Public Papers of Harry S. Truman, 1950

Author: Harry S Truman  | Date: May 8, 1950

Rear Platform and Other Informal Remarks in Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska.
May 8, 1950

[1.] GALESBURG, ILLINOIS (Rear platform, 8:50 a.m.)

Mr. Chairman:

It certainly is good to see all of you. I appreciate your coming out this early in the morning to see me. I am more than happy to be back in Illinois once more. They tell me that Knox College in Galesburg is famous for some very great people. I have been told that Carl Sandburg and Eugene Field were alumni of Knox College. My wife had a great uncle who was a graduate of that college and one of our great circuit judges in Jackson County, Mo.

I am also told that Adlai Stevenson’s family came from this town, and that reminds me of something—my first "sashay" into politics was in 1892 and I wore a white cap to school, and across the top of it it said "Cleveland and Stevenson." That was Adlai’s grandfather, that Stevenson. Well, some big Republican boys took my cap away from me and tore it up, and the Republican boys have been trying to do that to me ever since!

I am starting out on this trip which will take me almost to the Pacific coast. I am making the trip so I can give a report to the American people on some of the major problems which this country faces today. I wanted to come out here to find out what you think about them, and to let you know what I am thinking about. There is nothing mysterious about it. I am not running for office. I am merely making a report to the citizens of the United States on what has happened since you honored me by making me President of the United States, and I have a perfect right to do that, and that is my privilege and my duty.

Our democracy is strong because we have always had this kind of free and open exchange of ideas between our citizens and their elected officials. One of the great Lincoln-Douglas debates was held right here in Galesburg.

Democracy was strengthened in those days by the Lincoln-Douglas debates on the great problems which confronted the country at that time. We can make our country stronger today by the same kind of discussion.

I like discussion. I like discussion of the issues, and I like to confine the discussion to the issues, not the side issues and foolishness.

Today, May 8th, is the fifth anniversary of V-E Day. Instead of having the kind of world we hoped we would get after the war, we find that the kind of freedom and democracy we enjoy here in the United States is being threatened all over the world. It is being threatened by Soviet communism, which is trying to wipe out democratic countries everywhere.

The kind of decisions you and I make in the next few months and years will determine what kind of a world we are going to live in, and whether or not there will be a third world war.

We face a clear-cut choice between two courses of action. We can either isolate ourselves from the rest of the world, or we can take constructive steps to build lasting world peace. And that is just exactly what I am trying to do.

Now, isolationism would be a cheap policy to follow. It would be easy and cheap to stop spending money on our Army and Navy and Air Force, and to stop sending supplies to other countries who survived the great war. We can stop these things today.Isolationism would be mighty cheap for today and tomorrow, and maybe next week. You remember how cheap isolationism was in the 1920’s. Taxes were cut, at least for the big fellows, but look at the terrible price we have paid for isolationism in the Second World War.

Today, exactly the same issue faces us. There are still some men who keep telling you that we can economize by following an isolationist policy. These men can’t see beyond the end of their noses. They don’t see that isolationism would let the rest of the world be swallowed up by communism. That would certainly bring on a new world war, just as it did in 1939. We reneged on our allies in 1921, just as Russia is trying to do today—and doing it with the help of our own isolationists.

I don’t think I need tell you that another world war would not be fought and carried on on foreign soil, as the last two have been. The terrible weapons now available could be used to tear up our cities by the roots.

Some people get hysterical in the face of problems like these. I believe that we should meet this challenge calmly. We should do everything in our power to support the United Nations and to help the free nations abroad who are putting up such a good fight against communism. And we ourselves must stay strong.

I have often said, "Our goal must be not peace in our time, but peace for all time."

We can have peace, but it takes hard work, and it will cost a great deal of money. We are now spending 71 percent of our budget to pay the cost of past wars, and to prevent a future war. It would be easy enough to cut the expenses of our Armed Forces and to cut off help to European countries that are trying to survive and overcome communism. That would be easy enough to do, and we would have a balanced budget. But in the long run we would pay the fiddler. This is the financial load which is causing a deficit, trying to prevent a third world war. But I want to say to you from my heart that this cost is nothing compared to the cost of losing the peace.

In 1945 the budget of the United States was $103 billion. When Japan folded up in September, I cut off $65 billion of that budget and canceled the contracts so that that money would not have to be spent. I have been asking the country to expend over a 4-year period about $20 billion to prevent another world war. Now, which is cheaper, $20 billion over 4 years, or $100 billion a year to fight another war? I don’t think I need to argue that question with you.

