Public Papers of Harry S. Truman, 1948

Contents:
Author: Harry S Truman  | Date: September 28, 1948

215
Address in Oklahoma City.
September 28, 1948

I AM happy to be in Oklahoma City today. I have been traveling around this great country and making many stops to discuss with the people the issues in this campaign.

Here in Oklahoma City, in the heart of the Nation, I consider it appropriate to discuss a subject of great importance to all Americans—the relationship of communism to our national security.

I should like the American people to consider the damage that is being done to our national security by irresponsible persons who place their own political interests above the security of the Nation.

I regret to say that there are some people in the Republican Party who are trying to create the false impression that communism is a powerful force in American life. These Republicans know that this is not true.

The time has come when we should take a frank and earnest look at the record about communism and our national security.

First, let me remind you of a few basic facts which are often overlooked.

Our country is strong enough to resist and overcome all the forces of communism-and it will remain so.

Our Government is not endangered by Communist infiltration. It has preserved its integrity—and it will continue to do so.

The FBI and our other security forces are capable, informed, and alert—and will remain so.

I am going to give you the hard facts which prove what I have said.

The Republicans ought to realize that their failure to deal with the big practical issues of American life, such as housing, price control, and education, is too plain to be hidden by any smoke screen. They ought to realize that their reckless tactics are not helping our national security; they are hurting our national security.

I am forced to the conclusion that Republican leaders are thinking more about the November election than about the welfare of this great country.

I charge that the Republicans have impeded and made more difficult our efforts to cope with communism in this country.

I charge that they have hindered the efforts of the FBI, which has been doing wonderful work in protecting the national security.

I charge that the Republicans have attempted to usurp the constitutional functions of the Federal grand juries and of the courts.

I charge that they have not produced any significant information about Communist espionage which the FBI did not already have.

I charge the Republicans with having impaired our Nation’s atomic energy program by their intemperate and unjustified attacks on our atomic scientists.

I charge them with having recklessly cast a cloud of suspicion over the most loyal civil service in the world.

I charge them with having trampled on the individual freedoms which distinguish American ideals from totalitarian doctrine.

I charge finally that, in all this, they have not hurt the Communist Party one bit.

They have helped it.

The fact of the matter is that the Republican Party is unwittingly the ally of the Communists in this country. That is clearly shown in the election record of the Communist Party.

The Communist Party reached its greatest popular strength in the 1932 elections, when it polled over 100,000 votes. That was at the bottom of the worst depression this country has ever known—a Republican depression, brought about by 12 years of Republican indifference to the needs of the people.

By 1936, under a Democratic administration, the strength of the Communist Party had dropped to 80,000 votes. In 1940, when the Communist Party was attacking President Roosevelt as a warmonger, it polled only 46,000 votes. That is less than one-half of what it got in 1932 under Republican rule.

In 1944 there was no Communist Presidential candidate. There is none this year. The Communists are backing the third party.

Let us ask ourselves the question: Just why are the Communists backing the third party?

They are backing the third party, because they want a Republican victory in November.

The Communists feel that by backing the third party they will take votes away from the Democratic ticket and thus elect a Republican President.

The Communists want a Republican administration, because they think that its reactionary policies will lead to the confusion and strife on which communism thrives.

The Communists hate the Democratic administration, because of this country’s strong foreign policy, and because the economic and social gains which we have put through make it impossible for them to make any progress whatever in this country.

The Democratic program has brought prosperity, security, and confidence to the American people—and confident people do not become Communists.

I ought to know something about communism. I have been honored by its bitter enmity and its slanderous statements. The controlled papers of communism at home and abroad, have showered me with libelous venom. That is because I have been fighting communism not merely where it is a contemptible minority in a land of freedom, but wherever it is a marching and menacing power in the world.

The greatest danger to us does not come from communism in the United States. The greatest danger has been that communism might blot out the light of freedom in so much of the rest of the world that the strength of its onslaught against our liberties would be greatly multiplied. To meet this danger, my administration has moved vigorously to aid the democratic governments of foreign nations in maintaining the independence and freedom of their peoples.

In spite of considerable opposition from the Republican rank and file in both Houses of Congress, I urged, and the Congress finally approved, programs for economic aid to free nations.

These programs, which began with the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall plan, have made it possible for many nations to stand with us in opposition to Communist encroachment throughout the world.

As a result of these measures, the Communist tide has been checked.

It is a plain and unanswerable fact that all these great programs were conceived and sponsored by the Truman administration.

