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October 5, 1947 – President Truman Gives the First-Ever Televised Presidential Address

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What would you choose to discuss if this was your first-ever televised speech to the American public? For President Truman, it was food conservation; in particular, he recommended that Americans cut back on their use of grain in order to help starving Europeans.

Europe was still recovering from World War II and suffering from famine and President Truman outlined a plan so Americans could provide aide. 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.

In 1947, television was still in its infancy and many homes still used the radio as their source of news and entertainment. Although the majority of Americans missed Truman’s TV debut, his speech signaled the start of a powerful medium.

Truman’s subsequent White House speeches, including his 1949 inauguration address, were televised. He was the also first presidential candidate to broadcast a paid political ad. By the early 1950s, millions of Americans owned TVs. The enhanced viewership led to an enormous impact on the American presidency and future elections.

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