Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

September 08, 1949

THE PRESIDENT. I have no announcements to make. I will try to answer questions so far as I can.

[1.] Q. Mr. President, can you give us any new slant on the economic picture, on the basis of the employment figures today? I suppose you have heard about them?1

THE PRESIDENT. No, I can't give you any new slant on them. I think the figures speak for themselves. I had a conference with Mr. Nourse this morning who made the report to me on those figures, and on the increased activity among the manufacturing plants, but I have no comment to make on what they indicate. I will tell you more about it if the--when the quarterly report comes out the end of September.

1In a conference held at 11:30 a.m. in the President's office at the White House, Dr. Edwin G. Nourse, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, gave the President the monthly report of the Council. The report indicated that the unemployment figure had dropped from 4,095,000 for July to 3,689,000 for August.

Q. Did he give you any figures on unemployment?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, he gave me all the figures. They are released. They are public property.

Q. Today?


Q. Do you find them encouraging--

THE PRESIDENT.--do you want me to read them to you? [Laughter]

Q. No, no.

Q. I believe the report mentions an upturn in production, too?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. Six percent. Six point--six point, not percent.

[2.] Q. Mr. President, a great many people are interested in the rather sad fact that Dr. Basil O'Connor's speech last night--possibly you heard it?--


Q.--40,000 new cases of polio in this country this year, a record number, and he has opened an emergency drive for a certain amount of money.

THE PRESIDENT. I am wholeheartedly in sympathy with that drive. I am hoping it will be successful, because we are faced with an emergency in that polio epidemic that is now going on.

He is going to try to raise, I think, 14 million--

Q. $14,500,000.

THE PRESIDENT.--to meet that situation. I hope it is successful.

[3.] Q. Mr. President, would you care to identify the special interests who have been using scare words?

Joseph H. Short (Baltimore Sun): That was not the Sun, Mr. President. [Laughter]


I can't identify them at present. A little further along in the campaign I may identify them--some individuals--some special interests-in the next year's campaign.

Q. Which campaign is that?

THE PRESIDENT. The 1950 campaign. [Laughter]

Q. The campaign has already begun then, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. The campaign always begins on the Labor Day of the year before the election takes place.

[4.] Q. What do you think of Mr. Dulles getting bitten by the political bug?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment to make. Any man has a right to run for office if he wants to.2

2John Foster Dulles, who had announced his candidacy for the post of United States Senator from the State of New York, in a special election to be held on November 8.

In the election Mr. Dulles was defeated by former Governor Herbert H. Lehman.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, along that same line, would you give us your definition of "statism"?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think I can, because the dictionaries are in disagreement as to what it means. I don't think anybody knows what it means. It simply is a scare word.

Q. Did you look it up?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. There are two or three definitions for it, none of them in agreement.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, I have a question which is obviously planted, but--[laughter]--

THE PRESIDENT. I like frankness. Go right ahead.

Q. I think I am the only person who ever admitted it! I have two friends in the theatrical business, one is manager of a theater and the other is an actor--a hoofer.


Q. They have asked me to tell you that there is a great resurgence of vaudeville, and their attitude toward it is that it is not only coming back--it's an old-time thing--but a lot of people are getting reemployment. Now, that planted question: to say something nice about them? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. That is not hard to do, because when I was much younger, between the time I was about 16 to 20, I used to go to every vaudeville show that came to Kansas City at the old Orpheum, and at the Grand theater where the four Cohans, and Eva Tanguay, and all those people used to go. I used to have a job as an usher on Saturday afternoons. All I got out of it was to see a show, which was for nothing. I am glad that vaudeville is coming back.

Q. What did you do on Saturday afternoons?

Q. Were--you were a baby-sitter?

Q. I didn't get that? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. Usher. Usher on Saturday afternoons at the Orpheum, not at the Grand.

Q. Where was the Grand?

THE PRESIDENT. Long before you were born.

Q. Where was the Grand?

THE PRESIDENT. Down at Seventh and Walnut Streets. Garage there now.

Q. That was in Kansas City, Mr. President?


Q. We will put a plaque up there tomorrow!

THE PRESIDENT. That's where all the good shows came to--Kansas City.

Q. Were you around when William Woods--

THE PRESIDENT. Willis Woods. Oh yes, Willis Woods was around a long time after the Grand.

Q. Mr. President, how did the Orpheum figure in it?

THE PRESIDENT. At the Orpheum I had to pay my way into that. That was the vaudeville show. Once the Orpheum Circuit. There used to be one here, Keith-Orpheum it turned out to be afterwards. It was the Orpheum here before Keith took them over.

[7.] Q. Mr. President, Mrs. Roosevelt in her column yesterday referred to the riot at Peekskill as disgraceful. Do you have any comment?

THE PRESIDENT. I think Mrs. Roosevelt covered the situation perfectly and thoroughly.3

3 Riots in connection with the appearance of Negro singer Paul Robeson at public gatherings near Peekskill, N.Y.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, do you wish to make any observations on the progress thus far of the British-Canadian economic conversations?

THE PRESIDENT. Of course I can't make any comment on them, because it's barely started. No comment to make.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, several days ago, a witness in the Navy B-36 inquiry quoted the late Secretary Forrestal as having said that you had planned to fire Secretary Symington, but he talked you out of it?

THE PRESIDENT. That is just one out of the whole cloth. I never heard of it before.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, will you ask for an extension of the steel strike truce?

