Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

December 19, 1950

THE PRESIDENT. Please be seated, ladies and gentlemen.

[1.] I have a statement that I want to read to you that probably will save you some questions. I will take it real slowly, because the mimeographed copies may not be over here as promptly as they should be, but they will be ready almost immediately after the conference.

Q. Mr. President, if you get ahead of us, do you mind if we stop you?

THE PRESIDENT, No, that's all right.

[Reading ] "There have been new attacks within the past week against the Secretary of State, Mr. Acheson. I have been asked to remove him from office, and the authors of this suggestion claim that this would be good for the country."

Q. You're ahead of me, sir.

THE PRESIDENT. You're going to take it all down in longhand?

Q. Worse than that, I'm practicing my new shorthand. [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. [Reading] "The authors of this suggestion claim that this would be good for the country."

That's all right--whenever I go too fast, I'll stop.

[Reading] "How our position in the world would be improved by the retirement of Dean Acheson from public life is beyond me. Mr. Acheson has helped shape and carry out our policy of resistance to Communist imperialism. From the time of our sharing of arms with Greece and Turkey nearly 4 years ago, and coming down to the recent moment when he advised me to resist the Communist invasion of South Korea, no official in our Government has been more alive to communism's threat to freedom or more forceful in resisting it.

"At this moment, he is in Brussels representing the United States in setting up a mutual defense against aggression. This has made it possible for me to designate General Eisenhower as Supreme Allied Commander in Europe.

"If communism were to prevail in the world--as it shall not prevail--Dean Acheson would be one of the first, if not the first, to be shot by the enemies of liberty and Christianity.

"These recent attacks on Mr. Acheson are old, in the sense that they are the same false charges" and I emphasize that false charges--"that have been made time and again over a period of months. They have no basis in fact whatever.

"It is the same thing that happened to Seward. President Lincoln was asked by a group of Republicans to dismiss Secretary of State Seward. He refused. So do I refuse to dismiss Secretary Acheson.

"If I did anything else, it would weaken the firm and vigorous position this country has taken against Communist aggression.

"If those groups attacking our foreign policy and Mr. Acheson have any alternative policies to offer, they should disclose them. They owe it to the country. This is a time for hard facts and close thinking. It is not a time for vague charges and pious generalities.

"There are some Republicans who recognize the facts and the true reasons for these attacks on Secretary Acheson, and who do not agree with their colleagues.

"This Nation needs the wisdom of all its people. This is a time of great peril. It is a time for unity, and for real bipartisanship. It is a time for making use of the great talents of men like Dean Acheson.

"Communism--not our own country-would be served if we lost Mr. Acheson."

Q. Mr. President, you said to us quite recently that you would cut loose on us one of these days. In telling us this about Dean Acheson, is this it ?

THE PRESIDENT. This is it. [Laughter] Q. Are there any further details now on the insides of recent policy-making, in which Mr. Acheson has figured strongly--with Congress?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, Mr. Acheson and the leaders of the Congress, General Marshall and myself, and the Secretary of the Treasury, were present with these leaders, and the discussion was very amicable, and there was no objection that I could find to the foreign policy of the United States. That has been a continuing policy since 1939, and I have had four Secretaries of State, and the policy has not changed since I have been President of the United States. Nobody has been quarreling with that policy. These are personalities. The personalities in this last campaign were vicious. There were no issues discussed. People were slandered, and that is what has caused this situation. And I am very sorry for it, because it is not the right way for a two-party system to work.

[2.] Q. Mr. President, speaking of General Marshall, there was a story in print yesterday afternoon and this morning that Mr. Symington1 will replace Secretary Marshall early next year. Is that true?

THE PRESIDENT. That's the first I've heard of it. There is nothing to it. Mr. Symington has a very important job, which he is filling in a very satisfactory manner, and he is going to stay there. And General Marshall is going to continue to be Secretary of Defense. And Mr. Lovett2 is going to continue to be his Under Secretary, or Assistant Secretary--whatever his proper name is.

1W. Stuart Symington, Chairman of the National Security Resources Board.

2 Robert A. Lovett, Deputy Secretary of Defense.

[3.] Q. Mr. President, in line with what you have been telling us about foreign policy, a number of writers believe that there is a--as they put it--a wave of isolationism rising in the United States. Do you feel that condition to exist?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think there is any wave of isolationism, outside of the Chicago Tribune and those papers. [Laughter]

[4.] Q. Mr. President, there has been a book attacking the FBI by Mr. Lowenthal.3 Do you approve or endorse that book?

THE PRESIDENT. I haven't read the book, and I have no reason to approve or disapprove of it. Mr. Lowenthal had a perfect right to write any kind of book he wants to.

3 Max Lowenthal, "The Federal Bureau of Investigation," New York: Sloane, 1950.

Q. Mr. President, I would like to ask also, since J. Edgar Hoover is still on the job, does that indicate he still has your full approval?

