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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.
  246. Address at the State Fairgrounds, Raleigh, North Carolina  
October 19, 1948

Governor Cherry, distinguished guests, and fellow Democrats of North Carolina:

I can't tell you how very much I appreciate the most cordial welcome I have received in the capital city of this great State today. Your Governor has been exceedingly kind and cordial to me, and to my family, and we have spent a most pleasant morning. The Governor took us to the Governor's Mansion for luncheon, and I want to say to you that it was some luncheon. Outside of Missouri, I never saw another one like it.

I am happy to be on this platform today with all these good North Carolina Democrats who are serving the Nation. To hear the chairman call the roll, it sounded as if North Carolina is running the Nation. If they had the Presidency, they would be. I have had some very fine friends from North Carolina, and I would like to name all of them, if I could, but it would take the rest of the afternoon, and I wouldn't have a chance to make my speech schedule.

There is one in particular I would like to mention, however, and one I made Under Secretary of the Treasury, and I also appointed him to be Ambassador to Great Britain. He was a former Governor of North Carolina--Max Gardner--a wonderful man.

And I want to say to your next Governor, Kerr Scott, that I appreciate most highly what he had to say when he was here before this microphone, and I know that the next Senator, and the next Junior Senator from North Carolina--another friend of mine, Mel Broughton--will represent North Carolina, as North Carolina has always been represented in the United States, honorably and efficiently.

As I said before, if I took the time to mention and compliment the able and efficient public servants from North Carolina who are now serving the Government in Washington, I wouldn't have time to do anything else this afternoon.

For a long time now, some of my North Carolina friends have been telling me I ought to take a look at this great State Fair of yours. It wasn't necessary to urge me very much. I have always liked to go to fairs.

But I do have one complaint. Now, they make me one of the exhibits, and I don't get a chance to look at the others very much.

It's a wonderful thing, to be the President of the United States, the greatest honor that can come to any man in the world. But I have lived in Independence, Mo., since I was 6 years old, and for 58 years nobody paid much attention to me in Independence, except to be friendly with me and say "Hello, Harry," when I went there. Now, when I go to my old home in Independence, it takes the whole Independence police force and half the Secret Service to get me in the front door. I don't know what happens to people.

I can remember back the first time I ever saw a President, and that was in 1904, and I ran three blocks to get to take a look at the then candidate for President, and he was running on the Republican ticket, too. So I know that it's the office they want to see, and not the man.

I have to remember that all the time. If you don't, you get a bad case of "Potomac fever" in Washington.

This fall I have visited several State fairs. I met thousands of prosperous farm folk there, and it made me proud of the grand old Democratic Party to see so many farmers who had been rescued from Republican depression and given the break they deserved. You know, the farmers never were as prosperous in this country, as they are now. The first time in the history of the country that the farmers have received a fair share of the national income.

Not long ago I had to roll into the fair at Oklahoma City at a speed of 50 miles an hour. That was because I stopped to talk to so many people along the way that my train was a little late. But the train crew, being good Democrats, saw to it that I got there. I'm surprised the Republican candidate didn't order them shot at sunrise.

Out in Dexter, Iowa, I met a great farm gathering for the National Plowing Contest. And we plowed under a lot of Republicans out there.

I want to say that I used to run a plow back on the farm 30 years ago, and I told them that I would like to try my hand at it, if they could get me a team of four mules; but they ran everything with a tractor. So I told them I didn't want to be like the Republicans, I didn't want to turn the clock back, so if they wanted to go ahead and run it with a tractor, it was all right with me.

I also got a chance to look over some of the fine new farm machines they were exhibiting. And I want to report to you that among all the exhibits I have seen there has been a great omission.

Nowhere in the United States this year have I seen a single exhibit of that famous North Carolina farm invention--that product of ingenuity and hard times, of personal despair and political mockery--the Hoover cart.

You remember the Hoover cart--I didn't find that in Iowa, or anywhere else--the remains of the old tin lizzie being pulled by a mule, because you couldn't afford to buy a new car, you couldn't afford to buy gas for the old one.

You remember. First you had the Hoovercrats, and then you had the Hoover carts. One always follows the other. Bear that in mind now, carefully.

By the way, I asked the Department of Agriculture at Washington about this Hoover cart.

They said it is the only automobile in the world that eats oats. They don't recommend it, and neither do I.

I don't mind being an exhibit here myself. I think I belong right here. I'm a homegrown American farm product. That product is just about the same in Missouri as it is in North Carolina.

And I'm proud of the breed I represent-the completely unterrified form of American democracy. I stand for the simple, straightforward, straight-line Democratic Party. That party has always stood for government in the interest of the farmer and the workingman and for all the people of this great country. That party does not represent special privilege, it represents the whole people.

