Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

January 05, 1950

THE PRESIDENT. [1.] I have a statement I want to read to you. It will be handed to you in mimeographed form after the press conference.

[Reading] "The United States Government has always stood for good faith in international relations. Traditional United States policy toward China, as exemplified in the open-door policy, called for international respect for the territorial integrity of China. This principle was recently reaffirmed in the United Nations General Assembly Resolution of December 8, 1949, which, in part, calls on all states, and I quote:

"'To refrain from (a) seeking to acquire spheres of influence or to create foreign controlled regimes within the territory of China; (b) seeking to obtain special rights or privileges within the territory of China.'"

That is the end of the quotation from the United Nations Resolution.

[Continuing reading] "A specific application of the foregoing principles is seen in the present situation with respect to Formosa. In the Joint Declaration at Cairo on December 1, 1943, the President of the United States, the British Prime Minister, and the President of China stated that it was their purpose that territories Japan had stolen from China, such as Formosa, should be restored to the Republic of China. The United States was a signatory to the Potsdam Declaration of July 26, 1945, which declared that the terms of the Cairo Declaration should be carried out. The provisions of this declaration were accepted by Japan at the time of its surrender. In keeping with these declarations, Formosa was surrendered to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, and for the past 4 years the United States and other Allied Powers have accepted the exercise of Chinese authority over the island.

"The United States has no predatory designs on Formosa, or on any other Chinese territory. The United States has no desire to obtain special rights or privileges, or to establish military bases on Formosa at this time. Nor does it have any intention of utilizing its Armed Forces to interfere in the present situation. The United States Government will not pursue a course which will lead to involvement in the civil conflict in China.

"Similarly, the United States Government will not provide military aid or advice to Chinese forces on Formosa. In the view of the United States Government, the resources on Formosa are adequate to enable them to obtain the items which they might consider necessary for the defense of the island. The United States Government proposes to continue under existing legislative authority the present ECA program of economic assistance."

At 2:30 this afternoon Dean Acheson will hold a press conference and further elaborate on the details with reference to this statement which I have just issued on the policy of the United States Government toward China and Formosa. 1

1 For the remarks of the Secretary of State at his press conference on January 5, see the Department of State Bulletin (vol. 22, p. 79).

I do not want to answer any questions on the subject now, so save your questions for this afternoon.

Are there any other questions? [Laughter]

[2.] Q. Mr. President, I have a couple of atomic energy questions.


Q. Since you were the source of information on the first Russian atomic bomb explosion, can you comment on a London report that said Russia is going to explode another bomb next Saturday ?

THE PRESIDENT. I had no advance information on the explosion of the other Russian bomb. Naturally, I have no advance information on this one. 2

2 For the statement by the President announcing the first atomic explosion in the Soviet Union, see 1949 volume, this series, Item 216.

[3.] Q. Mr. President, were you personally sufficiently acquainted with Sir Willmott Lewis3 that you would care to comment on his passing?

THE PRESIDENT. I was just casually acquainted with him, but I knew him by reputation, and of course I was sincerely sorry to hear of his passing. I didn't know about it until I saw it in the paper, I think this morning.

3 Sir Willmott H. Lewis, Washington correspondent emeritus of the London Times.

[4.] Q. Mr. President, the St. Louis Citizens Fuel Committee and the St. Louis Retail Coal Association both wired you, either last night or today, saying that while temperatures were dropping out there their fuel supply was running low, and urged that for public health and safety you secure full operation of the coal mines without delay. Have you seen those telegrams ?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I haven't seen them.

Q. Any comment?

THE PRESIDENT. I think possibly they were sent to the press and not to me, so I can't answer them to the press. However, when I get them, I will see if they are entitled to an answer, and if they are they will get an answer.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, when you referred to public power development in New England in your message,4 were you referring to the Passamaquoddy tidal power or were you referring to river power?


