Wednesday, October 5, 2016


JFK+50:  Volume 5, No. 2089


Washington, D.C.(JFK+50) Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first POTUS to speak on television, but that was to a small audience attending the 1939 World's Fair in New York City.  It was his successor, however, Harry S Truman, who 69 years ago today, October 5, 1947, gave the "first ever presidential address televised from the White House."

President Truman's topic was "How Americans could cut back on food consumption" in light of European farmers being hit by droughts, floods and cold weather in the aftermath of World War II.

Mr. Truman admonished Americans who were "overeating and wasting food in taking more than a fair share."

The President said...

"Their most urgent need is food.  If the peace should be lost because we failed to share....there would be no more tragic example in all of history of a peace needlessly lost." 

The President called for "meatless Tuesdays" as well as the giving up of eggs and poultry on Thursdays.  He also requested Americans cut back on bread and said that public restaurants would serve bread and butter "only on request."

The program of food conservation Mr. Truman discussed was a proposal put forth by the Citizens Food Committee.

President Truman said...

"The food-saving program...has my wholehearted support.  I am confident that it will have the support of every American."

Television itself was still in its infancy.  There were approximately 44,000 televisions in the United States in 1947 and most of those were in the New York City area.  

Despite the slow growth of television, it had been around for a number of years.  The first regularly scheduled TV service began on station W3XK in Wheaton, Maryland on July 2, 1928.  WNBT began commercial television programming in 1941. 


"Live From the White House:  The First-Ever Televised Presidential Speech," by Stacy Conradt, Mental-floss,

"Radio and Television Address Concluding a Program by the Citizens Food Committee, October 5, 1947," The American Presidency Project,

President Truman's Farewell Address
January 15, 1953
Truman Library Image

President Truman
First Coast-to-Coast TV Broadcast
San Francisco, California
September 4, 1951