Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

February 09, 1950

THE PRESIDENT. I have no special announcements to make today. I will try my best to answer questions, if they are not too complicated.

[1.] Q. Mr. President, this matter is on a State level. Five members of Virginia's House of Delegates are pushing a bill to abolish segregation within the State. Any comment on that, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. No. That is Virginia's business. I am glad to hear it, however.

Q. Mr. President, are you in agreement with the brief filed by your Solicitor General today in the Supreme Court which opposes separate but equal facilities in the segregated schools in Virginia ?

THE PRESIDENT. I know nothing about such a brief. I haven't seen it and I can't comment on it.

[2.] Q. Mr. President, several UMW locals in Illinois have urged you to seize the mines and put the profits in the Treasury. Have you any comment?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no such power as that.

Q. What was the answer?

THE PRESIDENT. Those are war powers.

Q. What was the answer, please?

THE PRESIDENT. I said I have no such powers. Those were war powers.

Q. You have no powers for seizure, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think so. I hope not.

Q. Mr. President, there is no power to put the money in the Treasury, however, is there?


Q. Mr. President, do you know if anyone in Government is preparing a bill to take care of that power?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I know of nothing of the kind. I am not asking for any such power.

[3.] Q. Mr. President, do you favor a close balance between oil imports and exports?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't comment on that at the present time because I haven't all the information on the subject.

[4.] Q. Mr. President, are you expecting to hear from your factfinding board on coal today?

THE PRESIDENT. I am expecting to hear as soon as they are ready to report.

Q. You don't know whether it will be today?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't tell when it will be, except they will report as soon as they are ready.1

1See Item 35.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, have you received any recommendation from the Trade Agreements Committee regarding negotiations between the United States and Germany on textile tariffs ?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I haven't.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, the Republicans say that the current issue is socialism versus liberty. Which one are you for, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't understand that very well. I read with a lot of interest that Republican platform, but I think the Republicans' record speaks better for itself than any platform they can write.

[7.] Q. Mr. President, can anything be done to keep the Waltham Watch Company in business?

THE PRESIDENT. We have done everything we possibly could. Apparently they aren't going to stay in business.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, do you plan to appoint a committee to study radio and television allocations ?

THE PRESIDENT. I hadn't thought about it.

Q. What was that question, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. He wanted to know if I planned to appoint a committee to study radio and television allocations. We have got a board for that purpose. I do not see any use for me to.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, is Secretary Gray coming in to resign?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know. He is going to see me after you fellows get through. He has been trying to resign for quite a while, and I have been able to persuade him to stay, up to date.

Q. No decision on whether he is going to leave?

THE PRESIDENT. No. That is what he is coming to tell me this afternoon. 2

2See Item 81.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, this New England power letter asks that Passamaquoddy be considered by the proposed new New England-New York Commission. What will be the relationship of that commission to the International Joint Commission which is now studying Quoddy?

THE PRESIDENT. The relationship would be simply a coordination of the whole New England power program, that's all. It would not interfere with the International Commission at all. In fact, I think it would be an asset to the International Commission.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, concerning oil imports--the question that was asked a moment ago--Mr. Patman asked you to invoke the power under the National Trade Agreements. Do you intend to submit that question to the Tariff Commission for its recommendation?

THE PRESIDENT. I can give you the answer to that question better when I have all the information in my hands, which I haven't, as yet.

[12.] Q. Mr. President, a group of scientists in New York recently spoke of forming some sort of citizens commission, created by your office, to make a complete reevaluation of our atomic policies?

THE PRESIDENT. Did you read Mr. Acheson's statement lately?3 I will advise you to read it. That will answer your question.

3 Mr. Acheson's statement on the Soviet nuclear explosion and U.S. atomic policy is printed in the Department of State Bulletin (vol. 21, p. 487).

[13.] Q. Mr. President, is Charles E. Luckman being considered for Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission?

THE PRESIDENT. I am not considering anybody in particular, right at the present time. When I find the right man, I will let you know about it right away.

Q. What about Luckman in the National Security Resources Board?

THE PRESIDENT. I am not considering Mr. Luckman for any job whatever. He is doing the job that he is doing right now: selling tickets to the Democratic dinner.4 [Laughter]

4 Charles E. Luckman was chairman of the 1950 National Jefferson-Jackson Day Committee.

Q. Well, if he does good, might he be considered?

THE PRESIDENT. He has done excellent. He has done an excellent job of it.

Q. Didn't hear your reply, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. I said he has done an excellent job in the job he is in. Every time I have asked him to do anything for me, he has done an excellent job.

[14.] Q. Mr. President, do you agree with Senator McMahon that this is a time for soul-searching, nationwide debate on the question posed by the hydrogen bomb?

THE PRESIDENT. Did you read Secretary Acheson's statement yesterday?5

Q. Yes, sir.

THE PRESIDENT. I would advise you to read it

5For Secretary Acheson's statement at his press conference on February 8, see the Department of State Bulletin (vol. 22, p. 272).

Q. He seems not to think so.

THE PRESIDENT. --because that covers the ground. The Secretary and I are in complete agreement.

Q. He spoke for you?

THE PRESIDENT. He discussed the matter with me. He spoke for the State Department, which is supposed to represent my policy on foreign policy.

[15.] Q. Mr. President, the President of the Philippines6 indicated that--after seeing you this week--that he would welcome a mission to go out there to study economic conditions for recovery and rehabilitation?

THE PRESIDENT. We discussed that.

6Elpidio Quirino of the Republic of the Philippines. President Quirino had been in the United States for medical treatment.