I am not afraid of losing the peace, because I believe that the people of Illinois and others like you all over the country understand the situation in the world today. I think you know that international cooperation is the key to world peace. We had experience with not cooperating in 1920 and it brought on another war. We must cooperate to prevent another war.

I think you know that we will never have to worry about the strength of the United States as long as we keep moving forward with measures to provide prosperity and a better life for our fellow citizens.

A fair deal for more people in agriculture, in industry, in housing, health, and education will strengthen this country and make the road to world peace less difficult.

I can’t tell you how pleasant it has been to be with you this morning. I had no idea that there were 10 acres of people in Galesburg. This is, you know, the 5th anniversary of V-E Day. Also, incidentally, it marks the 66th anniversary of the President of the United States. I appreciate this delegation. It makes this a very happy birthday for me. Thank you very much.

[2.] BURLINGTON, IOWA (Rear platform, 9:56 a.m.)

Thank you very much, Mr. Mayor. I don’t think I have ever had such a happy birthday.

It is good to be back in Iowa again, I assure you. It always makes me feel at home in this great corn State. You see, I live in a corn State to the south of you, and I never have admitted that Iowa grows taller corn, but sometimes I have to.

I am making a trip across the country so that I can see firsthand how the people are getting along and what problems they are facing. I also want to talk about the problems that all of us are facing together. I want to tell you the truth about public affairs. There is no other way for me to get the truth to the people but to come out and tell it to you. That has been demonstrated 2 years ago very well, I think. When the people know the truth, when the people can weigh the facts, I have no qualms about the decision they will make. It’s the democratic way for people to argue the issues—the only way you can understand what I am trying to do.

The only way you can understand whether I have carried out the platform on which I was elected in 1948 is for me to make a report to you, and that is what I am doing, and I have a perfect right to do that. It is not political, it is what any head of an organization does once a year. I didn’t get a chance to do it last year, I had too much to do, but I am with you this time to tell you the facts, and when you have the facts, I am perfectly happy on what you will do with them.

Our democracy works because there is always a free and open discussion between the citizens of this country and their elected representatives in town hails, State capitals, and in Washington, D.C. Sometimes, the discussions in Washington, D.C., are not exactly to the point, but they still have discussions.

This is what makes this country different from a dictatorship. Our Government works for the people. It is a Government of and by and for the people, and its only reason for existence is to help build a more secure and a better life for its citizens.

What we are trying to do now is to make sure that our economy continues to grow and prosper, so that everybody in the country can have a better living standard. We have a higher living standard in this country now than we have ever had before, the highest in the history of the world. The way for us to keep these gains and do even better in the future is to see to it that farmers and businessmen and working men and women move forward together. Everybody ought to have a fair and square chance at the economic prosperity of this country. That’s all I’m working for.

Here in Burlington, I need hardly tell you people that the people in town are prosperous only when the farmers are well off. Certainly the farmers have learned that they have good markets only when wages are high enough for the people in town to buy what the farmers grow.

I am working for a farm program that will give the farmers a good income. I am going to make a speech later in the day, at Lincoln, Nebr., when I will tell exactly what kind of farm laws we need on the books so that farmers will always have good incomes, and will always be raising the kind of crops we need, rather than raising huge unusable surpluses that the Government has to buy, and sometimes has to destroy.

Of course, I am just as interested in working for the welfare of people in cities and towns as I am for those on the farms, because you can’t have one section, or one sector, of a population prosperous and have the others in misery. They must all belongtogether and share the good things of life.

We have passed a housing law last year that will mean nearly a million new housing units all over the country in the next 5 years, for families who otherwise couldn’t afford decent houses.

That is the kind of progressive, forward-looking measure I am working for in the fields of social security, health, and education. Many States need new schools and more teachers. The only way our boys and girls can get the kind of education they need is for the Federal Government to help the States improve their school systems.

A lot of people are expecting me to talk about what the 81st Congress has done on these matters, just as I told the country 2 years ago the truth about the 80th Congress.

I will say one thing, and say it emphatically, the 81st Congress has done a lot better than the 80th ever did, and it is going to do a lot more than it has done up to date.

The record of the 81st Congress is not complete yet, but when it finally finishes its work and goes home, then I will be ready to come back and give you the full details, and let the chips fall where they may. The country is entitled to know the facts, and that is what I am out here for now, is to tell you the facts in language that you and I speak, and that you can understand. And I believe that when I get through, you will understand just exactly what I am trying to do. And when the 81st Congress quits, I think it is going to have a good record. I am going to bet on it, anyway.

