The Charlotte News

Friday, January 3, 1947


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that Senator Theodore Bilbo of Mississippi was temporarily blocked from taking his oath of office. As soon as the 80th Congress was sworn and convened, the Senate began taking up the matter of Mr. Bilbo and whether he would lose his seat. Senator Glen Taylor of Idaho had introduced the resolution to bar Mr. Bilbo temporarily until further investigation could transpire. He stressed Mr. Bilbo's efforts in the late campaign to exhort supporters to use every means to prevent blacks from voting. Mr. Bilbo had previously contended that he meant only "legal means".

Mr. Taylor stated that the Senator made his brash statement "in an atmosphere redolent of the odors of hate, of burning flesh, of tar, of feathers and gunpowder." He brought up Mr. Bilbo's Klan membership.

Several Southern Senators, led by Senator Allen Ellender of Louisiana, and including Senator Clyde Hoey of North Carolina, supported the seating of Senator Bilbo as a matter of state's rights, given that Mississippi had elected him.

Senate organization stalled in the face of the debate over Senator Bilbo.

As anticipated, the House elected Representative Joe Martin of Massachusetts as Speaker.

President Truman saw the convening of the new House via closed-circuit television. RCA had provided the set, with a ten-inch screen. Bet you wish you had one. You have to listen to it, don't you, piker?

The President would deliver the State of the Union address on Monday at 1:00 p.m.

Religious leaders prayed that the members of the new Congress would act "on the high plane where self-seeking gives place to self-discipline and ambition becomes hunger and thirst after righteousness which has its reward in fullness of life."

The new Congress included Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin, Representative Richard M. Nixon of California, and Representative John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts. At present, of the three members who, among their colleagues, would cast the greatest shadow over the next quarter century and more, only Senator McCarthy had sparked notice among the columnists, and, ironically, it had, to date, been uniformly favorable.

Representative Harold Knutson of Minnesota, to become chair of the House Ways & Means Committee, introduced a bill which would provide a twenty percent tax decrease to those with up to $300,000 in income, in lieu of his original proposal of a twenty percent across-the-board reduction. Above $300,000, taxpayers would receive only a 10.5 percent reduction. There were only about 600 taxpayers, however, who earned more than $300,000. Taxpayers over 65 would receive an additional $500 exemption, doubling the standard exemption.

Representative Howard Smith of Virginia, a Democrat, introduced a new labor bill, one provision of which would force arbitration of disputes in essential industries. Another provision would outlaw the closed shop, and a third would prevent collective bargaining on an industry-wide basis.

Pete McKnight of The News continues his report on the career of North Carolina's new Senator, William B. Umstead, appointed to serve out the remaining two years of the term of Senator Josiah W. Bailey, who had recently passed away. His brother stated that Senator Umstead was not a good politician, and indeed he did not look as one, did not mix well with people, had worked his way through the state party ranks.

He had been a successful member of a successful Raleigh law firm, but looked out of place even there. After graduating from UNC, he had taught school, then joined the Army in World War I. After the war, he studied law at Trinity College, later Duke. He started his legal career as the prosecutor for the Durham County Recorder's Court and later became solicitor for the district. In 1932, he was elected to Congress from a district comprised of Guilford, Orange, and Alamance Counties. He was not known in Guilford but had secured the support of several prominent companies, and so won easily, without headache and with plenty of life insurance.

In 1938, he decided not to run for a fourth term, as he wanted to return home to be Governor one day, but moreover because of failing health from his hard work as head of a subcommittee on Naval appropriations.

In 1944, he had become chairman of the campaign of Gregg Cherry for Governor, and it had been Governor Cherry who had appointed him to the vacant Senate seat.

Army chief of staff General Eisenhower, speaking in Miami, stated that he had not changed his mind regarding a possible political future, just as he had often repeated when the subject had come before him during the war. He was not interested. He also stated that the world had to find a way to settle differences peacefully.

In Cairo, Al Kotla, an organ of the Wafdist bloc, stated that a new party in Tripoli had issued a demand for unity, under the Egyptian crown, of Egypt and Libya. Britain was demanding independence for Libya and the newspaper suggested that such unity would end British maneuvers in Libya.

In New York, the three-story Hotel Holland caught fire from a discarded cigarette. No one was apparently injured, but 35 guests were evacuated, or, ambiguously, "routed", as the little piece puts it. We hope they were alright.

