Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

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Harry S. Truman
1945-1953


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Provided courtesy of The American Presidency Project.  John Woolley and Gerhard Peters. University of California, Santa Barbara.
  107. The President's News Conference  
August 23, 1945

THE PRESIDENT. I have a couple of announcements I want to read to you; they are mimeographed and you can get copies of them when you get through.

[1.] This is to the heads of Executive departments and agencies:

"It is my desire that not later than the week beginning September 9, 1945, all departments and agencies reduce their administrative workweek to the basic 40 hours a week, unless such reduction in hours would result in a serious detriment to their essential operations. This will permit the establishment of a 5-day workweek wherever feasible. In those cases where you decide that it is absolutely necessary to temporarily maintain a workweek in excess of 40 hours, please report to the Director of the Bureau of the Budget the reasons for your decision."

[2.] Then this notice went out also:

"Since there would appear to be no further necessity for continuing the present requirements for work on public holidays, such holidays, as enumerated below, should be observed as nonwork days:

"The 1st day of January, the 22d day of February, the 30th day of May, the 4th day of July, the 1st Monday of September, the 11th day of November, the 4th Thursday in November, and Christmas Day.

"In addition, the general restrictions placed on leaves of absence because of war conditions are no longer necessary and the departments and agencies should return to their normal policies in granting leaves of absence for vacation purposes."1

If you have any questions that I can answer, I'll try to answer them.

1The White House release of August 23 stated that at the direction of the President, George J. Schoeneman, Administrative Assistant, addressed this memorandum to the heads of executive departments and agencies.

[3.] Q. Mr. President, is Secretary Ickes continuing in the Cabinet?

THE PRESIDENT. Secretary Ickes will continue in the Cabinet. I had a session with him yesterday, and he is going to take a trip to London on the negotiation of the oil matter.

Q. Is his service as Secretary contingent on the completion of that London mission?

THE PRESIDENT. It is not. It is contingent only on as long as he wants to remain; and I think he is satisfied to remain.

[4.] Q. General Hershey, in a speech in Boston last night, said that unless the Draft Act is amended the right of employment of the veterans would expire on V-J Day. Would you favor legislation on that?

THE PRESIDENT. I think General Hershey is speaking about the provision in the Draft Act that is apart from the provisions in the GI bill of rights.

Q. He said there was no such provision in the GI bill of rights.

THE PRESIDENT. I think it can be interpreted that way, but we can have that amended. The Draft Act ends with the proclamation declaring that hostilities have ceased and the war is over--which has not happened yet and won't happen for some time to come.

Q. Do I understand you to mean that the original intention of the Draft Act giving the veterans their jobs back would remain even if you had to patch it up with further legislation ?

THE PRESIDENT. That's what I intended to say.

Q. Providing a new bill?

THE PRESIDENT. The question was only in reference to the guarantee to veterans of their jobs.

Q. Would that mean a new piece of legislation?

THE PRESIDENT. It probably would require an amendment to the GI bill of rights, if that is not interpreted to mean what it says.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, please tell us a little about your visit with General de Gaulle.

THE PRESIDENT. I had a very pleasant visit with the General. We discussed questions that affect France and the United States, and instructed the Foreign Minister of France and the Secretary of State of the United States to discuss all the matters which are at issue between France and the United States, and then submit those matters to General de Gaulle and myself for final decision if they could not reach an agreement which was satisfactory to both of us.

Q. You expect to see him again?

THE PRESIDENT. I imagine so. He is going to pay visits around various places in the United States. I imagine I will see him again.

[6.] Q. Do you favor the immediate and public trial of the officers who were responsible for Pearl Harbor?

THE PRESIDENT. What was that?

Q. Do you favor immediate and public trials to fix the responsibility of the Army and Navy officers who were in command at Pearl Harbor?

THE PRESIDENT. I think I am about to receive a recommendation from the Secretaries of Navy and War on that. I will answer that when it comes.

Q. Do you expect it soon?

THE PRESIDENT. You will be informed when that comes.

[7.] Q. Has Mr. Justice Roberts received an assignment from you and Mr. Byrnes?

THE PRESIDENT. He refused one from Mr. Byrnes and me. I hope he will change his mind.

Q. Could you tell us the nature of the assignment?

THE PRESIDENT. I would rather not discuss it until I am sure he will not take it.

[8.] Q. Anything on the Supreme Court appointment yet, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. No, no announcement. I haven't had a chance to give it the necessary thought.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, can you tell us anything about the progress of the hospitalization and construction program?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I can't; I haven't had a chance to go into that either. As soon as possible I will go into it and then I will answer your questions.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, do you plan any subsidies on copper and zinc, since these metals are now in good supply--plentiful?

THE PRESIDENT. If they are in plentiful supply the subsidy will not be necessary.

[11.] Q. Can you tell us anything about your conferences with Dr. Soong?

THE PRESIDENT. No, not at the present time. I will be glad to inform you as soon as I am in a position to do so without embarrassment to the Chinese Government, the Government of the United States, and the Soviet Union. All the relations between those three governments were discussed, but I am not at liberty to discuss that until the final conclusions have been reached.

[12.] Q. Anything on lend-lease that you might report on, Mr. President ?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I think that very plainly stated the case.1

1The President referred to the following White House release, dated August 21, 1945: The President has directed the Foreign Economic Administrator to take steps immediately to discontinue all lend-lease operations and to notify foreign governments receiving lend-lease of this action.

The President also directs that all outstanding contracts for lend-lense be canceled, except where Allied governments are willing to agree to take them over, or where it is in the interest of the United States to complete them.

The Foreign Economic Administrator furthermore is instructed to negotiate with Allied governments for possible procurement by them of lend-lease inventories now in stockpile and in process of delivery.

