Harry S. Truman: Presidential Rhetoric

By Halford R. Ryan | Go to book overview

cornerstones in American foreign policy against Communism until the early 1990s. However, the result of the fourth point was less favorable. William Pemberton observed that Truman's "proposal reaped great propaganda rewards, but the much lauded plan never amounted to much except as a publicity device," and he observed that although the fourth point was intended for Third World countries, most of the money went to Europe. 51

The fourth point of Point Four is an example of how rhetoric is not easily translated into political action. Hardy's four points were an idea in search of a speech, and the fourth point was a speech in search of a program.

In his press conference on January 27, 1949, President Truman was asked how he would implement the fourth point. HST candidly admitted: "I can't tell you just what is going to take place, where it is going to take place, or how it is going to take place. I know what I want to do." One of the reasons the State Department was not receptive to Hardy's idea was that no such program was being studied. The fourth point, an Act for International Development, was passed by Congress in May, 1950, more than a year after its dramatic announcement on inaugural day. 52 Sensing that Point Four was a prosaic label for a major foreign policy initiative, a reporter asked "for lead purposes, is there any other title we could give to point four?" Truman answered: "I think it speaks for itself. All you need to do is read the speech; it is perfectly plain. Doesn't seem to have confused any foreign government. The only people who seem to be confused about it are our own newspapers here at home. [Laughter]"53

When explaining why the fourth point failed to meet expectations, Thomas Patterson said it best:

Hastily announced, originally neglected by the State Department, lost in the turmoil of more dramatic Cold War issues, hampered by limited congressional appropriations, resisted in many parts of the Third World, spurned by American businessmen, and ultimately diverted to military purposes and strategic materials stockpiling, Point Four faltered early. 54


NOTES
1.
Rosenman, oral history transcript, p. 52.
2.
Clark M. Clifford, oral history transcript, April 1977, HSTL, p. 297.

-123-

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Harry S. Truman: Presidential Rhetoric
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Series Foreword vii
  • Foreword xi
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • I 1
  • Introduction 3
  • 1 - The Truman Doctrine 19
  • 2 - The Korean Quagmire 43
  • 3 - The President versus the General 69
  • 4 - Doing Unto Dewey 89
  • Notes 105
  • 5 - Point Four 109
  • 5 Point Four 123
  • Conclusion 127
  • Conclusion 131
  • II - Collected Speeches 133
  • The Truman Doctrine 135
  • Acceptance Speech 141
  • Doctor Dewey and the Republican Record 147
  • Inaugural Address 155
  • On Korea I 161
  • On Korea II 163
  • Far Eastern Policy 165
  • Chronology of Speeches 171
  • Bibliography 199
  • Index 207
  • About the Author 215
  • Great American Orators 216
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