Thank you very much. I appreciate all these happy birthday greetings.

[3.] OTTUMWA, IOWA (Speaker’s platform near train, 11:25 a.m.)

Thank you very much—thank you very much. I can’t tell you how very much I appreciate this warm and wonderful reception. It is one of the finest gatherings I have ever seen in a long time. Not since Dexter, Iowa, have I seen such a gathering. In 1948 that was, you remember. There were 10 acres of people at that meeting, and I was asked how I measure people, and I said you can put 9,600 people on an acre, and if you multiply that by ten that’s 96,000 people. I don’t know how many there are here.

I have been reliably informed that there is a young man, working for the opposition, who has been following me in a plane to look the situation over. Now that young man is perfectly welcome to save himself a little money, and if he will buy a ticket and get on the train, I will take him along. I sincerely hope that he has been as highly pleased with the reception I have had this morning and with the crowds as I have been, and I hope he will make that report to the opposition so that they can govern themselves accordingly.

This morning I want to talk to you briefly about your future, and the future of the rest of the people all over the country. That is why I am here, to tell you the truth about what your Government is doing. It is a most difficult thing for me to get the facts to the people, but I think I have demonstrated on another trip—and on that trip I was followed also—I demonstrated to the people at that time that when they know the truth and the facts, you can’t fool them.

These are troubled times in the world. All of us know that the only way we can get a peaceful world is by keeping the United States strong and prosperous. We can have such strength and prosperity only if the farmers, the businessmen and the workers are well off. You know, right here in Ottumwa that your meatpacking house and all other businesses in town depend on the incomes of the farmers for miles around. You know, too, that your businessmen and your farmers and your workers have a mutual interest inthe prosperity of all of our economy.

Well, that is true of the whole country, too, because this country can’t remain prosperous unless you in this area prosper. We must make sure that Iowa farmers never again have to burn their corn for fuel like they did 20 years ago. I intend to keep on working to see that farmers, and workers, and businessmen get a fair deal, and that’s all anybody can ask for.

I am going to make a speech in Lincoln today—in Lincoln, Nebr.—and I am going to tell you what kind of farm program we need, and I am going to make it easy and simple for everybody to understand, and it won’t be complicated or garbled. It will be just exactly what we need. I am going to discuss those problems specifically, without dodging the issues, as many people have dodged them in the past.

You hear today a lot of wild charges that anything new which we propose for the farmer is "socialism" and "regimentation." That’s an old cry that has been going on for a long time, in fact ever since 1887.

That reminds me of a story about a man from my home State who was in Congress back in the eighties. His name was William Henry Hatch, and his name was attached to many laws which benefit the farmer.

Congressman Hatch was the author of a law in 1887 which granted $15,000 a year for each State to set up agricultural experiment stations in connection with its agricultural college. There were a lot of folks who raised Cain when that bill got to the Senate. You would have thought that the end of the world was just around the corner. One Senator from the great State of Kansas, said that this proposal was cooked up in response to the "clamor of a certain select class of self-constituted reformers."

This Senator went on to say, and these are his exact words—now this was in 1887—sounds like an argument in the Senate now: "It illustrates a tendency of this class of agitators to demand the continued interposition of the National Government in State and local and domestic affairs, and with the result, as I believe, of absolutely destroying the independence and freedom of individual conduct, and subverting the theory on which the government is based—" Now that is an exact quotation from the Senator from Kansas, who is also famous as a poet.

Now that sounds just like the attacks which are being made today against any progressive measure. But it is even more interesting because a few miles north of here, at Ames, the Iowa State Agricultural College has been using the Hatch Act funds since 1887. It is still using them today, and there has been no limitation of anybody’s freedom in Iowa as a result that I know of.

I think that our system of agricultural research and education provides real strength for our democracy. Your own Iowa State College at Ames is an outstanding part of this great system. We have the same situation down in Missouri, and even in Kansas, where that Senator made that statement.

The agricultural colleges in the other States are doing likewise. Each one is a part of this great system of research and education that extends all the way from the Federal Government to the individual on the farm.

Whenever you hear people attacking agricultural education, or other progressive measures that will benefit the farmer and the worker and the rest of the people, just remember that agricultural education has been a part of our democratic way of life since the days of Thomas Jefferson, and I hope it always will be in the future.

Now, I want you people to distinctly understand that I am here reporting to you as the President of the United States, givingyou an outline of things just as they are in Washington, and just as I would like to have them to be in Washington. I have a perfect right to do that. That is part of my job, to let you know just exactly what the facts are; and when I tell them to you I think you can understand that they are not garbled by somebody who wants to give a wrong impression. You understood them in 1948, and you are going to understand them in 1950, and when we get through, when I report to you the next time, you are going to be happy and satisfied with the results.

