Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

March 29, 1951

THE PRESIDENT. Please be seated.

[1.] Tony,1 I've got two or three memos here, so you had better get yourself two or three sharp pencils.

1 Ernest B. Vaccaro of the Associated Press.

Q. Okay, sir. [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. I was sure that you would be asking me some questions on this subject, and I thought I might as well tell you about it, and then it may bring some questions to mind that you otherwise wouldn't ask!

[Reading, not literally] "Every war has left a trail of crime in its wake, and the last war did that, too. I have been deeply concerned about it, and we have been taking positive steps to combat it.

"As early as 1946, the Attorney General convened a national conference for the prevention and control of juvenile delinquency. This was an effort to eliminate crime at its roots, and the program is having good results.

"In the meantime, we have been studying quietly but consistently the problems of adult crime, particularly organized crime which spills over State boundaries.

"About a year ago I directed the Attorney General to call a conference of Federal, State, and municipal enforcement officials. This conference produced some proposals for cooperative attack on crime which are already being used, and produced other proposals which are being carefully studied.

"At my direction, the Attorney General has also during the last 18 months--this is a special order of my own--convened special grand juries in Miami, Los Angeles, Kansas City, Newark, Philadelphia, and Scranton to seek out offenders against the Federal tax, narcotics, white slave, and other laws. In the regular course of its work, the Justice Department filed over 36,000 criminal cases in the last fiscal year. Many notorious gangsters have been and are being prosecuted under these Federal statutes.

"In addition the Treasury and Justice Departments have, under my orders, given unstinted cooperation to the present Senate Committee to Investigate Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce. The committee deserves great credit for focusing public attention on the need for ever greater efforts to stamp out crime.

"The eradication of crime is a job for everyone. The Federal Government cannot evade its responsibilities any more than the States and the municipal governments can. And, above all, the individual citizens cannot evade their responsibility for their patronage without which gaming--gambling, vice, and narcotics peddling--could not exist.

"The respective responsibilities of the Federal Government and the State governments are clear. The Constitution specifies that police powers within the States are for the States themselves to enforce. The Constitution clearly gives the Federal Government power to regulate interstate traffic.

"It has always been and always will continue to be the policy of this administration to back up the States in their inherent police powers by every appropriate measure. We supported legislation to prohibit the interstate shipment of slot machines in violation of State laws, and to prohibit the use of interstate communications facilities to transmit gambling information. We already have laws to back up the States in their enforcement of local narcotics and alcohol laws. The postal laws forbid the use of the mails for transmitting lottery, obscene, and fraudulent material. There are many more measures which need not be cataloged here.

"On the other hand, I do not want anyone to be deceived that Federal action by itself can solve the problems of crime. The primary responsibility rests with State and local authorities, and with individual citizens who must obey the laws enacted by their representatives in government.

"It is vitally important that this Nation remain strong morally, as well as economically and militarily.

"I say again, the eradication of crime is a job for every citizen in the country."

[2.] Now I have a statement on wheat for India, which I think you will be interested in. This one is ready, and the other one will be ready very shortly.

[Reading, not literally] "India has an urgent need for grain to prevent suffering and starvation. This I pointed out in my message of February 12th to the Congress. My views have not changed. We can, at some sacrifice, spare the grain. We should do so--first, to save human lives, and secondly to strengthen freedom and democracy in an important area of Asia. Moreover, we should provide the first million tons promptly as a grant. We can then explore in greater detail the situation with respect to the remaining million tons.

"India must have 6 million tons of grain in order to meet the famine conditions caused by severe drought. India has made arrangements to buy 4 million tons through ordinary sources including United States suppliers. To pay for the additional 2 million tons of grain will place too great a strain on the financial resources of India and would prevent the carrying out of its essential development program. In addition, with the provision of grain to India as a grant, the Indian Government will deposit the local currency coming from the distribution of the grain to the Indian people into a special account which can be used for agricultural development projects in India agreed to by us. These projects will help alleviate the recurrence of such conditions as the present.

"The House Foreign Affairs Committee carefully investigated this matter, and on March 5th favorably reported a bill to provide the grain to India. This bill has bipartisan support. It reflects the desire of the American people to help the Indian people in their present emergency.

