First White House TV Address Delivered 64 Years Ago

Melissa Block and Guy Raz tell us about this day in history 64 years ago when then-President Harry S Truman gave the nation's first televised address from the White House.

Copyright © 2011 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.


Sixty-four years ago today, then President Harry S. Truman gave the first ever televised address from the White House. The speech wasn't about creating jobs or rebuilding the nation after the Second World War. No. It was about food.


PRESIDENT HARRY S. TRUMAN: My fellow citizens, the food saving program, which has just been presented to you, has my wholehearted support. I am confident that it will have the support of every American.


On this day back in 1947, President Truman urged people to eat less, not for health reasons, but because our allies across the Atlantic were hungry.


TRUMAN: The nations of Western Europe will soon be scraping the bottom of the food barrel. They cannot get through the coming winter and spring without help, generous help from the United States and from other countries which have food to spare.

RAZ: The president proposed a few simple rules people could follow at home. One, no meat on Tuesdays. Two, no poultry or eggs on Thursdays and...


TRUMAN: Three, save a slice of bread every day. Four, public eating places will serve bread and butter only on request.

BLOCK: President Truman went on to say that overeating and wastefulness would contribute to inflation here and scarcity abroad so that Europe's battle and ours were one in the same.

The effort was, of course, voluntary, but President Truman wasn't afraid to lay on a little guilt.


TRUMAN: We believe that self-control is the best control. From now on, we shall be testing at every meal the degree to which each of us is willing to exercise self-control for the good of all.

RAZ: You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, from NPR News.

Copyright © 2011 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.