Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

July 28, 1949

THE PRESIDENT. [1.] I have a statement I would like to read to you on a thing that has been taking place recently.

Q. Will it be available after, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. It will be available. It's all set up for you here. Plenty of copies, so that each one of you can have one.

The reason I want to read it to you is because I think it is a very important statement. It will clear up a great many things about which there has been so much conjecture.

Q. Will you read it slowly, please, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I will. [Laughter] I will try to read it as slowly as I can.

[Reading, not literally] "On July 14th I consulted with a group of congressional leaders, including ranking members of the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, concerning certain problems which this country faces in the field of atomic energy. Since that time, members of the administration have held discussions with congressional leaders, particularly with the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy. Further discussions will take place, as it is essential that action in this field which so vitally affects the security of the country be based on a wide area of agreement between the executive and the legislative branches of the Government.

"In this field, it is important that the people of the country be kept informed as to the greatest extent--to the greatest extent consistent with the requirements of the national security, and in a manner consistent with the orderly processes of consultation between the legislative and executive branches of the Government. I feel I can now mention briefly some of the factors involved in the problem.

"As a result of consultations among American, British, and Canadian scientists, beginning in 1939, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada agreed in 1943 to concentrate a major effort in the United States, for the purpose of producing an atomic bomb at the earliest possible time. A British scientific mission participated extensively in the research and development, and later in the production of atomic bombs at Los Alamos. They participated in the preparation for, and the evaluation of, the Bikini tests. Similar scientific missions were assigned to research and development work concerned with the construction and operation of the principal plants for the separation of U-235 at Oak Ridge. British and Canadian scientists consulted our scientific and technical personnel at the Metallurgical Laboratory in Chicago on the design of the heavy water reactor which they subsequently built at Chalk River, Canada.

"Early in 1947 the three countries adopted a uniform system for handling the information which has been jointly developed for determining what should be kept secret, and what was appropriate for public release.

"In January 1948 the three governments agreed upon a modus vivendi which provided for cooperation among the three countries involving exchange of scientific and technical information in certain defined areas and collaboration on matters of raw material supply of common concern. These arrangements were made after consultation with the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy. These arrangements are limited in scope and duration. It is necessary to consider the future, taking into account the developments made in this field by the three countries, and to maintain the status quo while this consideration takes place.

"We, therefore, intend to explore with the United Kingdom and Canada some of the basic questions underlying any determination of long range policy in this field. These are questions which will require further consultations with the Congress following the exploratory conversations. I wish to emphasize that these exploratory conversations do not involve making agreements with or commitments to the British and Canadians on these questions. They involve having talks with the British and Canadians prior to further consultations with the Congress. In these consultations with the Congress, we shall have to decide together what course of action it is wisest to take."

That's all. I think when you read it carefully you will find that it is a perfectly logical statement. Nothing mysterious about it, nor has there ever been.

Q. Why were all those fellows running out of there with their faces hanging down to the curb? They all looked so gloomy--



THE PRESIDENT.--it's a gloomy subject. It's a gloomy subject. This atomic explosion is one which we all dread, myself more than anybody else, because I never want to have to use it again.

Q. You said that you never want to use it again. May we use that for quotes?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes--I have said that time and again. I never want to have to use it again.

Any questions?

[2.] Q. Mr. President, I want to ask you, do you--I know you are not intervening in Democratic primaries in any State--I just wondered if you have a favorite candidate in Virginia, or a curbstone opinion on who should be elected?

THE PRESIDENT. No comment. I don't intervene in State politics.

[3.] Q. Mr. President, Colonel Renfrow, who is an assistant, I believe, in General Vaughan's office, said in a speech out--

THE PRESIDENT. He is an Assistant to the Secretary of Defense.

Q. Secretary of Defense--said out in Grand Rapids that you may appoint somebody from Chicago to head up a civilian military thing--a sort of vague reference. Are you contemplating somebody from Chicago?

THE PRESIDENT. Not that I know of. Nothing in contemplation at the present time.