"Prompt action is vital. The monsoon season occurs in India during the summer. Many roads are then made impassable and grain shipments to remote areas are greatly impaired. Each day's delay after April 1st in starting shipments will leave a serious gap in India's food supply later this summer and cause great suffering. I hope, therefore, that the Congress will enact the necessary legislation as soon as possible after the Easter recess."

Now you may ask questions, if you like.

[3.] Q. Mr. President, do people who say pretty flatly that you are going to run again in 1952 know what they are talking about?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think anybody knows what he is talking about when he talks about my reelection. And we will attend to that when the time comes.

Q. Mr. President, the Democratic National Committee issued a speech today by Michael Galvin, Under Secretary of Labor, who predicts that you will be reelected with 56 percent of the vote next year?

THE PRESIDENT. That's a nice prediction, but I haven't seen the speech and I can't comment on it.

Q. It was not cleared by the White House?

THE PRESIDENT. It was not. [Laughter]

Q. You said you don't think anyone knows whether or not--


Q.--anyone but you?

THE PRESIDENT. That's right.

Q. Then you have made up your mind one way or the other?

THE PRESIDENT. I didn't say that. [Laughter]

Q. How could you know?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I know what I am going to do. I will tell you about it, in due time. [Laughter] I don't know why you have to know so far in advance, because the Democratic and Republican committees don't meet until July. They finally make the decision, you know. The President, of course, will have something to say about the Democratic Convention, as he did last year.

Q. Same thing, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I will answer that when the time comes. [More laughter]

[4.] Q. Mr. President, in connection with your crime statement, I wonder if you would care to comment on the testimony of former Mayor O'Dwyer, that he appointed to office friends and relatives of gangsters? 2

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment.

2William O'Dwyer, United States Ambassador to Mexico and former mayor of New York City, appeared before the Special Committee to Investigate Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce, United States Senate, on March 19 and 20, 1951.

Q. Sir, may I ask, also, is there any change contemplated in his status as Ambassador?


Q. What did he ask?

THE PRESIDENT. He wanted to know if there was any change contemplated in his status as an ambassador, and I said no.

Q. Mr. President, did you watch any of the hearings on television?

THE PRESIDENT. No. I've got other things to do besides watch television. I never look at it unless my daughter is on it. [Laughter]

[5.] Q. Mr. President, would you tell us a little bit about what you and Scan MacBride3 discussed?

THE PRESIDENT. I think he made a dear report of what the discussion was about when he went out of the office. I have nothing to add to it.

3Minister for External Affairs for Ireland. A White House release of March 23, 1951, stated that Mr. MacBride on that day paid a courtesy call on the President in the course of his unofficial visit to the United States. They had, the release noted, "a friendly discussion concerning the present state of relations between the United States and Ireland."

[6.] Q. Mr. President, would you comment on the controversy which has been raised, not only in this country but in England and other allied countries, concerning General MacArthur's latest statement? 4

THE PRESIDENT. No comment. I have no comment.

4See note to Item 77.

Q. Mr. President, I have a question along that line, too. Could you say whether any new instructions have been transmitted to General MacArthur in the last few weeks concerning the crossing of the 38th parallel?

THE PRESIDENT. Instructions are as they always have been, and they refer strictly to the tactical situation. General Marshal5 answered that very clearly yesterday in his press conference.

5Gen. George C. Marshall, Secretary of Defense.

Q. Yes, sir. Now, one other along that same line. There have been some reports in the last couple of days that a new statement of policy is under preparation by this country and the other allied powers, seeking an end to the Korean fight. Did you see it?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment on that.

[7.] Q. Mr. President, there seems to be--we would like to have official clarification of the seemingly conflicting statements between Wilson6 and General Marshall?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think I can clarify it for you. I talked to both of them before they issued their statements. I knew what they were going to say. General Marshall, of course, is worried about the apparent letdown in the minds of the people that there is an emergency in existence now. The emergency is just as great now as it ever has been. And it is just as necessary that we carry out a program in full at this minute. In fact, it is more necessary than it ever has been since the emergency has been in existence.

6Charles E. Wilson, Director, Office of Defense Mobilization, at a news conference on March 27, had emphasized the nation's military strength. General Marshall, on the other hand, stressed the need for public and Congressional support for a long-term defense effort.