And any time you have any doubts about the Democratic Party, all you need to do is take a good look at the Republican Party. That will always bring you right back where you belong.

This year we've all had a good look at the Republican Party and their candidate, and it's made me fighting mad. That's why I'm here today talking to you good people of North Carolina.

This year the Republicans are putting on a terrific advertising campaign in order to sell you the same old brand of Hoover carts. They're spending money in carload lots and are buying themselves all kinds of strange bedfellows. But there are some things that are not for sale in this country.

I don't believe that they're going to get away with it. Everybody--North and South--knows there's only one choice in this campaign. Either the standard Republicans will buy the election or the standard Democrats will win it.

Other parties simply don't stand a chance.

For a Southerner that ought not to be a hard choice. You know what Republicanism means in North Carolina and everywhere else in the South.

First, it means the rule of the carpetbaggers. Then it means rule by the moneybaggers. Either way, it means a rule that treats the South and the West as colonies to be exploited commercially and held down politically.

Republicanism means that the Federal Government is controlled by the powerful men and the greedy Wall Street interests that want cheap labor and the cheap farm products. Republicanism puts the almighty dollar first and is not above using a little tidelands oil money to grease the way to power.

Today big-money Republicanism is on the march, and to beat it we've all got to stand together. That's where we Democrats belong--together--shoulder to shoulder.

We are the great middle-of-the-road party--the party of the farmers and the workers and the small businessmen and the party of the young people. We all belong together. I believe in loyalty as the great force in politics--the loyalty of free men and women, freely given and honorably received.

But above all I treasure the basic principle of democracy itself--the right to disagree among ourselves, without letting differences of opinion lead us into temptation, or to betray our own best interests.

That is why I do not worry too much about the many violent arguments we Democrats have. I think that there will be plenty of Democrats on election day, as long as we retain respect for free speech, and get a fair and honest count at the .polls.

Just the same, I hope that somewhere in North Carolina you have a Hoover cart on display--lest you forget that the Republicans want you to take another ride in that same old wagon.

In the 1920's, the Republican Party could not fight the depression. It was incapable of bold action for the people. Big business owners of that dismal party said there was nothing to do but "ride it out." Ride it out! You did--in Hoover carts.

Today, the Republican Party stands convicted of being incapable of fighting inflation. Some of its present leaders have tried to put the blame for inflation on farm prices.

They want you to ride it out--ride it out!--in Hoover carts.

It was under a Democratic administration that Hoover carts gave way to real automobiles with plenty of gasoline in them.

Here at a great agricultural fair, let's take a look at your agricultural record in North Carolina in the Democratic years behind us. Your old-time money-crops are doing all right. Last year your tobacco brought you $380 million. In the Hoover year of 1932, your tobacco brought you $43 million. The price of tobacco got down to 8 cents in the Republican depression. This year it is running close to 50 cents.

You don't depend on cotton as much as you used to. But you're getting more than three times as much money for your cotton, as you got in either the Republican depression of 1932 or the Republican "boom" year of 1929.

Your cash receipts are running eight times what they were in 1932. You didn't make that trip in a Hoover cart.

This year your milk and eggs alone are worth almost as much as your total farm production was worth in 1932. Think of that!--milk and eggs in North Carolina worth as much as your farm production was in 1932!

What I say of North Carolina is true of the whole advancing South in the years since the Democrats came to office in Washington under Franklin Roosevelt. It was the Democratic Party that rescued agriculture in North Carolina, in the South, in the whole United States.

The Democratic farm program treated credit as a farmer's tool instead of a rich man's toy. We made credit available to farmers on fair terms for the first time in American history.

The Democratic Party inaugurated the nationwide soil program.

The Democratic farm program brought you rural electrification. Back in 1935, only about three farms out of a hundred in North Carolina had electric service. Today the figure is about seventy in every hundred. And when the REA loans that are already approved are turned into actual power lines, eighty out of every hundred North Carolina farms will have electricity.

The Democratic farm program brought you farm crop insurance.

The Democratic farm program expanded and intensified scientific research.

The Democratic Party brought you support prices.

The Democratic farm program and the hard work of American farm families rescued agriculture from its sickness and made it strong again.

Because of this, our agriculture was a source of strength to the Nation, when we had to fight a war. When our lives and our freedom depended on it, our agriculture was equal to the task.

Thanks to the Democratic Party, this is your story--the story of progress from the depths of despair to the heights of strength. You have a highly productive, efficient, and profitable agriculture, because you used the Democratic farm program and your own hard work to make it so.

But today the wreckers are at work.

The Republican Party for years fought the Democratic Party farm program. When they saw it couldn't be changed, then they changed tactics. Republican spokesmen are now saying: "Me, too; only we can do it better."

