Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

February 02, 1950

THE PRESIDENT. [1.] Last week there was a misunderstanding about a certain appointment. I was talking about one thing and the question was about another.1
Q. A little louder, please!

1 See Item 23 [20].

THE PRESIDENT. I say last week there was a misunderstanding about a man under consideration for a certain appointment. I thought the question was in regard to one initial organization and it was in regard to another.

I will clear that up this morning by announcing the appointment of Paul L. Styles to the National Labor Relations Board, to take the place of Mr. Gray.

That's all the announcements I have to make.

[2.] Q. Mr. President, do you have any plans for giving the FEPC bill a boost through the House by speaking to the Speaker and asking him to recognize Chairman Lesinski? 2

THE PRESIDENT. You should be at the Big Four3 meetings every Monday morning. You would hear that we discuss it nearly every Monday morning.

2 Representative John Lesinski of Michigan, Chairman of the House Committee on Education and Labor.

3Albert Barkley, Vice President of the United States; Sam Rayburn, Speaker of the House of Representatives; Scott W. Lucas, Senate Majority Leader; and John W. McCormack, Majority Floor Leader in the House of Representatives.

Q. How do you get in to the Big Four? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. You have to have a special dispensation.

[3.] Q. Mr. President, yesterday you issued an Executive order on the dissemination of information, and in it, in the last paragraph, you include military documents and reports which have been marked "Confidential" and "Restricted"--also "Top Secret" and "Secret," etc. That classification "Restricted" is one of the most general I have ever seen.

THE PRESIDENT. It is exactly a copy of the order that has been in effect all the time, and the only reason that order was issued was that it conform with the new Defense Act. There isn't any difference with this order and the one that has been in effect 4

4Executive Order 10104 "Defining Certain Vital Military and Naval Installations and Equipment as Requiring Protection Against the General Dissemination of Information Relative Thereto" (3 CFR, 1949-1953 Comp., p. 298). The order superseded Executive Order 8381 of March 22, 1940 (3 CFR, Cure. Supp., p. 634).

Q. The point was--

THE PRESIDENT. --that the order conform with the new law on the Defense Act. Unification--it's an order to conform with the Unification Act. That's all there is to it. That order has been in effect ever since I have been President.

Q. Is there any way to get a definition of "Restricted," so that the Army officers would know what it means? In some places it refers to clippings.

THE PRESIDENT. I can't answer the question. You will have to talk to somebody that uses "Restricted." I don't use it. [Laughter]

Q. Well, every office boy seems to stamp "Restricted" or "Confidential," and I have seen many "Confidential" and "Restricted" documents which had no reason whatever to be--

THE PRESIDENT. You never saw one come out with my signature on it. [Laughter] You talk to them, now. That's their business not mine. Those "Restricted" documents are mostly military.

[4.] Q. Mr. President, has Governor Forrest Smith5 been in to see you in the last few days, or do you expect to see him soon?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I expect to see him about the 16th of February.

5 Of Missouri.

[5.] Q. Well, Mr. President, returning to this Executive order a moment, would you interpret it for us?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I won't try to interpret it for you--and that's final, and I don't intend to comment on it further. That order speaks for itself. You can put your own interpretation on it.

Q. Mr. President, I have seen a picture of the North Pole taken from an airplane marked "Restricted." [Laughter]

Q. What?

Q. The North Pole--North Pole.

THE PRESIDENT. A picture of the North Pole marked "Restricted." I can't comment on that, though. Take it up with the Attorney General or the military which is responsible.

Q. There is pretty much confusion about what we can write and what we can't.

THE PRESIDENT. I am sorry about that. Since I have been President

[6.] Q. Mr. President, do you have any comment on the retorting of the battleship Missouri?

THE PRESIDENT. No comment.6

6On January 17 the U.S.S. Missouri, the only active battleship in the United States fleet, ran aground in the Chesapeake Bay near Thimble Shoal Light. The mishap occurred at the start of a routine training cruise to Guantanamo, Cuba. The ship was retorted on February 1.

[7.] Q. Mr. President, do you have any comment on the present crisis relating to the surplus of potatoes?

THE PRESIDENT. I think the lady from Maine ought to know more about potatoes than anybody in the United States. She ought to understand that this farm act which was amended last year puts us in the position to place those potatoes in the condition in which they are. And that whole thing is a sectional thing, and for the benefit of the potato growers of Maine as well as the other potato growers in the United States; but that is how it came about. I suggest you talk to Senator Brewster about it.

Q. Half the surplus, I understand, is scattered all over the country.

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, and the other half is in Maine--25 million bushels are in Maine.

Q. That's right.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, would the Chief of Naval Operations have the authority to decide whether the Missouri should be replaced by an airplane carrier, or would that be entirely up to you?

