The Charlotte News

Monday, February 3, 1947


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the President sought from Congress extension of the Second War Powers Act for an additional year beyond its scheduled expiration of March 31, to afford continued executive power over rationing of sugar and other scarce foods, and some materials.

Bernard Baruch told the Senate Atomic Energy Committee that the Army had been too much criticized for its release of the Smyth Report on Atomic Energy in 1945. Atomic Energy Commission chair-designate David Lilienthal had criticized the report for revealing too much information, making it difficult to maintain security. Mr. Baruch, who until recently had headed the American delegation to the U.N. Atomic Energy Commission, stated that he believed that the Army had been pressured by the scientific community to release the report. Mr. Baruch also stated that Mr. Lilienthal was well qualified to be chairman of the U.S. AEC. Mr. Baruch vigorously defended the role of the Army in maintaining the atomic secret and in administering the atomic program during and since the war.

The 80th Congress had sent the President thus far only one bill since beginning life January 3, having been sidetracked by matters of reorganization and the Bilbo dispute in the Senate over whether he would be seated as a Senator. The House was now set to vote on Thursday on whether the proposed presidential succession amendment would be sent to the states, limiting the President to two terms in office. The President had proposed the bill in 1945, shortly after becoming President. Neither the House nor the Senate had ever acted on the proposal. The Senate was expected quickly to pass the House-approved retention of the wartime excise tax on furs, liquor, and other luxury items.

The new House Sergeant-at-Arms, William Russell, announced the suspension of the House cashier and the assistant cashier who had served under the previous Sergeant, Kenneth Romney, pending the outcome of a Grand Jury investigation of the missing $121,00 from the House bank account at the end of the 79th Congress.

The Supreme Court, in De Meerleer v. People of the State of Michigan, 329 U.S. 663, unanimously, by per curiam decision, reversed the guilty plea of a man who, at age 17, fourteen years earlier, had entered the plea to murder at his arraignment without benefit of defense counsel and then was sentenced to life imprisonment, all in the same day. The Court ruled that the entry of the guilty plea, without the defendant being apprised of his right to counsel or the consequences of his plea, had denied him rights to due process and a knowing and voluntary waiver of his rights under the Constitution. The alleged crime involved the robbery and killing of a gas station attendant. The case was remanded for new trial.

An anticipated ruling in the John L. Lewis and UMW contempt cases was not issued by the Court.

Incidentally, the travesty of justice concluded the previous week in the murder case against the two co-defendants, accused of stabbing to death ice company manager Thomas McClure on January 3, suddenly disappeared from the front page. The final arguments and instructions were provided on the previous Friday and it would appear that the verdict of guilty of first degree murder had already been returned or the result would, no doubt, have been front page news. Both defendants, Jethro Lampkins and Richard McCain, would be executed on October 3, 1947, nine months following the murder.

Six other defendants out of Mecklenburg County were put to death during the decade from 1941 to 1950, one in 1941, four in 1944, and one in 1949. Other North Carolina counties during the decade with relatively large numbers of defendants executed were Wake, location of Raleigh, with six executions for murder and four for rape, the most of any county, Robeson, location of Lumberton, with four for murder and two for rape, Guilford, location of Greensboro, with three for murder and two for rape, and Durham, with three for murder and one for rape. Forsyth County, location of Winston-Salem, sent only two defendants to their deaths during the decade, one of whom was convicted of rape. Gaston County, location of Gastonia, sent only one defendant to the death house, for murder. There were none from Cumberland County, location of Fort Bragg and Fayetteville, and two from Hoke, which also includes Fort Bragg. But some may have gone over to Robeson to do their crimes.

In all, the State executed 108 defendants during the decade, 26 of whom were white, 78 of whom were black, and four of whom were Indian, the latter from Robeson County.

By comparison, there were 50 executions in the state, 42 of which were of black defendants, between 1910 and 1920, 58 defendants executed, of whom 51 were black, between 1921 and 1930, 131, of whom 101 were black, between 1931 and 1940, only fifteen, of whom thirteen were black, in the period from 1951 through 1961, none between 1962 and 1983, three in the period 1984-1990, 13 between 1991 and 2000, and 27 between 2001 and 2006, the latter thus being the bloodiest period for executions since the 1940's. Of the 43 executed defendants since 1984, 28 have been white, 13 black, one Indian, and one classified as "Other". Thus, at least North Carolina became in that period an equal opportunity executioner.

Do you feel safer than during the period between 1962 and 1983?

Since 2006, North Carolina has declared an informal moratorium on executions, pending further study of the death sentence.

As to the Lampkins-McCain matter of January, 1947, trial held within a month of a murder is an absurdity which would not take place today in any U.S. jurisdiction. Defense counsel could not possibly present a competent and effective defense in such a short period of time on any felony, let alone a murder case. It is a patent absurdity and violates on its face the Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel. Indeed, few prosecutors would desire such speedy trials on such serious matters as they could not possibly marshal all of the evidence competently in a major case in such a short time.