Q. Would you favor sending such a commission?

THE PRESIDENT. I have it under consideration.

[16.] Q. Mr. President, getting back to Dean Acheson, in other words, you are in hearty approval of the Secretary's statement yesterday?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I am very much in approval of what he had to say. We discussed it for quite a while before he made the statement. And if you will go back and read a little history, you will find that that program has been a continuing one ever since we first made the request through the United Nations to control atomic energy and armaments of all kinds.

Our position hasn't changed a bit. It has been just exactly that all along. We have been reiterating it. I have said it over and over and over, I think a hundred times, right here in this conference, and there isn't any use getting all steamed up on the subject, because we are continuing all the time every effort we possibly can to create a peaceful situation in the world. And if we could get just one little bit of cooperation from the Soviet Government, we could get the job done.

[17.] Q. Mr. President, getting back to a local war, did you know that California and Arizona are at daggers point over the Colorado River water ?


Q. The California delegates tell me you recommended to the Chief of Engineers that a survey be made to find an extra million feet of water which both States could share. Do you have any idea where it will come from?

THE PRESIDENT. No. I am having the water commission7 make a complete survey of the water situation in the United States. You know, New York is just as much interested in the subject as California is, and so is Baltimore, and so is Houston, Tex., and a half dozen other cities that I could name to you. That is the reason I appointed this water commission.

7 See Item I.

The water situation in the Southwest is in a terrible situation. Arizona and California are both drying up. We have got to find some sort of a manner in which to meet that situation. And that is the reason I have appointed that water commission to make a survey. I hope we can solve it, but it is a very delicate and a very important problem. I hope we will get it solved so that it will be all right for those States and places that I have named.

[18.] Q. Mr. President, I would like to get cleared up on this Acheson thing. Are we standing on the Baruch position or is that

THE PRESIDENT. Our position has never changed. The Baruch position is just the same now as it was the day it was made.8
Q. That is not being reconsidered?

8 Bernard M. Baruch, the United States Representative to the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission, set forth the position of the United States in his address delivered at the opening session of the Commission in New York City on June 1946.

In his address Mr. Baruch stated that "The United States proposes the creation of an International Atomic Development Authority, to which should be entrusted all phases of the development and use of atomic energy, starting with the raw materials and including: (I) managerial control or ownership of all atomic-energy activities potentially dangerous to world security, (a) power to control, inspect, and license all other atomic activities, (3) the duty of fostering the beneficial uses of atomic energy, (4) research and development responsibilities of. an affirmative character intended to put the Authority in the forefront of atomic knowledge and thus to enable it to comprehend, and therefore to detect, misuse of atomic energy. To be effective, the Authority must itself be the world's leader in the field of atomic knowledge and development and thus supplement its legal authority with the great power inherent in possession of leadership in knowledge."

For the full text of Mr. Baruch's address see the Department of State Bulletin (vol. 14, p. 1057).

THE PRESIDENT. No reason to reconsider it. It is just as good today as it ever was.

Q. Not altered by anything now?

THE PRESIDENT. Not the slightest. Not the slightest. In fact, it ought to be more useful now than it was then.

We thought we were giving away, then, something good. We were on an even keel then, apparently.

Q. Is it your idea, sir, that that ought to make Russia more receptive?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't answer what Russia feels. I know how they have acted. I can only go on their actions. I can't tell you how Russia feels. Nobody knows. Except by their acts in the United Nations--and they have voted "no" every time. I don't think we have ever exercised the veto power.

Q. Mr. President, does the Secretary's statement, then, foreclose any changes in the future on our atomic policy?

THE PRESIDENT. There is no reason for any change. We are attempting to get international control of atomic energy and trying our best to get a peace in the world that will be good for everybody. That's all we are after. That's all we have ever wanted. That is the fundamental basis of our foreign policy.

Q. Well, how about general disarmament?

THE PRESIDENT. It is in the same category.

Q. Can they be considered together, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. No, they cannot.

Q. Are you intending to say that you think public discussion does no good?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I am not. You needn't put words of that kind into my mouth. I will answer your questions--

Q. I thought I was asking one--

THE PRESIDENT. All right, proceed. You don't put any words in my mouth.

Q. Do you think that public discussion will answer the situation?

THE PRESIDENT. Public discussion helps every situation.

Q. Mr. President, I didn't quite get that. You said disarmaments are in the same category as what?

THE PRESIDENT. As atomic control. They are. We are for both.

Q. Mr. President, you said we are not ready to consider atomic disarmament or atomic agreement and general disarmament together?

THE PRESIDENT. They go together. They are both in the same resolution in the United Nations, if you will read it. They do go together.

Q. We are for atomic agreement first?

THE PRESIDENT. I would like to have that atomic thing first, of course, but they are both in the same resolution in the United Nations.

Q. Are we inflexible on that point, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. Doesn't mean inflexible. If we can get an atomic energy settlement, we won't have any trouble with the other.

Q. Mr. President, do you think that the Fuchs case possibly aggravates the international situation with respect to atomic energy?9

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment on that.

9 Dr. Klaus Fuchs, German-born, naturalized British scientist convicted of having transmitted secret atomic information to the Soviet Union.

Q. Couldn't hear that question.

THE PRESIDENT. He wanted to know if this English scientist's case had any effect on that, and I said I can't comment on that.

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President

Note: President Truman's two hundred and sixteenth news conference was held in his office at theWhite House at 4p.m. on Thursday, February 9,1950.

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/230640

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