Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

May 24, 1951

THE PRESIDENT. Please be seated.

[1.] I want to read you a reminder, then you can ask me questions.

[Reading, not literally] "I just want to remind everyone that next Wednesday is Memorial Day, and that we all have a duty on that day to pray for permanent peace as well as to honor the heroes of past wars.

"In the proclamation which I issued on May 23, 1950, pursuant to a joint resolution of the Congress, I proclaimed each succeeding Memorial Day as a day of prayer for permanent peace, and suggested 11 o'clock in the morning, eastern daylight saving time, as an appropriate time for each American according to his own religious faith, to beg divine aid in bringing enduring peace to a troubled world.

"I called then, and I call again upon the press, radio, television, and other media of public information to participate in this observance.

"This proclamation was first issued before the Communist aggression which made it necessary for the free nations to turn back the invaders in Korea. With our men, and the men of the other free nations, fighting this Memorial Day in Korea, it is more important than ever that we join--every one of us--in praying for the peace which is our objective."

You will have copies of this available when you go out, and I hope you will see that it gets proper circulation.

I am ready for questions now.

[2.] Q. Mr. President, some of the Democrats out in Denver1 have indicated that they would follow your preference in the selection of a convention city. Do you have any preference as between Chicago and Philadelphia?

THE PRESIDENT. No. That is a matter that the committee has to pass on. Either city is good. I have been in both places and had a good time. Nominated a winning ticket in both places! [Laughter]

1 The Western States Conference and the Midwest Conference of the Democratic Party met in Denver on May 23 and 24, and the Democratic National Committee met there on May 25. See also Item 110.

Q. Philadelphia seemed to work better than anywhere else, didn't it, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, Philadelphia was a little more controversial, but it came out all right. 2

2 The 1948 convention of the Democratic Party was held in Philadelphia.

Q. I meant for yourself, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I am not sure about that. That depends on your viewpoint. [Laughter]

[3.] Q. Mr. President, your Secretary of Agriculture said that he hoped you would run in 1952. Do you share in that hope?

THE PRESIDENT. That is mighty nice of him, and I appreciate what he has to say. [More laughter]

Q. Mr. President, along that line, a few weeks ago, you said that you made up your mind, but that you were the only one that knew what your decision was ?

THE PRESIDENT. That is still good.

Q. I wonder if the ruckus kicked up over General MacArthur has changed your mind--

Voices: Louder--louder. Can't hear-can't hear back here !

THE PRESIDENT. He wanted to know if the ruckus kicked up over a great general from the Far East had changed my mind as to my ideas on the Presidency for the next 4 years. It has no effect on it whatever.

Q. What was your answer?

Q. The season is still on?

THE PRESIDENT. The season is still on. I said it has no effect on it. The season is still on. [Laughter]

Q. Would you care to elaborate on that line, sir?

Q. You said before that you had made up your mind ?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. That is correct. But that doesn't close the gate to anybody else. You see, the Democratic Party is a little different from other parties. Anybody in the world who wants to, can run for the nomination for President in the Democratic Convention, and a lot of people do, always.

Q. Mr. President, has Mrs. Truman made up her mind as to whether you are going to run?

THE PRESIDENT. Mrs. Truman has never been very enthusiastic about my holding public office, but she has had to put up with it for 30 years. And I don't blame her at all. She and I understand each other.

Q. Mr. President, also with reference to Denver, Bill Boyle read a letter out there saying that you hoped to see some people before very long.3 Would you define that "before very long" for us ?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think I told you-all you people that are interested in that sort of thing, that I would give you plenty of notice so that you could get your suitcases 'packed in plenty of time. Now, when the time comes around, I will make the announcement-if it does come around--so that you will have plenty of time to get ready to go with me, and I know all of you will want to go. [Laughter]

3 See Item 110.

[4.] Q. Mr. President, Ambassador Cowen of the Philippines is in town.4 Do you expect to see him on Philippine matters some time soon ?

THE PRESIDENT. I didn't understand the question?

4 Myron M. Cowen, U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines.

Q. Ambassador Cowen of the Philippines is in town for consultations. Do you care to. make any comment on his visit?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I will see him. Whenever an Ambassador wants to see me, I always see him. I saw him when he first came back.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, if you should pack your bags and hit the road, would it be to resell the country on your foreign policy, or with some political overtones in view ?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, of course, that matter would have to take care of itself at the time, but the objective would be to tell the truth about domestic and foreign policy, just as I did in 1948. When the people have the facts, you can't fool them.

Q. If you or Mrs. Truman should decide that you might not want to run in 1952, have you any preferences ?

THE PRESIDENT. Well now, that is a hypothetical question, and not one that I can answer at this press conference.