I can’t tell you how very much I appreciate this magnificent reception this morning. It is grand. I will remember it all my life. Thank you very much.

[4.] CRESTON, IOWA (Rear platform, 1:45 p.m.)

Thank you very much. I appreciate the fact that you are willing to stand around in the rain like this for a chance to get a look at and to hear your President. It certainly is a compliment to me, and I appreciate it more than I can tell you.

You know, this city is almost due north of Independence, Mo. They are in the same kind of bluegrass country down there that you are here. You people are fortunate in having some of the best growing soil in the whole Middle West. I have been glad to see that you know how to take care of that soil, and that you know the importance of the farm problems with which we are faced today.

Two of the biggest problems in many parts of the country are electric power, and an adequate water supply. I was glad to get a report a few days ago from the Department of Agriculture that shows that you are well on the way to solving your electric and water problems.

This report—I have got it right here, I have to keep it chained down to keep it from blowing away—tells how the Rural Electrification Administration has joined with the city and the State of Iowa in a project to build a new dam and reservoir. They ought to bring tremendous benefits to this good city of Creston. They will mean more power, a better water supply, and a better life for this entire area.

You know, there are all sorts of places in the United States that are having water and power troubles. I appointed a commission here not long ago to look into the whole situation from Maine to California and from the State of Washington to Florida. I think that is the way in which the REA is working together with Creston and the State of Iowa in this project. It is a sample of the way in which we are joining in cooperative effort all over the country. Some people tell you that the Federal Government in Washington is trying to take over everything. That kind of talk is just plain nonsense. It is just not true.

We are all partners together. We believe that we can solve our problems by the kind of city, State and Federal cooperation which is helping you build this new dam and reservoir in Creston.

If we could get the same kind of cooperation with all the rest of the world that we have here, the problem of guaranteeing world peace would be a simple one.

This cooperative spirit is the very foundation of the fair deal program. By broadening the opportunities for a good education, health, social security, and a high standard of living, we are helping each other and at the same time keeping the United States strong and prosperous.

You don’t know how glad I am for me opportunity to stop here and how much I appreciate your willingness to stand around in the rain to listen to what I have to say. It is a compliment to me, and it is a complimentto you, because you are interested in public affairs. I am here to report to you, to tell you what the problems are with which this great Nation is faced, and to give you some idea of how I am trying to solve them as your public servant.

Again, I want to thank you very much. I have had a most cordial welcome all the way across the great State of Iowa. I don’t think I ever had a happier birthday than this one. Thank you very much.

[5.] PACIFIC JUNCTION, IOWA (Rear platform, 3:15 p.m.)

Thank you very much. You know, I have had a grand trip through Iowa today. In some places the weather has not been all that you would expect for a meeting of this sort, but the people turned out just the same, and that is a compliment, a high compliment, when people come out in inclement weather, although I understand you wanted the rain anyway, so maybe you wanted the rain and not the President—I don’t know.

I have been through some great country this morning. It is fine to see Iowa looking so prosperous. I remember very clearly what conditions were like in Iowa just about 20 years ago. We were just as badly off down in Missouri. Corn was selling at 30 cents a bushel, and the farmer was scraping the bottom of the barrel. Farm mortgages were being foreclosed. I can remember it very distinctly. I remember one Iowa judge almost got hanged for foreclosing a farm up here.

Just think of the difference today, not a single bank failure in a year, here in the State of Iowa or anywhere else in the United States. That is because we have had a wonderful prosperity all over the country in the past few years. Business has been booming. Factories have been working at peak peacetime rates. The farm income has been high, too. Of course, it has not been as high as it was during the war, and it fell a good deal last year, because we do not yet have the right kind of farm legislation on the books.

One reason why no banks have been failing these days is because people now have complete confidence in them. They know that their deposits are protected by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. We take the FDIC for granted today.

But when President Roosevelt first proposed it back in 1933, a lot of reactionaries set up a terrible howl. One prominent Governor said—and he was a neighbor of yours: "The guarantee of bank deposits will completely destroy the entire banking system of the nation." Think of that—think of that!

Well, the prediction was nonsense. So were all the other predictions about the other great progressive measures of the thirties and forties. And so are all of the predictions about doom and disaster which some people are trotting out today.