What they mean is, they can do you better!

Two years ago the Nation gave the Republicans their chance in Congress. The Republicans immediately slashed the soil conservation program. In fact, the Republicans in the House of Representatives voted to keep out the agricultural conservation program altogether. That was also a vote to kill the farmer-committee system that operates your program of price supports and tobacco quotas.

We beat this outrageous attack on self-rule in farming, but the Republicans did cut the agricultural conservation program in half.

They cut the rural electrification program. They undermined the Commodity Credit Corporation. They killed the International Wheat Agreement. They crippled the reciprocal trade agreements program on which the foreign markets for your tobacco and cotton depend.

They subjected farm cooperatives to a fear campaign under threat of a death tax. They cut the budget for the new research and marketing activities. They tried to kill the farm tenant purchase program.

And, now, despite the belated protestation of the Republican candidate, they are showing that they want to alter and destroy the whole structure of price supports for farm products. Even the Republican Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture has warned that an effort is being made to make the farmer the "goat" for high prices in the United States.

This attack on the price support system comes at a time when many farm prices are dropping and the price support program is of the greatest importance to the farmer and to the United States.

The Democratic Party originated the farm price support program. We built it out of hard experience. We built it for the benefit of the entire Nation--not only the farmer, but the consumer as well.

The purpose of price supports is to prevent farm prices from falling to ruinously low levels. But the Republicans don't tell the city consumers that these supports apply only when farm prices have dropped below parity. They don't tell the people in the cities that everybody is really better off when the farmer gets decent prices.

The support price for wheat is not responsible for the high cost of bread. When wheat prices were going up, the price of bread rose steadily. It went up from 10 cents a loaf to 11 cents--to 12 cents--to 13 cents--to 14 cents.

Now wheat prices have fallen a dollar a bushel. But the price of bread has not come down one single cent.

The same with cotton. Nobody can blame the cost of a shirt on the cotton that goes into it.

The cost of tobacco in a cigarette is very, very small--a fraction of a cent.

The truth of the matter is that by encouraging the record production of the last few years, the support program has actually kept consumer prices down. Those who are willfully trying to discredit the price support system do not want farmers to be prosperous. They believe in low prices for farmers, cheap wages for labor, and high profits for big corporations.

That is what they call "efficiency."

You cannot dodge the issue. You stand for the Democratic farm program, or you stand for the Republican wrecking crew of the 80th Congress.

You stand with the Democratic Party or you stand against it.

You stand with the Democratic Party or for all practical purposes you stand with the Republican Party.

You stand for continuing progress of all the people, or you stand with those who for so many years thought farmers and Southerners should be content in a colonial status and on a second-class economic level.

I know that you good people of North Carolina are not responsible for the Republicans in the 80th Congress. But we can all learn a lesson from them. They have given us a sharp warning of what the Republican Party stands for today. And their record shows that the Republican Party stands for the same thing today that it did under Herbert Hoover.

That is the record on which the Republican Presidential candidate wants to be elected--that is the one on which he wants to be unified.

He has endorsed the record of the 80th Congress, which began the scuttling of the Democratic farm program. He is running on a platform that endorses the record of the 80th Congress. He is going around the country asking people to reelect the worst members of the 80th Congress. He says he is proud of that 80th Congress.

Well, if anybody with the welfare of this country at heart can be proud of that Congress, there is something wrong with his mind, or his heart.

And, when I say Congress, I mean the leaders of that Congress. There are a lot of good men in that Congress, but they have nothing to say about the policy, because they are in the minority. I want you to make those men members of the majority.

The Republicans ask you to vote for them, but they don't care whether you vote for the Republican candidate or for a third, fourth, or fifth party candidate. They know that a vote for any third or fourth or fifth party candidate is the same as a vote for the Republican candidate.

They hope they can fool enough of the people this time to capture the election by wasted Democratic votes.

I don't think you want to take another chance on the Hoover brand of Republicanism.

I don't think you have to be hit on the head twice to know who hit you the first time.

I don't think you are going to be the victims this time of the old Republican doctrine: "If you can't convince them, confuse them."

I think you know who your real friends are and who your enemies are.

I feel pretty sure that in 1948 the South is not hankering for another ride in a Hoover cart.

NOTE: The President spoke at 3:05 p.m. at the State Fairgrounds. His opening words "Governor Cherry" referred to Governor R. Gregg Cherry of North Carolina. Later he referred to former Governor O. Max Gardner, Democratic candidate for Governor W. Kerr Scott, and Democratic candidate for Senator J. Melville Broughton, all of North Carolina.
 
Provided courtesy of The American Presidency Project.  John Woolley and Gerhard Peters. University of California, Santa Barbara.