The Charlotte News

Monday, February 17, 1947


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that a black man, Willie Earle, age 25, had been removed by a mob of 25 armed, unmasked men from the Pickens, S.C., jail and lynched. His body was discovered two hours later, with a shotgun wound to the head and knife wounds about his body, including evidence of torture. The men, arriving in seven cars at around 4:30 a.m., had carried shotguns and made the jailer open the cell on the second floor of the jailhouse.

Mr. Earle had been arrested before noon on Sunday, found at home in bed, in connection with the fatal stabbing and robbery of a Greenville taxi driver on Saturday night. The taxi driver had died at 11:30 on Sunday morning. The killer got away with $40. Some of the vehicles used to abduct the man may have been taxis.

Eventually, 31 men, 26 of whom were taxi drivers who admitted plotting the crime, were arrested for the lynching; in May, all, including the admitted shooter, were acquitted in a nine-day trial in Greenville. The all-white jury had deliberated for a bit over five hours. This incident marked, however, the last recorded lynching in South Carolina.

The incident followed by almost exactly one year the brutal police beating and blinding of Sgt. Isaac Woodard as he rode a bus through Batesburg, S.C., near Aiken, on February 12, 1946. The previous November, the Police Chief who inflicted the beating, Lynwood Shull, was acquitted in Federal District Court on charges of assault.

The Monroe, Georgia, lynching of the two black couples in broad daylight along a country road, as they rode with a white farmer who had obtained the release of one of the two brothers, arrested for fighting with another white farmer, had occurred the previous July 25. No one has ever been tried for those four murders, accomplished by a mob of unmasked white men.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 9 to 1 for sending to the states a proposed amendment to the Constitution to limit the presidency to two terms. Under the proposal, subsequently amended, if the successor President served less than one year of the term of his predecessor, he could serve an additional two terms. The amendment eventually provided for serving two terms if less than half the elected four-year term of the predecessor was served. The House bill had allowed for only one term if the President had served any portion of his predecessor's term.

The resolution had to be approved by two-thirds of each body before being submitted to the states, of which three quarters, or 36, had to approve it for ratification.

The 22nd Amendment would be ratified in 1951, but did not apply to President Truman.

The Senate passed legislation to retain excise taxes on luxury items at their wartime rates, a bill which had already passed the House in a different form, requiring reconciliation.

The House postponed action on proposed tax cuts until a determination would be made on the budget. The House was set to vote up or down on a proposed six-billion dollar budget cut; the Senate would have a choice between that package or a 4.5 billion dollar compromise package with only modest cuts to the military budget, set at two billion under the six-billion dollar package.

The Supreme Court again delayed decision on the John L. Lewis and UMW contempt citations, until at least March 3.

The Court, in a pair of decisions, Walling v. Portland Terminal Co., 330 U.S. 148, and Walling v. Nashville, C. & St. Ry. 330 U.S. 158, both delivered by Justice Hugo Black, unanimously held that trainees for certain positions with two railroads were not considered employees under the 1938 Wage & Hours Act. Thus, the time spent in training was not required to be compensated at minimum wage or at all. The opinion suggested that were such trainees defined under the Act as employees such that the training was required to be compensated, then students could justly demand compensation under the Act for going to school or college.

That analogy breaks down, however, as the school does not require attendance as a condition precedent to future employment.

Taylorsville, N.C., had water again after being without the previous week. The storage tank on Linney's Mountain had run dry.

Three prominent religious leaders in New York, led by the Rt. Rev. Msgr. Fulton J. Sheen, attacked Hollywood for its high divorce rate and promotion of "promiscuous sensuality". He stated that the resultant degradation would be worse than that visited on Japan by the atom bombs.

Let's not get carried away with hyperbole. That is not quite an apropos analogy. If it were so, after all, the world would have exploded millennia ago, been reduced to a cinder, and we are all ghosts.

On the editorial page, "The GOP and Mr. Lilienthal" tells of all Senators who had publicly commented, except Senator McKellar, having found able David Lilienthal as an administrator at TVA. Yet, opposition to his confirmation as chairman of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission continued to increase. The previous week, Drew Pearson had told of Senator Robert Taft making it official Republican policy to go after Mr. Lilienthal to embarrass the Administration.

Whether that was the predominating motive, opposition to him had been premised on weak grounds, Senator Kenneth Wherry of Nebraska, for instance, having stated that he doubted any of the charges against Mr. Lilienthal but that he would have to vote against confirmation on the basis that the chairman of the AEC had to be above reproach. Such logic subjected anyone to having their confirmation sidetracked based on mere accusation.

The shallow nature of the opposition betrayed the futility of the President in trying to extend an olive branch to the Republican Congress.

"The New Textile Wage Pattern" tells of a new ten percent hike in Southern textile wages, thanks in part to the efforts of the Textile Workers Union of America, even though representing only a quarter of the region's textile workers. The increase had been negotiated down from a demanded 15 percent. The settlement applied to unionized mills, but would set a pattern for the entire industry.

The raise brought the minimum wage to 80 cents per hour in the industry. Only fourteen years earlier, the Federal NRA minimum wage had brought the earnings to 30 cents per hour. Both sides were to be congratulated for reaching the settlement.

"Charlotte's New Research Council" tells of more than 80 organizations at work on the betterment of the community and those having now joined together under the umbrella of the Community Research and Advisory Council. The piece thinks it a good idea and wishes the organization well.

A piece from the Winston-Salem Journal, titled "Of One Blood We Are", tells of UNC Board of Trustees member John W. Clark having sent a letter to the press explaining his reasons for opposing the Rosenwald Foundation grant of $30,000 for the cause of advancing equality among the races and specifically criticizing Professor Guy B. Johnson of the Sociology Department. In the latter case, he complained that Dr. Johnson had addressed a mixed group in Greensboro and that a Methodist minister had opened the meeting by thanking God that everyone was of one blood.