Q. There has been some talk in the background about the Democrats having an eye on another general whom the Republicans are also planning on?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I have heard something about that. There was something like that going on in 1948, if I am not mistaken. [Laughter]

[6.] Q. Mr. President, will you make public soon the report of Mr. Wilson 5 on the economic outlook, which is supposed to be out sometime early in the week?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know anything about any such report. I get a report from the Economic Advisers--who are there for that purpose--every week, and those reports are always available for--

5Charles E. Wilson, Director of the Office of Defense Mobilization and Chairman of the National Advisory Board on Mobilization Policy.

Q. Mr. President, this is one that goes back to your memorandum, following the so-called differences between the Treasury and the Federal Reserve? 6

THE PRESIDENT. That report has been under consideration. I have no comment to make on it as yet, because I have not analyzed it as completely as I want to.

6 See Item 44.

[7.] Q. Mr. President, back to your opening statement about the peace, there are rumors of peace feelers supposed to be coming from the Communist side. Would you say that the prospects for peace are better now ?

THE PRESIDENT. I think the Secretary of State answered that question very fully yesterday.7

7At his press conference on May 23, Secretary of State Dean Acheson stated that the policy of the United States toward China had not changed, and that the United States Government still hoped to be able to negotiate a Korean peace settlement with the Communist regime in Peiping.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, have you any thoughts on the situation in Iran? For example, do you favor arbitration ?

THE PRESIDENT. I want to answer you again as I did the other gentleman over here, that the Secretary of State answered that very fully yesterday.8 If you will read his comments from his press conference, you will have the answer.

8 At his news conference on May 23, Secretary Acheson stated, "We believe very earnestly that the controversy between the British Government and the Iranian Government is a controversy which can be and should be settled by negotiation between those parties, and we indicated some of the principles which we thought were important in controlling the general conduct of those negotiations... The United States is the friend of, and is deeply concerned in the welfare and strength of both parties to the controversy." The text of his remarks on the subject is printed in the Department of State Bulletin (vol. 24, p. 891).

[9.] Q. Mr. President, do you consider this your second term ?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, if you would read a little history, you will find that the first term of any President is the term to which he is elected.

Q. Well, that is a hypothetical situation. If you were a candidate in the next term, you would be running--it would be your second term ?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, but that wouldn't make any difference, for the simple reason that I am exempted from that amendment, anyway--specifically.

Q. I was speaking only of tradition, not of the--

THE PRESIDENT. Well, let's cross that bridge when the time comes to do it.

Q. Would you care to express your views on the tenure of the Presidency?

THE PRESIDENT. No. I will do that at a later date.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, this is a local question. In New York there have been two long-standing vacancies on the U.S. District Court.

THE PRESIDENT. That is correct.

Q. The New York Lawyers Association has asked if you will appoint Lloyd Paul Stryker and Mr. Dimock.9 Is there any comment on that?

THE PRESIDENT. I have them under consideration.

9 Lloyd P. Stryker and Edward J. Dimock, New York attorneys. Mr. Dimock was appointed to the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York on June 11, 1951.

Q. You have them under consideration?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I have them under consideration along with several others. And as soon as I come to a conclusion on it, I will announce it in plenty of time.

I am very careful about the appointment of judges to the Federal Courts. It is, I think, one of the most important things that the President of the United States does, because that is where the people come in contact with the Government under law. That is one of the greatest things that our Government stands for, is Government under law. And I am exceedingly careful about the appointment of Federal judges, and that is the reason I have hesitated about making these appointments. These gentlemen that have been recommended by the Bar Association are good men, but I think others are under consideration also.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, is there anything you can tell us now about a new Ambassador to Ireland ?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I can't tell you a thing about it because I don't know anything about it.

[12.] Q. Mr. President, nobody seems to have raised the MacArthur controversy this morning. [Laughter] Would you care to comment on Senator Wiley's 10 proposal that you testify before the--

THE PRESIDENT. Last week I made my position very clear on that controversy, and I have no further comment to make to that.

10 Senator Alexander Wiley of Wisconsin, ranking Republican on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations which was holding joint hearings with the Senate Armed Services Committee on the removal of General MacArthur from his command in the Far East.

[13.] Q. Mr. President, General Van Fleet 11 said today the 8th Army is "attacking all along the entire front, and there is no limitation on its objective." I just wonder if that is any change at all in.--

THE PRESIDENT. Not at all. The commanders in the field have absolute control of the tactics and strategy, and they always have.

11Gen. James A. Van Fleet, new commander of the 8th Army in Korea.

[14.] Q. Mr. President, do you feel that Congress has made as much speed as it perhaps should have in the passage of the more vital legislation that is before it?

THE PRESIDENT. Well now, that is a very, very delicate question you have asked me. [Laughter] And I am not ready as yet to enter into a controversy with the Congress.

