Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

October 27, 1949

THE PRESIDENT. [1.] I have only one announcement to make. I have received a request from the Secretary of the Navy to transfer Admiral Denfeld to another post, and I have given him permission to do it. You will find his letter, and my reply, in mimeographed form as you go out.1

1 See Item 241.

Q. Could you say, sir, before we saw that, what other post it is, or has it--is it--

THE PRESIDENT. It hasn't been definitely decided as yet.

Q. Mr. President, before we see this exchange of correspondence, could you tell us why this move is being done?

THE PRESIDENT. The letter of the Secretary of the Navy will explain it in full.

Q. Is Admiral Sherman replacing him?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't answer that question.

Q. Mr. President, do you expect this to bring about greater harmony among--


Q. Do you know, Mr. President, whether Admiral Denfeld will accept a transfer, or resign?

THE PRESIDENT. I do not know.

Q. Has he been informed about it?

THE PRESIDENT. I suppose so.

Q. When do you expect to name a successor?

THE PRESIDENT. As soon as I find out who I want to appoint.2

2Adm. Forrest P. Sherman became the next Chief of Naval Operations. He was appointed on November 2, 1949, and was confirmed by the Senate on January 24, 1950.

Q. Have you, sir, informed Admiral Denfeld of this?

THE PRESIDENT. I had no conversation with anybody but the Secretary of the Navy.

Q. How does this square with the assurances given that there would be no reprisals?

THE PRESIDENT. The letter will speak for itself. You will get all the information you want out of the letter.

[2.] Q. Mr. President, has the suggestion that the NLRB General Counsel, Mr. Denham--not Denfield--be replaced been brought to your attention? It was made by CIO President Murray 2 days ago.

THE PRESIDENT. I haven't received any communications from President Murray.

[3.] Q. Mr. President, are you appointing Dr. Dewey Anderson in Dr. Nourse's spot?

THE PRESIDENT. Not that I know of. That's news to me. Who is Dr. Dewey Anderson? [Laughter]

[4.] Q. Mr. President, do you have anything to say about the appointment of George V. Allen as Ambassador to Yugoslavia?

THE PRESIDENT. He will be appointed Ambassador to Yugoslavia, and his successor has not been decided on as yet.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, there is a story out of Cleveland that Mayor Burke--the Mayor of Cleveland--telephoned the White House today about the service situation, that the coal supplies there aren't normal. Did you talk to him?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I did not talk to him. I wouldn't be surprised if he did make a phone call of that sort. We get them every day, every time there's a strike we get phone calls like that.

Q. Mr. President, do you plan or propose invoking the emergency section of the Taft-Hartley Act in either the coal or steel strikes?

THE PRESIDENT. We will cross that bridge when we come to it. There is no national emergency as yet.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, it has been suggested that we ought to withhold arms aid from the Philippines if Mr. Laurel is elected in the coming elections out there. Would you comment on that?

THE PRESIDENT. I will not comment on that. The Philippine people have a right to elect anybody they choose for president, and we will still be friendly with the Philippines whoever the president is.

[7.] Q. Mr. President, would you care to comment on the suggestion that the board of inquiry in the steel case be recalled to clarify its report, or to assist the parties in reaching agreement?

THE PRESIDENT. The board of inquiry in the steel strike was appointed. It did its job. It has been discharged. And there is no other board to be appointed.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, have you reached any decision yet regarding the possibility of recognition of the Communist Government of China?

THE PRESIDENT. I have had no discussion on that subject.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, do you plan to campaign next year for your Congressman, Mr. Irving?3

THE PRESIDENT. I will cross that bridge when I get to it. What do you think? [Laughter]

3Representative Leonard Irving of the Fourth Congressional District of Missouri, the President's home district, was also the president of the Hod Carriers', Building, and Common Laborers' Union. On July 16 he was charged with diverting union funds to his own use, but the charges were dismissed by a Federal circuit court on August 15.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, any further statements you can make on taxes?

THE PRESIDENT. No, nothing further to say.

Q. You feel that individual--

THE PRESIDENT. I have nothing further to say on the subject.

[11.] Q. I couldn't hear that Irving thing back here.

THE PRESIDENT. He wanted to know if I was going to campaign for my Congressman, Mr. Irving, and I told him I would cross that bridge when I got to it, and asked him whether he thought I would.

Q. Who was the questioner, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. This red-headed boy back here, who is asking a question now.

Q. Mr. President, he has been quoted as saying that the publicity about the resignation of his secretary is intended by his enemies to embarrass you as well as him. I wonder if you felt embarrassed?

THE PRESIDENT. You know I am embarrassproof. [Laughter] Everybody in the world has tried to embarrass me, and it hasn't worked.

[12.] Q. Mr. President, about the board of inquiry, you said that it did its job. Would you care to elaborate on that?

THE PRESIDENT. No, there is no elaboration. Read the report, that's all you need to do. Have you read it?

Q. Yes, sir.

THE PRESIDENT. All right, then you got the answer.

Q. Mr. President, on that point, there is a suggestion by Mr. Daugherty4 that the board might be willing to reconsider. Would you object to that, if the request were made by both parties?

THE PRESIDENT. I would do nothing about it. The board has done its job. Period.

4Carroll R. Daugherty, chairman of the Steel Industry Board. See Item 209.

[13.] Q. Mr. President, could you tell us about the talk you had with these businessmen 2 or 3 days ago--I think it was last week--in which one of them said that you had a baseball bat in the corner waiting for them?