The same old scare words about improvements in housing, farm legislation, and social security, are being used over and over again by the people who don’t want us to continue growing and becoming stronger. I don’t think you are going to be fooled by those scare words any more than when people told you 20 years ago that guaranteeing bank deposits would ruin the country.

It takes a lot of hard work on the part of the Government in Washington, working fight along with all the people of the country, to keep us growing and prosperous.

I am making this trip so that I can find out just exactly how things are going, and what it is you want your Government to do. I want to keep us on the road to prosperity, and I want you to understand what I stand for, and why I send down the messages Ihave been sending down to the Congress in the interests of all the people, the farmers, the businessmen, and the workers. I think it is proper, and I think it is right that the President, who is your hired man, should come out once in a while and let you get a look at him and listen to what he has to say, and find out if he is the same fellow who was out hunting for votes 2 years ago.

I have enjoyed today very much. You know, it is quite a day for me. I am 66 years old today. I know you will say I don’t look it, but I am.

It has been great. The people of Iowa have shown me a wonderful, wonderful welcome, and I am going over into Nebraska now, and I am going to Lincoln and make a specific speech on what I believe is proper for the farm program of the United States of America, and I am going to make it perfectly clear and simple so you can understand it. Nobody will have a chance to garble it up, because I am going to talk to you over the radio, and you are going to hear just exactly what I have to say, and nobody will have to interpret it but yourselves.

That is the reason I am out on this trip. I want you to understand the facts as they are. You don’t very often get a chance to do that, because people don’t have the opportunity to read all the records of the Congress, you don’t have a chance to read the messages which I send down, you don’t have a chance to read the debates. What you read is something that is skimmed off the top, that will maybe make a headline, and sometimes it doesn’t mean a thing.

I do thank you most sincerely for your cordiality to me today in the great State of Iowa, and I want you to understand that I am the servant of the people. I am still working for you. I am trying to do just exactly what I told you I would do in 1948, and I hope I haven’t changed a bit.
Thank you very much.

[6.] LINCOLN, NEBRASKA (Address, 4:56 p.m., see Item 111)

[7.] GRAND ISLAND, NEBRASKA (Rear platform, 7:45 p.m.)

When I was here last time, I was here on a Sunday in 1948. Time passes very quickly. You gave me a pair of spurs, and I told you I was going to make good use of them, and I did. I used them on the 80th Congress through the second term of the Presidency of the United States. I still have those spurs, and I am going to keep them as long as I live, because they were a symbol at that time.

I have just come from Lincoln where I made a speech on the major farm problems which we face, and I made the speech in a terrific downpour of rain, and I got wet as a drowned rat, but I finished the speech, and I told them that I thought maybe they needed the rain more than they did me. They wouldn’t admit it, but they were very kind to me, and an immense number of that audience stayed in that heavy rain to hear what I had to say about the farm situation, and my program for settling it. I hope some of you heard that speech over the radio, and I hope you will all have a chance to read about it in tomorrow’s papers.

There are four main principles on which our national farm program should be firmly based.

1. We must maintain farm income at high levels.

2. We must expand the markets for farm products.

3. We must conserve and improve our soil and water resources.

4. We must preserve the American tradition of the family-size farm.

If we are to keep our farms prosperous, we can’t sit still and do nothing while surpluses pile up, or when farm incomes drop,or when dust storms threaten. We have to take action, and that is exactly what I am proposing to do.

One thing we need is a system of production payments which will be beneficial to the farmer, the consumer, and the taxpayer alike. By using production payments, we can give farmers the proper incentive to grow more of the kind of food which the country needs, and less of the kind we don’t need. We can prevent big surpluses. The consumers will get more food, and at lower prices. We shall get more livestock.

Some people will try to tell you that this idea of production payments is regimentation or socialism. The opposition has used language like that against every piece of progressive legislation for the benefit of the farmers or for the benefit of the people.

Back in 1933, after years of deep depression, when farm prices were at rock bottom, and your homes and farms were being foreclosed, the New Deal passed the Agricultural Adjustment Act.

What do you think the opposition said about the AAA in 1933? One Member of the Congress called the AAA "more bolshevistic than any law or regulation now existing in Soviet Russia." That was in 1933. Another Congressman predicted that the AAA would put the farmer "under bondage to the Government."

Well, you know that didn’t happen after 1933, any more than it will happen now under this plan of production payments.

Whatever scare words the opposition uses, we intend to move forward with a positive program to keep high incomes for the farmers. We know that in order to keep the country prosperous, agriculture must be prosperous. And there is no surer way to guarantee world peace than to keep this country strong.

