Public Papers of Harry S. Truman, 1949

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Author: Harry S Truman  | Date: September 29, 1949

220
Address in Kansas City at a Dinner Honoring Democratic National Chairman, William M. Boyle, Jr.
September 29, 1949

Mr. Chairman, Mr. Vice President, Governor Smith, distinguished guests, and ladies and gentlemen:

You know, I am highly pleased that the Governors of these adjoining States to Missouri and Kentucky are here.

It is a tremendous handicap, however, for a man of my short ability to have to follow a galaxy of orators such as preceded me.

A friend from Vermont told me awhile ago that if he could speak like that Vice President, he would carry Vermont in the Democratic column. I don’t know—I think that’s taking in a lot of territory.

I am more than happy to be here to take part in this celebration that honors my friend, Bill Boyle.

Bill’s all right! Don’t let anybody tell you differently!

I was told, and this was whispered to me by an expert in the business, that in all probability I wouldn’t get a bite to eat here, because they had everybody in Missouri and Kansas and Oklahoma and the surrounding States here for dinner, and that there weren’t enough waiters in this part of the world to serve them all. But they were fooled. They did an excellent job, and I got something to eat—and it was all right. So did everybody else.

And, I liked that music.

And, I liked this Regan boy down here. He knows how to do it! More than that, he’s a darn good Democrat. And he always comes to the Democrats when they ask him, and serves them just like he did tonight.

It is great that so many friends have turned out to honor you, Bill.

We are glad—we are very glad that we have managed to get our distinguished Vice President to visit a place in Missouri outside of St. Louis! The Vice President is a grand man, and I am proud that he is my friend and my counselor. And I am also exceedingly glad that he is about to become a citizen of Missouri.

I am not surprised at this turnout. Everybody who knows Bill Boyle as well as I do knows that he deserves all the fine things that have been said about him tonight. And nobody knows better than I do how fortunate the Democratic Party is to have him as our new chairman.

This is the second time in recent years that you have had a Democratic National Chairman from Missouri. The other one is my good friend Bob Hannegan. He did a great job as chairman, and he helped me into a lot of trouble. He had something to do with getting me into the spot where I am now, and I don’t know whether to spank him or thank him.

We also have with us tonight another man who did a great job as chairman of the National Committee, my good friend the Attorney General, Howard McGrath. He also had something to do with getting me into trouble.

And Howard, and Bob, and Bill, if you don’t understand how you became chairman of the Democratic Committee, I can take you out behind the scenes and tell you how you got there.

All these men are friends to tie to. You never have to guess where they will be in a pinch. They are there when you need ’em, and that’s the kind of friends I like to have around me!

The chairmanship of the Democratic Party is a most important office. That isbecause the political party is the American way of getting things done. Our political parties are the means through which our people make the choice of going forward or backward, of having a government for the people, or a reactionary government for special interests.

We missed that last fall, thank God!

The Democratic Party is the party of progress, the party of the people, the party that tries to serve all of the people, not just a few of them.

To keep the Democratic Party the party of the people, we must be sure that the men who lead our party have a deep faith in the people, and a firm devotion to the general welfare.

I was delighted when the Vice President decided to explain to you—you need no explanation, you Democrats don’t—but some of you Republicans who are here, you need an explanation of what general welfare means. And I am more than happy to see a large number of my Republican friends here. They expected to come here and weep with me after last November, but they are here to celebrate with me now.

I can think of no one who has a better opportunity for public service than the man who serves as National Chairman of the Democratic Party. The National Chairman of the Democratic Party is a most important individual to the Government of the United States, and I am as happy as I can be that it has been my privilege to serve with Democratic National Chairmen who have always had the public interest at heart.

Bill Boyle will be no exception to that.

I can think of no one who can fill the job better than you will, Bill.

We did quite a bit last November to strengthen the Democratic Party. We proved that broken down reporters turned columnists, pollsters, and misguided editors can’t fool the people—at home or abroad.

That is one of the best things that ever happened to these United States. It is a great step toward a real, honest, free press. And that is what we need in this country worse than anything in the world.

Because the Democratic Party won that election, it strengthened the United States at home and abroad.

We still have much to do. We must keep right on working, because we intend to carry out our promises to the American people. The Democratic platform adopted at the National Convention is not a scrap of paper or a lot of platitudes just to catch votes.

The Democratic Party has a reputation based on its record—a record of laws passed that have meant prosperity and jobs, and better and healthier lives for the people of the United States, a record of fulfilling party platform promises—and we are going to continue to do just that!

Now, I have told the Congress, and the leaders in the Congress, that we are going to fight it out on that basis if it takes all summer or winter, and all next summer.

We intend to keep the record of achievement by continuing to work for the welfare of all the people of this country. The Democratic Party looks to the future. We are trying not only to meet today’s problems, but also to work out a course of action that will lead to a better world in the days ahead.

The sole ambition of myself is a peaceful world, where every nation can live without fear of being invaded or trodden down-and we are going to get that, before we leave off!

We don’t propose, like some people, to meet today’s problems by saying that they don’t exist, and tomorrow’s problems by wishing that tomorrow wouldn’t come.Neither do we propose to try to meet today’s problems by repeating the mistakes that got our country into trouble in the past.

We are not like some people who would like to go back to the 1890’s. We know we can’t go back, and it is dangerous to try to go back. The clock never runs backward.

