Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

August 09, 1951

THE PRESIDENT. Please be seated.

[1.] I have a communication here from one of your members that is right interesting. It says:

"From day to day I show up neat,

Even in the worst of heat.

I'm not the one to shed my coat,

And open my shirt, or bare my throat.

I yield to none in my scorn of pain,

Smiling at sun and laughing at rain.

I appeal for other sons of toil

Who pant, perspire, and even boil.

A coatless conference would do a lot

To ease the distress of those who get hot."

[Laughter]

Now, I think I told you once before that anybody who wants to take his coat off could do it. [The White House Official Reporter noted that some newsmen took off their coats]

Q. Who is the author of this masterpiece, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. The boy with the pink tie. 1

1 Ernest B. Vaccaro of the Associated Press.

Q. Oh-- don't know him!

Q. Now we can stay a long time!

THE PRESIDENT. I may make you put them back on, if you do.

[2.] I understand that in the conference today there are 13 correspondents from 7 NATO countries. We are happy to have you with us, and hope you will have a chance to see the things that interest you in this country, and that you will leave here with a good impression.

[3.] Also, I have a statement that you are interested in, Pete. 2

2 Raymond P. Brandt of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Q. Save me a lot of questions. [Laughter ]

THE PRESIDENT. You will get a mimeographed copy of it after this is over.

[Reading] "I have examined into the facts concerning William Boyle's alleged relationship to RFC loans to the American Lithofold Corporation of St. Louis, Mo. The facts I have obtained indicate that Mr. Boyle had nothing to do with the approval of those loans by the RFC.

"I think it would be highly improper for the chairman of a national political committee to use his contacts with Government officials for his own private gain. I would not condone such conduct for a moment.

"So far as Mr. Boyle is concerned, I understand that he gave up his private law practice in order to make sure that there would be no improper mingling of his private interests and his responsibilities as Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. That was the proper thing for him to do."

I have the utmost confidence in Mr. Boyle. And I believe the statements that he made to me. And I believe also that the investigations which I made in the RFC cover the matter fully.

Q. Mr. President, while you are on it, I assume just from your reading of it, that you made an independent inquiry--

THE PRESIDENT. Yes.

Q. --of your own?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I'm satisfied.

Q. And you support his decision not to resign?

THE PRESIDENT. Oh sure.

[4.] Q. Mr. President, Senator Byrd introduced a bill today which would prohibit any national committeeman, any employee of the national committee, from practicing law before any Government agency or department. Vandenberg3 introduced the same bill way back in 1934. What do you think about a bill of that sort ?

THE PRESIDENT, It hasn't reached me yet. When it comes to me--time for me to comment on it, I will.

I have another statement I want to read you.

3 Arthur H. Vandenberg, former Senator from Michigan.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, may I ask a question ?

THE PRESIDENT. Go ahead and ask it.

Q. I didn't hear Tony Vaccaro's question, but was your answer to the effect that Mr. Boyle will remain, as far as you are concerned ?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes--yes.

Q. Thank you, sir.

[6.] THE PRESIDENT. [Reading] "The Government of the Soviet Union"--we have copies of this for you outside, too--"has replied to the resolution of the United States Congress declaring the friendship of our people for the Soviet peoples and our deep desire to achieve world peace. The Soviet Government withheld this resolution from the people of the Soviet Union for more than a month--although of course some of them heard it over the Voice of America. Now the Soviet Government has finally released the resolution through the Soviet newspapers and over the Soviet radio.

"I am glad they did this, as millions of Soviet citizens can now hear and read for themselves the resolution of friendship enacted by the representatives of the American people.

"Mr. Shvernik's reply, naturally, was released in our country as soon as it was received, since in a free country there is no reason or desire to withhold such information from the people. I noted with special interest the statement in Mr. Shvernik's letter that the Soviet Government places no barriers in the path of the intercourse of the Soviet people with the people of other countries.

"This has not been true in the past--witness the rigid prohibitions laid down by the Soviet Government against people from the Soviet Union traveling abroad and people from other countries traveling in the Soviet Union, the rigid restrictions imposed by the Soviet Government on the reading of books and magazines and newspapers from outside of the Soviet Union by the Soviet people, the large-scale and costly effort by the Soviet Government to 'jam' the radio broadcasts of the Voice of America and other free radios, the prevention by the Soviet Government of Russian wives of citizens of other countries from leaving the Soviet Union, and many other barriers preventing travel and communication between the Soviet Union and other countries.