The piece clarifies that the minister undoubtedly had meant that all men were of God's family, thus entitled to equal rights under the law, not that all were of one race. It suggests that no sane, right-thinking American could believe otherwise than that everyone had the same economic and social rights.

It adds that there were many hair-trigger traditionalists in the South, however, who believed that such talk entailed intermarriage and the like.

Drew Pearson reports that many Senate Republicans had climbed on the bandwagon led by Democratic Senator Kenneth McKellar of Tennessee, trying to derail the nomination of David Lilienthal to be chairman of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. Only a few months earlier, many Republicans were holding up the aging Senator McKellar as an object of ridicule and a symbol that the Democratic leadership had become old and senile.

The 77-year old, who had been president pro tem of the Senate during the 79th Congress, had to leave the Senate the previous spring because of his mental lapses, entering Bethesda Naval Hospital. At one point, while presiding, he forgot what he was doing and asked Senate secretary Leslie Biffle when the Senate was scheduled to meet. When told it was in session, Senator McKellar insisted that he knew where he was, and, when informed that debate was taking place on the loan to Britain, he insisted that the body had passed on the loan the previous day.

Eventually, Mr. Biffle signaled to another Senator to take over the chair and faked a message to Senator McKellar that the President was calling.

That the Senator had been engaged for his 32 years in the Senate in patronage and pork barreling politics left him with little sympathy. The previous year, he had, as chairman of the Appropriations Committee, been responsible for reduction of the school lunch program while approving an appropriation for a new Federal Building in Nashville. He had also proposed to build two dams for TVA simultaneously when the head of TVA, David Lilienthal, had stated that two million dollars could be saved by building the dams consecutively.

Mr. Pearson provides several clippings from the Senator's past, including his having inadvertently set fire in 1922 to the Portland Hotel after falling asleep in bed; twice in seven months in 1932, having had auto accidents, sued and was sued; had $43,300 worth of relatives on the Government payroll; was known for his hot temper, had nearly come to blows with some members of Congress, once having wielded on the floor an unclasped small knife, lunging at another Senator; and was fond of political revenge when someone was perceived as disloyal, the motive behind his campaign against Mr. Lilienthal.

The Republicans were joining him because they saw a chance to make political hay. But the conservative Republican New York Herald Tribune had stated that such was not why the Republican majority had been elected.

Marquis Childs tells of the warning from the chief of the U.S. Forestry Service, Lyle F. Watts, that the country was cutting twice as much timber as it was planting anew each year, leading to the lumber shortage and thus a shortage of building materials for badly needed housing. Methods of forestry had to change before the shortage would be alleviated. Stands of virgin forest were presently being cut. Fully 64 percent of the cutting was classified as "poor and destructive", only 7 percent as "good". The old slash and burn policies still prevailed.

Mr. Watts wanted to have better organized fire and pest protection for the forests. Planting had to be increased. Waste had to be eliminated by utilizing more of each of the cut trees. Finally, destructive cutting methods had to be eliminated.

Some measure of public control had to be used, as free enterprise would not exercise self-restraint. That provoked the inevitable cries from the timber interests of dictatorship and socialization. But a working partnership between the timber interests and Government was possible.

Cooperation had to happen as the handwriting was on the wall, with the end of the available supply of timber in sight.

Harold Ickes tells of a firm bid for 143 million dollars having been lodged to purchase the Big Inch and Little Inch pipelines to transport natural gas to the East Coast. It was being viewed as some vindication for the War Assets Administrator, General Littlejohn, after he had thrown out the original lower bids made during the previous summer. But his judgment had not been very good on the matter. He had claimed that his predecessor had issued a report which limited use of the pipelines to transportation of oil. When his predecessor denied the claim, General Littlejohn declared that the joint Army and Navy petroleum board favored that the lines be used for that purpose only. Then the board stated that it had no preference on what the lines would carry.

The original cost of the lines when constructed in 1942 had been 146 million dollars, worth in 1947, less depreciation, 121 million dollars. It would cost 40 million to make the lines suitable again for carrying petroleum, as they presently sat rusting, full of water. Thus selling them for 143 million would be a good deal for the Government.

Still, the Federal Power Commission had to pass on the reasonableness of the rates at which the natural gas could be sold. The bidders, to make a six percent profit, would have to charge 30 cents per thousand cubic feet of gas to the lowest paying customers and 32 to 33 cents to those in New York City.

The Justice Department also had to approve the sale, as did Congress. And Congress was subject to a powerful coal lobby opposing natural gas shipment.

The second highest bid had come from the Tennessee Gas & Transportation Co., but sale to it would have been in violation of anti-trust laws as the pipelines were the company's only competitor.

A letter from the State Superintendent of Public Instruction thanks the newspaper for its special report on the Good Health Program the previous Tuesday, stating that he had found it disturbing that much money was being spent on education of persons receiving inadequate health care.

A letter from the executive secretary of the North Carolina Medical Care Commission likewise expresses approval of the report.

A letter from the president of the Medical Society of North Carolina also thanks the newspaper for the report.

A letter from a doctor at Broadhill Sanatorium likewise approves the issue.

A letter from two medical students at the University of North Carolina two-year medical school expresses disappointment that some people in Charlotte disfavored expansion of the UNC school to four years, to make it a conventional medical college and teaching hospital.

A letter writer apologizes for sending a letter to the newspaper objecting to the Fact-Finding Group on the health care program, suggesting that their anonymity was tantamount to Klan tactics. He had intended the letter for the Raleigh News & Observer.

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