THE PRESIDENT. It is under consideration. I can't do anything about it until I see the report of the fact-finding board, and I won't receive that report until tomorrow--

Q. What was the question?

THE PRESIDENT.--I mean Saturday.

Q. What was the question, please?

THE PRESIDENT. Whether I was going to ask for an extension of time on the steel strike.

Q. Truce.

THE PRESIDENT. Truce, yes. Extension of the truce, that is.4

4 See Item 209.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, the St. Louis Chamber of Commerce said that it had asked you today, I believe, to intervene in the Missouri Pacific strike set for tomorrow?

THE PRESIDENT. I haven't seen the telegram. I guess they gave it out before it got to here. They do that--they have a habit of doing that. We are doing everything we possibly can, of course, to survey that strike, following every phase of the Railroad Labor Act to try to prevent the strike. I don't know whether it can be prevented or not.

Q. What can you do in that case, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I am trying to find--

Q. Have you exhausted all your--

THE PRESIDENT.--we have exhausted nearly everything, but we are still trying to prevent a strike by every means possible-reason, principally.

[12.] Q. Mr. President, there are reports that Stanton Griffis will be appointed Ambassador to Argentina?

THE PRESIDENT. He will be. When I get around to it. Whenever Mr. Bruce wants to quit. I don't think he is ready to quit yet.

Q. Have you got his successor picked out already, though?

THE PRESIDENT. Bruce? Yes. Stanton Griffis will be his successor.

Q. Has Bruce resigned?

THE PRESIDENT. He has been wanting to resign for the last 3 months, and I have kept him from it.

Q. You have accepted the resignation?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, not yet.5

5On September 9, the White House released the text of the President's letter accepting the resignation of James Bruce as Ambassador to Argentina, to become effective on September 1, 1949. The Ambassador's letter of resignation was released with the President's reply.

[13.] Q. Mr. President, there are some judicial vacancies in the District of Columbia?

THE PRESIDENT. There are 6 of them -- 6 of them, I think.

Q. Are you now ready on that?

THE PRESIDENT. I am working on them. As soon as I can get them in shape, I am going to announce them all to you.

Q. Very soon, do you think?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I don't know how soon it will be. It takes a little time. You know, the most important thing that I do as President, in my opinion, is to appoint Federal judges. I make it a rule not to appoint a man a Federal judge unless I think he is eminently qualified for that service, because they will survive me a long time as public servants, and the welfare of the country is really in the hands of the judiciary, because they get right down and decide what is right or wrong between individuals. So it will be a little while yet before I am able to announce them.

[14.] Q. Regarding Mr. Bruce, Mr. President, there have been some reports that he was in line for another diplomatic post?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't go any further than I have gone. You went a little far when I gave you that. [Laughter]

[15.] Q. Mr. President, are you considering any change in ECA?


Q. Mr. Harriman--


[16.] Q. Mr. President, on these judges, they serve for life, do they not?

THE PRESIDENT. For life. They have the option of retirement at the age of 70 on full pay, if they want to retire. Sometimes they do retire. I think one retired down in Alabama just the other day.

[17.] Q. Mr. President, have the Mexican loan negotiations been resumed yet?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know whether they have or not. That is not in my hands, but they will be resumed, if they have not been.

[18.] Q. Mr. President, do you expect to make a political speech in New York before November?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't answer that question now. If it comes around so it will be helpful for me to make a political speech in New York, I shall probably make it.6

6For the President's radio address as part of a program sponsored by the Independent Citizens' Committee for Herbert H. Lehman for Senator, on November 5, 1949, see Item 251.

[19.] Q. Mr. President, is there anything you could say about the stories that you are planning to reappoint Mon Wallgren?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I have no comment on that.7

7The nomination of Mon C. Wallgren as a member of the Federal Power Commission was confirmed by the Senate on October 19, 1949.

[20.] Q. Mr. President, on that steel strike truce, would that be for a week or 10 days, or any period?

THE PRESIDENT. The matter is just under consideration. We are trying to find out what the report of the fact-finding board is, and then if it is necessary to take any further action I may ask for an extension of the time of the truce.

Q. You haven't decided?

THE PRESIDENT. Haven't decided on it yet.

Q. You will get that report?

THE PRESIDENT. Tomorrow-Saturday, at 11 o'clock.

Now, you didn't finish your question.

[21.] Q. I found some of the Senators were concerned about the possibility of a recess appointment--

THE PRESIDENT. I expect some Republicans are very much wrought up about it, so I hope to keep them that way.

Q. Mr. President, are you planning to withdraw the name of Carroll Switzer as Federal judge?

THE PRESIDENT, I am not. I think he would make a good Federal judge. He sent me a telegram saying if I felt like it I could withdraw his name, but I don't play the game that way.

Q. Do you intend to give him an interim appointment?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't answer that question. He hasn't been acted on by the Senate as yet. He hasn't come out of the Committee, so that question I can't answer.8

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. It's all right.

8The President had named Carroll O. Switzer of Iowa to be Federal District Judge for the Southern District of Iowa under a recess appointment. On October 17 the Senate Judiciary Committee postponed until the following year a list of 22 Federal Court nominations. Mr. Switzer's nomination was one of this number.

Note: President Truman's one hundred and ninetyseventh news conference was held in his office at the White House at 4 p.m. on Thursday, September 8, 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/230053

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