has been bothering administrations and people for a good many years. I think there are certain types of papers that cannot be exposed to view. Now, whether or not the type of record that you are talking about can be properly turned over, I don't know. The subject has been under study by groups of the administration since we have come in, but no one has made a report to me.
Q. [Speaker unidentified], Washington Daily News: You indicated last week that you might have something to say today about the appointment of a District Commissioner. I wonder if you do?
THE PRESIDENT. I should like to. I will tell you this: it has been the subject of study and investigation, and search and research ever since you asked the question. We are not quite ready to make an announcement, I am sorry.
Q. Mrs. May Craig, Maine papers: Mr. President, going back to the enslavement resolution, quite apart from anything else, do you think that imminent change of leadership in Russia makes it more or less desirable to deal with that in Congress now?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I have the feeling that Russia works out for itself a plan, and follows it. Little changes in the details of the foreign situation from their viewpoint, I believe, make little difference. I believe they follow a studied plan. Consequently, I don't think they would give too much importance over there to the timing of a resolution such as this.
What I really want to do is to put ourselves on record before all the world, including ourselves, that we never agreed to the enslavement of peoples that has occurred, and that as long as that condition persists, we see a danger to freedom and to ourselves in the world. That's all I am trying to do.
Q. [Speaker unidentified]: Mr. President, I would like to ask you two questions that are not quite related: first, in regard to the developments in Russia, is your feeling or the feeling of your advisers one of misgiving now, or one of optimism, as a result of the events in the last day or so?
THE PRESIDENT. I think it is a very definite watchfulness; that is the way I would express it.
Q. Now, the second question is on a somewhat different subject: I have been told that the Attorney General has advised you that in the Rosenberg case, that if the Rosenbergs were to discuss in full or tell in full all they know about Russian espionage, that their sentence would be commuted to life. Is that correct?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I don't know how he could tell me that. I believe that I am the only person that can commute. So I don't know how anybody else could tell me they would do it.
Q. It has not been discussed then?
THE PRESIDENT. On all the evidence I had in front of me, I decided that the courts had done for these people everything possible, given them every right, and I was not going to interfere. If any other different situation arises that makes it look like a question of policy, of state policy, they can bring it back to me. As of now, my decision was made purely on the basis of what the courts had found in all this long discussion.
Q. Sarah McClendon, Beaumont Enterprise: There is some confusion, sir, about the submerged lands and the policy of the administration. Would you say if you still favor restoring full ownership to the States within historic boundaries?
THE PRESIDENT. Within historic boundaries?
Q. Mrs. McClendon: Yes sir.
THE PRESIDENT. Which doesn't mean, of course, that the Federal Government does not perform certain functions in that region. There are all sorts of things--security, smuggling, many other things that fall to the Federal Government to do--that they do in those regions, but up to historic boundaries, as far as I am concerned, that is State property.
Q. Mrs. McClendon: State property. All right, sir. The other question you promised last time you would have for me the answer this time. [Laughter] Do you favor retaining control and construction planning of upstream dams by the Soil Conservation Service within the Department of Agriculture?
THE PRESIDENT. In other words, your question is, do I favor keeping it in the Department of Agriculture, not some place else?
Q. Mrs. McClendon: Yes.
THE PRESIDENT. Well, that is the very point that is under study this moment. I have been informed by both Interior and Agriculture that they are not quite ready to report on it. I do say, as a matter of conviction, that I am very hopeful of getting it done in an efficient and effective manner, because I believe in this upstream conservation very much, as an individual. I don't know what either the Interior or Agriculture would say to me about that, but that is my view.
Q. Anthony H. Leviero, New York Times: The Attorney General has suggested some complications on offshore oil, and the one formula he offered before Congress was that the States be given the right to take out oil but not full title--
THE PRESIDENT. But not what?
Q. Mr. Leviero: --not full title to the deposits. Now, does that agree with your concept of it?
THE PRESIDENT. The Attorney General necessarily has to delve into the legal questions involved, but every State has within its historic boundaries certain public lands that belong to that State. Now, that is the way I look upon these lands. And I think I told you last week, or a couple of weeks ago, how my convictions on this thing were formed some years back when I studied the documents that had to do with the Texan admission into the Nation. I believe I can read English, and after I formed my conviction, I have never found anything to change it.
Q. Alan S. Emory, Watertown (N.Y.) Times: Last week you said you did not want to comment on the St. Lawrence Seaway proposition until the study made by certain Government agencies had been made available to you. However, in your Abilene speech of last June, if I remember correctly, you did endorse the St. Lawrence power project. Now, I would like to ask two closely allied questions: first, do you favor the proposition that New York develop the power jointly with the Province of Ontario; and secondly, have you communicated with, or do you intend to communicate to the Federal Power Commission your views on the situation, in view of the fact that the hearing on the power question has now ended?
THE PRESIDENT [laughing]. The St. Lawrence Waterway seems to reach into a lot of places. Actually, I have heard no objection to this proposition of power development with New York State, but on the other hand, there has been no finalized type of recommendation placed in front of me. And so I couldn't say that the administration is prepared to give a complete blessing or to abandon it.
