First presidential speech on TV 1947
On this day in 1947, President Harry Truman (1884-1972) makes the first-ever televised presidential address from the White House, asking Americans to cut back on their use of grain in order to help starving Europeans.
At the time of Truman’s food-conservation speech, Europe was still recovering from World War II and suffering from famine. Truman, the 33rd commander in chief, worried that if the U.S. didn’t provide food aid, his administration’s Marshall Plan for European economic recovery would fall apart. He asked farmers and distillers to reduce grain use and requested that the public voluntarily forgo meat on Tuesdays, eggs and poultry on Thursdays and save a slice of bread each day. The food program was short-lived, as ultimately the Marshall Plan succeeded in helping to spur economic revitalization and growth in Europe.
In 1947,television was still in its infancy and the number of TV sets in U.S. homes only numbered in the thousands (by the early 1950s, millions of Americans owned TVs); most people listened to the radio for news and entertainment. However, although the majority of Americans missed Truman’s TV debut, his speech signaled the start of a powerful and complex relationship between the White House and a medium that would have an enormous impact on the American presidency, from how candidates campaigned for the office to how presidents communicated with their constituents.
Each of Truman’s subsequent White House speeches, including his 1949 inauguration address, was televised. In 1948, Truman was the first presidential candidate to broadcast a paid political ad. Truman pioneered the White House telecast, but it was President Franklin Roosevelt who was the first president to appear on TV–from the World’s Fair in New York City on April 30, 1939. FDR’s speech had an extremely limited TV audience, though, airing only on receivers at the fairgrounds and at Radio City in Manhattan.
(More Events on This Day in History)
Apple founder Steve Jobs dies
On this day in 2011, Steve Jobs, the visionary co-founder of Apple Inc., which revolutionized the computer, music and mobile communications industries with such devices as the Macintosh, iPod, iPhone and iPad, dies at age 56 of complications from pancreatic cancer.Born on ...
Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch earn a #1 hit with “Good Vibrations”
Failed attempts by Hollywood actors to achieve success as singers or rappers are plentiful in the history of pop music. Examples of such unsuccessful crossovers abound, from William Shatner's "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" (1968) and Eddie Murphy's "Party All The Time" (1985) to ...
During the War of 1812, a combined British and Indian force is defeated by General William Harrison’s American army at the Battle of the Thames near Ontario, Canada. The leader of the Indian forces was Tecumseh, the Shawnee chief who organized intertribal resistance to the ...
Dalai Lama wins Peace Prize
The Dalai Lama, the exiled religious and political leader of Tibet, is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his nonviolent campaign to end the Chinese domination of Tibet.The 14th Dalai Lama was born as Tenzin Gyatso in Tsinghai Province, China, in 1935. He was of ...
Cuban defector lands MiG in Miami
In an embarrassing breach of the United States’ air-defense capability, a Cuban defector enters U.S. air space undetected and lands his Soviet-made MiG-17 at Homestead Air Force Base, south of Miami, Florida. The presidential aircraft Air Force One was at the base at the time, ...
Chief Joseph surrenders
Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce Indians surrenders to U.S. General Nelson A. Miles in the Bear Paw mountains of Montana, declaring, “Hear me, my chiefs: My heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.”Earlier in the year, the U.S. government ...