Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

January 27, 1950

THE PRESIDENT. [1.] Wall, Mr. Clifford will quit as Special Counsel to the President on Tuesday night at midnight. And Mr. Murphy will be sworn in the next morning, the 1st of February. There will be an exchange of letters available for you when you go out, all mimeographed. That's the only announcement I have to make.

[2.] Q. Mr. President, regardless of the outcome in the upper courts, will you or will you not turn your back on Alger Hiss?1


1 On January 25, 1950, Alger Hiss, former State Department official, was sentenced by a United States District Court to 5 years in a Federal penitentiary for perjury. According to the New York Times, Secretary of State Dean Acheson told reporters at his news conference on January 25, "I do not intend to turn my back on Alger Hiss."

Q. Mr. President

THE PRESIDENT. That's a nice question! What's that ?

[3.] Q. Do you favor reducing the 25 percent excise tax placed on cameras and photographic equipment, which kept people from buying them during the war ?

THE PRESIDENT. What's that? Didn't you read my message on excise taxes?2

Q. It is not mentioned.

THE PRESIDENT. You had better read that message over again and your question will be answered.

2 See Item 18.

Q. It was not mentioned in there, sir.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, read the message over again. Read it

[4.] Q. Mr. President, is there any point in asking any other Alger Hiss questions?

THE PRESIDENT. No, there is no point in asking any other Alger Hiss questions.

Q. I was trying to get away from that.

THE PRESIDENT. They are not asked with good intent, and I don't intend to answer with good intent. [Laughter]

Q. Does that go for "red herring" questions?

THE PRESIDENT. No questions on that, either.

Q. Do you approve Secretary Acheson's statement?

THE PRESIDENT. No comment.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, have Mike Kinney and Barney Dickman been in to see you ?3

THE PRESIDENT. Mike Kinney is sitting right here now. I saw Barney Dickman yesterday.

3 Michael Kinney, Missouri State Senator, and Barnard F. Dickman, Postmaster for St. Louis, Mo.

Q. Did they talk about the Allison candidacy?4

THE PRESIDENT. Well, they probably will, when they get around to it, because that is what they always come to see me about.

4 See Item 3 [8].

Q. There is a story printed in St. Louis that you are rather angry with Governor Forrest Smith, and attribute the present political agitation in the State against the Allison candidacy--

THE PRESIDENT. No. No word of truth in that at all. I had a telephone conversation with the Governor just the day before yesterday, and we are on the friendliest of terms.

Q. Was it on the Allison matter?

THE PRESIDENT. No, it was on another matter.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, have you any comment on a speech made in New York City last night by Senator Byrd,5 in which he charged that the administration is leading the country to socialism?

THE PRESIDENT. That's a finny one, sure enough.

5 The text of the address delivered by Senator Harry Flood Byrd of Virginia before the National Industrial Conference Board in New York City on January 26 is printed in the Congressional Record (vol. 96, p. A812).

[7.] Q. Mr. President, do you plan any action in the coal case?

THE PRESIDENT. No comment.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, there has been some considerable discussion recently--last week--of a possible compromise on FEPC along voluntary lines. Would you entertain such an idea of compromise

THE PRESIDENT. My ideas on FEPC have been very clearly set out, and I would advise you to read that message6

6See 1948 volume, this series, Item 20.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, what are you planning to do about Representative Patman's request that you impose a quota on oil imports?7

THE PRESIDENT. The Congressman was in to see me, and discussed the matter. We are working on the situation.

7 Representative Wright Patman of Texas, Chairman of the House Small Business Committee, met with the President at the White House on January 26. At that time Congressman Patman gave the President a report from the Committee calling for quota restrictions to be imposed on foreign oil imports, contending that they were damaging the domestic oil industry.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, we have reports from one newspaper that Ambassador Douglas is very ill and will not be continued in the Ambassadorship even if he recovers

THE PRESIDENT. I can scotch that one just as easy as pie. The Ambassador is recovering rapidly, and he will be back in England inside the next 60 days.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, Ambassador Capus Waynick says he talked North Carolina politics with you the other day. I wonder if you would like to see him in the Senate?

THE PRESIDENT. I told you once that I was not interested in dabbling in the primaries of any other State outside of Missouri. That is a North Carolina matter which they will have to settle themselves.

[12.] Q. Mr. President, when Justice Roberts' Atlantic Union group came in to see you,8 did you endorse that group as opposed to any other group seeking generally the same objectives?


