Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Rockefeller, John D. (John Davison), 1874-1960.; Forrestal, James, 1892-1949; Clifford, Clark M. (Clark McAdams), 1906-1998; Clark, Tom C. (Tom Campbell), 1899-1977; Schwellenbach, Lewis B. (Lewis Baxter), 1894-1948; Hitler, Adolf, 1889-1945; Krug, Julius
Cabinet officers; Strikes and lockouts; Labor disputes; Labor leaders; Labor unions

Longhand Note of President Harry S. Truman, December 11, 1946. President's Secretary's Files - Longhand Notes.

Austin says-

John D. Rockefeller made an offer of $8,500,00 to buy land along East River for United Nations.

December 11, 1946

Lewis called a coal strike in the spring of 1946. For no good reason. He called it after agreeing to carry on negotiations without calling it. At least he told John Steelman to tell me there would be no strike. He called one on the old gag that the miners do not work when they have no contract.

After prolonged negotiation I decided to exercise the powers under the second war power act and take over the mines. After they were taken over a contract was negotiated between the Secretary of the Interior, Mr. Krug, and John L. Lewis.

The contract was signed in my office on the 5th of May and Mr. Lewis stated for the movies that it was his best contract and would not be broken during the time of Government control of the mines.

Along in September and October 1946 there arose some minor disputes between the Solid Fuels Administrator and Mr. Lewis. Nothing of vital importance-purely details of interpretation of the contract with regard to coal weights on which the new welfare fund is based and some other small details that could have been settled easily by a half hour discussion.

But Mr. Lewis wanted to be sure that the President would be in the most embarrassing position possible for the Congressional elections on Nov. 6. So he served a notice on the first day of November that he would consider his contract at an end on a certain date. Which was, in effect, calling a strike on that date. He called his strike by a subterfuge in order to avoid prosecution under the Smith-Connelly Act. But he'll be prosecuted never the less.

The strike took place as planned by Mr. Lewis. It lasted seventeen days and then Mr. Lewis decided for the first time in his life that he had "over-reached himself." He is a Hitler at heart, a demagogue in action and a traitor in fact. In 1942 he should have been hanged for treason. In Germany under Hitler, his ideal, in Italy under the great castor oil giver, or in Russia now he would have been "eliminated." Only in the greatest country on earth could he operate and have the support of such harmless wonders as Murray and Green, Whitney and Johnson.

There was only one thing for me to do when he called his strike by indirection and that was to take him to a cleaning.

I discussed the situation with the secretaries in the White House at the morning meeting after the fake strike call and warned them that it was a fight to the finish. At the Cabinet meeting on Friday before the election the Attorney General was instructed to take such legal steps as would protect the Government. Discussions were held with all the Cabinet and special meetings were called at which the Solid Fuels Administrator, Mr. Krug, the Secretary of Labor, Mr. Schwellenbach, the Attorney General, Mr. Clark, the Special Counselor to the President, Mr. Clifford, and Special Assistant to the President, Mr. John Steelman, were present.

The instructions were a fight to the finish, by every legal means available, and in the end to open the mines by force if that became necessary.

Mr. Lewis was hauled in to Federal Court, fined no mean sum for contempt. Action was started to enforce the contract and I had prepared an address to the country to be delivered on Sunday evening Dec. 8, anniversary of Pearl Harbor.

Mr. Lewis folded up on Saturday afternoon Dec. 7 at 3 P.M. He is, as all bullies are, as yellow as a dog pound pup. He cannot face the music when the tune is not to his liking. On the front under shell fire he'd crack up. But he can direct the murder, assault and battery goon squads as long as he doesn't have to face them.

He tried to get into communication with me while I was taking a sun treatment at Key West for a cold. He tried to talk to Dr. Steelman; he tried to approach the Secretary of the Navy, Mr. Forrestal; he tried to get in touch with the Secretary of Labor on the night before the fold up. For first time he found no pipe line to the White House. I had a fully loyal team and that team whipped a damned traitor.


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