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Today in History: September 4, 1951 – Truman Makes the 1st Transcontinental TV Broadcast

From San Francisco, Truman’s opening conference speech was broadcast across the nation, “marking the first time a television program was broadcast from coast to coast” (Source).The speech was picked up by 87 different stations in 47 different cities.

The speech concerned the official treaty that put an end to America’s post-WWII occupation of Japan. In his address, Truman promised that this was not a treaty of revenge, but instead a treaty that “reflects the spirit in which we carried out the war” (Source). He promised that this was the first essential step towards the long-awaited peace — “a world where there is justice and freedom for all men and all nations” (Source). Truman explained that in a world faced by the imminent threat of Communism, especially throughout the Pacific Rim, that it was all that much more important for the Allies to have a strong ally in the democratic Japan.

“Since the end of World War II in 1945, Japan had been occupied and closely monitored by the American military under the leadership of General Douglas MacArthur,” and later by his replacement, General Matthew Ridgway (Source). And during this time, Japan cooperated fully with the terms of their occupation. With great help from General MacArthur, Japan had gone through “a remarkable and unprecedented period of progress” (Source). It was time, Truman surmised, to make Japan a sovereign state.

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