Now, there have been all sorts of conversation about farm programs, labor programs, and business programs. In 1948 I went over the country and told you what I stood for. I am back here now, in 1950, reporting to you on what I have tried to do, reporting to you that the welfare of the country as a whole is my first job. I am your hired man. You hired me in 1948. I am trying to live up to the responsibility which you gave me. I am trying to obtain world peace. I am trying to keep the farmers prosperous. I am trying to keep labor on the same basis, and I am trying to keep business going as it should in this country.

And I think we have been very successful at it over the last 5 years. I want you to weigh the situation as you see it. I want you to look at the facts. I want you to know what the facts are—and that is the reason I am with you tonight. I am trying to tell you what the facts are. I am trying to tell you what I still stand for. I am trying to let you know that I came out here in 1948, and I was then running for President of the United States, and I was asking for votes on a certain kind of platform. I am out here now to report to you, to let you look at me, and to let you talk to me, and to let you know that I haven’t changed since 1948.

I am still working for you and the welfare of the country.
Thank you very much.

[8.] RAVENNA, NEBRASKA (Rear platform, 8:43 p.m.)

Thank you very much, Mr. Mayor. It is good to see all of you here in Ravenna this evening. I want to talk to you about one of your major problems, soil conservation. I hope some of you were listening to my rainmade speech in Lincoln this afternoon. We had a terrific rain there, and they were not sure whether they wanted rain more than they did the President or wanted the President more than they did the rain.

Our growing population and rising standard of living require better and better use of our farm lands. That is why the dust storms in the Great Plains this spring have caused concern everywhere in the Nation.

The farmers of this country know a great deal more about dust and other conservation problems than they did 20 years ago. Since the "black blizzards" of the thirties, farmers and the Government, working together, have developed an effective soil conservation program. As a result of the soil conservation districts, and the agricultural conservation program, millions of acres of land are now being farmed with the best scientific practices.

In the Great Plains, an important aid to conservation is provided by shelterbelts of trees. Fifteen years ago last month the first tree was planted for the first shelterbelt. Now, I was in the Senate at that time, and I never heard as much argument against anything in my life. The arguments were just as if the world was coming to an end if we planted a few trees out here in the Plains. We planted the trees, in fact 25,000 miles of shelterbelts were planted. You remember that many people scoffed at the idea of growing trees on the Plains. I wish you could have heard some of the Senators that are still there, making speeches against the shelterbelt. They said it was just a boondoggle. But today the trees are growing, and they are breaking the force of the wind. Of course, we have a long way to go yet before we lick the problems of dust and soil erosion, and floods.

We have got to move forward as far as we can, to find better conservation practices, and then put them into effect. We need more of the kind of pioneering work you people around here have long been doing with stubble-mulch farming. We have got to keep right on until we are sure there will never be another dust bowl.

There is another thing we have learned about soil conservation, that is that good conservation is good business. The man who manages his farm with good conservation practices will have a permanent and steady income.

We are going to keep right on moving ahead with soil conservation, just as we are with the other programs that will lead to more prosperity and a better life for all of us, such as improvements in our Social Security System, Federal aid to States to help them improve schools, a broad nationwide health program, and better housing.

Above all, we are going to keep right on working for world peace.

Now, I am out here on this trip to tell you just exactly what is going on in Washington, to give you firsthand information about what I have been trying to do as President. I came out here over the country in 1948 and told you what I hoped to do. I talked to you very frankly. I talked to you as one of your citizens.

I am talking to you now as your hired man. You decided to put me back in the Presidency, and I have come out here and I am going all the way across the country almost to the Pacific coast to tell you just exactly what I am trying to do, and I am telling it to you firsthand so it can’t be garbled. I am letting you listen to me, and look at me and see if you still think I am the same fellow that was out here trying to get you to vote for me in 1948.

I am going to try to keep on working in the public interest. I am going to try to balance the economy of this country so that the farmers, the workingman, and the businessman will have a fair share of the tremendous income that the country has now. We have the greatest national income we have had in the last 3 or 4 years in the history of the world, and that income has been rather equitably distributed—the farmers,the laborers, and the businessmen have all had their fair share.

Everybody has been put into the position of being a part of the economic situation of the United States. All I am trying to do is keep that up, and if we keep that up and improve it, we will come to the point where we will have peace in the world.

Because, our economic situation being strong, our defense situation being strong, the people in the world who are not for the things that we believe in will not directly attack us.

And we don’t want to attack anybody. All we want is peace in the world, so that the distribution of things all over the world will be just like we want them here at home.