THE PRESIDENT. Mr. Hoover has always been well thought of by me.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, I would like to ask a question contradictory to the one that was asked a few moments ago about isolationism. I understand that the White House is getting a great deal of mail from. all over the country, especially from the Southwest, that is anything but isolationist, it means fight?

THE PRESIDENT. That is correct. That is the way the majority of the mail always runs when the United States gets into trouble. All the people are behind the Government, and they are now; don't let anybody fool you about that.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, this question is on behalf of the religious news services. A number of religious leaders, particularly in the South, have urged you to call a national day of prayer. Does the letter recently made public by Representative Hebert close the door on this suggestion, or is it still under consideration?

THE PRESIDENT. No, it doesn't close the door. It never has been closed. And I think if you read my Thanksgiving proclamation, you will find that I asked for it then.4 And I am preparing a Christmas proclamation which I think will satisfy you, and the religious leaders, too.

4On December 5, 1950, Representative F. Edward Hebert of Louisiana sent a letter to the President suggesting that he "call upon the churches of America, Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish, to set aside a Sunday between now and Christmas, to appeal to Almighty God for guidance and wisdom in what I believe to be the Gethsemane of our existence." The letter is printed in the Congressional Record along with the President's reply (vol. 96, p. A7834).

Proclamation 2909 "Thanksgiving Day, 1950," signed by the President on October 19, requested all citizens to give thanks to God and to pray for peace (3 CFR, 1949-1953 Comp., p. 95).

[7.] Q. Mr. President, what do you think of the General Motors counterfreeze on the sale of cars, after the Government's freeze of prices?

THE PRESIDENT. The law will be enforced.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, there is a report of the Allies approving a German air force to begin to defend Western Europe. Is that a part of our program--

THE PRESIDENT. I can't answer the question for I haven't received the telegrams as yet which tell about the agreement, and I can't comment on it until I get all the facts and information, which I will get tomorrow from Dean Acheson when he comes back.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, can you elaborate on "the law will be enforced"? Does that mean that the price will have to go back to December--

THE PRESIDENT. The price will go back where the Economic Administrator says it shall go.

Q. Mr. President, does that mean that you think the Government then, sir, could force any motor company to unfreeze its cars and sell them at that price?

THE PRESIDENT. That is a matter that--we will cross that bridge when we get to it.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, do I understand that you as of today have designated General Eisenhower as commander in chief? 5

THE PRESIDENT. As commander in chief of the Allied forces in Europe, he has exactly the same position in Europe that MacArthur has in Asia.

5See Items 308 and 310.

Q. Mr. President, is it your intention to designate American forces in the near future to be a part of that army ?


Q. Additional American forces?


Q. Could you say how many ?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I can't. I can't do that. If I knew I wouldn't tell you.

Q. Or how soon, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. Just as soon as it is possible to get ready. That is the reason for this emergency I have just declared.

Q. Mr. President, how soon does General Eisenhower expect to go, do you know?

THE PRESIDENT. I talked to him last night on the telephone, and he is coming in to see me, and then he is going to Europe as promptly as possible.

[11.] Q. Are you going home for Christmas, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I don't know. I had hoped to go on Friday, but whether I will be able to make it or not I can't tell you exactly; but then you fellows might keep your grips packed--you might need them.

[12.] Q. Mr. President, could you say anything about General Eisenhower's staff?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I cannot. That is up to General Eisenhower.

Q. Mr. President, I understood you to say that General Eisenhower's position would be. exactly the same as General MacArthur's--

THE PRESIDENT. He will be the commander in chief of the Allied forces in Europe, at their request. They requested me to appoint a commander in chief of Allied forces in Europe, just as they requested me to appoint a commander in chief of Allied forces in Asia; and that is what I have done.

Q. I was thinking, Mr. President, that General MacArthur is working under the United Nations?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, he is also commander in chief of the Allied forces in Asia, to which position he was appointed before the United Nations asked for his services.

Q. Mr. President, can you say how soon American divisions will be moving--

THE PRESIDENT. No, I can't--no, I can't. As I say, if I could I wouldn't tell you. You fellows ought to have some ideas of security the same as I have.

Q. Well, perhaps this question doesn't violate security?


Q. Will it be a National Guard division?

THE PRESIDENT, I can't answer that.

[13.] Q. Mr. President, the State Department announced on Saturday that under your instructions the United States is calling a special meeting of American foreign ministers. Could you tell me what importance you attach to that meeting ?

THE PRESIDENT. I didn't understand the question. Will you please ask it again?

Q. The State Department announced on Saturday that under your instructions the United States is calling a special conference of the hemisphere foreign ministers to consider urgent problems of the--

THE PRESIDENT. You mean Western Hemisphere?

Q. Yes, sir.

THE PRESIDENT. That is correct. It is economic, principally. Raw materials and--

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. You're welcome.

Note: President Truman's two hundred and fortyseventh news conference was held in the Indian Treaty Room (Room 474) in the Executive Office Building at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, December 19, 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/230563

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