Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

May 31, 1946

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I haven't any special announcements to make to the press this morning, but I thought maybe the press might want to ask a question or two, so I thought I would let you in this morning.

[1.] Q. Mr. President, has Mr. Stettinius talked to you about resigning?

THE PRESIDENT. Mr. Stettinius sent me a letter of resignation based on the fact that he thought his--the job he agreed to do--

which was to complete the organization of the United Nations program--had been completed. I expressed the hope to him that he would not insist on that resignation- I want him to stay, and so does the Secretary of State.

Q. Has he sent more than one letter of resignation--has he attempted it before, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. No, he hasn't. This was a surprise to me.

Q. When was it, Mr. President--the first letter?

THE PRESIDENT. Day before yesterday-well, it has been 2 or 3 days ago. I think about Monday, probably.

Q. That is where the matter stands now?

THE PRESIDENT. That is where it stands.

Q. You haven't heard from him since then, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. I think he's going to stay. I am sure--I hope he will.

[2.] Q. Mr. President, do you plan to sign the Case bill ?

THE PRESIDENT. I will have to analyze the Case bill when it gets to me. I haven't seen it, and I don't know what it contains. I will give you the answer when I have had a chance to analyze it.

[3.] Q. Mr. President, at Potsdam, do you recall whether Generalissimo Stalin proposed an all-German overall control agency for Germany?

THE PRESIDENT. The agreement at Potsdam, as I remember it, was for a--communications, transportation, and finances was to be in overall control. That is as I remember the Potsdam agreement. I would have to look it up to be absolutely sure.

Q. Molotov said in this blast the other day that this thing had been proposed by Stalin but never got anywhere--had been rejected. The first any of us had ever heard of it.

THE PRESIDENT. Not rejected by us. It had to be rejected because of the inability of the four controlling powers to agree on all the details. I don't know who is at fault. The best thing to do is to ask the Secretary of State. I think he can answer that for you.

[4.] Q. Mr. President, what do you think of Mr. Whitney's assertion that you signed your political death warrant?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment.

Q. Mr. President, have you seen the transcript Mr. Whitney put out of the reported conversation with you

THE PRESIDENT. No. I don't read Mr. Whitney.

Q. What was that, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't read Mr. Whitney.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, do you think the Senate's action in eliminating the draft feature of your labor legislation greatly weakens the bill ?

THE PRESIDENT. I think so. I think that the draft provision in that bill has been grossly misrepresented and misunderstood.

It is customary, in an emergency, even when a sheriff has an emergency in his county, he can deputize any citizen to act to enforce the law. That was really the power that I wanted, in that case, because we needed experts, particularly in the railroad situation, to run the trains; and I merely wanted the authority to deputize those fellows to meet the emergency, just as you would in any other great emergency. And I don't think it has been understood. I think they're misrepresenting it. It is not-was not intended as a "draft labor" proposal. It was a "draft citizens" proposal in an emergency.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, have you any plans to see Stalin?

THE PRESIDENT. No immediate plans. I would be glad to see him. I have invited him to visit me here in Washington on two occasions, and he has regretted that he couldn't come on account of his health.

[7.] Q. Mr. President, it is reported in Italian newspapers that this Government plans to decorate King Umberto for his services to the Allied cause.

THE PRESIDENT. I never heard of it.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, how recently did you invite Mr. Stalin to visit you here?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, let's see. I imagine it has been within 30 days.

Q. Both times, sir, within 30 days?

THE PRESIDENT. No, no. The first time was at Potsdam, and the second time about 30 days ago, in the correspondence between us on food and things, I have asked him if he wouldn't come over and pay a visit to me in Washington.

Q. Did he reply each time it was because of ill health?

THE PRESIDENT. He replied each time that his doctors did not think it was well for him to take such a long journey. That is almost exactly what he said.

Q. Is there any question of meeting elsewhere?

THE PRESIDENT. Not in the immediate future.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, in view of the tone of the exchanges between Secretary Byrnes and Mr. Molotov, do you think there is much chance for success for the next Council of Foreign Ministers and much chance that the Russians will agree to the 21-nation peace conference?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't answer a question like that, Bert.1 That is a matter you ought to take up with the State Department.

1 Bert Andrews of the New York Herald Tribune.

Q. They can't answer it either.

THE PRESIDENT. All right then; you can't get an answer. [Laughter]

[10.] Q. Mr. President, going back to this Stalin correspondence, sir, 10 days ago you said you might have something to say on release of that correspondence. Can we expect that now ?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think it's all been released by the State Department.

Q. No, sir--we have made inquiries over there, but the note has not been released. It has, on one broadcast from Moscow.

THE PRESIDENT. I will refer you to the State Department, because there are complications in connection with it which the State Department will have to handle.

[11.] Q. You remarked that you didn't have any plans for the immediate future for another international meeting on the top level. Does that mean there is one in the works that will come along

THE PRESIDENT. No, it doesn't. It means just what it says.

[12.] Q. Mr. President, to return to the emergency legislation you recommended, do you still wholeheartedly support that recommendation?

THE PRESIDENT. Of course I do. I wouldn't have made it if I wasn't going to wholeheartedly support it; and the House was in the same frame of mind--and I appreciate that.