[4.] Q. Mr. President, have you arrived near the point where you will nominate a Supreme Court Associate Justice?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, and I can tell you who it is, if you want to know.

Q. Oh!

THE PRESIDENT. It's Tom Clark, the Attorney General. And I shall make Howard McGrath the Attorney General.

I called them in this morning and made the proposition to them, and they were both so surprised at being called upon that they couldn't give me an answer. They promised to give me an answer in a few days.

Q. You expect an answer in a few days?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I expect their answer in a few days.

Q. Are you going to hold up the nomination until you see the answer?

THE PRESIDENT. Until they give me the go-forward sign, I won't know that they will accept.

Q. You said Attorney General Clark was surprised?

THE PRESIDENT, Yes sir--very much surprised.

Q. I called him "Judge" the other day, and he seemed to be very much pleased.

THE PRESIDENT. You didn't make it a high enough rank. You should have called him "Mr. Justice," if you really had that in mind. [Laughter]

Q. What would be your best guess?

THE PRESIDENT. My best guess is, of course, that they will accept. Of course I expect they will.

Q. Are you awaiting a reply from both gentlemen?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I am awaiting a reply from both gentlemen.

Q. Was that this morning?

THE PRESIDENT. This morning.

Q. Do you think it possible that they won't accept?

THE PRESIDENT. That is for you to speculate on. You are going to have 3 or 4 days in which to do it.

Q. Were they in this morning, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, they were in this morning.

Q. We didn't see them come in.

THE PRESIDENT. No, and you didn't see them go out. [Laughter]

Q. Mr. President, you said you met them this morning?

THE PRESIDENT. They came in here this morning. They came at my request.

Q. Mr. President, that would mean that Senator McGrath would have to quit as national chairman, wouldn't it?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know about that. He will have to resign from the Senate if he is confirmed.

Q. That makes Bill Boyle chairman of the Democratic National Committee, wouldn't it?

THE PRESIDENT. Go on and do your speculating all you want. I have no comment to make on that at all.

Q. Make a mighty good one. [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. No comment.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, we understood that there might be a story growing out of the presence of Jonathan Daniels?

THE PRESIDENT. What do you mean? What kind of story?

Q. I don't know. He's here.

THE PRESIDENT [to Mr. Daniels]. Jonathan, do you know of any reason--

Mr. Daniels: I don't know--

THE PRESIDENT.--why you shouldn't be here, if I invited you to come in? [Laughter]

Jonathan used to run these press conferences, if I am not mistaken. He likes to see them go still.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, do you feel that there should be a member of the major minority faith on the Supreme Court?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think faith has anything to do with a Justice of the Supreme Court. If he is qualified, I wouldn't care what his faith is, whether it's Catholic, Baptist, or Jewish. If he is qualified, that is the only thing that I consider.

[7.] Q. Mr. President, on the picket lines in front of the White House for several days--would you like to comment on that?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know anything about any such picket lines. If I did, I wouldn't comment on it.

[8.] Q. Do you have any comment on the controversy between Cardinal Spellman and Mrs. Roosevelt?

THE PRESIDENT. No comment. Well taken care of in the press, and I have no comment.1

1In her column of June 23 Mrs. Roosevelt had expressed support for the Barden bill (H.R. 4643) which provided for Federal aid to elementary and secondary schools. In a letter released on July 22 Cardinal Spellman stated that Mrs. Roosevelt was opposed to Federal aid to parochial schools.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, do you have any comment on Harold Stassen's remark that you were afflicted with poweritis?

THE PRESIDENT. I didn't know he made it, and I am sorry he did. I don't think he knew what he was talking about.

Q. Who is that, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. Mr, Stassen. Professor Stassen.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, returning to the atomic bomb, there were reports in Paris that the Russians had exploded an experimental atomic bomb in Siberia. Has there been any official report--

THE PRESIDENT. I know nothing about it.

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. You're welcome. Don't break your legs now! [Laughter]

Note: President Truman's one hundred and ninetyfirst news conference was held in his office at the White House at 4 p.m. on Thursday, July 28, 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/229791

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