THE PRESIDENT. That is a matter that probably would be discussed with me before it was done. The Secretary of the Navy has the right to make that order, if he so chooses.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, did you talk to Mr. Maury Maverick7 about any matters down in Texas?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I don't think we did. I discussed a lot of things historically with Maury Maverick. He brought me in three very interesting books. One about White House furniture. One on army regulations of 1835--which is most interesting--I am going to send that to West Point for their Library.

7 Former Representative Maury Maverick of San Antonio, Tex.

And I forget what the other one is--Oh, I know it is a book by a gentleman named Major General Truman. [Laughter] He made the first Truman report to the United States President of 1869. And it was on the reconstruction of the South. And while I was in the Senate, when I got out my first report as chairman of that Committee, Mr. Halsey who was then the Secretary of the Senate, hunted up this old Truman report. It is most interesting.

Q. Mr. President, was that top secret then?

THE PRESIDENT. Not that I know of.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, will the battleship Missouri be taken out of service?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't answer the question.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, Senator Vandenberg yesterday said that he wished that you would follow up your directive on the superbomb with a formal notification to the United Nations, first, that you have ordered work to proceed on it; second, that the United States stands ready to suspend the project at the moment Soviet Russia permits adequate international control.

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment on Senator Vandenberg's statement, but for your information we have urged constantly that international control be accepted by all the nations of the world. Hardly a week goes by that that matter is not brought up, at my suggestion, in the United Nations.

[12.] Q. Mr. President, in your first answer on FEPC do you mean that you have asked the Speaker to recognize--

THE PRESIDENT. Why certainly I have. I talk to him about it every Monday morning.

Q. You have asked him to recognize Lesinski?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I didn't ask him to recognize anybody. I asked him to consider the passage of FEPG in both Houses. I didn't ask him to recognize anybody. That's the business of the Speaker. He has been in charge of that, and nobody can tell him whom to recognize.

[13.] Q. Mr. President, I have a pro forma thing, if nothing else. Do you think notification to the United Nations of the new superbomb project is necessary or advisable?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think it's necessary or advisable.

Q. Mr. President, do you plan to do anything to use the new superbomb as a basis to make any new move for international control?

THE PRESIDENT. I covered that in the statement that was made the other day, which covers it completely. 8

8 Item 26.

[14.] Q. Mr. President, do you have any comment on Russia's demand that Hirohito be tried?

THE PRESIDENT. I was informed just now by the Secretary of State that a 20-page statement, in Russian, was delivered to the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State can't read Russian, so until it is translated, we can make no comment on it.9

9For the text of a State Department release of February 3 questioning the motives of the Soviet Union on their request that the Emperor of Japan be tried, see the Department of State Bulletin (vol. 22, p. 244)

[15.] Q. Mr. President, yesterday Governor Duff of Pennsylvania and five other Governors urged that the Republican Party should be an organization that is broad and not exclusive, a party of service and not of privilege, a party that is hard-hitting and not timid, a party that is progressive and not backsliding, a party that is constructive and not petty.

THE PRESIDENT. I would suggest that the Governor of Pennsylvania join the Democratic Party. That's-- [Laughter]

Q. Could we have the text of that question ?

THE PRESIDENT. He wanted the text of your question.

THE PRESIDENT. Jack will give it to you. Mr. Romagna [reading]: "That the Republican Party should be an organization that is broad and not exclusive

Q. Mr. President, maybe I'd better read it from this: "That the Republican Party should be an organization that is broad and not exclusive, a party of service and not of privilege, a party that is hard-hitting and not timid, a party that is progressive and not backsliding, a party that is constructive and not petty."

THE PRESIDENT. And I invited the Governor to join the Democratic Party. We already have that sort of party. [Laughter]

Q. Mr. President, do you think the Governor--

Q. Mr. President, can we--

THE PRESIDENT. Wait a minute--I promised to answer him--I promised to answer his question.

Q. Do you think the Governor has done a good job describing the Democratic Party?

THE PRESIDENT. The Democratic Party is the sort of party he describes. Now what was that question back there?

Q. Can we put quotes around your reply to that question?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no objection to that.

[16.] Q. Mr. President, some days ago Mr. Stowe was quoted as saying that he had intervened in behalf of the Lustron Corporation with RFC, on the ground that the national defense angle should be considered.10 Would you comment on that, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment.

10 The Reconstruction Finance Corporation had ordered the Lustron Corporation, a manufacturer of prefabricated housing, to submit a plan for putting its financial affairs in order. The New York Times reported that on January 5 the Lustron Corporation filed a reorganization plan with the RFC seeking to head off Federal foreclosure action on $22 million worth of overdue loans.