4 See Item 2.

Q. On that same line, how would you favor similar TVA development on the Cumberland River in Tennessee?

THE PRESIDENT. I am not familiar with that situation, and I can't answer that question.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, I am in a high state of confusion concerning the--on that perennial St. Lawrence power and navigation project.

THE PRESIDENT. What causes the confusion?

Q. There have been a lot of maneuvers.

THE PRESIDENT. What do you mean?

Q. I don't know whether I can clear them up in this rapid fire question and answer, but I would like to explain a little bit about it to you, if you will permit me ?

THE PRESIDENT. Sure, go right ahead.

Q. You know some months ago the Ontario and New York power people got together on a proposal to develop power separately from the navigation, and you took the stand that it was all or nothing.

THE PRESIDENT. That is correct, and I still am of that same frame of mind; all or nothing.

Q. And that seemed effectively to put it on ice for a while, but while you were away, I think, they reactivated it over in the Federal power Commission.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I will never agree to the development of the St. Lawrence power project until the St. Lawrence Seaway project is attached to it. They go together. It should be developed together. That is for the interests of the whole United States, when it is developed that way. The other development is just for the interests of power in Ontario and the State of New York. And I want the whole country to have some good out of that development if we are going to pay for it.

[7.] Q. Mr. President, for those of us who have been waiting for a full National Labor Relations Board, have you any news today?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I haven't.

Q. Have you any nominations at all that you might tell us?

THE PRESIDENT. A whole batch of recess appointments today at noon.5 Q. Recess appointments?

THE PRESIDENT. Appointments that were made during recess. I am sending them up. We will give you a list of them.

5 For the list of the President's nominations received by the Senate on January 5, see the Congressional Record (vol. 96, p. 106).

Q. Any interesting ones that might make better news ? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. No. You have them all.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, there are reports from out in Missouri as to whether you have endorsed the candidacy of State Senator Emery Allison for United States Senator ?

THE PRESIDENT. I know Emery Allison very well. I like him, and I think he would make a wonderful United States Senator from Missouri. When the primary comes around, I shall vote for him.

Q. Where is he from, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. Where is he from? Rolla, Mo. He is the ranking Democratic member of the State Senate of Missouri.

Q. How do you spell his name, sir ?

THE PRESIDENT. A-l-l-i-s-o-n--but I am not sure whether it has two l's or not. E-m-e-r-y A-l-l-i-s-o-n. Whether it has two l's or not, I can't remember.

[9.] Q. There is another power question I would like to ask you about?

THE PRESIDENT. Shoot--go right ahead.

Q. Do you favor development of Niagara power as well as the St. Lawrence ?

THE PRESIDENT. Oh, yes. I am for the development of all the power we can get in that corner of the United States. There are four great power projects in this country in which I am vitally interested. The Northeast power project, which includes New England developments, about which I was talking awhile ago, and the St. Lawrence. And the Northwest, which includes the Columbia and Snake River developments, and the Central Valley of California. And the Southwest, which includes Boulder Dam, and those projects in Texas and Oklahoma. And the southeast--northeast--northwest Arkansas, southwest Missouri, and northeast Oklahoma. And then the southeast development of the Tennessee Valley, and the Savannah, and the rivers in South Carolina on which we are building power projects.

We will then have a network of power in the United States, and if we can get the three developments for the upper Mississippi, Missouri, and Ohio Valleys, we will have an inexhaustible supply of power, of which I think there can never be too much.

Q. In connection with that, are you figuring on the St. Lawrence Valley ?

THE PRESIDENT. St. Lawrence Seaway. I want the St. Lawrence Seaway development all the way to Chicago, so that we can--and Duluth--so that we can tie up in Chicago. We have nothing at the docks in Chicago and Duluth.

Q. I wonder whether you are in favor of a long-term TVA for that area?

THE PRESIDENT. No, that will have to be a proposal carried out between the Governments of Canada and the United States, and the division of power in the United States will have to be under the control of the Federal Government.

