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.
  175. The President's News Conference  
October 25, 1945

THE PRESIDENT. [1.] The first announcement is the appointment of John R. Steelman as Special Assistant to the President.

Q. S-t-e-e--

THE PRESIDENT. John R. S-t-e-e-l-m-a-n.

Q. Executive Assistant?

THE PRESIDENT. No. Special Assistant.

Q. What field is he going to operate in, labor?

THE PRESIDENT. He is going to be a Special Assistant to the President, to act in any field in which I want to use him.

Q. Is that a temporary appointment or a permanent one, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. Temporary.

Q. Dealing with labor relations, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. He will act in any capacity in which I want to use him.

Q. His background has been mostly labor conciliation though, hasn't it, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. He is a labor expert.

[2.] I want to make a short statement about the Philippines, and tomorrow morning some letters will be released to you on that subject.1

1For letters, see Item 176.

[Reading] "Since President Osmena's arrival in Washington early this month, I have had several conferences with him, Secretary Ickes, and High Commissioner McNutt.

"All Americans feel a very warm friendship for the Filipino people, who stood by us so heroically throughout the war and who now are in dire need of help. I consider a program of assistance to the Philippines essential to our relationship with the people there.

"We have made some progress and further conferences will be held before President Osmena and High Commissioner McNutt return to Manila."

[3.] I have a letter from William Green, Philip Murray, Ira Mosher, and Eric Johnston on the labor-management conference, and also the agenda for the conference, which will be furnished you in mimeographed form. There are copies for everybody.1

1The letter (from William Green, President, American Federation of Labor; Ira Mosher, President, National Association of Manufacturers; Philip Murray, President, Congress of Industrial Organizations; and Eric Johnston, President, United States Chamber of Commerce), released October 25, was In response to a request by President Truman that the writers nominate delegates and plan the agenda for the National Labor-Management Conference scheduled to begin November 5. The letter stated that 36 delegates had been chosen, representing a wide diversity of interests in both management and labor. The agenda, it stated, was agreed upon unanimously by a subcommittee "chosen by ourselves and the Secretaries of Labor and Commerce." While stating that "no conference can Possibly . . . clean the slate of all present and potential sources of friction in the highly complicated American economy," the writers added that "it is equally obvious . . . that the establishment of long-range and agreed-upon policies designed to reduce industrial disagreement, and the provision of predetermined means of dealing with unavoidable disagreements will go far toward bringing about a new era of industrial harmony and progress."

[4.] I am going to speak over the radio at 10 o'clock on Tuesday night, and discuss the wage-price program.

Q. Next Tuesday, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. Next Tuesday night, at 10 o'clock.

Q. All networks, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. All networks.

Q. What time, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. Ten o'clock.

Q. Half-hour speech, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT, Yes.

Q. Is the policy yet decided, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. The policy is in the stage of being decided. It will be decided before I make the announcement on Tuesday night.

[5.] I have a new Presidential flag, Executive order for which will be issued. President Roosevelt had ordered the Navy Department to go to work on a new flag just before he died, and I thought maybe you might be interested in the history of the Presidential flag and the Presidential seal; and I have got a release for you in mimeographed form on that.

[To General Vaughan] Now raise that flag up, there. This flag here--in President Wilson's time there were two flags for the President, an Army flag for the President with a red star and a Navy flag for the President with a blue star.

President Wilson ordered a single flag for the President, and this was the result of that--[General Vaughan displays flag]--with the white eagle facing toward the arrows, which is the sinister side of the heraldic form, and no color.

This new flag--[to General Vaughan]--if you will raise that one up, now you will see--you can see the difference. It will all be explained in the release which you will get. This new flag faces the eagle toward the staff which is looking to the front all the time when you are on the march, and also has him looking at the olive branches for peace, instead of the arrows for war; and taking the 4 stars out of the corner and putting 48 stars around the Presidential seal. You will get a release that will tell you all about it, and the why and the wherefore. 1

1The release contained the text of Executive Order 9646 "Coat of Arms, Seal, and Flag of the President of the United States" (October 25, 1945, 3 CFR, 1943-1948 Comp., p. 445), together with background material reading in part as follows:

The Executive order establishes for the first time a legal definition of the President's coat of arms and his seal. The design of the coat of arms and the seal has been changed slightly from the former design, and the Presidential flag has also been changed. The flag will consist of the coat of arms in full color, surrounded by 48 white stars on a blue field.

