Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

CABINET MEETING, FRIDAY, MARCH 29, 1946

THE PRESIDENT

Requested the Attorney General to study the Jehovah Witnesses problem and other war objectors to determine what should be done about paroles or pardons.

THE ATTORNEY GENERAL

3,700 war objectors are now in the penitentiary. Department of Justice is gradually turning them lose [loose]. He believes that it will be down to 12 or 15 hundred in about three months.

SECRETARY PATTERSON

He had no objection to any decision which is made by the Department of Justice or the Bureau of Prisons.

SECRETARY FORRESTAL

Agreed with the Secretary of War that the Navy would be satisfied to let the Justice Department handle the problem their own way.

The Secretary said that the oil situation may become very serious, especially if the coal strike is called. The Gulf Oil Company has oil deposits in Mexico which he believes should be gotten out. This requires a license to export from Mexico. Secretary stated that he has to ask the State Department to try to accomplish the removal of the oil from Mexico to the United States. UNRRA in China requires additional shipping space. There are plenty of LST's and other types of vessels but the Navy does not have crews to operate them. He believes that something should be done to remedy this situation.

SECRETARY OF LABOR SCHWELLENBACH

Coal strike will come but he thinks that it will be a short one. The strike should not be dramatized in the press, as this may cause a prolonging of the strike. The point at issue is a special fund for the welfare of the workers. The coal operators agree that such a fund should be established but they do not want to turn it over to the unions to administer.

SECRETARY OF INTERIOR KRUG

Believes that the coal situation should be allowed to boil for a while. Steel industry has not built up enough supplies to maintain continuous operation in the event of a strike. Some plants do not maintain a stock pile and are liable to get caught. In connection with the welfare fund he stated that some operators take very good care of workers while others do little or nothing. The safety standards in different states vary widely. He believes that the government should study this problem with a view to determining a universal set of safety standards.

SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE ANDERSON

The food program will be hampered if farm machinery is not produced. Manpower in certain areas has improved and veterans are gradually trickling back to the farms. Farm machinery union is responsible for some of the delay in getting farm equipment. Manufacturers would rather deal with a larger and more responsible union than one they presently deal with. The Secretary stated he would hate to see seizure of farm machinery plants but something has to be done as the farmers themselves are getting wrought up and they are getting in the mood to do something about it.

JOHN SNYDER

Raised the question as to whether seizure of farm machinery plants could be accomplished on a legal basis.

ACTING SECRETARY OF STATE ACHESON

There has been a lot of discussion about our goals in exports of wheat, but the fact is that there is no improvement over the shipments made in January. He believes that we must set aside wheat to meet our commitments. Consumers are not making the required sacrifices. Representatives of foreign governments faced with famine and starvation are saying that we are just talking but not acting. He stated that he brought this problem up before the Cabinet at the request of Secretary Byrnes.

SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE ANDERSON

Price situation makes it difficult to get wheat out of the farmers hands. He questioned the feasibility of setting aside order to millers. He believes that if applied it would not fill our commitments to foreign governments. In his opinion it is but a small part of our wheat supply.

The only solution is to offer farmers more money to release wheat. They are holding out for higher prices. He stated that there is now being worked out a certificate arrangement whereby a farmer can turn wheat loose at once and elect a day that he will be paid at the price prevailing on that day. This proposal has not yet been approved. There are two questions which must be resolved--the price question and the problems with relation to income tax. He feels, however, that if the bins can be cleaned out through this or some other means, we will be able to maintain our commitments to foreign governments.

SECRETARY OF WAR PATTERSON

Stated that General Clay made commitments to Germany and Patterson is afraid that Clay will not be able to keep them. In his opinion, this is going to spell trouble.

SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE ANDERSON

Said that Clay started in July, 1945 on a 1250 calorie diet. He then raised the diet to 1550 calories for a period of months. This will now have to be forced back. He stated that if Clay had held down the allocation as originally scheduled he would not have an emergency now. Clay is endeavoring to hold back current supply to take care of July and August. Anderson was very much opposed to this. He believes that we should take a chance on new crop which will be available from the winter planting scheduled for harvest in June and July.

Secretary Anderson further stated that he is not satisfied with the reports he has received from Japan. There is a discrepancy between reparations figures and McArthur's [MacArthur's] estimates. He is also of the opinion that there has been too great a disappearance of wheat shipments already made to Japan. He stated that he has heard of no starvation anywhere with the exception of North Africa.

One of the problems we must acknowledge is that it is to the advantage of our farmers to feed grain to stock rather than to sell it at current prices.