Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

June 28, 1951

THE PRESIDENT, Please be seated.

[1.] I have an announcement to make, that Francis P. Matthews will be Ambassador to Ireland and Dan Kimball will be Secretary of the Navy.

[2.] And I have a very important statement that I would like for you to listen to very carefully. It will be available in mimeographed form as soon as the conference is over.

[Reading, not literally] "I am very much worried by the course of events in the Congress on extension of the Defense Production Act.

"The way things are going, there is a real possibility that the Congress won't get any bill passed in time to keep the whole act from expiring day after tomorrow. That would take off all the controls on prices and wages--and our production controls and credit controls and rent controls as well. Everything would go.

"This is a terribly dangerous possibility. I remember vividly what happened to prices when we had a gap in our control powers back in the summer of 1946. Food prices alone rose 14 percent in 1 month.

"But there is another possibility just as dangerous--that the Congress will act before the deadline Saturday by passing a bill so crippled and confused with special interest amendments that it would be worse than useless in the fight against inflation. 1

1 See Item 176.

"If either of these things happen, the consumers in this country will take a beating, and our whole defense effort--our whole stake in the free world's security--would be placed in serious jeopardy.

"I hope--I earnestly hope that neither of these things will come to pass. I hope the Congress will either send me a good law by Saturday, or at least extend the present law past the June 30 deadline, until they can get a good new law in shape.

"One way or the other, it is absolutely vital that we have no break in our antiinflation program. We must keep our program going. We simply have to do this. We must get the right kind of authority from Congress to do the job.

"I hope we are going to get it."

You will have that available as soon as the conference is over.

Now, if you want to ask me any questions, I will try to answer them.

Q. Mr. President, do you consider the bill in its present shape in the Senate a good bill?

THE PRESIDENT. No. Period. [Laughter]

Q. Mr. President, do you feel that the Senate has surrendered to these selfish interests.--

THE PRESIDENT. Well now, you'll have to draw your own conclusions. I make no comments on Senators or Members of the House.

[3.] Q. Mr. President, can you shed any light for us on the status of the suggestion by Soviet Russia that the Korean conflict reach a truce stage?2

THE PRESIDENT. I think you will find that the statement made by the State Department this morning covers that question. They submitted it and I approved it. 3

2 On June 23 Jacob A. Malik, Soviet delegate to the United Nations, made a radio broadcast as part of the United Nations series "Price of Peace." At the conclusion of his talk, Mr. Malik said:

"The Soviet peoples further believe that the most acute problem of the present day--the problem of armed conflict in Korea--could also be settled.

"This would require the readiness of the parties to enter on the path of a peaceful settlement of the Korean question. The Soviet peoples believe that as a first step discussions should be started between the belligerents for a cease-fire and an armistice providing for the mutual withdrawal of forces from the 38th parallel.

"Can such a step be taken? I think it can, provided there is a sincere desire to put an end to the bloody fighting in Korea." (Department of State Bulletin, vol. 25, p. 45.)

3 The statement, released by the State Department on June 28, follows:

"The United States has sought in New York and in Moscow a clarification on certain aspects of the statement made by Jacob A. Malik, the Soviet representative at the United Nations, on June 23.

"Deputy Foreign Minister Gromyko received the United States Ambassador in Moscow on June 27, In discussing Mr. Malik's statement, Mr. Gromyko indicated that it would be for the military representatives of the Unified Command and of the Korean Republic Command, on the one hand, and the military representatives of the North Korean Command and of the Chinese volunteer units, on the other, to negotiate the armistice envisaged in Mr. Malik's statement. The armistice, Mr. Gromyko pointed out, would include a cease-fire and would be limited to strictly military questions without involving any political or territorial matters; the military representatives would discuss questions of assurances against the resumption of hostilities.

"Beyond the conclusion of an armistice, the Soviet Government had no specific steps in mind looking toward the peaceful settlement to which Mr. Malik referred. Mr. Gromyko indicated, however, that it would be up to the parties in Korea to decide what subsequent special arrangements would have to be made for a political and territorial settlement. He said that the Soviet Government was not aware of the views of the Chinese Communist regime on Mr. Malik's statement.