8 On January 20, former Supreme Court Justice Owen J. Roberts, president of the Atlantic Union Committee, headed a delegation of the Committee which called on the President at the White House. Their purpose in seeing the President was to urge him to support the proposed convocation of a Federal convention of the democracies signatory to the North Atlantic Pact to explore the possibility of union between them.

Q. You had no endorsement--


Q. He said so, but there has been some question--

THE PRESIDENT. The Judge and his group were in here, and as usual we had a very pleasant visit together, and I thanked them for making a contribution toward helping the United Nations work more efficiently.

[13.] Q. Mr. President, have you any comment on the suggested compromise by Senator Russell on civil rights? 9

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know anything about that compromise. My compromise is in my civil rights message.

9 On January 25, several southern Democratic congressional leaders met to plan their strategy in dealing with the civil rights bill. After the meeting the New York Times reported that a compromise might be proposed containing the following provisions: that the FEPC program be put on a voluntary basis, that the antilynching legislation require proof by the Government that in such mob action there had been collusion between the mob and the law officers, and that the poll tax be repealed only by a constitutional amendment.

[14.] Q. Mr. President, in the last 2 days one House member of the Joint Congressional Atomic Energy Committee, and today one eider statesman, have spoken out publicly on the question of a super bomb. There have also been many columns written on the subject. Is there anything authoritative that you could give the American people on the subject?

THE PRESIDENT. No, there isn't, and I don't think anybody else has had anything authoritative. I make that decision and nobody else.

Q. Is there anything you could tell us as to when the decision might be made?10

THE PRESIDENT. No, there is not.

10See Item 26.

[15.] Q. Mr. President, is Mr. Lilienthal's successor chosen yet? He told us this morning that there was no change in his plans to leave on the 15th of February.

THE PRESIDENT. His successor has not been chosen. Whenever I get to the point where I can announce it, you will have it right away.

Q. Mr. President, is another member of the Commission resigning?

THE PRESIDENT. Not that I know of. 11

11On February 7, 1950, the White House released the text of the President's letter accepting the resignation of Lewis L. Strauss as a member of the Atomic Energy Commission. The text of Mr. Strauss' letter was released with the President's reply. The resignation became effective April 15, 1950.

[16.] Q. Mr. President, Mr. Boyd, head of the Bureau of Mines, has said that there was or would be, possibly soon, a nationwide emergency in coal. Have you received that report yet?12

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I have received the report, and read it very carefully.

Q. Are you going to do anything about it?

THE PRESIDENT. No comment.

12 The report was in the form of a letter from James Boyd, Director of the Bureau of Mines, to Oscar L. Chapman, Secretary of the Interior. The letter, dated January 20, 1950, stated that there were 40 million tons of coal on hand on January 1 and that the danger point of 25 days of overall supply in the hands of consumers was rapidly approaching.

The report concluded that "if it had not been for the two 2-day weeks during the holidays and the wildcat strikes during the past 3 weeks, it is estimated that an additional 9 to 10 million tons would have been available. The tonnage might well have been the balancing point that would have kept days supply above the danger point."

[17.] Q. Mr. President, are we likely to try again for an international control agreement on atomic weapons on the basis of the hydrogen bomb, in the United Nations?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't comment on that. I am doing everything I possibly can to get the international control of atomic energy. I have been working at it ever since I became President.

[18.] Q. Mr. President, have you any comment on what Mr. McCloy calls the creeping blockade of Berlin?13

THE PRESIDENT. No comment.

13 On January 22 the Russian border guards at the checkpoint at Helmstedt, Germany, began requiring that all allied vehicles obtain clearances before proceeding on the Autobahn connecting Berlin and the western zones of Germany.

[19.] Q. Mr. President, does your answer on those two civil rights questions mean that you would not entertain a compromise?

THE PRESIDENT. I suggest that you read my message, and that sets out exactly what I want in civil rights. That's all the comment I expect to make on it.

[20.] Q. Mr. President, how soon do you feel you will be able to announce the new member for the National Labor Relations Board?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't tell you. I am taking plenty of time on that, because I am going to get the man I want before I make the appointment.

Q. Mr. President, is Mr. Styles the man?


Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. You're welcome.

14 See Item 29 [1].

Note: President Truman's two hundred and fourteenth news conference was held in his office at the White House at 4:05 p.m. on Friday, January 27, 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/230188

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