Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference on the Termination of Hostilities of World War II

December 31, 1946

THE PRESIDENT. Gentlemen, I want to read you a proclamation--a statement on a proclamation; and when I get through reading that statement and proclamation, and a list of things affected by the proclamation, it will be handed to you.

[Reading:] "I have today issued a proclamation terminating the period of hostilities of World War II, as of 12 o'clock noon today, December 31st, 1946.

"Under the law, a number of war and emergency statutes cease to be effective upon the issuance of this proclamation. It is my belief that the time has come when such a declaration can properly be made, and that it is in the public interest to make it. Most of the powers affected by the proclamation need no longer be exercised by the executive branch of the Government. This is entirely in keeping with the policies which I have consistently followed in an effort to bring our economy and our Government back to a peacetime basis as quickly as possible.

"The proclamation terminates Government powers under some twenty statutes immediately upon its issuance. It terminates Government powers under some thirty-three other--at a later--others at a later date, generally at the end of 6 months from the date of the proclamation. This follows as a result of provisions made by the Congress when the legislation was originally passed. In a few instances the statutes affected by the proclamation give the Government certain powers which, in my opinion, are desirable in peacetime, or for the remainder of the period of reconversion. In these instances, recommendations will be made to the Congress for additional legislation.

"It should be noted that the proclamation does not terminate the states of emergency declared by President Roosevelt on September 8, 1939, and May 27, 1941. Nor does today's action have the effect of terminating the state of war itself. It terminates merely the period of hostilities. With respect to the termination of the national emergency, and the state of war, I shall make recommendations to the Congress in the near future."

Ladies and gentlemen, I just want to wish you a Happy New Year, and hope you will enjoy it, and that we will see you again maybe about Thursday afternoon at 4 o'clock. I suppose you will be awake by then. [Laughter]

Q. Mr. President, can we ask you a few questions about this?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think it's necessary. The proclamation and the laws affected will be handed to you in mimeographed form, and I think everything will be answered that I could possibly answer, but--

Q. Just one question--

THE PRESIDENT. --I never want to refuse to answer questions, of course.

Q. -- to see if it's covered in this. Does this terminate the Smith-Connally Act?

THE PRESIDENT. I think it does.

Attorney General Clark: Six months.

THE PRESIDENT. This is one of the 6-month laws.

Attorney General Clark: All covered by this law.

THE PRESIDENT. All covered by this law, which I have read, and it is hard to remember every one of those 53 laws. And I have read it two or--twice, but you will get more accurate answers out of the thing if you will just read the mimeographed--

Q. Mr. President, one more thing, because we will probably have to start dictating on our statements before we can read the mimeographed--


Q. This terminates the period of hostilities. It doesn't--this is not the termination of the emergency--

THE PRESIDENT. No. The emergencies are not terminated. They will have to be terminated by legislation.

Q. Is this what we have been talking about when we spoke of the formal end of the war?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes--I think it is.

Q. This was established, sir, by what--

THE PRESIDENT. By the laws themselves.

Q. As outlined in the period of hostilities ?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, most of these laws use that. They would terminate with the proclamation at the end of hostilities or 6 months after the end of hostilities. Now termination of the emergency and the termination of the war has to be made by the Congress itself--by legislation.

Q. Mr. President, would it be the formal termination of the war itself then?

THE PRESIDENT. I think Congress passes the law. I think that that is the case.

Q. Not today--not today's action?

THE PRESIDENT. Not today's action.

Q. This terminates--

THE PRESIDENT. This terminates the period of hostilities and terminates the 53 laws which are affected specifically by the Congress under that.

Q. Mr. President, is this the beginning of your cooperation with the new Congress? They have been trying to do this--they have been talking about it.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, yes--this is in cooperation with the Congress

Q. Mr. President, will this have any effect on the combined Anglo-American Chiefs of Staff at this point?


Q. That will be continued?

THE PRESIDENT. That goes on for 6 months at least after the issuance of this proclamation.

Q. Mr. President, is this for the duration and 6 months ?

THE PRESIDENT. Duration will be at the end of 6 months, won't it? [Laughter]

Q. Mr. President

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. Let the lady ask her question.

Q. The state of war will have to be terminated by Congress, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. By Congress. The emergency has to be terminated by Congress. Happy New Year to you all!

Reporters: Happy New Year!

Note: President Truman's ninety-third news conference was held in his office at the White House at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, December 31, 1946.

Harry S. Truman, The President's News Conference on the Termination of Hostilities of World War II Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/232392

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