And while we worked to strengthen democracy in the world, my administration worked with equal vigor to strengthendemocracy at home. For we know that this is the best way to kill communism at its roots •

People who are well-fed, well-clothed, well-housed, and whose basic rights are protected, do not become victims of communism.

With this object in mind, I repeatedly presented a legislative program to the Congress.

Among the big elements in that program were:

Inflation control, to stabilize the cost of living;

Housing, not merely for the privileged and the rich, but also for the people of average and low income;

Adequate medical care for millions of our people who are not getting it now;

Improvement in our educational facilities, to reduce illiteracy, and to raise the entire level of American life;

An increase in minimum wages;

An extension of social security to large groups not now covered, and an increase in benefits to the aged, to the crippled, and to widows, mothers, and children.

But what happened to this program to strengthen American democracy?

It ran into a reactionary Republican Congress-the Both—and there it was stopped dead.

The truth is, the Democratic Party has been leading the fight to make democracy effective and to wipe out communism in the United States.

Long before these Republicans started their Communist talk for political purposes, my administration was engaged in a direct attack on subversive organizations and persons in the United States.

We worked at it every day—and not just before elections. We continue to work at it, and not just before election.

A part of our effort has been to make sure that Communists and other disloyal persons are not employed by the Federal Government.

I want to tell you about that. I want to tell you some things that you have not heard from the Republicans.

Since 1939 the employees of the Government have been required to swear under oath that they are not Communists. That means that there is not one single employee of the Federal Government who is an admitted Communist.

Nevertheless, we all know that Communists are trained to lie. There is no doubt that they, as well as other disloyal persons, have tried to worm their way into the Government service.

So, in 1947, I set up the employee loyalty program to require an individual check on all Federal employees and to discharge them if they were found to be Communists, or if there were other reasonable grounds for doubting their loyalty.

This was a real program to meet a real situation, and it was worked out by competent people who had the facts and understood how the Federal Government actually works.

At the start, the Congress delayed the program for months through slowness in making appropriations, and when it did come through, when the appropriation did come through, it was much less than I had requested. The Republicans at that time said the program was too elaborate.

Now, in an election year, they say it is not elaborate enough. That is Republican consistency.

This program meant the checking of over 2 million Federal employees. I gave the FBI complete charge of this part of the program. And they have handled their job with such efficiency that all present employees have now been checked.

The FBI check showed that the loyalty of 99.7 percent of all Federal workers was not even questionable.

The remaining three-tenths of one percent represented every last instance in which the FBI found any shred of unchecked loyalty information about any Federal employee. It even included employees who were the victims of accusations by malicious, anonymous persons. Each of these employees was investigated intensively by the FBI from their first birthday to the present time.

The results of the FBI loyalty investigations have been turned over to loyalty boards in the agencies which employ these persons involved. The review of these FBI investigations by the loyalty boards has shown that the large majority of these three-tenths of one percent are good, loyal Americans.

At the same time, in those instances where the FBI investigations reveal sufficient evidence, the loyalty program provided that cases be presented by the Department of Justice to Federal grand juries.

Thus the employee loyalty program not only provides a means for removing employees of doubtful loyalty from Government service; it also provides a method for discovering and punishing offenders.

The agency loyalty boards are disposing of these cases as quickly as possible. Each individual-now listen to this, this is the meat of the thing—each individual is given a full opportunity to protect himself against charges which may be unfounded, distorted, or biased.

Only in the case of about one in 6,000 Government employees has loyalty been found doubtful. That’s an amazing record. It is proof of the vigilance of the Government that so small a number of disloyal men and women have been able to work their way into Federal jobs.

Certain Republicans have been shouting for faster action. They seem to want us to fire employees, without hearings, on the basis of unsupported charges. They resent the democratic safeguards of the loyalty program.

Those safeguards are a vital part of the program. The American sense of justice demands for every man a right to defend himself against accusations, the right to a fair hearing, the right to counsel, and the right of appeal.

In the periods of tension such as the present, loose charges against individuals are all too frequent. An innocent man may easily find himself accused of terrible things. I am determined that Communists shall not work for the Government. I am equally determined that loyal employees against whom unfounded charges are made shall not suffer injustice.

We have been concerned, not merely with Communists in the Government, but with Communists in the United States of America, wherever they are.