"I will be particularly interested to see whether the Soviet Government means what it says, and now intends to change these policies." 4

Now I will try to answer questions.

4 See Items 147, 197.

Q. Do you intend to answer his letter, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes.

Q. You are going to answer it?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. Yes, I intend to answer it. I hope the correspondence may bring forth some concrete results. At least, that is what I am hoping for.

Q. Might contain some of those thoughts, Mr. President ?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, you had better wait until I get it prepared, then you won't have to guess at it. [Laughter]

Q. The results, sir, you would like to see would be a relaxation of the tension--

THE PRESIDENT. Yes.

Q.--developing toward peace?

THE PRESIDENT. I would like very much to have that tension relaxed. I would like very much to have complete and permanent world peace. It is not unattainable.

[7.] Q. Mr. President, there were reports last week of a compromise between the White House and Senator Douglas over the Illinois judicial appointments. Would you comment on that ?

THE PRESIDENT. I know nothing about it. I have sent my appointments to the Senate. It is not customary for me to back up when I have decided to put somebody in office. 5

5 See Item 165[8].

[8.] Q. Mr. President, you said you were encouraged--I believe you said that peace was not unattainable. Could you say are you encouraged that the tension is relaxing by this letter from Mr. Shvernik?

THE PRESIDENT. I am not.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, Myron C. Taylor called on you last week to give you a report on that survey that he undertook for you of the European countries. I wonder if you could give us any report, after going over his report, as to whether it was encouraging or discouraging?

THE PRESIDENT. Purely verbal report, in regard to organizing the moral forces of the world. It was encouraging.

Q. It was encouraging?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, do you expect to confer with Governor Dewey when he returns from the Far East?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I do.

Q. What would be the purpose ?

THE PRESIDENT. To find out what he saw. [Laughter]

Q. By any chance, do you have in mind any special assignment for him ?

THE PRESIDENT. No. I think he has the assignment he wants. He is Governor of New York. [Laughter]

[11.] Q. Mr. President, a couple of press conferences ago there was some talk about General Eisenhower's 1948 statement, that he wouldn't run for political office, and we wondered what it was in 1952. I think you said you didn't know and suggested we ask the General ?

THE PRESIDENT. That's right.

Q. I would like to ask you about another statement. In the General's book "Crusade in Europe," he quotes you as having told him, when you were in Europe one time, that there was no position he wanted that you wouldn't help him get, and that specifically included the Presidency in 1948. [Laughter] I would like to know if that applies to 1952 as well as 1948? [More laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. It certainly does.

Q. It certainly does ?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. I am just as fond of General Eisenhower as I can be. I think he is one of the great men produced by World War II, and I think I have shown that, by giving him the most important job that is available for his ability.

Q. Mr. President, would that mean that if General Eisenhower wants to be President, you would help him get that job? [Laughter ]

THE PRESIDENT. I didn't say that.

Q. Well, Mr. President, I would like to know what--not to cross examine you, but what were you referring to when you said "it certainly does" to Bill Lawrence's 6 statement? That is what we were--

THE PRESIDENT. Well, you will have to translate that any way you can. I am glad-as I say, I am very fond of General Eisenhower. I don't think he is a candidate for president on the Democratic ticket, and I couldn't very well help him to be a candidate on the Republican ticket, because I don't think that would do him any good. [Laughter] Anyway, I have another candidate on the Republican ticket. [More laughter]

6William H. Lawrence of the New York Times.

Q. Who is that ?

Q. Would that be Senator Taft, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. It would be.

Q. You said would, or could be?

THE PRESIDENT. I said it would be.

Q. Do you have a candidate on the Democratic ticket, sir? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. I will tell you that later. I am not ready to make an announcement on that yet. Anyway, you fellows wouldn't have any fun.

Q. No sir.

THE PRESIDENT. If I were to tell you exactly what I was going to do, it would ruin the press conferences. [Laughter]

[12.] Q. Mr. President, there are reports that Mr. Averell Harriman 7 may go from Iran to Cairo, to talk with the Egyptians about the lifting of the Suez Canal blockade, to permit passage of oil tankers to the refineries in Israel?

