This Day in the Law
October 5

Truman Makes First Televised Presidential Address From the White House (1947)

On October 5, 1947, President Harry S. Truman made the first televised presidential address from the White House. His speech centered on the concept of food conservation, as there was a worldwide food crisis at that point in time.

President Harry S. Truman was the 33rd President of the United States of America. It was during the first ever televised presidential address from the White House on October 5, 1947, that President Harry Truman asked Americans to cut back on their use of grain in order to help the people of Europe. Europe was suffering from famine, which was essentially a “side-effect” of World War II. Asking the people of the United States to provide food to Europeans was important in ensuring that the European Recovery Program, best known as the “Marshall Plan”, was successful. President Truman specifically asked farmers and distillers to reduce their use of grain. Furthermore, he requested that the general public refrain from eating certain foods for certain days of the week, in order to conserve food and provide it to the suffering European countries.

Although this was the first every televised presidential address from the White House, the majority of Americans missed this historic event, as televisions were still a fairly new product in the U.S., and very few people actually had a television set in their homes. Despite this fact, this speech was the birth of a new relationship between the American people and the American presidency. It was the beginning of an era that had a tremendous impact on the means in which the U.S. Presidents and presidential candidates communicated with the American people.

From that point forward, all of President Harry Truman’s White House speeches were televised. In addition to his White House speeches, he was the first presidential candidate to broadcast a paid political ad through the medium of television.

After his stint as the U.S. President, Harry Truman retired to his childhood hometown of Independence, Missouri. On December 26, 1972, President Harry S. Truman died. He was 88-years-old.