"The implications of Mr. Gromyko's observations are being studied. The Department of State is consulting with the representatives of other countries having armed forces in Korea under the Unified Command." (Department of State Bulletin, vol. 25, p. 45.)

Q. Mr. President, do you think that the Russian overtures are a sign that the stand taken by your administration in the MacArthur controversy was justified?


Q. Didn't hear that, Mr. President.


Q. I didn't hear the question.

THE PRESIDENT. He wanted to know if I thought that the stand taken in the MacArthur controversy by the administration was the right one, and I said yes. I thought so when I took it, and I think so now.

Q. Mr. President, if I may raise this question, I didn't understand it that way. I thought the question was: do you think that the Russian overtures are a sign that the stand taken by the administration is the right one?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes to that, too. I don't see any difference in the meaning.

[4.] Q. Mr. President, the letter released a little bit ago from the Premier of Iran, asking for your support of the Iranian Government--do you support the Iranian Government--

THE PRESIDENT. I have the matter under consideration. I appreciate very much the Iranian Premier writing me as he did. The matter is under consideration. I can make no comment on the--as to action, at this time. I hope the matter will be settled. It is a serious situation, and there is plenty of opportunity for its settlement. 4

4 On June 28 the White House made public a letter to the President from Prime Minister Mohammed Mosadeq of Iran. The letter stated in part, "The Imperial Iranian Government has been duty-bound to put into force the law enacted by the two Houses of Parliament concerning the nationalization of the oil industry all over Iran and the modus operandi of that law in the quickest possible time." The Iranian Government nationalized the oil industry on June 21.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, on this Soviet peace gesture by Malik the other day, do you think that the clarifications which Admiral Kirk 5 received from Gromyko yesterday are sufficient so that we can now go ahead a bit and explore the matter some more ?


5Adm. Alan G. Kirk, U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, on this Iranian crisis, if you were asked to mediate--or if you have been asked to mediate--will the United States agree to mediate?

THE PRESIDENT. We have not been asked to mediate, and I can't make an answer to something that has not been done. That is a hypothetical question.

[7.] Q. Mr. President, when does the change in the Navy Department take effect?

THE PRESIDENT. As soon as it can be worked out. I imagine it will be 30 days or so before. It won't take effect today.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, how is that investigation of the China lobby coming along?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't answer the question. The Congress is doing the investigating, not I.

Q. Mr. President, on that, you asked the executive departments to make available to the Congress--

THE PRESIDENT. That's right. All the information that we had.

Q. Have you had any report on that?

THE PRESIDENT. I have not.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, is Paul Fitzpatrick 6 under consideration for an ambassador?

THE PRESIDENT. Not that I know of.

6Chairman, New York Democratic State Committee.

Q. There have been reports in the New York State press to that effect.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, Paul Fitzpatrick is a fine gentleman, but he has never talked to me about being an ambassador anywhere.

Q. What was the question, Mr. President ?

THE PRESIDENT. He wanted to know if I had Paul Fitzpatrick under consideration for an ambassadorship.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, do you plan to do anything about the United Airlines 7

THE PRESIDENT. The matter is being worked on every day. I can make no comment on the condition of things now. I sincerely hope it will be settled.

7On June 20, 900 pilots and copilots employed by United Airlines went on strike.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, what is the next step to be taken in furthering a possible truce in Korea?

THE PRESIDENT. Well now, I can't make a public answer to a question like that. We are working on it all the time. You can't transact business of that kind in public.

Q. Well, can you say, sir, whether this Government is making any further approach towards settlement of the--

THE PRESIDENT. This Government has been trying to get the matter settled ever since it started on June 25, 1950, and it is still trying to get it settled.