To avoid confusion, the Sixth Amendment right of the accused to a speedy trial is a right which may be and usually is waived by the defendant. Absent waiver, it has been deemed reasonable in felony matters to require trial within 60 days from the date of arraignment, after the defendant is bound over for trial following a prelimnary hearing or indictment. Its purpose is to avoid undue restraint on liberty while criminal charges are pending. A concomitant due process right exists to have charges which are brought within the statute of limitations filed without unreasonable delay after all relevant facts are known which point to the guilt of the accused, so as to avoid any delay which prejudices the defendant in collecting exculpatory evidence, such as witnesses to an alibi or other exculpatory fact who have died or forgotten the facts which would aid the defense—or Little Red Riding Hood who had forgotten in what hood of habit she was, at the time of the murder.

The CIO called for the resignation of Maj. General Philip Fleming as head of the Office of Temporary Controls for his testimony to the House Banking Committee the previous week advocating a general rent ceiling increase on the basis that he lacked the staff to enforce rent ceilings. General Fleming had intended to issue an order for a ten percent increase before it was withdrawn by the President.

In Hamburg, Germany, five women and six men were sentenced to hang by the British Military Court for war crimes committed during the war at the Ravensbruck women's concentration camp. Most of those sentenced were doctors and nurses at the camp. An additional four defendants were convicted, two sentenced to fifteen years in prison and two for ten years. Evidence adduced at the trial, which had begun December 5, showed that at least 8,000 Allied women had died or were missing from the camp.

One of those sentenced to die was a Swiss nurse previously convicted in 1940 by the French for espionage and sentenced to die. Her sentence had been commuted, but the Germans rescued her and sent her to Ravensbruck for double-crossing the Gestapo.

Note that Nazi war criminals being tried before military courts in Germany were afforded greater protection of their rights in 1947 than were defendants accused of murder in Charlotte.

Admiral Marc Mitscher, commander-in-chief of the Atlantic Fleet, died at 1:20 a.m. in Norfolk following a heart attack on his sixtieth birthday on Sunday. During the war, he had led the Pacific Task Force 58, which had wreaked havoc on the Japanese. He had entered the Naval Hospital at Norfolk the previous week for a check-up and was found in very good condition.

David Boguslav, editor of the Manila Times, provides the details of the celebration attendant the release two years earlier of the million prisoners of war in Manila as the Allied troops of the U. S. 1st Cavalry Division moved in to take the city from the Japanese captors, held since Christmas, 1941.

The State Legislature had before it a Senate bill calling for ten million dollars to be allocated to school construction, and the House, a bill calling for eleven million dollars for the same purpose, the extra million to be allocated to the purchase of new school buses.

Cold weather was moving over the Northern Great Plans from Western Canada and was expected to reach as far south as the Texas Panhandle and the Ohio River Valley by the following day, dropping temperatures precipitously as it proceeded. Miles City, Montana, for instance, had a temperature of 55 the previous day but now recorded 7 degrees below zero.

On the editorial page, "The Death of a Great Newspaper" tells of the demise of The Philadelphia Record, victim of a prolonged strike since November 7, forcing its sale to the Philadelphia Bulletin. The striking American Newspaper Guild had replied that the failure to settle the strike was a the result of failed collective bargaining.

The piece suggests, however, that the publisher of The Record, J. David Stern, had run a liberal, pro-union newspaper and could not thus be faulted as a reactionary. He had always been supportive of the Guild and The Record had been the first newspaper to recognize it. The Guild had struck The Record, but not its competitors, to force the hand of the newspaper in the strike. While the Guild had no obligation to treat the newspaper differently because of pro-labor policies, those stances should have freed it from the suspicion of trying to engage in union busting.

The piece finds the Guild responsible for reducing the third largest market in the country to service by three daily newspapers and of silencing one of the most liberal and pro-labor organs in the country.

"Poll Tax Repeal Once Again" discusses the effort in South Carolina to repeal the poll tax, an effort which might prove successful, but which would have little impact. As it was, the tax cost only a dollar per year and applied only to males of certain ages.

The real issue was that in a one-party state, blacks were effectively barred from participation in the Democratic primary. Stressing the poll tax was to remove the focus from the real issue.

Many of the South Carolina critics of the poll tax, such as The Columbia Record, were opposed to it only because it served as a lightning rod for outsiders to attack the state.

The piece thinks it important to get the matter out of the way so that focus could be had on the real issue, revival of the Republican Party.

"A Memorial for Ellen Glasgow" tells of the deceased author's home in Richmond having been donated by her brother to the State Historical Society of Virginia. While her novels served as a fitting enough memorial, it suggests that donating her house to the State, such that she took her place beside the statesmen and soldiers produced by Virginia, was altogether fitting and proper.

It suggests that North Carolina ought follow the example.