Evidence of Soviet espionage has been presented to a special Federal grand jury which even now is in session in New York City. The FBI has been quietly and efficiently assembling this evidence for several years. The evidence was being presented to the grand jury long before the Republican congressional committees began their recent hearings. Now these committees are trying to win credit for digging up evidence. They are trying to cash in on the work of the FBI, and to usurp the functions of the grand jury and the Federal courts.

Grand jury deliberations, of course, must be confidential. So must the work of the FBI. But the House Un-American Activities Committee doesn’t care about that. By its irresponsible publicity, this committee has already done damage to the work of the FBI and other security agencies. Through its press-agent stunts for political ends, this committee has made confidential informationavailable to the intelligence services of foreign countries. And with reckless disregard for the Bill of Rights, this committee has injured the reputations of innocent men by spreading wild and false accusations.

This committee has also deprived the Government of the services of a number of atomic scientists, who are so badly needed to enable this Nation to maintain its leadership in the field of atomic energy. Recently, eight of the most eminent scientists in this country pointed this out as a danger to our national security.

My administration has been steadily and successfully fighting communism. We have acted instead of just talking about it.

We are deporting subversive aliens. We shall continue to do so to the limit of the law. The Attorney General asked the Republican 80th Congress for legislation that would assist this deportation drive, but the 80th Congress did nothing.

The FBI, the greatest counterespionage organization in the world, headed by J. Edgar Hoover, is alert, vigorous, and skillful. It is watching the Communists closely, and systematically protecting our internal security.

So long as the FBI and our other security agencies can do their job without having the ground cut from under them by the committees of Congress, we have little to fear from spies and subversives. Our record during World War II speaks for itself. This country was completely free from foreign inspired sabotage. Enemy spies and saboteurs who entered this country were caught, and quickly tried and punished severely.

On the basis of evidence collected by the FBI and submitted to the grand jury, twelve top Communist leaders will go to trial in New York on October 15. We have prosecuted and we shall prosecute subversive activities wherever we find them. But we must have real evidence. We cannot use speeches of Republican politicians as evidence.

This is the United States of America. We are the oldest major democracy on earth. Our democratic values are deep and sound. They cannot be destroyed by a few Communists. We must protect ourselves against communism, but we must not abandon the fundamental ideals of our democracy. To do so would be a surrender to totalitarian doctrines.

The Republican leaders have been trying to make communism an issue in this election. They are trying to make you think that the Republican Party has a monopoly on patriotism.

Don’t let them fool you!

I think most Americans will understand that they are trying to divert your attention from the shocking record of the Republican 80th Congress.

Here is something for every American to think about. Why have the Communists lined up solidly to help put a Republican President in the White House? Why do they want a Republican victory? Could it be that their position is now so weak, under a Democratic administration, that their only hope is in a change? Could it be that they are counting on a Republican administration to produce another economic crash, which would play into the hands of world communism? Think that one over.

The record is plain for all to see.

Republican politicians have contributed nothing against the fight on communism in this country.

The Democratic Party has steadily improved the well-being of the American people-the best defense against communism; and we have successfully prevented the spread of communism in this world.

The Democratic Party is for free. governmentand against totalitarianism.

We are for free enterprise and against communism.

But we are against those who raise the cry of communism to slander and obstruct policies conceived in the people’s interest.

There is nothing that the Communists would like better than to weaken the liberal programs that are our shield against Communism.

There is no power on earth which can bring communism to this country if you, the people of the United States, and your Government, work steadfastly and calmly to maintain the ideals and principles of effective American democracy.

I ask your support for your Government in the achievement of that great purpose.

Thank you very much.

NOTE: The President spoke at 4 p.m. from the grandstand at the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds. The address was carried on a nationwide radio broadcast.

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Chicago: Harry S Truman, "215 Address in Oklahoma City.," Public Papers of Harry S. Truman, 1948 in Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Harry S Truman, 1948 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), Pp.968-971 611–614. Original Sources, accessed April 20, 2018, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=DM2R2K4YTWGCV3V.

MLA: Truman, Harry S. "215 Address in Oklahoma City." Public Papers of Harry S. Truman, 1948, in Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Harry S Truman, 1948 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), Pp.968-971, pp. 611–614. Original Sources. 20 Apr. 2018. www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=DM2R2K4YTWGCV3V.

Harvard: Truman, HS, '215 Address in Oklahoma City.' in Public Papers of Harry S. Truman, 1948. cited in , Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Harry S Truman, 1948 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), Pp.968-971, pp.611–614. Original Sources, retrieved 20 April 2018, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=DM2R2K4YTWGCV3V.