Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

August 17, 1950

THE PRESIDENT. Be seated, please. I will try to answer questions. I have no statements to make.

[1.] Q. Mr. President, I think the trainmen and the conductors sent telegrams to you today, saying that they were starting strikes Tuesday on two specific railroads-not terminals, as they had called it before. I wondered if you had anything in mind on coping with those strikes?

THE PRESIDENT. I haven't received the telegrams. The railroad brotherhoods and the railroad management are negotiating--trying to reach an agreement here in Washington, but that is all I know about it. I have not received those telegrams.

Q. Are they actually negotiating?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, they are--very day.

Q. Every day? I thought they had come to a deadlock and quit temporarily?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, you can check it. They are negotiating every day.

[2.] Q. Mr. President, there is some confusion about your views with respect to universal training. I wonder if you would straighten us out on it?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, Mr. Ross covered that thoroughly this morning.1 I noticed the ticker just before I came over here, and what he said is exactly correct and covers the situation completely.

1 Charles G. Ross, Secretary to the President, had announced that while the administration reaffirmed its support of a universal military training bill the President would not press for its immediate enactment. See also Item 225.

[3.] Q. Mr. President, you have always been a backer of home rule for the District. The bill to get the home rule bill on the floor of the House lacks 15 or 20 signatures. Would you care to comment on how that might be pushed over?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I would like very much, of course, to see the District get its home rule program. It will be a fine thing if they could get that bill out as promptly as they did that post office bill the other day-of which I am not in favor.

Q. Mr. President, does that mean that you will probably veto the post office bill?

THE PRESIDENT. Oh, we can't talk about that until it gets here. You see, it hasn't passed the Senate yet, and there are still a lot of maneuvers before I have to act on it. I will make that decision when it comes before me, as always.

[4.] Q. Mr. President, going back to UMT, a Hill source said that your position was that you would not use UMT until after the Korean war, even if it were voted. Is that correct, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, the situation with respect to UMT has been very capably covered by Charlie, and I don't want to get into that controversial matter. I am trying to get emergency legislation that is necessary in our present emergency passed, and this is a very controversial subject. My position on it has been made amply clear. You will find at least five messages to the Congress, and several letters to the chairmen of these committees, which explain exactly how I stand on the matter. I am for universal training, and always have been, but I don't see any reason now for cluttering up the Congress with another controversial matter when they seem to have controversy enough on what they have.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, in view of the announcement about Mayor O'Dwyer,2 do you wish to make any general comment about United States relations with Mexico, or what you might hope a new Ambassador would do there?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, for several months Mayor O'Dwyer has been considering the Ambassadorship to Mexico. When I found out that he was in a favorable frame of mind, I sent for him and offered it to him.

2 On August 15 Charles G. Ross, Secretary to the President, announced that Mayor William O'Dwyer of New York City would retire from that post on August 31, 1950, and would be appointed U.S. Ambassador to Mexico. The nomination was confirmed by the Senate on September 18.

Walter Thurston, Mr. O'Dwyer's predecessor as Ambassador, remained in Mexico City on the Embassy staff until April 3, 1951. At that time he returned to Washington to assume new duties as a special adviser on Latin American affairs for the Department of State.

The relations with Mexico have always been on a very satisfactory basis. It is one of our friendliest neighbors--always has been.

[6.] Mr. Ross: I think there might be some confusion, Mr. President, about these railroad negotiations. The parties have temporarily separated. Dr. Steelman is still working on it to bring them back together again.

THE PRESIDENT. Charlie says that the railroad men and management have made temporary adjournment, but they have been communicating with each other every day. I know that because that is reported to me every day. They may not be sitting around a table together today, but they will come back together shortly.

[7.] Q. Mr. President, continuing that, if the question is permissible, could it be said whether this new appointment indicates any dissatisfaction with Ambassador Thurston?

THE PRESIDENT. Not at all. Not at all.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, do you know of any plans for expanding atomic energy facilities beyond what is announced already ?


[9.] Q. Mr. President, Congress recently passed the port security bill. Do you have any intention of invoking it on the Pacific coast soon ?

THE PRESIDENT. We are getting up the orders now to put it into effect.

Q. What was the question, please, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. About the port security bill, implementing the port security bill-working on it now.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, the NSRB is drawing up a plan to disperse part of the Federal Government into Maryland and Virginia. Are you going to send that up to Congress?


Q. Does that mean that it is dead?


Q. Does it mean that--

THE PRESIDENT. It means that I have it under consideration.

Q. Still under consideration?


[11.] Q. Mr. President, the Republicans issued a statement the other day on foreign policy3 --released Monday morning. I wonder if you would comment on it?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment to make on that statement. I am very much interested in the bipartisan foreign policy, and I hope it will continue in effect and very effectively as it has in the past.

3 The statement, by the minority Members of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, was sharply critical of past and present policies of the Democratic administrations but pledged cooperation for final victory in Korea. It was signed by the following Republican Senators: Alexander Wiley of Wisconsin, H. Alexander Smith of New Jersey, Bourke B. Hickenlooper of Iowa, and Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., of Massachusetts. The text is printed in the Congressional Record (vol. 96, p. 12436).

[12.] Q. Mr. President, did you talk to Senator Lehman today?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. I had a conversation with Senator Lehman on legislative matters and on the New York political situation, and I have no comment to make on what he told me. [Laughter]

Q. Do you think Senator Lehman will run again?

THE PRESIDENT. Well now, you will have to ask him that.

[13.] Q. Mr. President, ordinarily the campaign starts officially along about Labor Day. I just wondered if you have any speaking plans for Labor Day?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I have no speaking plans. I have canceled all speaking dates. You know, I am very busy at the desk over here in the White House office, all the time and far into the night.

[14.] Q. Mr. President, Senator Wherry of Nebraska made the comment that the blood of our soldiers in Korea was on the shoulders of Secretary of State Acheson. Would you care to comment on the accuracy of that remark?

THE PRESIDENT. I think that is a contemptible statement and beneath comment.

[15.] Did you have a question you wanted to ask?

Q. Yes, sir--I am so busy writing. [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. It's all right.

Q. I wonder, Mr. President, do you intend to send any letter or message to Congress to define your feelings about UMT at this session? 4

THE PRESIDENT. You will find in the last two paragraphs of Secretary Johnson's letter the answer to your question. 5

4 See Item 225.

5 According to reports in the press, Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson had sent a letter to Congress on August 17 expressing his approval of legislation on universal military training.

[16.] Q. Mr. President, would you permit this railroad situation to go to the point of a strike that would tie up the Nation's transportation?

THE PRESIDENT. I will answer that question if it should happen. I am hopeful that there will be a settlement.

[17.] Q. Mr. President, I wonder if you would mind putting what you said about Senator Wherry on the record--just the one sentence?

THE PRESIDENT. I said that the statement was a contemptible statement, beneath comment.

Q. I just wonder if we can quote that?

THE PRESIDENT, You can quote it verbatim.

Reporter: Well, thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. You're welcome.

Note: President Truman's two hundred and thirtyfifth news conference was held in the Indian Treaty Room (Room 474) in the Executive Office Building at 4 p.m. on Thursday, August 17, 1950.

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/230156

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