Now, if you people will support that sort of program, I am very sure that we can put it over. That is the reason I am out here, to tell you what it means.

I can’t tell you how very much I appreciate the reception I have received today across the State of Iowa. Thousands of people stood in the rain at Lincoln to hear what I had to say about the farm program. People have come out to see whether their President is what he was when he was a candidate.

Now then, I am going to tell you just exactly what I stand for, I am going to tell the whole country what I stand for, I am going to tell the whole country what I am trying to do—and with your help I will get it done.
Thank you very much.

[9.] BROKEN BOW, NEBRASKA (Rear platform, 10 p.m.)

Thank you very much, Mr. Mayor. I have been traveling all day through Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska, talking to people on the problems which this country faces. Somebody told me that this great city of Broken Bow had 2,800 people in it. It looks to me as if there are 28,000 here tonight. It has been a wonderful day for me to see all of you get out in this great agricultural area through which I have traveled.

I grew up on a farm in Missouri, and know firsthand what it is like. Of course, I am not up to date on the subject. You see, I lived on the farm from 1905 until 1917 when the First World War broke out, so I guess I would be a little out of date now.

I used to milk cows by hand. I used to plough with a four-horse team, instead of a tractor. I used to sow wheat with a drill that had only 12 hoes on it, and I used to cut wheat on a binder that cut 8 feet wide. I would be completely out of date now, and I understand that because I have two nephews on the same farm that get much more out of that farm than I ever did. But they do it with machinery. They milk cows by machine, and they plough with a tractor and they plant with a tractor, and they bale hay with a tractor. I don’t think that those boys could follow me up a corn row to save their lives, because they ride and I walked.

We have been doing a lot in recent years to make country life easier and happier-just like I have been telling you. One of the most important things has been to bring electricity to the farms. Electricity is a great liberator. On thousands of farms all over the country, electricity provides light, it pumps water, grinds feed, and milks cows-I used to milk them by hand—it provides power for your farm implement repair shops.

Your REA-financed cooperatives in this area are helping to bring more cheap electricity which will make life on the farm much easier.

Fifteen years ago, before we started the rural electrification program, only 1 out of every 10 farm families had electricity. Now 8 out of every 10 of the Nation’s farms are electrified. That is real progress. I was inthe Senate when the REA thing came up, and you should have heard the roar, you should have heard the quarrels that were carried on by people who said it was regimentation, that it shouldn’t happen, that there was something wrong, that farmers shouldn’t have cheap electricity. But you are getting it, and I am mighty happy that you did.

I was on the investigating committee that looked after the holding companies who controlled nearly all of the electrical organizations in the country. People were not interested in giving the farmers electricity, so we started the REA, and now you have it.

I am glad to see that Congress has now authorized loans to expand rural telephone facilities. That is another step forward. This is meeting the same kind of opposition.

There are many other ways in which the Government is working with you to improve country life in the United States. We want to see that children have decent educational opportunities in rural areas, especially where they have long distances to go to school.

I am very much interested in the improvement of farm housing. The Housing Act that was finally passed last year—after the people replaced the 80th Congress with the 81st—is helping to build better farm homes fight now.

I regard Government expenditures for the improvement of rural life as an investment in the future of this great country. The next time you hear somebody talk about high Government expenditures, remind him that when we spend money for raising the standard of living on the farm, we are contributing to a greater nation. And that is the best way to preserve world peace.

Today is my birthday, and you people in Broken Bow have helped make my birthday a happy one by this fine reception—a remarkable one at this time of night, and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it.

I came out here to report to you. Two years ago I was riding around all over the country, in fact, I went 31,700 miles, and I spoke to about 7 million people, as well as 7 million more, and I spoke to about 15 million over the radio; and they believed me—they elected me President of the United States in 1948.

And I am coming back now to talk to you and let you look at me and see if you think I have gone "high hat" on you. I am still working for your welfare and benefit. I am your servant. That is the reason I am taking this trip across the country. I want you to know what I think, what I am trying to do, that I am trying to carry out those things that are for the best interests of all the people, that will contribute to getting peace in the world that will be permanent. That is the thing I am interested in.

I fought in the First World War, and I tried to fight in this one. You know, I went down to see General Marshall, when I was a United States Senator. And I was a Field Artillery captain in the First World War, and had been studying field artillery and they had made me a colonel in the Reserve Corps up to then. And I said, "General, I would like very much to have a chance to work in this war as a Field Artillery colonel." This was just after we had passed the first Draft Act in 1940. And the General pulled his specs down on his nose like this, and he looked at me over them and said, "Senator, how old are you ?" And I said, "Well, I’m 56 years old." And he said, "You’re too damned old. You’d better stay home and work in the Senate." Well, I did.

