Abstract

From 1950 to 1952 Harry S Truman invested significant personal effort and political capital in an effort to improve the circumstances of migratory farm workers and to revise the Bracero Program with Mexico. To this end, Truman created the high profile President’s Commission on Migratory Labor in American agriculture in 1950. In its report, the commission recommended extending a variety of social legislation and economic protections to domestic farm labor, and it further recommended slowing or ending the importation of foreign, particularly Mexican, workers. The Truman administration energetically worked to convince Congress to act on those recommendations, even enlisting the support of the Mexican government. However, the power of growers’ interests and the conservative bloc in Congress halted any significant reform. Instead, the Bracero Program was further institutionalized in the form of Public Law 78 and remained in effect for more than a decade thereafter.

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Notes

2 President’s Commission on Migratory Labor, Migratory Labor in American Agriculture: Report of the President’s Commission on Migratory Labor (Washington, DC: GPO, 1951), 119–25.
3 Alonzo L. Hamby, Liberalism and its Challengers: FDR to Reagan (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985), 24.
4 President’s Commission, Migratory Labor, 3–4,187.
5 Truman to Wilkins, Nov. 8, 1949, Problem of Migratory Labor folder 2 of 19
Sundquist to Jones, Mar. 30,1950
7 President’s Commission, Migratory Labor, 7.
8 G B. Ray, Statement to President’s Commission on Migratory Labor, July 13–14,1950, Problem of Migratory Labor folder 9 of 19
G H. DeVaney Statement to President’s Commission on Migratory Labor, July 31,1950
9 De Vaney testimony, July 31,1950, Problem of Migratory Labor folder 10 of 19, SRF.
10 Green testimony, Oct. 26,1950, Problem of Migratory Labor folder 14 of 19, SRF.
11 "Joint Interpretation of the Individual Work Contract Conditions of Employment for Mexican Agricultural Labor," Aug. 1949, Problem of Migratory Labor folder 4 of 19, SRF.
12 Cross to Van Hecke, Aug. 1,1950
Dawson testimony, July 31–Aug. 1,1950, Problem of Migratory Labor folder 10 of 19, SRF.
13 Garcia testimony, July 31–Aug. 1,1950, Problem of Migratory Labor folder 10 of 19, SRF.
14 Thurston to Secretary of State, July 25,1950, Decimal File 811.06 (M), Department of State, RG 59, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Md. (hereafter NARA II).
15 President’s Commission, Migratory Labor, 69–78.
16 Randall to members of President’s Commission on Migratory Labor and Executive Secretary, May 27,1951, Problem of Migratory Labor folder 8 of 19, SRF.
17 President’s Commission on Migratory Labor to Truman, Mar. 1,1951, Problem of Migratory Labor folder 6 of 19, SRF.
18 John E. Mueller, "Presidential Popularity from Truman to Johnson," American Political Science Review 64 (Mar. 1970): 19.
20 Congressional Record, 82nd Cong., 1st sess., Vol. 97,1951, Part 6,7301.
21 Gardner Jackson to David Stowe, Apr. 23,1951, Problem of Migratory Labor folder 17 of 19, SRF
Congressional Record, 82nd Cong., 1st sess., Vol. 97,1951, Part 4,4504–4517.
22 Congressional Record, 82nd Cong., 1st sess., Vol. 97,1951, Part 4,4505–4511,4519.
23 Ibid., 4509
Congressional Record, 82nd Cong., 1st sess., Vol. 97,1951, Part 5, 7154.
Alexandra Minna Stern, "Buildings, Boundaries, and Blood: Medicalization and Nation-Building on the US-Mexico Border, 1910 to 1930," Hispanic American Historical Review 79 (Feb. 1999): 41–81.
24 Congressional Record, 82nd Cong., 1st sess., Vol. 97,1951, Part 4, 4512, 4953, 4980; Part 5,7160,7277.
25 Gilbert C. Fite, American Farmers: The New Minority (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1981), 86,101,120.
26 Memo, of Conversation, by MacLean, Apr. 5,1947, Decimal File 811.504, Department of State, RG 59, NARA II.
27 Richard B. Craig, The Bracero Program: Interest Groups and Foreign Policy (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1971), 84
Robert D. Tomasek, "The Migrant Problem and Pressure Group Politics," Journal of Politics 23 (May 1961): 295–319.
June 27–July 10,1951 in Problem of Migratory Labor folder 4 of 19, SRF.
28 Craig, Bracero Program, 39,70,144.
29 Stowe to Truman, July 8,1951, Problem of Migratory Labor folder 16 of 19, SRF.
30 Ibid.
31 Ibid.
Enarson to Stowe, May 23,1951, Problem of Migratory Labor folder 17 of 19, SRF
Congressional Record, 82nd Cong., 1st sess., Vol. 97,1951, Part 6,8144.
32 Ford to McCarran, Aug. 6,1951
Dungan to Stowe, Aug. 20,1951, Problem of Migratory Labor folder 16 of 19, SRF.
33 Stowe to Truman, Aug. 11, 1951, Problem of Migratory Labor folder 17 of 19
Neustadt to Murphy, Aug. 15,1951, Problem of Migratory Labor folder 16 of 19, SRF.
34 Dungan to Stowe, Aug. 20,1951, Problem of Migratory Labor folder 16 of 19, SRF.
35 Truman to Alemán, July 14, 1951, Problem of Migratory Labor folder 17 of 19, SRF.
36 Ibid.
Oral History, David H. Stowe, Harry S. Truman Papers, Harry S. Truman Library.
37 Héctor Aguilar Camfn and Lorenzo Meyer, In the Shadow of the Mexican Revolution: Contemporary Mexican History, 1910–1989 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1993), 162
Enrique Krauze, Mexico, Biography of Power: A History of Modern Mexico, 1810–1996 (New York: Harper Collins, 1997), 596
Craig, Bracero Program, 82; Mexican Government to US Secretary of State, July 10,1950, Classificatión III/110 (73–0) Topogràfico "50’71III1209-2, Acervo Histörico Diplomático, Mexico City.
38 Memo, by Lawton for the president, Jan. 4,1952, Problem of Migratory Labor folder 18 of 19, SRF.
39 Memo, of Conversation, Culbertson, Blocker, Neal, Rubottom, Jan. 22, 1952
Memo, for the Files, Feb. 11, 1952, Problem of Migratory Labor folder 18 of 19, SRF
"Wetbacks: Can the States Act to Curb Illegal Entry?" Stanford Law Review 6 (Mar. 1954): 287–322.
40 US Embassy in Mexico to Department of State, June 18, 1952, Decimal File 811.06 (M), Department of State, RG 59, NARA II.