Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

April 08, 1948

THE PRESIDENT. I have no special announcements to make to you today. We have been making these announcements as they came along.

So questions are in order.

[1.] Q. Mr. President, could you say which paintings you liked in that German collection in the National Gallery? Also, whether you favor keeping those paintings in the United States and sending them on a tour and charging admission and helping German children?

THE PRESIDENT. That sounds to me as if you had some preparation on that one. But I can express an opinion on those pictures. I have made two trips to see them, and I was particularly interested in Rembrandt's "Moses," and Titian's "Portrait of Himself." One I really wanted to see was the Holbein picture, "The Merchant," which is considered the finest portrait in the world; and Frans Hals has some pictures there that were very appealing to me. That is the sort of art that I like, that I can understand.

About the return of the pictures: it is my opinion that they should be returned as promptly as possible to their rightful owners, as soon as it is safe for them to be returned. They don't belong to us. They belong to the art galleries in Europe.

[2.] Q. Mr. President, there has been some concern in the Middle West over such things as this mob raid on the home of a Communist labor leader in Columbus, and the Evansville disturbance against the Wallaceites. Mr. Walter Reuther suggests that you should take to the air to remind us again that we should protect the civil liberties even of Communists--

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I would suggest that Walter Reuther take it up with the Governor. Our Constitution hasn't a sufficient number of police powers for enforcement of local laws which are to keep the peace. That is not a proper thing that happened, either in Indiana or in Ohio, but that requires local police enforcement, over which I have no control--thank goodness.

[3.] Q. Mr. President, the St. Louis Star Times, in a recent editorial called "A Memo to the White House," a copy of which was sent to you, I believe, pointed out that one attempt might be made to save our bid for peace if we invited the nations, including Russia, to a conference on the question of a real world government. Is the administration ready for such a step?

THE PRESIDENT. The administration is not.

[4.] Q. Mr. President, what do you think of the Reuter's diplomatic correspondent this morning calling for a 5-point plan set up for government in Western Germany. Would you care to comment on that?

THE PRESIDENT. I do not want to comment on it.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, the Lewis coal strike is entering its 25th day today. Have you any comment on that?

THE PRESIDENT. We are enforcing the Taft-Hartley law to the letter.

Q. Do you think it's working?

THE PRESIDENT. That's all the comment I care to make.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, whatever happened to "Feller"?


Q. "Feller," the puppy? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. Oh, he's around.

Q. Does Dr. Graham 1 still have him?

THE PRESIDENT. Dr. Graham is still taking care of him for me.

1 Brig. Gen. Wallace H. Graham, Physician to the President.

[7.] Q. Mr. President, could you say anything about your conversation with the Prime Minister of Belgium, Mr. Spaak?

THE PRESIDENT. I had a very, very pleasant visit with the Prince Regent and the Prime Minister, and the usual conversation on the European recovery program and our attitude toward the recovery of Europe were the principal things talked about.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, is anything going to be done to halt the sale of war plants?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, the same thing is being done that has been under consideration all the time. We are constantly making surveys as to whether certain plants should be released or not.

Q. Mr. President, we just had a statement from Dr. Steelman on that--I assume you have read it--a little while ago.

THE PRESIDENT. Tony 2 reminds me that Dr. Steelman released a statement on the subject just a few minutes ago, which covers it completely. 3

2 Ernest B. Vaccaro of the Associated Press.

3 Dr. Steelman's statement, released by the White House on April 8, announced that he had requested the War Assets Administration to withhold for a 30-day period final disposal action on all unsold industrial plants not already covered by the National Security Clause. This clause stipulated that a plant must be maintained in such condition that it could be reconverted to its original use on 120 days' notice.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, the House Armed Services Committee voted 23-0 to ask you to ask them for a 70-group air force. Do you have any comment on that?

THE PRESIDENT. My comment--that comment on that has been answered by the Secretary for Defense in the statement which has just been released, 1 and which has my entire approval. It covers the situation thoroughly, and I have covered it in the various messages on the budget which have been sent to the Armed Services Committee of the House.

1 In his statement on April 8, Secretary of Defense Forfestal emphasized that all of the armed services, land, sea, and air, must be kept in balance. Therefore an increase in one would require increases in the others. He advocated bringing to full strength the existing 55-group air force.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, can you tell us who is going to be the ECA Deputy Administrator?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I can't. No, I can't. I will tell you just as soon as I can.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, will you comment on the Wisconsin primary?