THE PRESIDENT. The speech that I made to those businessmen was off the record, and it is still off the record.5

5The President's off the-record remarks were made to the Businessmen's Dinner Forum of the A. & H. Kroeger Organization. The President spoke at the Statler Hotel in Washington on October 20, at 9:30 p.m.

[14.] Q. Mr. President, do you have a candidate for the vacancy on the Federal Trade Commission?

THE PRESIDENT. Not yet. I will have one.

Q. Your candidate might come out?

THE PRESIDENT. He probably won't be a candidate when I get through with him. [Laughter]

[15.] Q. Mr. President, could you clarify something for me, in reply to the question about the recalling of the steel board? You said the board had done its job, and no other board would be appointed?

THE PRESIDENT. That's correct.

Q. Well now, that might be interpreted as meaning that you would not appoint the board provided under the Taft-Hartley Act--

THE PRESIDENT. Well now, I suppose we will cross that bridge when we get to it. We are not there by a long way.

Q. Would such--

THE PRESIDENT. The law will be complied with when it comes time. I will do all that is necessary for the law to be complied with, but it can't be complied with until that time comes.

Q. As I understand it, the law says it is entirely discretionary with you about whether or not you use the--

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I don't know. I have never had a chance yet to enforce the Taft-Hartley law, and when the time comes that I should enforce it, it will be enforced.

Q. I thought you had done it 6 times?

THE PRESIDENT. How's that?

Q. I thought you had used it?

THE PRESIDENT. The Taft-Hartley law? I have never used the Taft-Hartley law that I know of.

Q. Wasn't it used against John L. Lewis the last time?

THE PRESIDENT. That was the War Powers Act under which we acted with John L. Lewis.

Q. The second time.

THE PRESIDENT. It may have been. It may have been.

Q. The War Powers--

THE PRESIDENT. I had forgotten about that. It may have been.6

6On March 23, 1948, the President signed Executive Order 9939, "Creating a Board of Inquiry to report on a labor dispute affecting the bituminous coal industry of the United States." The order was issued under the authority of section 206 of the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947 (61 Stat. 136).

Q. Would it be fair

THE PRESIDENT. We will comply with the law when the time comes.

Q. Would it be fair to say that when the time comes, you would--

THE PRESIDENT. Of course I would. I am here as the Executive of the United States, to enforce the law. That is what I intend to do.

Q. You said that it's a long way from an emergency?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, it's a long way from a national emergency.

Q. Mr. President, who determines the emergency on that?


Q. Your personal duty?

THE PRESIDENT. I determine it, unless the Congress happens to be in session and passes a resolution that there is a national emergency.

Q. Have you determined, Mr. President, whether you have the power of seizure, that is--

THE PRESIDENT. No, I have not.

Q.--that is, either--under any law?

Q. You haven't the power, or you haven't determined it, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. I haven't determined it.

Q. Are you still optimistic for a voluntary settlement, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I am. I am always hoping that collective bargaining will work. That is what everybody wants. At least, that is what they say they want.

Q. Mr. President, I am not clear about these seizure powers. Did you say you had no seizure powers?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I didn't say that. I said I hadn't determined whether I had seizure powers. Whenever we come to that fact, we will go into all those details and I will do whatever the law requires.

[16.] Q. Mr. President, with regard to being embarrass-proof, does that go for the Cabinet member who quoted you as being ready to intervene in the steel strike?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know what Cabinet member quoted me. I think Mr. Ross answered that question fully and completely this morning.7 You will have to put up with that answer.

7During the morning, Charles G. Ross, Secretary to the President, dictated the following statement to the press:

"Any attribution to the President of any plan to intervene in the coal and steel strikes or to fix a deadline on the effort to reach a settlement through mediation is entirely without warrant.

"This office has told you every day, in reply to questions, the literal and exact truth of the situation.

"Obviously this office cannot foreclose the possibility of appropriate action by the President on any matter before him at any time.

"He 'may' do anything that is within his power to do. But it is literally true that the strikes are in the hands of the Mediation Service at this time and the President is keeping hands off.

"He certainly is not putting out statements, directly or indirectly, that he is going to intervene."

Mr. Ross went on to state that he was authorized by the President to say that he had not discussed the present strike situation with any member of the Cabinet. Upon being questioned by a reporter, Mr. Ross conceded that the President might have mentioned the subject in a Cabinet meeting.

Q. What was the question?

THE PRESIDENT. He wanted to know if I was embarrassed by the purported interview by the Cabinet officer, and I told him Mr. Ross had answered that question thoroughly and completely this morning just the way I wanted it answered.

[17.] Q. Mr. President, have you got anybody yet for the Economic Council?

THE PRESIDENT. No, not yet. I will announce it just as quickly as I find a man to take the job.

[18.] Q. Going back to the Navy situation, does this correspondence make clear when you made the decision on it, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. I answered the letter of the Secretary of the Navy, and that is when the decision was made.

Q. The dates show?


Q. Mr. President, do you expect other changes in the Navy, following--

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I do not know what the procedure will be from now on.

Q. Mr. President, you said you hadn't talked to anyone except the Secretary of the Navy about it. What about the Secretary of Defense, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. The Secretary of Defense was present when I talked to the Secretary of the Navy. He heard the conversation.

Q. That would have been the day before yesterday then, wouldn't it, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. It could have been. [Laughter]

Q. Mr. President, did you talk to the Navy Secretary today?


Q. In the case of the other officers except Admiral Denfeld, the Secretary of the Navy can act on his own, can't he, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. I think so. I think that that is true.

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. You're entirely welcome.

Note: President Truman's two hundred and fourth news conference was held in his office at the White House at 4 p.m. on Thursday, October 27, 1949.

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/230261

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