[17.] Q. Mr. President, have you chosen a successor to David E. Lilienthal yet?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I have not. I will announce it to you just as soon as I am ready to appoint the man.

[18.] Q. Mr. President, do you like the new proposed amendment to revise the electoral system?11
THE PRESIDENT, Well, I ordinarily don't comment on any legislation that is pending, but you know a constitutional amendment is not a matter that the President passes on, it is passed by two-thirds vote of both Houses. And then it is sent to be ratified by threefourths of the States.

11On January 5, 1949, Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., of Massachusetts, and 11 other Senators introduced S.J. Res. 2, proposing an amendment to the Constitution changing the method of electing the President and Vice President. Under the proposed amendment all presidential candidates would share the electoral votes of each State in proportion to the number of popular votes that they had received. The candidate receiving the most electoral votes, providing that he had obtained more than 40 percent of the total, would be elected. If none of the candidates received 40 percent of the electoral votes, the House and Senate jointly would elect a President and a Vice President from among the two top candidates for each office.

S. J. Res. a was passed by the Senate on February 1, 1950. On July 17, 1950, the House voted 134-210 against bringing the bill to the floor, and the proposed amendment expired with the 81st Congress.

I think that this resolution that was passed by the Senate yesterday is a forward step. I was very much interested in it. I have read all the records and all the hearings on it; and I made some suggestions myself on the thing, most of which were adopted. And I believe it would be a step in the right direction if the States choose to ratify the constitutional amendment. It takes 36 States to ratify an amendment.

But I would advise you to read the hearings on that, they are most interesting. You will find more about elections and presidential history that you never heard of before, if you haven't read it.

[19.] Q. Mr. President, in the proposition to the coal operators and John L. Lewis,12 you ask for a return to normal production. Would you care to say whether that requires a 5-day week, or less?

THE PRESIDENT. I asked for normal production under the reinstatement of contract. The contract itself sets that out.

12 See Item 27

Q. Mr. President, that means--

THE PRESIDENT. You will have to translate that yourselves. In some places they can't work a full week on account of the local situation. Now that applies all over the United States. Generally, I would say that it means a 5-day week.

Q. Are you ready to invoke the Taft-Hartley Act, if they don't ?

THE PRESIDENT. Whenever there is an emergency, I will invoke the Taft-Hartley Act, as I told you before.

Q. Senator Byrd intimated that you had an agreement with the labor movement not to invoke it?

THE PRESIDENT. He may know something that I don't. I have no such agreement.

[20.] Q. Mr. President, I am not trying to heckle you on this

THE PRESIDENT. That's all right. Try your best; you can't heckle me. Go ahead. [Laughter]

Q. Well, in any case, sir, we are forced to rely on gossip and so-called White House circles, and things like that, to determine what caused you to reach your decision to produce the superbomb?

THE PRESIDENT. The statement that I released covers the ground so far as I expect to go with it.

Q. Do you--you wouldn't care, sir, to elaborate--I mean--

THE PRESIDENT. No. No, I have no further statement to make except the one that was released.

Q. Mr. President, Senator McMahon has indicated that he is about to make a speech asking for a nationwide public discussion of the issues raised by the superbomb. To do that, facts about it are necessary. Can we look forward to having some disclosures further than that--

THE PRESIDENT, No, you cannot look forward to anything except what was stated.

[21.] Q. Mr. President, do you plan to send up your message on the New England public power program pretty soon?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know whether I can get it ready in a short time, but we are working on it.13

13Item 33.

[22.] Q. Mr. President, have you asked Mr. Webster to head up the Research and Development Board ?

THE PRESIDENT. He is under consideration.

[23.] Q. Mr. President, have you recently given Governor Gruening of Alaska assurances of stepping up the defenses for the Territory?

THE PRESIDENT. I discussed the matter with Governor Gruening and with the Secretary of Defense, and of course that situation will be covered in the general defense program of the country.

[24.] Q. Mr. President, do you think the new electoral law will help you get reelected in 1952? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. For your information, that resolution is passed by a two-thirds vote by both Houses. It will not be law in 1952, you can be sure of that. [Laughter]

[25.] Q. Mr. President, do you plan any action on oil imports ?

THE PRESIDENT. The matter is under consideration by the State Department now. I think Dean Acheson answered that yesterday in his press conference.14

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. You are entirely welcome.

14 For the statement of Secretary of State Dean Acheson at his press conference on February 1, see the Department of State Bulletin (vol. 22, p. 292).

Note: President Truman's two hundred and fifteenth news conference was held in his office at the White House at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, February 2, 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/230469

Filed Under



Washington, DC

Simple Search of Our Archives