THE PRESIDENT. I wasn't entered in the part of that primary in which you are interested, so I have no comment. [Laughter]

[12.] Q. Mr. President, will you comment on Mr. Milligan's book?2 Have you seen it?

THE PRESIDENT. No. No, I haven't seen it. Don't expect to see it.

2 Maurice Morton Milligan, "Missouri Waltz" [later retitled "The Inside Story of the Pendergast Machine by the Man Who Smashed It"], New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1948.

[13.] Q. Mr. President, have you made a decision on the withdrawal of Tighe Woods?

THE PRESIDENT. He will--what do you mean? He is--doesn't have to be withdrawn. He has a job which I put him in, and in which he is doing well and successfully, and I am satisfied with him.

Q. Who was that, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. Mr. Woods has been raising thunder with some of these rent people who have been gouging the public. Tighe Woods. Good reason for the man to stay there is that he is a little too tough on some of those birds.

[14.] Q. You said in your letter to Lyndon Johnson of Texas that all war plants which have been sold should be recovered at once, I think the words were.1

THE PRESIDENT. All those that we deem necessary have that recovery clause in the contract.

1 On March 20 Representative Johnson wrote to the President suggesting that the War Assets Administration check with the armed services as to possible future needs before disposing of surplus plants. The President's reply, dated March 22, pointed out that clauses permitting recovery in case of need were made part of all contracts. The exchange of letters was made public by Representative Johnson.

[15.] Q. While I was trying to figure out who you were talking about on the Tighe Woods thing, I lost all of your comment-I still haven't got my shorthand--

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I said Mr. Woods is doing a good job and he is going to stay right there and continue to do it.

[16.] Q. Mr. President, another question regarding your discussion with the Prime Minister of Belgium. Did the question arise of the United States supporting the Western European alliance in any military way?

THE PRESIDENT. No. That question was not discussed with the Prime Minister of Belgium.

[17.] Q. Mr. President, do you contemplate action under the Taft-Hartley law on the meat strike?

THE PRESIDENT. The law will be followed in the meat strike the same as it will be followed on any other strike which affects the country as a whole.

[18.] Q. Mr. President, I think a request was made to the White House recently that the full minutes of our conversations with the Russians on the setup in Berlin be released to the public, and that--

THE PRESIDENT. They should not be released, and they will not be released at this time.

Q.--various conversations we have had with the Russians on other matters that are touchy?

THE PRESIDENT. When you are trading on a piece of real estate, do you get out in front of a press conference and bargain, or do you try to reach an agreement and then announce it to the press conference?

Q. Wouldn't the public have a better chance to evaluate--

THE PRESIDENT. Well, we'll see about that. Whenever the--it is necessary to make a release, state all the facts as nearly as we can from our point of view; but if you are going to be successful in negotiations, you can't do it in a glass house.

Q. Mr. President, your reference to real estate was by analogy?

THE PRESIDENT. Just by analogy, yes. [Laughter] We are not dealing in real estate right now.

[19.] Q. Mr. President, Mr. Baruch says that if we are to draft men, we should also put on the books now a mobilization law which would also draft profits, prices, and wages.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, if you will read a certain message of mine which was sent to the Congress a short time ago, that very thing is asked for. I didn't receive it. I received an innocuous program which I have been trying my best to make work.

[20.] Q. Mr. President, there has been reference to an industrial reserve similar to the military reserve. Would you care to comment on such a possibility?

THE PRESIDENT. Surveys on that are being made, and I can't comment on it now because I haven't all the facts.

[21.] Q. How do you like the balcony?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I will tell you about that, probably at the next press conference. I told you I was going to give you a lecture on architecture. I may be ready by then. [Laughter]

[22.] Q. Mr. President, it has been repeatedly reported that we are preparing to arm the countries in the Western European alliance?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment to make on that question.

[23.] Q. Mr. President, have any steps been taken to induce the British to stay in Palestine?

THE PRESIDENT. No comment to make on that question. That matter is pending before the United Nations now. I do not want to comment at this time.

Q. Mr. President, is any modification of the arms embargo to Palestine being planned?

THE PRESIDENT. No comment. Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: President Truman's one hundred and forty first news conference was held in his office at the White House at 4 p.m. on Thursday, April 8, 1948.

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/229261

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