With congressional and public opinion decidedly mixed on U.S. involvement in Korea, President Truman hoped to focus attention and understanding on the seriousness of the communist threat without actually declaring war. Instead, the president declared a state of emergency. Korea is never mentioned in the story. An excerpt from The Post of Dec. 17, 1950:
By Marshall Andrews
President Truman yesterday took two long steps toward full mobilization to meet the "grave danger" of Red aggression.
The President proclaimed a state of national emergency and called on all citizens to "make a united effort for the security and well-being of our beloved country and to place its needs foremost in thought and in action."
Then he issued an executive order establishing the Office of Defense Mobilization "to coordinate all mobilization activities" with broad powers over production, procurement, manpower, wages and prices and transport.
Chief of the new agency, with the title of director, will be Charles E. Wilson, 64-year-old president of General Electric Corp., who will resign his $275,000 job to work for the Government at $22,500 a year. ...
Mr. Truman's emergency proclamation will make effective extraordinary powers granted by 67 laws and parts of laws, in addition to those already covered by legislation, notably the Defense Production Act of 1950. ... But its force may be felt across the Nation if the President uses his powers under a state of emergency to:
1. Suspend the eight-hour law in the case of contractors for the Government providing overtime is paid.
2. Suspend the law regulating wages for laborers and mechanics employed by contractors on public buildings.
3. Suspend the eight-hour law for laborers and mechanics employed by the Army, with time and one half for overtime.
4. Suspend or amend FCC rules and close or take over, "with just compensation," any radio station in the United States.
5. Control, inspect and, in some cases, take control of all vessels, foreign and domestic, in United States waters including the Panama Canal. ...
6. Authorize the Navy to call retired officers and enlisted men to active duty and the Marine Corps to call back retired officers.
7. Authorize the Coast Guard to extend enlistments beyond their agreed termination.
In vigorous and simple language, Mr. Truman spelled out the goal of "the forces of aggression which have been loosed upon the world" as nothing short of "world conquest by Communist imperialism." He warned that, unless this aggression is halted, the people of this country will lose "the full and rich life they have with God's help built for themselves and their children."