Q. Well, Mr. President, will you send a message on New England development?

THE PRESIDENT. I probably will. As soon as possible, I probably will send a letter to the Congress on the subject.6

6 See Item 33.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, is it true that you plan to decide by February 15th on construction of a hydrogen-powered atomic bomb project? 7

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment to make on that.

7 See Item 26.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, in your message yesterday, I believe you did not mention the Missouri Valley Authority?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I am interested in the development of the Missouri, Mississippi, and Ohio Rivers as a project. I think they will--all three of them, the Mississippi, the Missouri, and the Ohio Rivers--will soon be developed as a central valley project for the United States.

[12..] Q. Mr. President, do you favor Federal development of the Niagara River?

THE PRESIDENT. What's that?

Q. Federal development of the Niagara River?

THE PRESIDENT. I want to make it a seaway of the St. Lawrence River. If the Niagara is included in that, why of course that will be all right. I don't think it is, though. I think there is a canal that goes around that still.

Q. The United States and Canada are now conferring on power development in the Niagara River.

THE PRESIDENT. The St. Lawrence development, I think, was our project, and I am for the development of the St. Lawrence Seaway power project. You can make it as broad as you want to.

[13.] Q. In view of your comment on the Missouri election, do you have anybody in Ohio that you like the looks of?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't dabble in primary politics in any State except Missouri.

Q. Mr. President, in Pennsylvania Senator Myers is unopposed for the--the Democratic nomination for Senator. The Republicans, I believe, have a couple of boys that haven't been definitely announced. I was wondering if you are going into Pennsylvania to speak for Senator Myers?

THE PRESIDENT. It won't be necessary for me to go into Pennsylvania in the primary. I don't care how much trouble the Republicans have in the primary. I hope the Democrats won't have any. [Laughter]

Q. I mean subsequently ?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I will answer that question when the time comes.

[14.] Q. Mr. President, I would like to get this Missouri Valley thing straightened out.


Q. Is it your idea that the Pick-Sloan plan 8 will eventually envelop the Missouri Valley Authority ?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. Yes. I am very sure it will.

8 Joint plan for the division of responsibility in the Missouri Valley between the Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation. The Engineer Corps was given responsibility for determining the capacities of main-stem and tributary reservoirs for flood control and navigation. The Bureau assumed responsibility for determining the capacities of reservoirs for irrigation purposes. The plan was approved by Congress on December 22, 1944 (see. 9, 58 Stat. 891). However, the Congress did not approve President Roosevelt's request for the creation of a Missouri Valley Authority.

Q. That is your idea, that eventually Pick-Sloan will--

THE PRESIDENT. Will develop all the Missouri Valley Authority. Then I want to develop the Mississippi and Ohio in conjunction with the suggestion covering the whole valley.

Q. Now then, on the Missouri, will you have an authority--an administration for the pick-Sloan plan, or will you still have--

THE PRESIDENT. We will cross that bridge when we get to it. I am not ready to go into detail on it at all. There has been too much detail on it now. That is the reason we are having trouble with it. You have got nine Governors of nine States on that river.

[15.] Q. Mr. President, one more question in answer to Mrs. Craig's?9


9 Mrs. May Craig of the Portland (Maine) Press Herald.

Q. You said that you were covering the plan with a letter. Does that apply solely to Northeast power, or the whole project?

THE PRESIDENT. That applies to New England. We have already made a statement on the St. Lawrence Seaway and power project. I am anxious to see that there is proper development of power in the New England area.

[16.] Q. When do you plan to submit your special message on taxes ?

THE PRESIDENT. Just as soon as it is ready.10

10 See Item 18.

Q. Mr. President, what are your plans on strengthening the antitrust laws?

THE PRESIDENT. They are in the message. I made them as plain as I could in the message.11

11See Item 2.

Q. You spoke of future recommendations.

THE PRESIDENT. That is correct. Just as quickly as I can get the recommendations ready, I will send them down.

Q. The same for small business?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. They cover both. Can't have one without the other.

[17.] Q. Mr. President, how do you like the reaction to your message yesterday?