In Columbia, S.C., a massive black man nearly escaped his cell on death row on the scheduled date of his electrocution, after bending a one-inch thick bar on the cell with his bare hands following his having sawed it in two. He then smashed down a door before being blocked by a steel outer door. Previously, he had urged guards to shoot him as he did not want to die in the electric chair.

The condemned man was finally executed, bearing a grin on his face. He said he believed that God and Jesus would be with him. Before death, he had explained that he had the saw with him, secreted in his shoe, when he had entered the prison.

He had been convicted of murdering a Winston-Salem, N.C., tobacconist in a Mullins, S.C., tobacco warehouse in August, 1945.

In Columbus, O., a twenty year-old coed had disappeared on New Year's Day with a 42-year old former convict. The man's father stated that he believed the two had run off to be married. The young woman was the daughter of a professor at Ohio State, who was convinced that his daughter had been drugged, did not believe the two had eloped.

The man was quoted as having stated his determination to marry the young woman whom he had met on Christmas. He had a prison record for conviction of forgery, grand larceny, and auto theft, had spent time in California, Washington, Kansas, Texas, and Georgia prisons. His arrests spanned the previous 20 years.

Love among the ruins.

On the editorial page, "Council Sticks to Its Guns" reports that the City Council had forwarded a request to the Mecklenburg Legislative Delegation to have a formal election on the issue of controlled sale of liquor in the county. The piece praises the decision, especially as it had come in the face of considerable opposition from dry forces.

"'Those Who Are in the Same Shape...'" comments on the letters received in response to the article of News reporter Tom Fesperman on the city's inadequate housing for veterans. Several had discussed the poor alternative housing they were renting within the abandoned Croft schoolhouse, replete with rats and bad drafts. One letter had concluded that the only persons who sympathized with the families forced to live there were those in the same or similar straits. The piece thinks this conclusion to be accurate, a function of human nature.

It served as part of the explanation for the national failure on housing, that those without adequate housing were the least empowered to do anything about it.

Harry P. Cain, newly elected Senator from the State of Washington, however, had arrived in Washington without a place to live and still had not found one. It suggests that he use the consequent feeling to generate empathy for the veterans relegated to the same plight.

"Gone Are the Days...." looks at the architectural drawings for two new Charlotte fire stations, one being of a modern design, the other colonial, supposed to blend with the surrounding neighborhoods in which they were located. The piece laments this change from earlier days, when firehouses were distinctive and readily showed their purpose, displaying plainly to passersby the engines inside.

It wonders where anyone would find inside these new stations the old rummy game or checkerboard, with its kibitzers inevitably sitting round about.

The Fire Chief had praised the new designs, and time had to move on. But it laments the passing of the old houses which were community meeting places for City Hall reporters to find in them bondsmen, cock-fighting experts, whittlers, and idlers of various sorts.

The new generation would pass by the stations without ever seeing "hairy-chested heroes who always have time to pass the time of day."

Drew Pearson discusses the need for the new Congress to pass a law to require members to register their salaries, income, and expenditures, to eliminate the type of pocketbook members who placed more emphasis on their private interest than on that of the public. Representative Andrew May of Kentucky had been one such member; Senator Theodore Bilbo, another. Both had lined their pockets by funneling war contracts to certain companies, Mr. May, defeated for re-election, also having been a prime practitioner of nepotism, hiring relatives at high staff salaries to perform largely ceremonial and meaningless functions, another method of milking the Treasury for personal gain.

He next tells of the Republican Senate caucus, led by the new head of the Steering Committee, Robert Taft. A controversial resolution had been proposed by Senator Charles Tobey of New Hampshire, to allow members who had served in the war to retain their seniority upon having been re-elected. Senator Henry Cabot Lodge was the immediate beneficiary of the proposal, and he magnanimously stated his thanks to Senator Tobey but asked him to withdraw it.

Senator Lodge had occupied the other Massachusetts seat prior to the war and volunteered in 1942, giving up the seat after President Roosevelt ordered all members of Congress in service to return home. He then ran successfully for the current seat in the November election—the attempt at re-election to which in 1952 would result in his being defeated by Congressman John F. Kennedy.

