The Charlotte News

Monday, January 13, 1947


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that 29 persons had been killed in seven different airplane crashes within the country the previous day. Only two had survived. Eighteen of the victims were aboard an Eastern Airlines DC-3 flight from Detroit to Miami, crashing near Galax, Va., off course by 60 miles. One person had survived that crash. The possible fault was a non-operational radio range beacon at Winston-Salem, N.C., its intended immediate destination. A Civil Aeronautics Board official, however, stated that the range of the beacon was only 30 miles and the plane was at least twice that distance from it at the time of the crash.

A 22-year old Charlotte woman, an Eastern Air Lines stewardess, had exchanged places on the fatal flight with another stewardess who was killed in the crash. The young woman made it from Detroit to Winston-Salem safely on another flight.

Five were killed in a midair collision of two planes over Miami as they attempted to land. An Army training plane crashed, killing two in Brevard County, Fla. A two-seater private plane crashed near suburban Van Dyke outside Detroit, killing three. Two were killed in two Texas plane crashes, one near Waco and the other near Brownsville.

Airline reservations had slackened during the previous several days.

Six Navy airmen were rescued after their plane had crashed near the South Pole as part of the Byrd Antarctic expedition. Off northern Luzon in the Philippines, a search plane led a successful rescue effort for 36 survivors of a Far Eastern Air Transport which had crashed in the South China Sea.

A radio-controlled drone B-17 bomber flew over Charlotte in heavy overcast weather, the first such reported flight in the vicinity.

In London, the Government employed 8,000 troops and sailors to move strike-bound food from Smithfield Market to Londoners, touching off a wave of sympathy strikes among 7,000 workers. Some 3,000 workers struck at Covent Garden and another 2,500 at the Market. The strike had begun the previous Monday with 21,000 lorry drivers walking off the job, desirous of a 44-hour week instead of a 48-hour week, two weeks of paid vacation, preferably in Bermuda rather than on the Isle of Wight, half pay during time of illness and adjustment of overtime pay. The strike had gravely affected food supply for London, Liverpool, Leeds, Southampton, Bristol and other major cities.

The Supreme Court determined by a 5 to 4 decision delivered by Justice Stanley Reed in Francis v. Resweber, 329 U.S. 459, that Willie Francis, the death row inmate who had survived an attempted electrocution in Louisiana the previous May, could be electrocuted a second time without doing violence to the Eighth Amendment proscription against cruel and unusual punishment, the Fifth Amendment proscription against double jeopardy, or violate the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The majority held that the Eighth Amendment barred cruel and unusual methods inherent in particular modes of punishment such that there was wanton or deliberate infliction of unnecessary pain, not the suffering necessarily inherent in a particular method which otherwise met constitutional standards.

Justice Harold Burton wrote the dissent, joined by Justices William O. Douglas, Frank Murphy, and Wiley Rutledge, contending that the application of electrocution a second time did amount to cruel and unusual punishment.

The first electrocution had failed because of faulty equipment, administering too low voltage.

Mr. Francis would be executed finally on the ensuing May 9. There would be no further reprieves from Governor Jimmie Davis.

Republicans were considering whether to end the life of the Senate War Investigating Committee, chaired by Senator Owen Brewster of Maine.

A legislative fight appeared to be shaping up in the North Carolina State Assembly as to whether the Governor's proposed 20 percent salary increase for teachers and State employees, passed by the Senate, or the 30 percent increase, passed by the House, would prevail. It was believed by House members that the House would rescind its earlier action, approving a 25-30 percent increase, and agree to the Senate 20 percent increase, which would only be a temporary measure, not intended to last for the entire ensuing two-year period.

Dick Young of The News reports that the Mecklenburg County Commissioners had refused to go along with the City Council in asking the Legislature to permit an election to determine whether to implement the ABC controlled sale of liquor in the the City and County. The City Council would therefore seek an election only within the City of Charlotte.

In Newark, O., the 72-year old woman who had knocked her husband unconscious, cut his body up with a hacksaw on the living room floor, placed the pieces in the backyard, confessed the crime to police, and then asked if she could go home at that point, was committed to the Lima State Hospital for a 30-day observation period.

Then, you can go home, ma'am. Everyone does, eventually.

Pete McKnight writes on the second front page of the parking problems within Charlotte.

"Steve Canyon", the new comic strip by Milton Caniff, premiered this date. Don't miss it. It promises big things.

On the editorial page, "The Gag Goes on Again" tells of the survival again of the two-thirds majority gag rule in the N.C. House, to prevent a bill not receiving majority support in committees from reaching the floor of the House absent a two-thirds majority vote, effectively allowing minority rule in the body. North Carolina was the only State Legislature which did not follow the simple majority rule.

The piece believes that members favored it because it enabled avoidance of a record vote on controversial legislation. That procedure allowed legislators who were against a bill to permit it to be pigeonholed in an unfavorable committee and held, when instead voting against the measure on the floor would be bad politics.

"Roadblock to the Past" comments on the Republican caution in proceeding to seek to dismantle the New Deal, as so much of it had become an accepted part of American life since 1933. Senator Robert Taft of Ohio, head of the Republican Steering Committee, was in favor of the proposed 20 percent tax cut and the reduction of Washington bureaucracy, but he also favored expansion of Federal aid to states for welfare, housing, education, and medical care, and extension of Social Security coverage.

While some of Senator Taft's support for these programs was premised on his intention to run for the presidency in 1948, the need to appeal to a broad section of the electorate, it was nevertheless significant. The country would never again return to the pre-New Deal era of laissez-faire.

