Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

January 19, 1950

THE PRESIDENT. I have no special announcements to make this morning, but I will try to answer your questions if I can.

[1.] Q. Mr. President, do you plan to name a successor to Myron Taylor?

THE PRESIDENT. The matter is under study.

Q. Does that go also, Mr. President, for continuing the mission?

THE PRESIDENT. It is under study, yes. 1

1 Myron C. Taylor was appointed as the President's Personal Representative at the Vatican on December 23, 1939; his resignation became effective on January 18, 1950. His letter of resignation and the President's reply, both dated January 18 and released by the White House on the same date, are published in the Department of State Bulletin (VOI. 22, p. 181).

On October 20, 1951, the President appointed Gen. Mark W. Clark to be the first U.S. Ambassador to Vatican City. According to reports in the press the White House reaffirmed the power of the President to establish diplomatic relations with the Vatican without consulting Congress but announced that the President would request congressional approval of the nomination.

After widespread controversy on the appointment and protests from numerous Protestant groups, General Clark withdrew as the nominee on January 13, 1952. A U.S. Ambassador to Vatican City was not appointed during the Truman administration.

Q. What was the answer, sir ?

THE PRESIDENT. The matter is under study. The State Department is studying it. I think Dean Acheson answered that yesterday.2

2On January 18, 1950, Secretary Dean Acheson sent a telegram to the American Embassy in Rome concerning the office of the President's Personal Representative at the Vatican. The text of the telegram was not released

[2.] Q. Mr. President, has it been determined when the tax message will go up?3

THE PRESIDENT. As quickly as it is ready. It will go up in a few days. We have been working very hard on it. No controversy. It is a technical matter. Takes a little time to get it ready.

3 See Item 18.

[3.] Q. Mr. President, do you plan to fill the vacancy on the War Claims Commission any time soon, sir?


Q. The War Claims Commission. You recall that one of the commissioners was

THE PRESIDENT. Oh yes, he was killed in an airplane accident. Yes, we will fill that as promptly as we can.4

4On February 28, 1950, the President transmitted to the Senate the nomination of Myron Wiener as a member of the War Claims Commission. The appointment filled the vacancy created by the death of David N. Lewis on November 29, 1949, when he was killed in the crash of an airliner in Dallas, Tex.

[4.] Q. Mr. President, is Charles Luckman being persuaded to accept a Government position ?

THE PRESIDENT. Not that I know of. I haven't had any conversation with him on the subject. All I know about what has happened is what I saw in the paper.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, are you considering direct negotiations with Russia on the hydrogen bomb ?


Q. Mr. President, has David Lilienthal offered to go to Russia on that subject?

THE PRESIDENT. No, he has not.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, the National Lawyers Guild, I believe, has asked you to investigate the FBI, I think, again. Have you received any such request?

THE PRESIDENT. We have received no formal communication from the Lawyers Guild.

Q. Nothing formal-

THE PRESIDENT. We have received no formal communication. I have heard lots of rumors on the subject.

Q. Would you like to say something about it?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I have no comment.

Q. Mr. President, we didn't hear the question, I'm sorry.

THE PRESIDENT. They wanted to know if the Lawyers Guild was going to ask me to investigate the FBI, and I told him I hadn't heard it officially.

[7.] Q. Mr. President, what did you see Congressman Sabath about this morning?

THE PRESIDENT. The proposed change in the rules of the House. He came up to talk to me about it at my suggestion.5

5Representative Adolph J. Sabath of Illinois, Chairman of the House Rules Committee. The proposed change in the rules had to do with an attempt to restore the power of the Committee to pigeonhole bills. Under the rule in effect since January 3, 1949, any bill held up by the Rules Committee for 21 days could be brought to the floor at the call of the chairman of the committee of original jurisdiction--provided the Speaker recognized him for such a call. On January 20 the House voted 236-183 to retain the 21-day rule.

Q. Are you against it? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. Of course I am against it. I hope they won't do it.

Q. Mr. President, he suggested he might make a change himself, by way of appeasing the southerners. Did he discuss that with you?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know what that change is. I didn't discuss that with him. I told him I was opposed to the change. Period.

Q. Was he optimistic about beating it?

THE PRESIDENT. He thought he could beat it. That is the change.

Q. Mr. President, have you spoken to Speaker Rayburn on this whole subject of the rules change.

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I have--yes, I have. I have talked to Speaker Rayburn every Monday on the subject for the last year and a half, and the year before that, also.

Q. I mean particularly this Monday, sir? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, we discussed it.

Q. Are you in agreement on it, Mr. President?


[ 8. ] Q. Mr. President, is there a nomination in sight for Alien Property Custodian ?

THE PRESIDENT. I thought the Alien Property Custodian business was wound up. Which is it? Maybe I'm mistaken--I was thinking about surplus property. That is about to wind up.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, were you able to work out an agreement on the Missouri senatorial primary with the Missouri politicians this week?

THE PRESIDENT. I made a statement last week in which I said that I was for Allison,6 and I think you will find the Missouri politicians generally in agreement with that.

6 See Item 3 [8].

Q. Generally in agreement?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. [Laughter]

Q. Mr. President, does that mean that these other men may withdraw?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't answer that question. You see, Missouri has a free primary, and anybody in the world can run that wants to. There is nothing to prevent them-nothing to prevent them trying it. I am just answering your question.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, are your legal advisers in agreement with Senator Taft, who says that the Taft-Hartley Act offers no basis for Mr. Denham's action yesterday against the 7 --

THE, PRESIDENT. I can't answer that. Mr. Denham is acting for the National Labor Relations Board. He has a right to take such steps as he thinks the law provides. He has been in close touch with the White House, but the White House has had nothing to do with his actions.

