Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

June 09, 1949

THE PRESIDENT. I haven't any special announcements to make, but I will try to answer questions.

[1.] Q. Mr. President, have you been in direct communication with Secretary Acheson since he went to Paris? 1

THE PRESIDENT. Every day since he has been down there.

1The sixth session of the Council of Foreign Ministers was held in Paris from May 23 to June 20, 1949. The announced purpose of the meeting was to hold discussions on the situation with regard to Germany.

For the statement by the President reporting on the Paris meeting, see Item 136.

Q. Yes. Is there any promise of success on any phase of the negotiations--

THE PRESIDENT. I can't answer that question. I am not present.

Q. Mr. President, is that contact by teletype or--

THE PRESIDENT. No. I get messages from him every day, and he usually gets one from me every day. I haven't talked with him by teletype or over the phone, but I have been in touch with him every day.

[2.] Q. Mr. President, did you see Joseph Dodge, Detroit banker, this week?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I haven't seen him yet. He is coming to see me, but I haven't seen him yet.

[3.] Q. Mr. President, can you tell us what you discussed with Congressman Chatham today?

THE PRESIDENT. Let me see--

Q. Came in with Mr. Gray.2

THE PRESIDENT. North Carolina politics, I think, is what was discussed--an effort on their part to get me to pay a visit to North Carolina.

2James A. Gray, chairman of the Reynolds Tobacco Company.

Q. Mr. President, any possibility of that?


Q. Fine.

THE PRESIDENT. Here is another North Carolinian over here,3 in the same frame of mind.

3Jonathan Daniels, Secretary to the President during the Roosevelt administration.

Q. Mr. President, Mr. Gray said simply that he had thanked you for appointing-promoting his nephew to Secretary--

THE PRESIDENT. That was in the conversation also. He expressed his gratitude for the appointment of his nephew.

[4.] Q. Mr. President, would you like to say anything about the B-36 controversy? 4

THE PRESIDENT. No. I have nothing to say.

4This has reference to the differences of opinion between the armed services over appropriations. The Air Force desired an increase in appropriations in order to enlarge the B-36 procurement program. The Navy wanted to carry on the work on their "super" carrier program.

From August 9 through October 5, 1949, hearings were held before the House Committee on Armed Services on H. Res. 234, a resolution authorizing and directing thorough studies and investigations relating to matters involving the B-36 bombers. The hearings were published by the Government Printing Office (1949, 664 pp.).

[5.] Q. Mr. President, there has lately been a notable increase in the number of trials, investigations, and charges about espionage and disloyalty, and that sort of thing. Do you feel that these are motivated in any part by other than natural--

THE PRESIDENT. Just a natural desire for headlines, principally. [Laughter]

[6.] Q. Mr. President, do you think the atomic energy investigation is serving anything but producing headlines? 5

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment on that.

5See Item 112 [3].

Q. Would you care to comment, Mr. President, on the fact that it appears that the atomic energy investigation is now becoming another loyalty probe, seeking to expose individuals--

THE PRESIDENT. I don't care to comment on that. We will wait until they get through and see what sort of report they make. It will speak for itself.

[7.] Q. Are you contemplating any change in the American ambassadorship to London, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. No. Mr. Douglas has agreed to stay. He has recovered from his eye injury, and he is going to stay there.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, have you decided about Dwight Morrow as Ambassador to Belgium?

THE PRESIDENT. No. No, I haven't.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, is your opinion of Mr. Lilienthal the same as it was a couple of weeks ago? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. My opinion hasn't changed a bit. It is expressed as strongly as I can make it.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, an emissary from the President of China said today that he would like to talk to you about plans for defending China. Do you have that appointment--

THE PRESIDENT. I didn't know he was in the country until I saw it in the paper.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, would you tell us what you discussed with Representative Johnson this morning?

THE PRESIDENT. You mean Senator Johnson?6

6Senator Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas.

Q. Senator Johnson. [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. The general legislative program and situation in the Senate with regard to certain bills that are pending down there.

[12.] Q. Mr. President, can you tell us, sir, why the secretaryship of the Army did not go to Mr. Calder instead?

THE PRESIDENT. Because he couldn't take it. His job had him tied up so he couldn't accept it for 9 months to come, and we couldn't wait that long.7

7On June 7 Gordon Gray was nominated as Secretary of the Army. He was confirmed by the Senate on June 9 and was sworn in on June 20.

