Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

April 15, 1948

THE PRESIDENT. I have no special announcements to make this morning, so I am ready for questions.

[1.] Q. Mr. President, what do you think about the troubles which developed down in Bogata' last week? 1

THE PRESIDENT. I am very sorry that it did happen, of course, and I was as surprised as anybody else that that did happen. We had information, of course, as we had when the trip was made to Brazil and to Mexico City and to Puerto Rico, that there might be picketing and riots, but nobody had any idea that somebody was going to get shot and cause the riot such as the one in Bogota.

1 The International Conference of American States was interrupted by rioting which broke out in the streets of Bogota. The conference was adjourned when the hall in which it was being held was invaded by rioters; it was resumed after order had been restored in the city.

[2.] Q. Mr. President, Prentice Cooper, Ambassador to Peru, is back home. I wonder if you would confirm the reports we have that he is going to be replaced?


Q. Have you asked for his resignation?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, if any action on that takes place, you will be informed.

Q. Has he offered his resignation?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't answer that question.

[3.] Q. Are you pleased with the results of the Nebraska primary?

THE PRESIDENT, I have no comment on the Nebraska primary. I was unanimously elected out there. No comment on it. [Laughter]

Q. Have you any comment on that side of the primary?

THE PRESIDENT. No, no comment. I am very happy about it.

[4.] Q. Mr. President, have you any comment on the Martin-Bridges coal compromise?1

THE PRESIDENT. No comment.

1 Speaker of the House Martin intervened in the coal dispute and obtained an agreement whereby both management and labor accepted Senator Bridges as a third member of the trustee board to administer the miners' welfare and retirement fund.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, is the administration for the 70 or 55 group air force?

THE PRESIDENT. The administration is for the program that was sent to the Congress and supported by Mr. Forrestal. That is the administration's program, and that is the one that should be implemented, because that is a balanced defense program, and it is an economical one that the country can understand and afford. Now, what was that?

Q. Are you going to spank Mr. Symington?

THE PRESIDENT. I will answer that question at some other date. [Laughter]

Q. How do you account for the difference between Mr. Symington and Mr. Forrestal?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't account for it.

[6.] Q. You were going to tell about the balcony today!

THE PRESIDENT. Oh, was I? Well, all right! [Laughter] Unless these gentlemen have some more defense questions they want to ask.

[7.] Q. I wonder, Mr. President, whether that difference between those two top men hasn't had a great deal of suspicion that unification is not working, that something will have to be done to make it work? Could you comment on that, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. Unification eventually will work. It's like every other new organization in the Government, it has to become implemented, and people have to become accustomed to it and used to it. The defense program which was sent to the Congress by the administration is a balanced defense program, one that was--will be for the best interests of the country, and it is one that was agreed on by all branches of the service. That is the program which I hope the Congress will implement.

[8.] Q. Do you consider the uprising in Bogota as a warning to the Americas on the Communist danger in this hemisphere?

THE PRESIDENT. General Marshall commented on that I think very well.

[9.] Q. Mr. Secretary--Mr. President-[ laughter ]--

THE PRESIDENT. That's all right.

Q. Marriner Eccles made some new proposal for Federal Reserve Board authority to curb inflationary bank credit. Does that represent administration policy?

THE PRESIDENT. That is Mr. Eccles's viewpoint.

Q. He said it was a--represented the viewpoint of the Reserve Board.

THE PRESIDENT. I haven't discussed it with the Reserve Board, or with Mr. Eccles.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, in connection with the defense program, the House Armed Services Committee asked--adopted a resolution asking that you approve an additional $2 billion air procurement program over and above the Forrestal program.

THE PRESIDENT. I have stated as clearly as I can that the program of the administration was stated by Mr. Forrestal.

Q. And not by Mr. Symington?

THE PRESIDENT. I said by Mr. Forrestal. You can't put words in my mouth, Bert.1

Q. Try to.

1 Bert Andrews of the New York Herald Tribune.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, is there any news on the vacancy in the Maritime Commission that occurs this week when Mr. Parkhurst--

THE PRESIDENT. No. I have no announcement to make on that.

Q. Will that go to a New York man this time?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't answer that question. I am going to try to find the best man for the job. I don't care where that is.

[12.] Q. Mr. President, have you seen either Ed Flynn or Paul Fitzpatrick in the--

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I saw them both a day or two ago. They discussed New York politics with me. That's what they came down here for.

Q. can you tell us what the features of the discussion were, sir?


Q. We didn't see them come in or out.

THE PRESIDENT. It was off the record. You weren't intended to see them !

Q. Did they go away happy, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. They did that. [Laughter]

Q. Is the picture rosy or gray?

THE PRESIDENT. The picture was all right.

[13.] Miss May,1 you asked me about that balcony. I have some pictures here that are right interesting, on the balcony, which show the reasons that I had in view. The proper reasons have never been attributed to me. They thought it was a selfish reason that I had. But that portico on the porch was designed by Thomas Jefferson. It was first built with very narrow, spindly, wooden columns; and in 1855 they finally began to carry out the Jefferson program. And they had the same row over it that they had over this improvement of mine. [Laughter]

1 Mrs. May Craig of the Portland (Maine) Press Herald.

But, in order to use that porch in the summertime, it was necessary to have these awnings--I don't know whether you can all see this or not--[holding up some photographs of the south portico]--but these awnings have to be replaced once a year, at a cost of about $700 a year; and we tried concealing them and everything else, but they absolutely ruined the proportions of the columns.

