Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 18, 2002
Contact: Holly Milledge, 816-268-8245 . Media Relations, or
Edeen Martin, 816-268-8218 . Director of Public and External Programs.

Truman Presidential Museum & Library to co-sponsor Steel Strike Conference:
Important Related Papers Opened
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On November 22, 2002, at 3 p.m. participants and experts will gather at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to discuss "President Truman and the Steel Seizure Case: A 50 year Retrospective." In the landmark case of 1952, the Supreme Court ruled that President Harry S. Truman had exceeded his authority by seizing the nation's steel mills. The President feared that threatened strikes would cripple production of weapons and endanger American troops in Korea. Conference participants will include Truman advisors Milton Kayle and Ken Hechler; Judge Abner Mikva; Supreme Court historian Maeva Marcus; and appearing via video, Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, who clerked for Justice Robert Jackson at the time of the ruling. Presented in cooperation with Duquesne School of Law, complimentary tickets can be obtained by calling the Law School events hotline at 412-396-1043 or by email at gilfoyle@duq.edu. Press interviews are available by contacting Ken Gormley, program coordinator, at 412-396-6184.

Fifty years later, the famous Steel Seizure Case continues to raise haunting questions about the scope of Presidential power, evening during times of war. Among the topics to be discussed is the potential application of the Steel Seizure Case to President Bush's current decision-making with respect to dealing with accused terrorists within the United States, as well as possible military action in Iraq.

At the conclusion of the program, Clifton Truman Daniel, grandson of President Truman, will accept a Presidential Citation presented by Duquesne University President Charles Dougherty, to commemorate the fifty-year anniversary of President Truman completing his term in office.

According to Nicholas P. Cafardi, Dean of the School of Law: "This is an extraordinary opportunity to hear from those who watched events unfold with their own eyes, during a difficult period in our nation's history. We are delighted that the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri, has pooled its talents with those of Duquesne University School of Law to make this unique event possible."

 

Important Related Papers Opened

On November 22, the Harry S. Truman Library will open the papers of John R. Steelman for research. This is the largest and in some respects the most important collection of personal papers that the Library has added to its holdings in recent years.

From 1946 to 1953, Dr. John R. Steelman was "The Assistant to the President"--in effect, the chief White House aide to President Harry S. Truman. His administrative duties were wide-ranging, but because of his background as a mediator of disputes between labor and management, he was especially prominent in dealing with the wave of strikes that disrupted the coal, railroad, and steel industries during the Truman years. Steelman's papers include correspondence, memoranda, speeches, and appointment calendars that document his work as Assistant to the President and in other important government posts during the Truman administration. The collection also contains many newspaper clippings and other printed materials relating to Steelman's life and career.

The papers date from 1905 to 1994, but most of them cover the period of Steelman's government service, beginning in 1934 and ending in 1953. The collection comprises about 31½ linear feet (approximately 63,000 pages) of material. The finding aid to the collection is available for researchers.

In addition to his regular duties at the White House, Steelman also held a number of temporary posts at the request of President Truman, who greatly valued his skills as an administrator. At various times, Steelman served as the last Director of the World War II Office of War Mobilization and Reconversion, as Chairman of the President's Scientific Research Board (which prepared a series of reports to the President on science and public policy), as Acting Chairman of the National Security Resources Board, and as Acting Director of the Office of Defense Mobilization during the Korean War.

Steelman was born in 1900 in Thornton, Arkansas, and grew up on a cotton farm. He worked his way through several universities, ultimately earning a doctorate in sociology and economics at the University of North Carolina in 1928. Steelman was teaching at Alabama College, a women's school in Montevallo, Alabama, when he met Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins during her visit to the college in 1934. Impressed by the young professor's familiarity with labor conditions in Alabama, Perkins persuaded him to leave academia and accept a position as Commissioner of Conciliation in the Labor Department's U.S. Conciliation Service. He was named Director of the U.S. Conciliation Service in 1937.

During a tumultuous period that spanned the Great Depression and the Second World War, Steelman headed the federal government's efforts to avert strikes and secure labor-- management cooperation. He resigned in 1944 and became a consultant in New York City. In 1945, Steelman returned to the government at the request of the new President, Harry S. Truman, who asked him to serve as his Special Assistant in the White House with responsibility for labor affairs.

A year later, he was given the title of "The Assistant to the President," which he held through the rest of the Truman Presidency. Steelman remained at the White House for the first few weeks of the Eisenhower Presidency in 1953, helping with the transition to the new Republican administration. He then left government service and embarked upon a new career as an industrial relations consultant and newspaper publisher. Steelman died in Naples, Florida, in 1999.

 

The Truman Presidential Museum & Library is one of ten Presidential Libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration.

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