Ms. Glasgow, incidentally, who had passed away on November 21, 1945, was one of W. J. Cash's favorite Southern authors.

A piece from the Louisville Courier-Journal, titled "A Bigwig in a Single Slash", comments on a British surgeon having removed the frontal lobes of a man complaining of always being tired, rendering him instantly an alert and astute decision-maker, rising to chairman of the board of his company.

The piece thinks it would supply every loafer with the excuse of having too much brain and could lead to a world of board chairmen, relieved of their frontal lobes.

Now, you know what's wrong with the CEO's who make snap decisions which appear anything but conscientious. Part of the yoke is missing, leaving singletree decisions in its wake.

Drew Pearson tells of Soviet Ambassador Novikov denying that he had said, as attributed to him the previous week by Mr. Pearson, that the Soviet Union had adequate defenses to the atomic bomb or even possibly a bomb of its own, as supposedly related to lecturer Robert Gros of California. But he added that the conversation was supposed to have been private and should not have leaked to the press. Thus, he tacitly admitted the remark while denying it.

The column next informs of a Gallup poll determining that more men would volunteer for the Army if they could obtain a good education while serving. The Army's Information and Education branch had responded that they already offered comprehensive education for the soldiers.

Mr. Pearson informs of the maneuvering which had led to killing the OPA's planned grant to landlords of a ten percent rent increase, originally planned in response to the real estate lobby. Philip Murray, head of CIO, had called Presidential assistant John Steelman and told him of the proposed rent increase, to which Mr. Steelman replied that the President continued to oppose any rent increase. Believing he was getting the run-around, Mr. Murray sent a letter to the President regarding the proposal and alerted the press, causing questioning of press secretary Charles G. Ross regarding the proposal. The President, reading the letter, hit the ceiling and told Mr. Ross to announce that there would be no rent increase unless the Congress specifically ordered it.

Marquis Childs tells of the major bankers having visited with Secretary of the Treasury John W. Snyder to plead for tax reduction in the upper brackets. While he listened politely, he made it clear that the Administration favored reduction of taxes for the lower brackets. The Democrats in the minority on the House Ways & Means Committee had begun to attack the plan of chairman Harold Knutson for a 20 percent across-the-board reduction, benefiting the upper brackets, with little benefit to the lower.

During the Twenties, Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon had championed the cause of tax reduction as a stimulus to prosperity. But after prosperity transpired for awhile, it finally resulted in the Depression.

The Truman Administration wanted to avoid such a boom-and-bust cycle. Some members of the Administration favored an across-the-board $200 tax cut, eliminating many taxpayers from the tax rolls and reducing thereby Government personnel needed to enforce tax collection. It would also increase purchasing power for the average consumer, likely to spend the $200 in the marketplace.

The bankers based their argument on the time-worn theory of aiding the rich to provide a stimulus for creating more jobs. But profits were already at their historic peaks, as were savings of the top five percent of the country. They also wanted an increase in interest rates, but that, too, would contribute to a boom-and-bust cycle. The effort was to prevent a repeat of the history of the 1929-33 period and what led to it.

Samuel Grafton, writing from London, tells of the British middle and upper classes suffering more in a relative sense than the lower classes, as the former could not build or restore businesses damaged by the war. No commercial buildings were being built as building materials were reserved for housing. These units were usually tiny and rented by the Government. Only 20 percent of the 300,000 units being built were for private sale, also small.

The upper classes appeared not to realize fully that they were no longer in power, seemed to be waiting out the return of the Conservative or coalition Government. The lower classes were accustomed to deprivation and so could hold up better under the shortages now pervading the country.

The upper classes complained that liberty was dying in the country under the Labor Government and that the people were too meek about it, waiting in the queues in docile mien. But, paradoxically, the upper classes also complained that the lower were becoming exceedingly rude.

Normal trade had not occurred in Britain for nearly eight years. The buildings destroyed in the Blitz of September, 1940 had not been rebuilt. Only brick walls had been raised around many of the ruined blocks, but the holes from the bombs were still extant.

Mr. Grafton notes that the walls had the names of the streets stenciled on them, one of which was Bread St., which he hopes would live up to its name.

A letter writer thinks the G. I. Bill was making it too easy for veterans to shell out a $100 down payment and purchase a home on payments beyond their long-term means, relying on the doling out of a soldiers' bonus in two years, which the Congress might determine to rescind in the interest of economy, leaving the veteran then stuck with payments beyond his wherewithal.

A letter writer finds the Federal Government and the money-hungry property owners responsible for the housing shortage. Charlotte could have anticipated the problem and supplied housing in advance for the returning soldiers.

The writer proposes construction of a thousand new units.

A letter from the Gracchian Society of Warren, Pa., thanks the newspaper for a tribute in its July 24, 1946 edition, regarding the death of Gracchian Society member Samuel A. Reed of Southern Pines, a perennial contributor to the People's Platform. The Society was a small liberal organization with a membership of 25 persons in Warren, and others outside the town.

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