When that porch was designed, it was intended to have a balcony, because Jefferson had designed several down in the University of Virginia, which were finally completed with a balcony. And the idea in putting the balcony up there was to give the pillars the proper proportions, without having them cut in two in the middle by the awnings.

You know, that is a combination Ionic and Corinthian column there. It isn't a pure Ionic column. They have certain proportions in connection with the height as to diameter, and when you cut them in two in the middle, there is an obstruction, as those awnings were. It ruins the looks and proportions of the columns.

You can see how the portico goes back in there. If you come down in the street and take a look at it, you can see that it adds a great deal to the looks of the White House, and makes the south facade look as it was intended to look in the first place. That's the only reason it was done. I never expect to use the balcony, because it's too prominent. I might just as well sit down here in the backyard next to the iron fence. [Laughter] It was only put there to improve the architectural appearance of the White House in the south, and we had to get rid of those dirty awnings which were a continued expense to the White House upkeep.

[14.] Q. Mr. President, have you had any indication from some of the Southern States of a back-to-Truman movement?

THE PRESIDENT. There were a great many who never left Truman. [Laughter]

[15.] Q. Well, Mr. President, why didn't you tell us this in the beginning, about the balcony?

THE PRESIDENT. I did try to tell you, but the people who were so interested in finding fault with it didn't want to find the facts. I tried my best to tell you.

Q. Mr. President, then there is--this question may sound impertinent--

THE PRESIDENT. No, it isn't--no, it isn't. Go ahead.

Q. Are you well documented on that statement that Jefferson intended it? Is that.--

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I know that Jefferson designed the porch.

Q. That is something that somebody is going to hammer you on.

THE PRESIDENT. That porch was designed by Jefferson. It had a balcony on it. Whether he designed it or not, I don't know, but his design came from these southern mansions at that time, which always had a portico.

Q. Mr. President, do you feel the Fine Arts Commission sort of misled you--

THE PRESIDENT. No, I don't. I think the Fine Arts Commission is absolutely correct. You will find architects all over the country are in the same mood--of the same opinion as the Fine Arts Commission were in the first place. They got scared when they commenced firing bricks at them. I don't scare easily. [Laughter]

[16.] Q. Mr. President, does that have any political significance also?

THE PRESIDENT. If you want to give it any, Miss May. [Laughter]

Q. You say you are not going to use the balcony?

THE PRESIDENT. Of course, I won't get to use it. I don't have time to--for any pleasures. I work all the time. I get up at 5 o'clock in the morning, and am sitting at the desk at 6, and I never leave that desk until it's late at night, unless I have to go out somewhere and make a speech, as I did at the Gridiron dinner the other night.

Q. Do you anticipate you might need it during the next 4 years?

THE PRESIDENT. I anticipate using it during the next 4 years, if I get a chance to use it, that is. I'll be there to use it, don't worry about that.

Q. That's about as near as you have come--[ Laughter ]

THE PRESIDENT. What do you mean?

Q. I mean you are saying definitely that you are going to run--

THE PRESIDENT. Oh no, I made that announcement some time ago. That announcement has been made a long time ago.

Q. That's about as near as you have come to predicting victory--

THE PRESIDENT. No, it isn't. I predicted victory here the other day. You just didn't get it. But I shall never be downhearted at all.

[17.] Q. Mr. President, they have just abolished the death penalty in England. I wondered whether you had any general views on that subject?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment on that.

[18.] Q. Mr. President, Life magazine said you were going to nominate General Eisenhower. Any comment on that?

THE PRESIDENT. Life magazine knows a lot of things that I don't know, most of them not facts.

Q. Also said, Mr. President, that you were going to send General Eisenhower to see Stalin. Is that true?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, that is something I don't know, either. I never heard of it before. I don't intend to do it, if that's the proper answer to give you. General Eisenhower is going up and run a university.

Q. Any deep political significance in the fact that George Allen and Eisenhower are down in Georgia playing golf?

THE PRESIDENT. You will have to ask them. I can't answer that. They have a right to attend to their own business, the same as I have mine; only I don't get to attend to mine without interference. [Laughter]

Q. Do you think that there is any business between George Allen and--

THE PRESIDENT. No--I only know that they are great friends, that Eisenhower and George Allen are congenial. They like to be in each other's company. And I like them both, too, and like to be in their company.

Q. Mr. President, was there any significance in Eisenhower's and Mr. Allen's conference?

THE PRESIDENT. Not that I know of. The best thing to do would be to ask them.

Q. I thought maybe you might have said something--

THE PRESIDENT. No. I think the best thing to do is to ask them.

[19.] Q. Mr. President, do you have any comment on the Italian elections next Sunday?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I have no comment. I can't comment on an election before it has taken place. I will comment on it afterwards.

Reporter: Thank you, sir.

THE PRESIDENT. You're welcome.

Note: President Truman's one hundred and forty second news conference was held in his office at the White House at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, April 15, 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/229288

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