[13.] Q. Mr. President, do you feel that the action of John L. Lewis in shutting down the coal mines shows the need for repeal of the Taft-Hartley law?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I don't. John L. Lewis is another headline hunter. [Laughter ]

[14.] Q. Mr. President, recently the lobby that met against your health program was disbanded, and then the other day the AMA dropped Dr. Fishbein. Do you think that this indicates some rise in public opinion behind your health program?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I do. I think they have discovered that there are a lot of physicians that are not in sympathy with Mr. Fishbein--Dr. Fishbein, I should say.

[15.] Q. Mr. President, would you care to comment on the Nation's unemployment figures?8


8 The President's Midyear Economic Report (see Item 151) states that a moderate downward trend characterized most phases of economic activity in the first half of 1949. "The unemployed were 6 percent of the civilian labor force in June, compared with 3.4 percent in June of last year. The number of unemployed in June was 3.8 million, and acute unemployment problems have developed in certain localities."

[16.] Q. Mr. President, the delegate from Hawaii was in to see you yesterday about the strike situation out there, and he came away with the impression that you felt you did not have power to intervene?

THE PRESIDENT. He stated the case exactly, when he went out of here, for which I was thankful--they hardly ever do that. [Laughter]

Q. Since then he has introduced a bill to try to give the Government powers so that Territories can't be cut off in such emergencies. While I know you wouldn't comment on an individual bill, would you say anything about the principle of that bill?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, when he came in and talked with me, he decided on his own volition that the best place for him to go was to the Congress, and that it is where he went.

[117.] Q. Mr. President, apropos the Atlantic Pact, do you care to make any comment about your own powers and prerogatives? I think you have made yourself dear that the war-making power belongs to Congress, but they are still arguing about it. Perhaps--

THE PRESIDENT. Well now, I suggest that you read the Constitution of the United States, and you will find out just exactly who has the powers to declare war. It is set out there without any chance of misconstruing it. It hasn't had to be taken to the Supreme Court.

[18.] Q. Mr. President, did you have a conference with Secretary Johnson today?

THE PRESIDENT. No. No. I didn't see Secretary Johnson today.

Q. Mr. President, have you decided on an Under Secretary for the Army?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I haven't.

[19.] Q. Mr. President, could you comment on the status of Korea after the American troops withdraw?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I can't. You'll have to wait and see what happens. I asked for continued aid to Korea on the European recovery program plan, which I hope the Congress will give us.

[20.] Q. Mr. President, do you think that you have adequate powers, either now or in the administration's labor bill, to deal with this coal strike?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't answer that, until we are faced with it.

This is not supposed to be a strike. I understand that it is some sort of special sit-down so that the coal surplus can be used up and they will be in a better bargaining position on the 30th of June. That is my understanding of the program. It isn't a strike, so I am told. [Laughter]

Q. Cessation, I think, isn't it, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. It's a rest!

[21.] Q. Mr. President, are you considering a proposal to make the present Jefferson Barracks a national monument?

THE PRESIDENT. I have already proposed it.

Q. Is there any action on it?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know. I am talking to the Interior Department about it, and with the Missouri representatives from St. Louis County on the subject. I think it ought to be, in connection with that Jefferson Park, a national monument.

[22.] Q. Mr. President, a group of educators have recommended that Communists be barred from teaching in colleges. Do you agree with that position?

THE PRESIDENT. Well now, the teachers know more about that situation than I do. I don't think that anybody ought to be employed as instructors for the young people of this country who believes in the destruction of our form of government.

[23.] Q. Mr. President, would you favor constitutional amendment to abolish poll taxes?

THE PRESIDENT. I think the poll tax can be abolished otherwise. A constitutional amendment is just an effort to prolong the agony.

Q. Mr. President--

Reporter: Thank you--

THE PRESIDENT. Somebody wanted to ask a question. [Laughter]

[24.] Q. There seems to be a disposition in some quarters to let the agricultural program slide over until next year. How pressing do you regard that?

THE PRESIDENT. I regard it just as pressing as any other legislative program that fits in with the Democratic platform, which we promised to carry out.

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. You're welcome.

Note: President Truman's one hundred and eightyfifth news conference was held in his office at the White House at 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 9, 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/229520

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