Mr. Wilson has been interested in production, getting his production lines in working order, to meet the emergency with which we are faced. He has been very successful in that production program. He has had some difficulties with some of the other programs, but we are working on them and I think eventually the whole thing will be brought together so we will have a successful conclusion to the program which we have outlined. I don't think there is anything contradictory in those two statements at all.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, about one of the things in Mr. Wilson's program that has not been going so well--referring to the situation regarding labor's participation, it has been a month or more since labor's representation was ended. I wonder if you would care to comment on the progress--

THE PRESIDENT. Progress is being made toward a settlement of that situation, and we will eventually get it settled.

Q. This labor quarrel has been going on, Mr. President, I think, for about 6 weeks, and 5 or 6 weeks ago you stated that you had complete confidence in Mr. Wilson. Since then, definite demands that you dispense with the services of Mr. Wilson have been made by certain leaders of unions--

THE PRESIDENT. Those demands have not been made to me.

Q. If they were made to you, what would be your reply, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. I would give them the same reply that I gave 6 weeks ago.

Did you--[ indicating ]--want to ask a question?

[9.] Q. Mr. President, could you give us a personal impression about President Auriol, the human angle of your personal contact with him?

THE PRESIDENT. It has been very, very cordial. I like him very much. And I think we understand each other, just as all the rest of my wonderful guests have made a wonderful impression on me. The President of France and his family are wonderful people, and he has ideas for the continuation of the cooperation between France and the United States. I think you will find a statement to that effect was issued after our conference this morning. 7

7 "The President of the French Republic outlined to the President of the United States conditions in France, the progress of the French rearmament program and the present situation in Indochina where French forces and the forces of the Associated States (of Indochina) are successfully opposing Communist aggression.

"The remarks of the President of the French Republic included a statement that the French people were determined to defend themselves against foreign aggression and that, in this spirit, they are giving all out support to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. He emphasized that all these efforts were directed toward the maintenance and strengthening of peace.

"The President of the United States stated that he was encouraged by President Auriol's remarks and expressed his confidence that peace could and would be maintained and that the democratic peoples would preserve unshakable unity in pursuit of their great objective: peace for all the world." Department of State Bulletin, vol. 24, p. 563.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, there has been a step-up of shipments of war materials, such as oil and scrap, etc., into China through Hong Kong. I wonder whether you have had--that has come to your attention, and whether you have any comment?

THE PRESIDENT. It has, and we are looking into it.

Q. Are you going to do anything about it?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, one of the press associations early in the week carried a--I recall it was an informed story--that you had suggested to Mr. Donald Dawson that he should appear before the Fulbright committee.8 Would you comment on that, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't comment on informed stories about which I know nothing.

8 See Item 33 [2].

Q. Don't you think, sir, that there is an obligation on the part of someone to give an explanation about the Dawson matter to the public, who pays his salary?

THE PRESIDENT. That is a matter for the committee to decide itself. I am not running the committee.

Q. Do you mean, Mr. President, that if you were, you would subpoena him?

THE PRESIDENT. I didn't say that. I don't think it would be necessary to subpoena anybody from the White House, if it was necessary for him to testify.

[12.] Q. Mr. President, has there been any change in the declared policy of the United States and United Nations last June to liberate, unify, and stabilize all of Korea?

THE PRESIDENT. Never been any change in that policy, May.9

9 Mrs. May Craig of the Portland (Maine) Press Herald.

[13.] Q. Mr. President, who would be the authority to judge whether it was necessary for him to testify? Would that be a White House responsibility, or the committee's?

THE PRESIDENT. That bridge will be crossed when we get to it.

[14.] Q. Mr. President, in regard to May's question, that might imply that we still would go all the way to the Yalu River?

THE PRESIDENT. I am making no implications of that kind.

Q. I mean your answer, I was afraid--

THE PRESIDENT. Well, thank you for that, but there is no implication of that kind at all.

Q. Thank you, sir. [ Pause ]

THE PRESIDENT. Have you run dry, or something? [Laughter]

Q. Mrs. Craig: Well, no, sir. I did emphasize the word all.

[15.] Q. Mr. President, I wonder--I want to ask you if you would tell us when you anticipate getting out the directive with respect to deferment of college students?