"The Way of the Mole" tells of an article in Army Ordnance by retired General Robert Wood Johnson, head of Johnson & Johnson pharmaceuticals, disgruntled over the country not moving forward any faster undertaking precautions for civil defense. He believed that all industry should construct standby plants underground, in case of nuclear war. He believed further that private industry could do this job more efficiently than Washington bureaucrats.

But General Johnson had reduced victory to survival. The piece stops to question what kind of country would be left when everyone emerged from their underground facilities after a nuclear war. Would the life preserved be worth living?

It suggests that the best way to insure survival was to prevent war. Constructing industries underground, it posits, did not serve that purpose.

A piece from the Louisville Courier-Journal, titled "What about Cornpone and Gravy?" comments on the statement by former Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn, now Minority Leader, regarding the intent of the Democrats to cooperate with the Republicans. The piece finds the statement likely full of as much hyperbole and empty platitudes as that of Senator Taft at the outset of the previous Congress.

Drew Pearson again looks at the background of new Secretary of State General George C. Marshall, focusing on his experience with Russia, his principal challenge in the new position. He had made a mistake in 1941 in asserting at a press conference that Hitler's armies would succeed in overrunning Russia in about six weeks, the same estimate which Hitler's generals had given. The statement of General Marshall got back to the Russians and greatly irritated them.

The Russians would likely not like the fact of the appointment of a military man to the position, and leftist France, Italy, Czechoslovakia, and England as well would likely bristle at the appointment, viewing it as further evidence of a move by America to the right.

But General Marshall had also favored an invasion through Normandy in 1944 rather than through the Balkans, opposing Winston Churchill on the point, and supporting Josef Stalin. Had he sided with Churchill, his present job of sorting out the political entanglements of the Balkans would be far easier. But he had looked upon the situation strictly as a soldier, set to achieve military victory with loss of the fewest men possible.

Military men were now in many important diplomatic posts and as an Assistant Secretary of State. Generals in modern military terms were not fighting men but good administrators who knew how to select good personnel. That experience would be useful to General Marshall.

He had accepted criticism from Congress during the war, and had done so with equanimity.

He belonged to the Pershing clique of military men, the personal favorite of General Pershing in World War I for his transferring a million men from St. Mihiel to the Meuse-Argonne front, along with 40,000 tons of ammunition, 34 hospitals, 93,000 horses, 154 miles of railroad, and 87 depots, within the course of a week without the enemy learning of it.

When FDR appointed him from the rank of colonel to become chief of staff, General Marshall became only the second non-West Point graduate to head the Army, Leonard Wood being the other.

There had been talk, prior to FDR determining that he would run for a fourth term in 1944, of nominating General Marshall. There would also inevitably be talk of doing so in 1948. But by then, the General would be 69, generally considered too old for the White House. But General Marshall had kept himself physically fit and could likely withstand the pace of the presidency.

His chances for becoming President would depend on his success as Secretary of State. But the General also had expressed a genuine lack of desire for political office.

Having experienced the horrors of two world wars, the last thing he wanted was to have the world engaged in a third one.

Marquis Childs comments on Secretary of State Marshall's statement on China upon his return to the U.S., just before his appointment as Secretary the previous week, in which he criticized both the Chinese Government Nationalists under Chiang and the Communists under Mao for the continuing strife in China. Millions of Chinese were disillusioned with both sides. By contrast, General Marshall found liberals on both sides genuinely interested in effecting peace, and cast them as the best hope for democracy to be achieved under the new Chinese Constitution.

Tillman Durdin of The New York Times, experienced in reporting Chinese affairs, had recently written of anti-American demonstrations taking place in Peking, consisting of a large number of students who fervently believed in their cause to rid China of American troop presence. It was evidence of the spread through the country of the Communist interpretation of events, but dissatisfaction with Americans was not confined to Communists. The American support of the Chiang Government coupled with intensely negative feelings about the Government, had driven this cause forward.

Mr. Childs concludes that, while some would call General Marshall's year-long mission in China a failure, he had nevertheless emerged from a political morass with a definitive report which, while not providing solutions, would enable better understanding of what steps to take next in China. It would be a starting place for his position as Secretary.

Harold Ickes comments on the excellent choice of General Marshall to become Secretary of State and the job well done by the outgoing Secretary, James Byrnes. Mr. Byrnes had reorganized the Department, badly needed after the tenures of Secretaries Hull and Stettinius, a major task in itself. But he had also taken it upon himself personally to attend all of the Foreign Ministers Council meetings rather than entrusting the job to the experienced Undersecretary Dean Acheson. The resulting stress had played havoc with his personal health during his eighteen-month tenure.

General Marshall had a formidable task ahead and would require the experienced hand of Mr. Acheson and Department counsel Benjamin Cohen. The difference between his former roles, principally as chief of staff of the Army during the war, was that the new role was a civilian position, and the General could not surround himself with the same military personnel who had assisted him previously.

S. H. Hobbs, Jr., writing in "The University of North Carolina News Letter", comments on the budget surplus in North Carolina and the state's per capita expenditures ranking 38th in the country, $10 below the average for all of the states, while operating expenses were $5 per capita above the average, indicating a lack of efficiency.

Louis Graves of the Chapel Hill Weekly tells of large windows in the home of T. F. Hickerson, on Battle Lane in Chapel Hill, causing birds to hit the picture windows, seeking a fly-through. While reading one day, Mr. Hickerson heard a loud thud against the window, went outside to find a fallen hawk with a jay in its claws. The hawk was stunned; the jay was screeching in agony.

The hawk recovered, flew into the adjoining yard and took off, still carrying in its claws the jay screaming for its life.

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