THE PRESIDENT. It was fine. I told you that yesterday as I came out. [Laughter]

Q. Mr. President, how did you like the Republican response to your reference to the--

THE PRESIDENT. I was highly pleased when they turned that into an ovation for me. [Laughter]

Q. Mr. President, do you expect a similar ovation when you explain how much a moderate tax increase is ?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. Yes, I do. Especially from the Democrats.

[18.] Q. Are you encouraged to go back to Key West again this winter?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I don't know whether I can go or not. I would if I could. Mighty nice place to be when you want plenty of sunlight. They tell me it is going down to zero here pretty soon. I suppose we will all want to go where it is warm. What did you ask me?

[19.] Q. There was a rise in stock market prices, I noticed, after you spoke. Do you regard that as one of the good reactions--

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I don't--I can't comment on that because I didn't pay any attention to that. I wasn't making a speech to affect the stock market. [Laughter] It was in the public interest.

[20.] Q. Was Speaker Rayburn's remark about the size of the budget intentional, or a slip, or--12

THE PRESIDENT. Well now, I can't answer for Speaker Rayburn. Why don't you ask him that question? The budget will go down--the Budget Message will go down Monday morning--Monday at noon--whenever the Congress meets, and we will have the seminar on the Budget on Saturday morning,13 and you will know just as much about it as I do. I am not going to discuss it now.

12As reported in the press, the Speaker saw the new budget during a White House conference on January 3, after which he stated that the budget would call for an expenditure of "a little above $42 billion."

13See Item 8..

[21.] Q. Mr. President, your reference to the power development in the big river basins was largely in terms of electric power. You have in mind, I presume, more general multipurpose development?

THE PRESIDENT. The principal development in the central valley of the Missouri, Mississippi, and Ohio is navigation and flood control. Up as far as Sioux City, Iowa, on the Missouri, there is no possible power for that particular project except maybe on some of the branches. The Missouri River carries more sediment than any other river in the world except the Danube, and if you would attempt to build a dam from bluff to bluff on the Missouri River, right below Sioux City, Iowa, it wouldn't be but about a year and a half and you would have lots of mud behind the dam, and you would have a fall there.

The development of the Missouri, Ohio, and the Mississippi are projects that will have to be worked out as the features of the ground reveal its condition.

Q. Speaking of the Ohio Valley, how far up the river would you go in the development of it?

THE PRESIDENT. Do you know where the Ohio originates? At Pittsburgh, where the Alleghenies come together, where there are now some flood control and power dams on the Monongahela River. And the way to control floods is to control the little rivers, and that will have to be done all over that valley in order to control the floods.

Q. That is mainly a flood control proposition for the Ohio Valley ?

THE PRESIDENT. That is the most important part of the development.

[22.] Q. You have made recommendations several times on the Central Valley of California?

THE PRESIDENT. The valley of California-Central Valley of California, yes. I am in the same frame of mind as I am for the rest of these developments. I want to see a Central Valley Authority from Shasta Dam all the way up to the San Bernadino Mountains.

[23.] Q. Where there are expensive details of construction, whom do you want to transmit the power ?

THE PRESIDENT. Where it is necessary, the United States Government. Where private industry can do it as cheaply as the United States Government, I am happy to have them do it.

[24.] Q. Mr. President, do you plan to find out the type of authority for that Savannah Valley in the southeast?

THE PRESIDENT. I hadn't given that any thought.

Q. Merely want the dam built?

THE PRESIDENT. I want power developed, principally.

[25.] Q. Mr. President, do you anticipate any real coordination on these three river valleys in your present term of office?

THE PRESIDENT. Which three do you mean?

Q. The Mississippi, Missouri, and Ohio?

THE PRESIDENT. That is a tremendous project--will cost about a billion and a half dollars. If it should be, it will have to come more or less gradually. We have already spent a billion, 250 million. It is about time we did some developments--

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: President Truman's two hundred and tenth news conference was held in his office at the White House at 10:40 a.m. on Thursday, January 5, 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/230516

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