[12.] Q. Mr. President, the American Bar Association and the New York City Bar Association have opposed the confirmation of Frieda Hennock 8--

8 Frieda B. Hennock, member of the Federal Communications Commission, had been nominated to be United States District Judge, Southern District of New York. Her nomination was not confirmed by the Senate and she remained in her post on the Commission until July 1, 1955. See also Item 283.

THE PRESIDENT. That isn't--as I have said, that isn't unusual. I have had plenty of good judges opposed by the Bar Association. It doesn't mean a thing in my young life. [Laughter]

Q. You don't plan to withdraw the nomination?

THE PRESIDENT. Not at all. I am always glad to have the Bar Association endorse them if they want to give it, but I never appoint a man because he has been endorsed by the Bar Association.

[13.] Q. Mr. President, do you now feel that--as a result of the week's developments-that the Malik peace suggestion was seriously

THE PRESIDENT. I think the State Department release this morning covers that. I have no further comment to make on it.

Q. Mr. President--

Q.--Mr. President, if I--excuse me--

THE PRESIDENT. What? [Laughter]

Q. It won't take a second--

[14.] THE PRESIDENT. Go ahead, Eddie. 9

9 Edward T. Folliard of the Washington Post.

Q. I will yield to you in a minute there. [More laughter]

Mr. President, if there should be a truce in Korea as many expect, and there should be suggestions that we slow down in our arms expansion program here and abroad, what would be your reaction?

THE PRESIDENT. That would be one of the most disastrous things that could happen to the country.

What did you want to ask me, Smitty? 10

10 Merriman Smith of the United Press Associations.

Q. I have to write this answer down first. [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. All right. There should be no slowdown.

[15.] Q. Mr. President, getting down to local politics, is there a possibility that you may make a tour through the Southern States before the convention?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I have made one trip down there. I don't know whether I will be invited to come again or not. I am always open for invitations.

[16.] Q. Mr. President, aside from the State Department's statement, how do you feel about prospects for peace in Korea, as a result of the developments of the past week?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I haven't yet made up my mind on it, Smitty, because the thing has not been worked to a conclusion. I hope it will work out. Everybody wants peace, and so do I.

[17.] Q. Mr. President, Governor Stevenson, a few days ago, invited you to the Illinois State Fair--

THE PRESIDENT. That's right.

Q. Are you going?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't tell you. I gave him the same answer. I didn't--too far in advance for me to tell whether I can go or not. Of course I would like to go to the Illinois State Fair--and the Missouri State Fair, and the Texas State Fair, and two or three others--but I can't go to all of them.

[18.] Q. Mr. President, in connection again with the Malik speech the other day, there have already been suggestions up on the Hill that any settlement near the 38th parallel would amount to appeasement. Would you care to comment on that?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I can't comment on that at this time.

[19.] Q. Mr. President, may I ask for enlargement of your comment on the Iranian move? You said, I believe, there will be plenty of opportunity for settlement--

THE PRESIDENT. I said there is plenty of opportunity for settlement. I didn't say there will be.

Q. What structures did you have in mind, sir? The World Court--the United Nations.--

THE PRESIDENT. The company and the Government of Iran should get together--and the Government of Great Britain--and make an equitable settlement.

Q. Bilateral action?

THE PRESIDENT. It would be--the company and the two governments. And I hope they will do that. But I can't get into the thing. It is not in my territory. It is not in my sector. [Laughter]

Q. Mr. President, that doesn't mean that you are not using the--that you would not use every effort possible to bring about--

THE PRESIDENT. Of course we have been doing that right along. We have been using every effort possible to bring about a settlement, and we will continue to do just that.11

Q. You are speaking of Iran, not Korea ?

11 See Items 140 [4], 150, 155.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I am speaking of Iran. It will apply to either one.

You aren't hot, are you, Tony?12 [Laughter]

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. It's all right, Smitty.

12 Ernest B. Vaccaro of the Associated Press.

Note: President Truman's two hundred and sixty-eighth news conference was held in the Indian Treaty Room (Room 474) in the Executive Office Building at 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 28, 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/230270

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