First White House TV Address Delivered 64 Years Ago

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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.


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.

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