7On January 18, Robert N. Denham, General Counsel, National Labor Relations Board, filed a petition in the Federal District Court to compel John L. Lewis and the United Mine Workers of America to restore normal coal production. Denham based his petition on the section of the Taft-Hartley law forbidding unfair labor practices. According to the New York Times, Senator Robert A. Taft of Ohio stated that he did not believe the avenue of approach used by Mr. Denham would be a suitable substitute for invocation of the national emergency section of the Taft-Hartley Act.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, do you favor former Assistant Attorney General Alex Campbell for nomination to the Senate in Indiana?

THE PRESIDENT. I am not in the Indiana senatorial primary. I am only in the Missouri primary.

Q. Yes, sir.

THE PRESIDENT. After the primary is over in Indiana I hope to help elect a Democratic Senator from Indiana.

[12.] Q. Mr. President, getting back, did you say that Missouri Democrats were in general agreement with you, or generally in agreement with you? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. Now, what do you mean by that question? [More laughter] Are you a lawyer? What do you mean by that question? I think it means the same thing.

[13.] Q. Mr. President, it has been reported in Chicago that come election time-not primary time--that you will be making one or more speeches in Illinois for Senator Lucas?

THE PRESIDENT. We will cross that bridge when we get to it. Of course, I want Senator Lucas to come back now, and I will do everything I can to help him come back. If it requires that, I will do it.

[14.] Q. May I go back to the Denham matter a moment?


Q. I understand he has a right to take what action he thinks proper?

THE PRESIDENT. That is correct.

Q. Have you had communication with him on the subject?

THE PRESIDENT. No. He was in communication with me. I had no communication whatever. He told us what he was going to do, and we listened.

[15.] Q. Mr. President, have you decided on the successor to Mr. Lilienthal?8

THE PRESIDENT. No, I have not. I will announce it whenever I am ready.

8 The resignation of Davil E. Lilienthal as Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission became effective on February 15, 1950. On February 16, 1950, the President designated Sumner T. Pike as Acting Chairman of the Commission, and on July 11, 1950, Mr. Truman appointed Gordon E. Dean to be Chairman of the Commission.

[16.] Q. Mr. President, is there anything more you can tell us about the plans for the leaders in the Senate to keep the Senate through the summer if necessary to get a civil rights vote?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I can't comment further on that. I have said all that is necessary. What is it somebody wants to ask me?

[17.] Q. Do you plan any further action in the coal dispute?

THE PRESIDENT. I am in constant touch with the situation in the coal industry. When the situation develops to the point where it is necessary for me to take action, I will take it.

[18.] Q. Mr. President, do you have under consideration the production of a hydrogen bomb?

THE PRESIDENT. I cannot comment on that.9

9 See Item 16.

[19.] Q. Mr. President, you won't take any part in the primary race in South Carolina?

THE PRESIDENT. I will take no part in any primary race outside the State of Missouri. That is my State, where I have the right to do as I please. The other States have a right to do as they please. After the primaries are over, then I will be in a different frame of mind.

[20.] Q. Has anybody discussed the question of a formula by which you can go to determine when there is and when there is not a coal emergency, that is, when the shortage is--

THE PRESIDENT. The decision is in the hands of the President, and when the President thinks there is an emergency, he will declare it and take whatever action is necessary.

Q. In other words, the emergency has not arisen?

THE PRESIDENT. The emergency is not here. The national emergency is not here.

Q. Mr. President, if things go on as they are now, how long do you think it will be before there would be a national emergency ?

THE PRESIDENT. Your guess is as good as mine. I get constant reports on the situation. When I think there is an emergency, I will make a statement on it, and I think you will understand it clearly.

Q. Does an emergency threaten, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't care to answer that question. You will have to dig that up for yourself.

Q. Has the Denham action your blessing, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. Mr. Denham is working for the National Labor Relations Board, and it is not my business to bless him or unbless him. [Laughter]

Q. Mr. President, if there is no objection-is there any connection between Mr. Denham's action and the presence or the lack of presence of a national emergency?

THE PRESIDENT. None that I know of. None that I know of--no connection. Mr. Denham was requested to take any action ever since the 31st of December, and he has generally decided to take it.

Q. It isn't really a national emergency?

THE PRESIDENT. No, no. Has nothing to do with a national emergency.

[21.] Q. Mr. President, you don't have any comment on former Secretary Jimmy Byrnes entering10

THE PRESIDENT, No, I have no comment. Mr. Byrnes is a free agent to do as he damn pleases. [Laughter]

10On January 14 James F. Byrnes, former Secretary of State, announced that he would be a candidate for the Democratic nomination as Governor of South Carolina.

Q. That's a good quote, Mr. President! [Laughter]

[22.] Q. Mr. President, I want to ask one question, because I know that everybody wants it answered. Will there be any change in the status of General Vaughan as a result of the reports 11--

THE PRESIDENT. There will be none.

11 Maj. Gen. Harry H. Vaughn, Military Aide to the President.

The report of the Investigations Subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Expenditures in the Executive Departments, entitled "The 5-Percenter Investigation," was submitted to the Senate on January 18, 1950. It is published in Senate Report 1232 (81st Cong., 2d sess.).

The report dealt with the problem of "management consultants," influence peddlers who sought to convince the small businessman that their services were needed in order to obtain Government contracts.

[23.] Q. On the subject of Mr. Denham, Mr. President, have various calls which have been sounded by individuals for the recall of Mr. Denham been brought to your attention in any official--

THE PRESIDENT. I have seen them in the paper, but nowhere else.

Q. Nowhere else?

THE PRESIDENT. Nowhere else but in the paper. Like a lot of other guesses that get into the papers. [Laughter]

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: President Truman's two hundred and thirteenth news conference was held in his office at the White House at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, January 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/230765

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