The former Presidential flag was adopted in 1916 by President Wilson. Prior to that time, the Army and the Navy had had separate flags for the Commander in Chief. President Wilson instructed his Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and the Aide to the Secretary of the Navy, Commander Byron McCandless, USN, to design a Presidential flag which would be suitable for use by both the Army and the Navy. On May 29, 1916, President Wilson signed an Executive order adopting the flag suggested by Assistant Secretary Roosevelt and Commander McCandless. The flag consisted of the Presidential coat of arms on a blue field with a white star in each of the corners. That flag was in use from 1916 until today.

In March of this year, President Roosevelt discussed with his Naval Aide, Vice Admiral Wilson Brown, the advisability of changing the President's flag. It seemed inappropriate to President Roosevelt for the flag of the Commander in Chief to have only four stars when there were five stars In the flags of Fleet Admirals and Generals of the Army, grades which had been created in December 1944.

It was natural that President Roosevelt should turn at this time to the officer who had worked with him in 1916, and who now holds the rank of Commodore, Byron McCandless.

For many years Commodore McCandless, who now commands the U.S. Naval Repair Base at San Diego, Calif., has studied the histories of the various flags of the United States. When Vice Admiral Brown wrote to him, at President Roosevelt's request, late In March for suggestions for a new design for the President's flag, Commodore McCandless prepared several designs based upon early American flags. His proposed designs arrived in Washington after the death of President Roosevelt and the President did not have the opportunity of seeing them until early in June.

The President and members of his staff examined them carefully and, preferring one design to the others, the President made several suggestions to Commodore McCandless concerning it. The President believed that all of the States in the Union should be represented on the Commander in Chief's flag, and he asked Commodore McCandless to submit a new design with a circle of 48 stars around the coat of arms.

Commodore McCandless sent a painting of the proposed flag, with the circle of 48 stars, to the White House in July and when the President returned from Berlin in August, he tentatively approved that design.

It was then sent to the War and Navy Departments for comment and suggestions. The Chief of the Heraldic Section of the Office of the Quartermaster General of the Army, Mr. Arthur E. DuBois, like Commodore McCandless, has studied the history of flags and heraldic emblems for many years. Mr. DuBois made several suggestions to the President. He pointed out that there was no known basis In law for the coat of arms and the seal which has been used by Presidents since 1880 and which was reproduced on the flag. The seal had originated during the administration of President Hayes, apparently as an erroneous rendering of the Great Seal of the United States.

It is a curious fact that the eagle on the Great Seal faces to its own right, whereas the eagle on the seal in use by Presidents since 1880 faces to its own left. According to heraldic custom, the eagle on a coat of arms, unless otherwise specified in the heraldic description, is always made to face to its own right. There is no explanation for the eagle facing to its own left In the case of the President's coat of arms. To conform to heraldic custom, and since there was no authority other than usage for the former Presidential coat of arms, the President had Mr. DuBois redesign the coat of arms in accordance with the latter's suggestions.

In the new coat of arms, seal and flag, the eagle not only faces to its right--the direction of honor--but also toward the olive branches of peace which it holds in its right talon. Formerly the eagle faced toward the arrows in its left talon-arrows, symbolic of

The President also decided that the eagle on his seal and his flag should appear in the full color of the natural bird as is customary in most flags, rather than in white appear as it had been on the former flag.

The 48 stars in the circle represent the States collectively; no single star represents any particular State.

Now I am ready for questions.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, can we clear up a little bit about the November trips? Is the southern trip still on?

THE PRESIDENT. It is; unless conditions here are such that require my presence here. All Presidential trips are tentative.

Q. Mr. President, will you go to Waco, Texas, December 5 ? Is that decided?

THE PRESIDENT. That is another tentative appointment. They have asked me to come down and get a degree of Doctor of Laws from the great Baptist school down there, and I am inclined to go.

[7.] Q. Mr. President, have you decided as yet to accept the resignation of John Snyder?

THE PRESIDENT. John Snyder's resignation has never been under contemplation. John Snyder will stay with me as long as I want him, and until his job is finished.

Q. He hasn't resigned to you in a letter, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. No, sir. He never made any attempt to.

Q. Thank you very much.

THE PRESIDENT. He is a patriotic citizen, and he will stay here as long as I need him, although he is doing it at a very great sacrifice.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, the Washington Post this morning suggested that General Marshall be placed in charge of the program for universal military training. Granted that he needs a rest, but that he ought to add his prestige to that.

THE PRESIDENT. I think General Marshall will add his prestige to that universal training program, but General Marshall is still the Chief of Staff, and I need him as Chief of Staff.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, what would be the betting odds on whether you go to Georgia or not? [Laughter] Those people are worrying us to death.

THE PRESIDENT. Tony,1 I'll let you make your own book. [Laughter]

1Ernest B. Vaccaro, Associated Press.

Q. Mr. President, we are getting an awful lot of messages from down there, saying they have been told you are not coming down there?

