Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference at Tiptonville, Tennessee

October 08, 1945

[1.] Q. Mr. President, you made a statement, as near as I can remember, in your speech at the fair, that when the nations of the world learn to put total world progress ahead of individual gain at the expense of other states, then we could put this great discovery of the release of atomic energy to work, to make the world a better place to live in. Would it be too long a "bone" as to interpret your remark there as meaning that the atomic secret would not be shared, unless and until we had positive assurance that the world had progressed to that point?

THE PRESIDENT. No, that would not be true, for this reason. The scientific knowledge that resulted in the atomic bomb is worldwide knowledge already. It is only the know-how of putting that knowledge practically to work that is our secret; just the same as know-how in the construction of the B-29, and the plane that is following the B-29, the greatest long-distance bomber in the world, and the know-how to make automobiles by mass production, and anything else. So far as the scientific knowledge is concerned, all the scientists know the answer, but how to put it to work practically is our secret.

Q. What I am getting at is, would it apply to letting them in on the know-how?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I don't think it would do any good to let them in on the know-how, because I don't think they could do it, anyway. You would have to have the industrial plant and our engineering ability to do the job, as well as the scientific knowledge, and there isn't any reason for trying to keep the scientific knowledge covered up, because all the great scientists know it in every country; but the practical know-how is our ability to do the job.

Q. Mr. President, what you mean--

THE PRESIDENT. That is our job. If they catch up with us on that, they will have to do it on their own hook, just as we did.

Q. You mean, then, that we will not share that knowledge with our allies?

THE PRESIDENT. Just the same as we haven't shared our engineering knowledge, or any of our engineering secrets. But so far as the scientific knowledge is concerned, they all know that, anyway.

Q. But so far as the bomb secret is concerned, we will not share that?

THE PRESIDENT. Not the know-how of putting it together, let's put it that way.

Mr. Ross: Are you talking on or off the record, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. I am talking on the record, Charlie.

Mr. Ross: You understand that the President is not to be directly quoted, all you men who are not familiar with the rules.

Q. Mr. President, isn't Great Britain also in on that know-how?

THE PRESIDENT. Great Britain and Canada.

Q. Have they--

THE PRESIDENT. They are our partners.

Q.--have they also agreed not to let the information out?

THE PRESIDENT. It hasn't been discussed with them, because we have all the information so far as the practical know-how is concerned, but I am sure they would agree. You see, Great Britain started the program by the expenditure of about $100 million in the beginning; and when we got into the war, it was decided that it was such a great program and required the expenditure of so much money that nobody could do it but us, and that was true. We spent more than $2 billion in creating it.

Q. Isn't it true that they couldn't do it themselves, and neither could Canada?

THE PRESIDENT. No, they couldn't.

Q. Who are you going to name to conduct conversations with Britain and Canada?

THE PRESIDENT. The Secretary of State.

Q. Will you name any special advisers for him?

THE PRESIDENT. No. That's what I have the Secretary of State for.

[2.] Q. Mr. President, on the general foreign situation, are you disturbed at all, or how do you feel about the apparent failure of the London conference to produce--

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think it's a failure. I think it was one step in arriving at a final conclusion. I am not in the slightest alarmed at the world situation. It will work out. Just as much as the domestic situation will work out in the long run.

Mr. Ross: Mr. President, you might want to say a word, in addition to what you said yesterday, about world leadership in the application of the Golden Rule.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, the world leadership I was referring to was leadership in the application of the Golden Rule. I did not want to assume that we would automatically take leadership in every field, but I think we can take leadership in that thing, that we would treat the other nations as we would like to be treated.

[3.] Q. What do you think accounts for this wave of work stoppages and general labor unrest?

THE PRESIDENT. Reaction. Reaction of the from the tremendous war effort. Everybody feels like letting down, and that has been the case after every war we have ever fought, the Revolution, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, War Between the States, Spanish-American War, the First World War, and this one. And this one, of course, is much greater than any of the rest of them, and we are going to have comparatively greater difficulty in getting people to realize that the readjustment job is their job. And they will finally realize it. I am not worried about it at all.

Q. Mr. President, there has been a reduction in take-home pay in most--in many cases. Isn't that a part of it?

THE PRESIDENT. To some extent. Doesn't make any difference, because it would be about the same whether there was a reduction in pay or not. Well, that is one of the contributing causes.

[4.] Q. Mr. President, if we can return to the atomic bomb subject for just a minute, sir--


Q.--have any of these other countries that are our allies asked for the secret of the know-how?


Q. They have not?


Q. Mr. President, in that connection, I have read that one of the causes for the lack of accord between this country and Russia-or on Russia's part, at least--grows out of the fact that we have the atomic bomb, and Russia doesn't.

THE PRESIDENT. It isn't true--it isn't true at all. The difficulty, I think, is a matter of understanding between us and Russia. There has always been a difficulty, principally because we don't speak the same language. It is a most difficult matter to translate the meaning of what I am saying right now into Russian, so it will mean the same thing in Russian as it means in English. The same thing is true when you translate Russian into English. When I was at the conference with Stalin at Berlin, he had an interpreter and I had one, and it took the four of us to be sure that we each understood the meaning of the other; and when we did, there was no difficulty in arriving at an agreement.

Q. Mr. President, in connection with that last question on the atomic bomb subject again, when will you send your message down to Congress?

THE PRESIDENT. On the foreign situation ?

Q. On the atomic bomb. You remember you said at your last conference you were going to send one on the international phase of the bomb--

THE PRESIDENT. That's right, but I am not ready to do that yet, so I can't make any specific statement on the subject. I will do it when I get ready. I will tell you about it.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, there has been a lot written about your making some sort of direct appeal to management and labor to get together, along the lines of the cooperation you spoke about at the fair?