There was also some disagreement by Senator George Wilson of Iowa and Senator Clyde Reed of Kansas with Senator Taft on the assignment of committee chairmanships by seniority. Senator Reed wanted to be chairman of the Interstate Commerce Committee instead of the senior member, Senator Wallace White of Maine, the new Majority Leader. Senator Taft proceeded to give a speech on why seniority should prevail over ability.

Senator Wilson had objected to election of the new sergeant-at-arms on the spur of the moment, without knowing more about the candidate. Someone asked if he had another candidate in mind, to which he replied that he did not. The matter was settled.

Mr. Pearson cautions, however, that Mr. Taft could not hope to rule the Senate in such a high-handed fashion.

Samuel Grafton suggests that the psychology of the marketplace would be severely altered in the coming year because, with Government controls off, no one could any longer blame the Government for things going badly. The new conservative Government would not be taking any responsibility for the results. It was what the people had elected in November.

Conservatives would begin to shift to the defensive as the conservative program was now in effect. Farmers might come to the Government seeking such relief as crop control. A rise in unemployment might set off a demand for public works again as under the New Deal. The conservatives would have a hard time denying these demands.

The pendulum which had swung to the right was now beginning its movement back in the other direction.

Harold Ickes comments on expected efforts by the new GOP Congress to reduce the national debt. Senator Wilson of Iowa had proposed an annual expenditure of ten percent of revenue to reduce it, requring additional taxes if necessary to raise that revenue. It was unlikely that the Republicans would adopt his plan. Mr. Ickes views the performance of prior Republican Congresses on debt reduction as probable predictors of future behavior.

In August, 1919, after the war, indebtedness had reached its highest point at 26.5 billion dollars. It had been reduced by about 2.5 billion through June, 1921, such that when President Harding took office in March, 1921, the debt stood at about 24 billion dollars. When President Roosevelt was inaugurated twelve years later, after three successive Republican Administrations, including that of President Coolidge and that of President Hoover, the debt stood at 22.5 billion dollars. Despite a prosperous era in the interim before the Crash of October, 1929, the debt had never been reduced by more than eight billion dollars. The increase in Federal spending because of the Depression took away most of that reduction.

The Republicans therefore managed to eliminate less debt in twelve years than had the Wilson Administration in two years, reducing it by only one half percent per annum. The Republicans had passed several income tax reductions during those twelve years. So the likelihood that Senator Wilson's proposal would succeed was slim to none.

Indeed, many Republicans favored the plan of Congressman Harold Knutson, to reduce income taxes across the board by twenty percent. It was more likely that the proposal of the new House Ways & Means chairman would succeed before that of Senator Wilson.

Malvina Lindsay of the Washington Post similarly looks back 26 years to 1921 when the Republicans came into office promising "return to normalcy". The country was "spiritually tired" then, as it was in 1947. Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes proposed world disarmament at the World Conference in Washington, just as had Secretary of State Byrnes and Bernard Baruch at the U.N. in 1946.

The mood in 1921 had been to let the market take its course, as the country had already lost its ability to stem inflation. Eventually, the depression resulted.

People now wondered whether a similar result would transpire as inflation was running high, with food prices at their highest in history. Whether the inevitable downturn in prices would trigger a recession or depression was the main question being posed.

The difference was that in 1947, the nation was on the path to world cooperation, unlike the conditions extant in 1921, when the Administration and the Congress had opposed ratification of the Versailles Treaty and membership in the League of Nations.

The mood of the people would ultimately determine whether 1947 would be a repeat of 1921. But the public was more astute and many were trying to come to grips with the boom-and-bust cycle, the atom bomb, and human barbarism—and how they interrelated. She concludes that there was a chance that the country might be smarter this time.

Paul Hunter writes in Liberty of the peacetime Army as affording an opportunity for young men to prove themselves in a position which was paying $75 per month to start, with benefits effectively doubling that pay, nearly tripled if married, thus comparable to similar work in the private sector. The soldier was assured automatic promotion if he stayed long enough and proved efficient. He also obtained 30 days vacation per year. His job was certain as long as he wanted to remain in it. After twenty years, he could retire on half his monthly pay, three-fourths after 30 years, enough time to become master sergeant, enabling retirement on $185.63 per month for the duration.

He recommends the new Army life, not what it had been in the past.

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