THE PRESIDENT. I hadn't heard anything about that. Mr. Harriman has a right important job where he is. If he can be of any help in Egypt, I wouldn't mind his going there, but I have no information on the subject.

7Special Assistant to the President. See Item 155.

[13.] Q. Mr. President, do you--have you asked Governor Dewey to see you when he gets back, or did you--

THE PRESIDENT. I will see him when he gets back, of course.

[14.] Q. Mr. President, away from politics for a minute, on the West Point incident, do you think that as a result of it a general program of mass information for its de-emphasis in American colleges and universities could be justified? 8

THE PRESIDENT. I am making a survey of the situation now. I am trying to find the remedy for this situation at West Point without killing the patient, and as soon as I have something definite to talk about, why I will tell you what I am trying to do.

8On August 3 Frank Pace, Jr., Secretary of the Army, announced that 90 cadets of the United States Military Academy at West Point were to be expelled for cheating during examinations. Many of them were on the football team.

[15.] Q. Mr. President, you stand on the formal statement you read on Mr. Boyle, or could I ask a question ?

THE PRESIDENT. Sure.

Q. Would you care to say what you found the facts to be ?

THE PRESIDENT. I found the facts to be just what Boyle stated them, that he had no connection whatever with the loan or with any other loan in RFC, so far as his position with them as an attorney is concerned.

Q. Did he receive fees from the company ?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, he received fees from the company. He had a retainer fee for his firm. Perfectly legitimate. Quit it immediately, as soon as he became vice chairman of the national committee.

Q. Could you say what those fees were for?

THE PRESIDENT. What is a retainer fee usually for ?

Q. Yes.

THE PRESIDENT. A retainer fee is one that takes the fellow--puts the fellow on the payroll of a company, and then he gets extra pay for the legal business that he actually does for them, that is my understanding. Every law firm in the country has that sort of setup.

Q. There were--you found no payment other than the $1250--

THE PRESIDENT. That is correct.

Q.--which he said that he had received?

THE PRESIDENT. That's right.

Q. Were you investigating payments through Max Siskind 9--

THE PRESIDENT. No, I was not. He severed his partnership with Siskind. They wound up their affairs just like judges do when they go on the bench.

9 Former law partner of William M. Boyle, Jr.

Q. No money or anything that Siskind is getting which might go to Boyle--

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know whether Siskind is getting anything. I am not interested in that. None of my business.

[16.] Q. Mr. President, there have been general reports that the West Point incident is not at all exclusive, that it is quite a general thing in American colleges. Would you consider forming some sort of presidential commission on scholastic honesty--

THE PRESIDENT. I told you awhile ago what I am trying to do.

Q. All right, sir.

THE PRESIDENT. I will answer you when I get that done.

[17.] Q. Mr. President, the ICC has approved rate increases--freight rate increases--from 6 to 9 percent, which will bring extra revenue to the railroads of over $500 million. Do you have any idea about what that might do to the general inflation picture?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think that was answered by Mr. Johnston, wasn't it? 10

Q. Yes, sir.

THE PRESIDENT. I think--

10On August 8 at a meeting of the Defense Mobilization Board, Eric Johnston, Administrator of the Economic Stabilization Agency, told the group that living costs were likely to advance 5 to 8 percent in the coming year.

On the same day the Interstate Commerce Commission had authorized a 9 percent freight price rise in the eastern portion of the United States and 6 percent in the other sections.

The Economic Stabilization Agency had opposed the increases as inflationary, contending that they would result in higher retail prices for goods shipped by rail.

Q. I wondered if--what you thought of it ?

THE PRESIDENT. I think he made a statement on the subject, and I am in agreement with the subject. That was cleared with me.

[18.] Q. Mr. President, have you chosen a successor yet to Jess Larson as head of GSA?

THE PRESIDENT. No. No. The second in command over there is acting.

[19.] Q. Would you care to comment on the propriety of General--Senator MacArthur making public today the names of the State Department employees who are under loyalty investigation--

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know any MacArthur who is in the Senate. [Laughter]

Q. McCarthy.

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment to make on it at all.

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. That's all right.

Note: President Truman's two hundred and seventy-fourth news conference was held in the Indian Treaty Room (Room 474) in the Executive Office Building at 4 p.m. on Thursday, August 9, 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/230567

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