If the military needs lend-lease supplies for the movement of troops or for occupation purposes, the military will be responsible for procurement.

It is estimated that uncompleted contracts for non-munitions and finished goods in this country not yet transferred to lend-lease countries amount to about $2 billion and that lend lease supplies in stockpile abroad amount to between $1 and $1 1/2 billion.

[13.] Q. Mr. President, do you take the view of General Hershey with regard to the Draft Act ?

THE PRESIDENT. I am not legally inclined, and I don't know the legal provisions in the Draft Act, because I haven't studied it; so I can't give you my views on that.

Q. The Hershey view is--

THE PRESIDENT. General Hershey ought to know what he is talking about; he has been enforcing the Draft Act for some time. I will not discuss it because I am not familiar enough with it.

[14.] Q. Mr. President, have your ideas on reorganization reached the point where you want to discuss them?

THE PRESIDENT. I am trying to persuade the Congress to give me the power to make the reorganization, and until that is done I don't want to talk about it.

[15.] Q. Can you tell us anything about your luncheon today?

THE PRESIDENT. Oh, I got kind of lonely to see some of my friends and telephoned Mr. Biffle I would be down to see him. I didn't expect to have an elaborate luncheon, but there were a dozen or so Senators and others present, and we had a very pleasant time, as we always do.

[16.] Q. Mr. President, are the Big Three, as reported, planning joint action to avert civil war in China?

THE PRESIDENT. That is a matter you better discuss with the Secretary of State. I haven't heard anything about it.

[17.] Q. There has been some criticism of the demobilization program; have you talked with the Secretaries of War and Navy about that?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I have talked with the Secretaries of War and Navy, General Marshall, and Admiral King; and their armed services are doing everything in their power to expedite demobilization. It wouldn't make any difference what sort of plan they had, somebody wouldn't like it.

[18.] Q. Mr. President, the British Prime Minister has discussed Franco-Spain; do you care to go a little further on that?

THE PRESIDENT. There was an agreement on Franco-Spain; I think the Prime Minister of England very clearly stated the matter. None of us like Franco or his government.

[19.] Q. Is there any news regarding labor-management? Have the arrangements been made yet?

THE PRESIDENT. No, as soon as they are made I will announce it.

Q. Who is drawing up the agenda?

THE PRESIDENT. There is none yet. We're trying to get that crowd together, and as soon as we have things arranged I'll tell you the whole story. That meeting takes place tomorrow--to try to make the arrangements.

[20.] Q. Mr. President, will your V-J Day statement proclaim the end of hostilities or the end of the national emergency?

THE PRESIDENT. Neither one; it will merely state V-J Day. The matter will then be put in the lap of Congress to make whatever statement is necessary, with the recommendation that Congress not act precipitately in the matter but make an orderly reconversion.

Q. What would be the legal significance of declaration of V-J Day?

THE PRESIDENT. That depends altogether on how it is worded. [Laughter]

[21.] Q. Mr. President, there were some very strange reports in the Dutch press the last few days claiming that this country wants to control Iceland, Greenland, and some Italian colonies. Any comment on that?

THE PRESIDENT. That's news to me; I can't discuss it because I don't know anything about it.

Q. Mr. President, would you care to discuss the future of Indochina and Thailand?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I wouldn't; that's a matter that the Foreign Ministers probably will discuss, and I don't care to discuss it here today.

Q. Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT. That's all right.

[22.] Q. I think Mr. Crowley yesterday said lend-lease would be cut off except in those instances where it would be to the best interest of the country. Will you give us an illustration of that?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I can't; I can't give you an illustration of it. If I find one I'll be glad to give it to you.

Q. Mr. President, did you take up with Mr. Crowley the question of the "pipeline" to Great Britain?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I didn't; he had no instructions from me except what you saw in the release.1

1The President referred to a White House release dated August 21. For text, see footnote to [12] of this news conference.

On August 29 the following statement was released simultaneously in Washington, Ottawa, and London:

"On January 19th, 1945, the President of the United States and the Prime Ministers of Great Britain and Canada announced their decision to maintain the Combined Production and Resources Board, Combined Raw Materials Board and Combined Food Board until the end of the Japanese War. The three governments have now decided that these three boards will continue, for the time being, to operate on the existing basis in order to ensure that there is no break in combined machinery, which is handling various critical supply questions of immediate importance. They will also arrange without delay for a review of the work of each Board with the object of determining the necessity for continuing its operation."

See also Item 209.

Q. Can you tell us the reasons for termination of lend-lease? There have been statements that it was a direct blow at the British Government.

THE PRESIDENT. That is not true at all. The reason is that the bill was passed by Congress defining lend-lease as a weapon of war, and after we cease to be at war it is no longer necessary. I happened to be Vice President at the time that law was extended and I made such a promise. I am merely living up to the promise I made as Vice President of the United States.

Q. We haven't yet ceased to be at war. We--

THE PRESIDENT. No, but hostilities have ceased. Hostilities are not going on. We are not conducting a war. I think, technically, we have come to the point where it is not necessary to continue lend-lease.

[23.] Q. Sir, do you anticipate making any recommendation about the advance time-- war time?

THE PRESIDENT. That will be taken care of in the message to Congress the 5th of September. I think we will go back to standard time. The States can do whatever they choose.

Q. Sir, what else might be in that message? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. I'll give you that message when I get it ready.

Voices: Thank you, Mr. President.

NOTE: President Truman's twentieth at the White House at 4 p.m. on Thursday news conference was held in his office August 23, 1945.
 
Provided courtesy of The American Presidency Project.  John Woolley and Gerhard Peters. University of California, Santa Barbara.