After events moved around, through no arrangement on my part, I became President of the United States, and General Marshall was Chief of Staff. He was out in my office one day, and my Secretary, Mr. Connelly, said, "General, if the man in the other room"—which happened to be me—"wereto ask the same question now that he did in 1940, what would you say?" And the General said, "Well, I would tell him the same thing, only I would be a little more diplomatic about it."

I appreciate the cordial welcome which I have received in Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska today. I think it shows that people understand what goes on in their Government. And I think the best way for you to understand that is for me to come out and report to you. That is what I am doing. I am here to find out how you feel about things. I am here to find out what ought to be done for the welfare of the country. And that is what I am trying to do.

I am your public servant, hired by you in the election of 1948, and I hope that when we get through with this trip, most of the people in the United States will understand that I am only working in the public interest and for your benefit, and for the peace of the world. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this wonderful welcome here in Broken Bow, Nebr.
Thank you very much.

[10.] SENECA, NEBRASKA (Rear platform, 10:45 p.m.)

I didn’t think there would be very many people here, this late in the evening. I am surprised and really appreciate your greeting me. I appreciate it more than I can tell you.

Since yesterday afternoon I have traveled halfway across the country. I have met and talked with a great many people. There is no better way for a President to find out what people are thinking about, and what they think of the great problems of today than to come out here and exchange ideas with you.

Tonight I want to talk with you briefly about the greatest problem we have today. That problem is how to obtain a world peace. When you stop to think about it, there is nothing more important to us than that.

This is the fifth anniversary of V-E Day. In the last 5 years we have learned that the road to peace is a most difficult and expensive one. Eventually we will get the kind of world peace we are working for. It will come when the great majority of the people in the world have learned that the kind of democracy we have in the United States offers more to the average citizen than any other system of government.

Some people forget that what we do here at home has a direct bearing on whether there will be peace in the world or not. Peace depends on our staying strong, and remaining prosperous, and making constant improvements in our democracy. That is why we need to see that business and industry continue to grow. That is why it is so important for us to press forward with better housing, better health, better schools for all our own people. That is why it is so important that we have strong and prosperous farms.

I am working for these goals because I believe that they will not only strengthen this country, but will provide the best means for achieving world peace.

I am more than happy that you came out here tonight, and I am more than happy that I stayed up to come out here and talk to you tonight. I started out on this trip to let you know that I am still working for the same goals, and trying to do the same things for the welfare of the country that I was when I was out here asking you for votes.

I think that we could accomplish the things that we really want to accomplish if we work hard enough to get them done. I tried to prove that to you in 1948. Ithink I did. We still have a great many things that need to be done in this country, and in the world.

I am going around to Grand Coulee Dam, and out to Wyoming, Montana, and North Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, and am going to finally wind up in Chicago. And when we get through, I think the people of the United States will understand that my position on the great issues which face this country and the world has not changed, that I am still working for the same goals, and I am doing my best to make this Government a government of all the people, that I am doing my best to attain world peace, a peace that will last and that is to the interests of all concerned.

I appreciate most highly your coming out here tonight and I thank you very much for your kindness.

NOTE: In the course of his remarks on May 8 the President referred to, among others, Dr. John Conger, a retired professor of Knox College who introduced the President in Galesburg, Adlai E. Stevenson, Governor of Illinois, Thomas J. Smith, Mayor of Burlington, E. F. Kozel, Mayor of Ravenna, Gen. George C. Marshall, former Chief of Staff of the Army and former Secretary of State, and Matthew J. Connelly, Secretary to the President.


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Chicago: Harry S Truman, "110 Rear Platform and Other Informal Remarks in Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska.," Public Papers of Harry S. Truman, 1950 in Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Harry S Truman, 1950 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), Pp.763-764 297–304. Original Sources, accessed November 29, 2022,

MLA: Truman, Harry S. "110 Rear Platform and Other Informal Remarks in Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska." Public Papers of Harry S. Truman, 1950, in Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Harry S Truman, 1950 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), Pp.763-764, pp. 297–304. Original Sources. 29 Nov. 2022.

Harvard: Truman, HS, '110 Rear Platform and Other Informal Remarks in Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska.' in Public Papers of Harry S. Truman, 1950. cited in , Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Harry S Truman, 1950 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), Pp.763-764, pp.297–304. Original Sources, retrieved 29 November 2022, from