THE PRESIDENT. I made it yesterday.

Q. Is that all? I see.

THE PRESIDENT. That's all. I wouldn't say that's all, but I don't want to answer the question.

Q. Thank you, sir.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, not for use now, but when you do make your speech at Gilbertsville--we have been reading the text of the speech today, preparing for our advance stories--are you retreating at all from your idea of the big basic regional power authorities--

THE PRESIDENT. No, I am not.

Q.--directed by the Federal Government?

THE PRESIDENT. I am not retreating at all. I think if you read the speech carefully, it is consistent and stays with the program as outlined in my New Orleans speech in 1944. You were there, Eddie.1

Q. Yes, sir.

1 Edward B. Lockett, Time Magazine.

[7.] Q. You described this reaction from the war as a letdown, and you said you are not terribly worried about it. Can you elaborate on that, and tell us what you foresee in the working out of this thing? There is tremendous interest in it.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think we are facing the greatest era in the history of the world, and I don't think we need be alarmed at the difficulties that will be in the way of arriving at the consummation of that era. It doesn't worry me, because there hasn't been a war in which we fought that we finally haven't come out in much better shape than we were previous to the period, and I don't think there is going to be any change from that.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, if you don't mind my going back to the speech--


Q.--when you said that in each case you think the local people-in your speech I am speaking about the next one--should make the final decision, I didn't know whether you were speaking of the decision as to whether greater emphasis should be put on flood control, or power, or other things, or on the decision of who would have responsibility for the operation--

THE PRESIDENT. Well, being from Missouri, I think always of the Missouri River as a common example. That river has four different projects, each one of which is important in a certain section of that river. The river from Sioux City, Iowa, to St. Louis--or from Omaha to St. Louis, if you want to make it easier--is interested in flood control first, and then in navigation. From the mouth of the Platte River in Nebraska up to Montana, they are interested in irrigation, and when you get to the "clear" sections of the river, in power. Those four things will have to be coordinated, and each section of the river developed for the benefit of the people of the river in those various sections, but there isn't any reason why an authority couldn't do that.

Q. Including TVA?

THE PRESIDENT. That's right.

Q. Just a question of emphasis?

THE PRESIDENT. That's right.

Q. Your idea is that these other developments in the country should be patterned along the lines of the TVA?

THE PRESIDENT. I think so. I think it has been very successful. The Columbia River, I think, can easily be developed along the lines of the TVA, because it's the same sort of river--it's a "clear" river, if you know what I mean. It doesn't carry a lot of silt.

Q. In other words, there were seven other regional authorities, which I believe Mr. Roosevelt proposed;

THE PRESIDENT. I think so, yes.

Q.--and you were pretty much in accord with that at the time, as I remember?

THE PRESIDENT. That's right.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, to return to the original question, as I get your reply, there is nothing on the horizon, or foreseeable in the immediate future that would influence your administration to give away the engineering know-how to any country?

THE PRESIDENT. We never have done that.

Q. That is what I understand.

Q. Is anybody in position to use that know-how, if we offered it to them?

THE PRESIDENT. No. That is the best answer.

Q. At some future time, Mr. President, wouldn't Russia be able to use it?

THE PRESIDENT. Your guess is as good as mine on that. I can't answer that. You will have to go there and take a look around. I have never been there.

Q. Are you going there ? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. No, Smitty,1 I am not.

1 Merriman Smith, United Press Associations.

Q. Said he, hopefully! [More laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. I would like very much to go, and to see Russia as it is, for my own information; but, of course, there isn't a chance of my getting to do that. I think Russia has been badly misrepresented in this country, as we have been badly misrepresented in Russia. If there is complete understanding, there wouldn't be very many difficulties between us, because Russia's interests and ours do not clash, and never have. We have always been friends, and I hope we always will be.

Q. Are there more difficulties, Mr. President, than merely a question of expenditure of the large sums of money in the development of the know-how of the atomic bomb?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, it's the engineering know-how, and it's the scientific knowledge, the practical use. That is the only difficulty there is.

Q. Is it a matter of resources also?


Q. Mineral resources?

THE PRESIDENT. Resources and industrial plant, principally.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, you were asked at a White House press conference one day if the meeting in Berlin was the last of the Big Three meetings, as I remember; and you said you didn't know at that time.

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know yet.

Q. You don't know? That story keeps popping up, particularly from London, saying that there is another Big Three meeting in the wind.

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know. Your guess is as good as mine. I am not in on the inside. [Laughter]

Q. You can't write all the copy.

THE PRESIDENT. No, I can't. That's the truth. I am telling you the truth.

Q. Mr. President, how far would you go into the future on that phase of it--not having a meeting now, or in the near future?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I can't go into it because I don't know what the developments will be. If a Big Three meeting would be necessary to clarify the program, I would not stand in the way of a Big Three meeting. In fact, we had a very successful one in Berlin. At least, I thought it was a successful one.

Q. In other words, if things--a Big Three meeting would help understanding, we would have it?

THE PRESIDENT. Certainly we would have it. That's the best answer. But I see no reason for one in the immediate future.

Reporter: Well, thank you, Mr. President.

Note: President Truman's twenty-ninth news conference was held on the porch of Linda Lodge on Reelfoot Lake, near Tiptonville, Tenn., at 8:15 p.m. on Monday, October 8, 1945.

Harry S Truman, The President's News Conference at Tiptonville, Tennessee Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/230540

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