You can never tell what the record of a Congress will be until that Congress has adjourned for the period for which it has been meeting. Now, I never want to comment on the record of the Congress, because if you will remember very carefully, the same question was asked me about the 81st Congress, and I told you then that the record of the Congress is not the record until it is made. Now this session is not over yet, by any means, and there is still another session of the 82d Congress that takes place on the 3d of January 1952, and therefore I don't want to make any comments on the situation.

I have been very much worried about the necessity for the extension of the emergency matters that will expire the 30th day of June. It is absolutely essential that the Defense Production Act with its amendments be in operation by that time.12 The Congress has been exceedingly busy on hearings of one sort and another, and there is just too much work for any one man to do in every field down there, I know, because I spent 10 years down there. And so I will wait to make the comment on your question when we have the results.

12 See Item 176.

Q. That is what I had in mind, Mr. President, sir, these matters that are expiring on June 30th, and need renewal.

THE PRESIDENT. I am very much worried about them, but I do think they will certainly get around to take care of that situation before the time expires.

[15.] Q. Mr. President, since you spent 10 years in the Senate, what do you think of this "In Tuesday Out Thursday Club"?

THE PRESIDENT. What is that?

Q. What do you think about the Congress. men who go home on a weekend and come back on a Tuesday--who go home on a Thursday--

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment on that: That is a matter that the Congress itself must take care of. That is out of my bailiwick. You see, I am the Executive, and the legislative branch of the Government has to tend to its own business.

[16.] Q. Mr. President, once more, have you decided whether you are going to Topeka for the 35th Division 13--

THE PRESIDENT. No, I haven't. I would like very much to go. I have never missed one, and I had hoped conditions would be so that I could go. I have had about as much pressure on that from my friends as I have had on any other one thing. I can't tell you now whether I will go or not. It depends on the situation here, of course.

13Reunion of the 35th Division Association.

Q. What was the date of that, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. Ninth of June.

[17.] I do have a comment that I want to make to you, that I want to have an understanding with you on. Some of my good friends who write columns, and whom I read with pleasure, have been saying lately that I had a "cocky" attitude. Now, I don't like that word, because I think it is "confident" that they want to say. And if you remember, after the election in 1948, I was exceedingly careful not to appear cocky, or as if I wanted to press somebody down. I am not in that mood now.

I think, however, that the program and policies that the Executive has been endeavoring to put into effect are right, and I think that the people of the United States and of the world believe that they are right. And I am confident that those policies will go into effect legislatively and otherwise because they are right. And I don't want to assume any cocky attitude toward anybody, no matter who he is. I just want to make that plain--because I don't feel that way, and never have.

Q. Your program for peace, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, the whole program is based on world peace; and both the domestic and the foreign policy are policies which we hope will cause world peace and prevent a third world war, which would in effect, I believe, destroy freedom and everything else in the world. We would probably go back to the Dark Ages if we have another world war. I don't want to have it. That's all I have worked for for 6 years, is peace in the world.

Q. Would there be any objection to our quoting you directly on that ?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I have no objection. Talk it over with Joe Short, 14 and if he works it out with you, it will be all right.

14Joseph H. Short, Secretary to the President.

Q. If such a decision is made, may we have copies of it?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, you may--you may.

Mr. Short: The decision won't be made in time for you to dictate.

THE PRESIDENT. I have no objection to that because that is the way I feel, and I want you to understand it. Nothing in my life amounts to anything but world peace. That is all I am working for.

Q. Would it be possible for us to get one sentence in the last part of it for quotation now?

THE PRESIDENT. Talk to Joe. He is my Press Secretary.

Mr. Short: I think we had better wait until this is over. 15

15 On the same day the White House made public a transcript of the President's statement Item [17.] beginning with the words, "I do have a comment" and concluding with, "That is the reason I don't want a third world war."

Q. Haven't we got enough energy and intelligence in this country to keep from slipping back into the Dark Ages, even if we would have to fight another war?

THE PRESIDENT. I hope that is true, but you know what happens to governments and what happens to people. And if a third world war should come, we will not be in the position that we have been in the other two. We will be a battlefront. We can look forward to destruction here, just as the other countries in the Second World War. And you never can tell what will happen to people when that takes place.

I think we have enough intelligence and energy to meet any situation with which we are confronted, but I am not willing to take a chance on it. That is the reason I don't want a third world war.

[18.] Q. Mr. President, have you received, or do you expect a report from Senator Magnuson on his trip to the Far East?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no doubt the Senator will come to see me and tell me about his trip.

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. You are entirely welcome.

Note: President Truman's two hundred and sixty-fifth news conference was held in the Indian Treaty Room (Room 474) in the Executive Office Building at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, May 24, 1951.

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/231112

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