THE PRESIDENT. We are working on it now. We will get it out as promptly as we can get it ready.10

[16.] What was that you said, May?

10On March 31, 1951, the White House made public Executive Order 10230 of that date, amending the Selective Service regulations (3 CFR, 1949-1953 Comp., p. 740).

Q. Yes, sir--excuse me for interrupting--

THE PRESIDENT. That's all right.

Q.--but I did in my question say all of Korea.

THE PRESIDENT. I heard you--I heard you.

Q. Do you think that goes all the way to the Yalu?

THE PRESIDENT. It has no bearing on military operations in the field, May, whatever, and it is a military matter you are asking me about now, not a policy matter. What was your question?

[17.] Q. Are you going to submit next week your message on revising the Defense Production Act?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know whether I will have it ready by that time or not. As soon as I can get it ready, I shall submit it. 11

11See Item 91.

Q. Will you be able to tell us whether you are going to recommend any modifications of parity?

THE PRESIDENT. I am not ready to discuss the measures yet, because they have not been thoroughly thrashed out. I will give you the complete information on it when I get ready.

[18.] Q. Mr. President, you don't intend to fire Mr. Dawson, do you?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I do not. He is sitting right there. He is not fired yet.

[19.] What did you say, Tony?

Ernest B. Vaccaro (Associated Press): I was writing! [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. I am going to get you an automatic pencil, Tony, that works electrically.

[20.] Q. Mr. President, do you have under consideration a speaking tour, either during the spring or summer?

THE PRESIDENT. No. I have got too much to do to be thinking about anything but the work of the President at the present time. That doesn't mean, Tony, that we may not take a tour if I feel it is necessary. Eventually we have, if you remember.

Q. Where does that leave me? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. That leaves you up in the air.

Q. What would make it necessary? When might you take that tour, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. I am making no--I am not entering into a discussion. I said I have got too much to do, right here now, to even think about it.

[21.] Q. Mr. President, on this discussion about the 38th parallel and the various points of geography in Korea, do I understand it correctly that the part of the peninsula that is occupied by our armies in there fighting, is dependent upon the situation of conflict and not upon any arbitrary line of geography?

THE PRESIDENT. That is correct. General Marshall answered that very carefully yesterday. That covers the situation. But I want it to be distinctly understood that we are for a free Korea, with a free government, when we get through.

[22.] Q. Mr. President, would you discuss the UMT and draft bill legislation in the House--

THE PRESIDENT. No, I can't discuss pending measures in either branch of the Legislature. That is their business to discuss it. I will discuss it when it comes before me for consideration.

[23.] Q. Mr. President, I am afraid I am still a little bit hazy--

THE PRESIDENT. That's too bad--I'll try to clear it up.

Q.--on this 38th parallel. You say as a tactical matter General MacArthur still has the authority he has always had to cross the 38th parallel if he needs to?

THE PRESIDENT. That is correct.

Q. That doesn't necessarily imply that our troops will go all the way to the Yalu?

THE PRESIDENT. It depends altogether on the military situation, and I can't anticipate that military situation because there isn't even a general in the field who can anticipate how military maneuvers are going to come out. If you will study your history you will find that some of them were good guessers and some of them weren't.

[24.] Q. Mr. President, about the cost of living, do you think that the price level can be rolled back to the pre-Korea level?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't answer that question. I wish they could be, but I don't know whether they are going to be able to do it or not. It is a gigantic job, and one that is almost impossible unless you have the complete and wholehearted cooperation of every branch of the economy. And that is what we are trying to get now, get a new approach to it and make it work. It has to be made to work. And eventually we will make it

[25.] Q. Mr. President, in your references to General Marshall's statements yesterday, are you referring specifically to his statement that any general advance over the 38th parallel would be a political matter?

THE PRESIDENT. I am referring to General Marshall's statement as a whole on that subject. I want to make that just as clear as I can.

Smitty--are you going to stay here all day, or do I have to dismiss this class? [Much laughter]

Merriman Smith (United Press Associations): Well thank you, Mr. President. [More laughter]

Note: President Truman's two hundred and fifty-eighth news conference was held in the Indian Treaty Room (Room 474) in the Executive Office Building at 4 p.m. on Thursday, March 29, 1951.

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/230345

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