As a matter of personal conviction, I still believe what I said in Abilene. I remember distinctly. I also said, at that time, that if the St. Lawrence Waterway was an economic necessity for our country, eventually it would come. It would make little difference what I thought about it; if it does turn out to be an economic necessity, it's bound to come someday.
Q. [Speaker unidentified]: Mr. President, I wonder if you would care to comment on the Bell report?
THE PRESIDENT. On the what?
Q. The Bell report on foreign trade, that you received yesterday?
THE PRESIDENT. He brought it in, and we discussed it only very briefly, so briefly that I don't believe it would be fair to comment. I must say this: I was certainly favorably impressed by the process which they had gone through, not only the membership of the commission, but the people to whom they turned it over for review, including among others John Williams, whom I admire greatly. While they had comments to make on it, the general reaction was favorable; so I would think in general it is probably a very, very good report, and worthy of study.1
1On March 3, the White House announced that Daniel W. Bell, Acting Chairman of the Public Advisory Board for Mutual Security, presented to the President the report of the special survey of United States trade politics. The study was initiated on July 13, 1952. The report is titled "A Trade and Tariff Policy in the National Interest: A Report to the President by the Public Advisory Board for Mutual Security" (Government Printing Office, 1953).
Q. [Speaker unidentified], Akron Beacon Journal: Mr. President, this week the RFC sent you its recommendations for selling the Government synthetic rubber plants. Do you favor getting the Government out of the rubber business this year?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, the recommendation hasn't reached me yet; therefore I don't know any of the arguments on either side of the question. As all of you people know, I have reiterated time and again the generalization by which I live; I believe in getting the Federal Government out of everything it can legitimately get out of, but I don't know anything about this particular question.
Q. Merriman Smith, United Press: Mr. President, do you favor extension of the draft to 30 or 36 months, as General Van Fleet favors it?
THE PRESIDENT. No.
Q. Glenn Thompson, Cincinnati Enquirer: Mr. President, do you have any information in anywise different from that that has been published about the state of Premier Stalin's health?
THE PRESIDENT. None.
Q. Edward T. Folliard, Washington Post: Mr. President, is there anything you can say about Korea, as a result of General Van Fleet's visit to the White House?
THE PRESIDENT. No. I think that every conclusion and conviction that we have had, formed over the late months, have been expressed publicly. I don't think there is anything new. Nothing that I can think of, anyway.
Q. [Speaker unidentified]: Mr. President, on your Federal Security reorganization, does that provide for the creation of a new Cabinet post--a new department of Government?
THE PRESIDENT. I certainly intend to recommend that. Now I am not certain whether it's right in the plan, whether that's the way it will be done or not, but I think so.
Q. If it's in that plan it will be--
THE PRESIDENT. I will certainly recommend it.
Q. Arthur Sylvester, Newark News: Mr. President, do you, by considering Iran an internal problem, relinquish the initiative to the Russian Communists operating through the Tudeh Party?
THE PRESIDENT. Very naturally--we are represented there. We do every single thing we can to protect the interests of the United States everywhere on the globe, including Iran. What I meant was, that it is not proper for me here to comment on things that are internal and which could be properly resented. But make no mistake: the reason we have representatives around the world is to protect American interests wherever they may be endangered or in difficulties.
Q. Mr. Sylvester: May I ask one other question? Do you consider that a field for your psychological warfare man, Mr. Jackson or whoever it may be?
THE PRESIDENT. I rather dislike the term "psychological warfare," although no one really has invented a better one. The United States is trying to present certain salient facts to the world, facts, for example, as to what our purpose is, our intent, what we are doing and what we are prepared to do to further those purposes. And they are not understood. All of you are familiar with stories of where we have tried to be helpful and have earned nothing but vituperation and criticism. What we are trying to do is to find some way of making effective all of the things we do in one concerted plan, of showing the world what this purpose, what these methods, what they are specifically--that we are not imperialistic, we are simply trying to help create a world in which free men can live decently.
Q. [Speaker unidentified]: Mr. President, do you think that Senator McCarthy's investigations into the Voice of America are furthering the purpose about which you just spoke?
THE PRESIDENT. I think last week I declined to speak about that point. I have always supported and insisted upon the right of the Congress to conduct such investigations as it sees fit. think it is inherent in its powers and its responsibilities. Now, when it gets into fields in which I think some misunderstanding or damage or difficulty can arise, why, I have to watch it--do my best to show them my convictions. But I don't believe it is really a proper thing for me to be discussing publicly a coordinate branch of Government. If ever I find that necessary, it will be through some change of views. I try to avoid it.
Q. [Speaker unidentified], Washington Star: In connection with this--your reorganization of Federal Security--is the administration giving any--has it any plans concerning change of functions of any kind from the Veterans Administration to the FSA?
THE PRESIDENT. No--oh, as a matter of fact, there may be some tiny included thing; but in general, no.
Q. Health and education programs--
THE PRESIDENT. Not so far as I know.
[Speaker unidentified]: Thank you, Mr. President.
Note: President Eisenhower's third news conference was held in the Executive Office Building at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, March 5, 1953.
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/232213