THE PRESIDENT. Rumors are always circulating in Washington. It wouldn't be a good town if it weren't for the rumors.

[10.] Q. Did Henry Ford 2d call on you this week?

THE PRESIDENT. No, he hasn't. He came here to see the Secretary of Labor.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, after Mr. Wilson of General Motors visit here, he announced the 45-hour week idea. Did he get any encouragement here on that?

THE PRESIDENT. He did not.

[12.] Q. Mr. President, did you discuss the Alaska Highway with Governor Wallgren here?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, and with Senator Magnuson, and with the Secretary of State.

Q. Making any progress?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, we are making some progress.

[13.] Q. Mr. President, there have been a lot of stories that Leo Crowley might be appointed to the Export-Import Bank. Do you have any such intention?

THE PRESIDENT. I haven't made up my mind on the directors for the Export-Import Bank. I have been considering Mr. Crowley for a member of that Board.

Q. Mr. President, on that point, there still seems to be some mystery about Mr. Crowley's departure from both the FDIC and the FEA. He wrote a letter specifically resigning from the FDIC. You accepted both resignations. Two Congressmen have told me that he testified that there was an additional letter dealing with his reasons for wanting to get out of FEA, and that it was up to the White House to release that. Would you release that letter now?

THE PRESIDENT. The letter is around here somewhere, but our conversations were verbal--sitting here in that chair; and the only reason I accepted Mr. Crowley's release was because he insisted on giving it to me, and said that he had been in public service for a long time, and he would like to be in a position to attend to his own business a little while. I didn't urge him in any way.

Q. But is there any reason why that letter should not be public knowledge?

THE PRESIDENT. No, there is no reason at all. It can be made public.1

1See footnote on page 347.

[14.] Q. Mr. President, upon whose advice--if you were, sir--were you relying upon, in the decision to keep the know-how of the atomic bomb a secret in the United States ? Did Mr. Vannevar Bush--

THE PRESIDENT. I was relying on my own judgment--

Q. It was published that you were relying on Bush's.

THE PRESIDENT.--if that's worth anything to you.

Q. Mr. President, there has been some concern on the Hill regarding reported German scientists in Spain. Do you contemplate any inquiry or action?

THE PRESIDENT. That's the first I've heard of it.

Q. Mr. President, when do you expect to begin discussions for the control of the atomic bomb?

THE PRESIDENT. I will make an announcement on that at a later date which will clarify the whole situation. I am not ready to make it now.

[15.] Q. Mr. President, have you received any word now, whether Russia will attend this Far Eastern Advisory Commission meeting next week?

THE PRESIDENT. That is a matter that has been handled by the Secretary of State; and I have not been in touch with him on the subject.

Q. Mr. President, the Secretary of State yesterday referred us to you on the question as to whether there had been any response to the correspondence that may have gone to Mr. Stalin. Has there been any response on the subject?

THE PRESIDENT. Not to me personally, no.

[16.] Q. In that same press conference, Mr. President, Mr. Byrnes said that he had not seen or read the Italian armistice. Have you studied the Italian armistice?

THE PRESIDENT. I have not.

[17.] Q. Mr. President, have you made a selection for the chairmanship of the Federal Deposit Insurance?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I haven't.

Q. You are considering a Congressman on the Hill, are you?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I am not considering anybody at the present time.

[18.] Q. Mr. President, have you made a request of the Congressman in charge of the full employment bill to speed action on it in the House?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I have. I am very anxious for that full employment bill to be reported out and passed. I am for it with everything that I have.

Q. Mr. President, do you expect to talk to the president of the United Rubber Workers Union this week?

THE PRESIDENT. I expect to talk to all the people who are on that-who have been invited to the Conference during the week. If he is on that list, he will be talked to.

Q. Does that include John L. Lewis, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes.

Q. When will you see him?

THE PRESIDENT. The program hasn't been made up. I will see him along with the other labor leaders.

Q. Mr. President, did Congressman Manasco tell you this morning-as he did to us outside--that that bill would not be passed or reported out without very great amendments?

THE PRESIDENT. He said there would be some difficulty about reporting the bill out. He didn't say anything about great amendments, or anything else; but I told him I wanted the bill reported out, to give the House a chance to vote on it.

[19.] Q. Mr. President, coming back to John Snyder, has Mr. Snyder--if I may ask--expressed a desire to you to resign?

THE PRESIDENT. No, he hasn't.

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

NOTE: President Truman's thirty-first at the White House at 4 p.m. on news conference was held in his office Thursday, October 25, 1945.
 
Provided courtesy of The American Presidency Project.  John Woolley and Gerhard Peters. University of California, Santa Barbara.