[13.] Q. Mr. President, are you considering Judge Vinson for World Bank President?

THE PRESIDENT. What's that?

Q. Are you considering Judge Vinson for World Bank President ?

THE PRESIDENT. No.

Q. Are you considering him for the Supreme Court, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. No.

[14.] Q. Mr. President, on the Stettinius correspondence, do I understand it correctly that you have sent him a letter saying you hoped he wouldn't press his resignation?

THE PRESIDENT. No. I haven't had a chance to answer his letter as yet. That is the sort of letter I am expecting to send to him. The letter came right in the middle of all this turmoil, and I haven't had the opportunity to answer it.

[15.] Q. Mr. President, do you have any hope of averting the maritime strike ?

THE PRESIDENT. It looks very dark at the present time, and we are making the necessary preparations to keep the ships running.

Q. Those necessary preparations, Mr. President, include the Navy and War Shipping Administration taking them over?

THE PRESIDENT. It would take whatever is necessary to do it. It will include Navy, the War Shipping, and the Army and the Coast Guard. Nothing will be left undone to keep the ships running.

[16.] Q. Mr. President, have you heard from the Secretary of War and Secretary of the Navy on the merger ?

THE PRESIDENT. The report is to come in today, and I am having a conference with them on Tuesday. I haven't seen the report.

Q. You instructed them to get together on a plan by May 31st?

THE PRESIDENT. As nearly as they could get the report to me, then we would discuss the matter, that was the conversation.

[17.] Q. Mr. President, in view of the legislative situation on the Hill, do you still expect to go--make the trip to the Philippines July 4th ?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, of course, you are talking too long a way in advance. The situation on the Hill has a lot of time to develop between now and that time. I hope I can make the trip to the Philippines.

[18.] Q. Mr. President, in your plan for meeting the maritime strike, do you have sufficient legislation now to arrange the--to make arrangements and go ahead with the--

THE PRESIDENT. We will go just as far as present legislation will allow us. The emergency program would be of very great help in meeting that situation.

[19.] Q. Do you think, Mr. President, you will find time during June to make the Supreme Court appointment, or appointments ? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. I hope so.

Q. Anybody in mind?

THE PRESIDENT. I am in no hurry about that. The Supreme Court is getting along very well.

[20.] Q. In your correspondence with Marshal Stalin, did you suggest any program which you might take up, or hoped he would take up if he came over here?

THE PRESIDENT. I did not. I asked him for a social visit.

Q. Did you ask Mr. Attlee at the same time, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. Mr. Attlee was asked last fall, and he came.

Q. I wondered in this last invitation to Mr. Stalin, did you propose another meeting of the Big Three?

THE PRESIDENT. I did not.

[21.] Q. Mr. President, when did Justice Black give you that statement from Henry Clay?

THE PRESIDENT. Oh, a month ago.

Q. Month ago?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. Maybe more than that. He and I were discussing the conditions in the United States at the time of Jefferson, Jackson, and Lincoln, and he just happened to refer to that. I read it, but I had forgotten about it, and he called it to my attention. It fits the situation very well.1

1The reporter referred to the President's extemporaneous remarks to the graduating class of George Washington University on May 29. Shortly after receiving an honorary degree the President read a quotation from Henry Clay in which Clay in 1833 predicted that if "the progress of innovation" continued at the current rate until 1837, the Government of the United States "will have been transformed into an elective monarchy." Mr. Truman stated that he had received the quotation from Justice Hugo Black.

[22.] Q. Mr. President, was your last invitation to Marshal Stalin after the Paris conference?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't remember--no, it wasn't. I think it was maybe while the Paris conference was going on. I can give you the date exactly if you would like to have it. It's in the record.

[23.] Q. Mr. President, it has been more than 3 months since the full employment bill has passed and you haven't yet named the Economic Advisory Council--

THE PRESIDENT. Yes I have. The difficulty with naming that Advisory Council is to get the proper men to accept the responsibility. Because of the treatment that some people get before the Senate and the Congress, it's a difficult matter to get the right sort of men to accept the possibility of that sort of treatment.

Q. Mr. President, is it a question also of getting the Senate to accept those men? Isn't that part--

THE PRESIDENT. Why certainly. Certainly that's part of the difficulty.

[24.] Q. Mr. President, is there any possibility of a new Under Secretary of the Navy soon?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, not right soon. I hope we will have a chance to appoint an Under Secretary of the Navy very shortly. We need--we certainly need one.

Q. Are you having the same difficulty with that appointment?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes I am.

Q. --getting them to accept--

THE PRESIDENT. Yes I am.

[25.] Q. Mr. President, did the Government improve the terms of the coal contract after last Saturday?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, the Government approved them, or they wouldn't be in effect.

Q. Improved them?

THE PRESIDENT. I beg your pardon ?

Q. Were the Government's terms increased or improved after Saturday ?

THE PRESIDENT. No, they were not. They were just exactly what was stated to you on Saturday.

[26.] Q. Has the impending visit of the Argentine chief of staff come to your personal attention? Do you have any plans in that respect?

THE PRESIDENT. I didn't know about it.

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. You're welcome.

Note: President Truman's sixty-seventh news conference was held in his office at the White House at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, May 31, 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/231763

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