The world has changed a good deal since 1890. We have problems and opportunities today which were not even dreamed of then. It is a wonderful thing to contemplate the progress we have made in this world since 1890. It is a most wonderful thing to contemplate. There is only one thing that we need to do, and that is to catch up with the moral spirit that will match the material spirit in which we live. We can’t attain that purpose by looking for and thinking only of material things. We must think of the welfare of all our fellowmen everywhere in the world. We must think of the things that guided this country to success in the beginning.

My political philosophy is based on the Sermon on the Mount. And it is the hardest thing in the world for any man to live up to. If you haven’t read it lately, I would advise you to go home tonight and read it. It will do you a lot of good.

One of the most remarkable changes since 1890 is the great growth of this country, and its increasingly higher standards of living for all of our people. We are still going, and our levels of income are still rising. We must continue this steady growth.

Now, not long ago I said we ought to raise our national income from its present level of well over $200 billion a year to $300 billion a year. You remember the plain necessity in the war when our great Democratic President Roosevelt said we must make 60,000 planes in 12 months.

You remember the backward-pulling boys who said, "It can’t be done"? Well, we did it, and did it 40,000 more!

This $300 billion income will mean great advances for all our people. It will mean better incomes for everybody. It will mean that we can lift up those families—one-fourth of our population—who have incomes today of less than $2,000 a year and place most of them in the better income brackets.

That is what we are looking forward to. That is what our domestic and foreign policy means. That means the welfare of ourselves and the whole world. When the world is doing well we can’t help but do well.

We have a responsibility which no other country in the history of the world has had. We have attained a position in world affairs unequaled in the history of the world.

Now, we have got to assume that responsibility, and that responsibility is yours. I only represent you as President of the United States.

Now it is within the range of practical possibilities, if we continue to the rate of growth which we have had in the past, we can establish an income level in the country of $4,000 per family per year. That is not a pipe dream. It can be done. But it can’t happen by itself. And it can’t happen if we have a lot of pull-backs at the helm of the Government. It is something we can do only by carrying out those programs for the growth of the country and the security of the citizens that have already shown such tremendous results in the prosperity and happiness of this country.

These programs of ours—programs for public power, and for irrigation, and reclamation, and for Federal aid to education, and for improving the national health—are not the result of fancy theories or tricky blueprints. They are not programs imposedfrom on high. They are programs which have come up from the needs of the people, programs which have been worked out by the people to meet their aspirations for a better life for themselves and their children. They are programs democratically conceived, and democratically adopted. The Democratic Party is going to keep on working for the people with a program for their welfare and benefit.

Now, they had a few meetings, which Bill Boyle referred to. We have had two recently, one in Des Moines and one in San Francisco, in which we discussed the needs of the people and the manner in which those needs were to be met. There was another meeting held in Sioux City, Iowa, in which it was frankly stated that the people who sponsored that meeting had no programs, they just wanted to talk. And they didn’t say very much, either. A Republican writer from Washington sent back a lot of information on what took place there, and I couldn’t find anything in it.

The 81st Congress has already made great progress in enacting measures that are necessary to the growth and welfare of this country. It will continue that progress. We are going to carry out the pledges of the Democratic Party of 1948 because we know they will promote the general welfare of all the people.

We all have a part in that job. Bill Boyle has a part in that job. The Vice President has a part in that job. The Governor of Missouri, the Governor of Alabama, the Governor of Louisiana, the Governor of Oklahoma have parts in that job. And every Member of Congress, both House and Senate, has a part in that job. And so have I. I have got a part in it, too. And I am working at it as hard as I know how.

All together we can do that job. Now let’s get to work and do it. If we do that, we will win with that program in 1950, and we will win with that program in 1952.

Thank you.

NOTE: The President spoke at 9:28 p.m. at the Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Mo. His opening words referred to William M. Boyle, Jr., chairman of the Democratic National Committee; Alben W. Barkley, Vice President of the United States; and Forrest Smith, Governor of Missouri. Later in his remarks the President referred to Phil Regan, who earlier had sung a number of songs in honor of the occasion. At the conclusion of his remarks the President referred to Governor James Folsom of Alabama, Governor Earl Long of Louisiana, and Governor Roy J. Turner of Oklahoma.

The President’s address was broadcast over statewide radio and was televised.

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Chicago: Harry S Truman, "220 Address in Kansas City at a Dinner Honoring Democratic National Chairman, William M. Boyle, Jr.," Public Papers of Harry S. Truman, 1949 in Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Harry S Truman, 1949 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), Pp.592-593 493–495. Original Sources, accessed August 17, 2022, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4WAFAFWYEBTJRTQ.

MLA: Truman, Harry S. "220 Address in Kansas City at a Dinner Honoring Democratic National Chairman, William M. Boyle, Jr." Public Papers of Harry S. Truman, 1949, in Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Harry S Truman, 1949 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), Pp.592-593, pp. 493–495. Original Sources. 17 Aug. 2022. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4WAFAFWYEBTJRTQ.

Harvard: Truman, HS, '220 Address in Kansas City at a Dinner Honoring Democratic National Chairman, William M. Boyle, Jr.' in Public Papers of Harry S. Truman, 1949. cited in , Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Harry S Truman, 1949 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), Pp.592-593, pp.493–495. Original Sources, retrieved 17 August 2022, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4WAFAFWYEBTJRTQ.