The Charlotte News

Friday, April 4, 1947


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that Attorney General and future Supreme Court Justice Tom Clark had declared that, in his legal opinion, the Federal Communications Act, passed in 1940, did provide the President the right, during the still extant wartime emergency period, to seize the telephone companies in the event of a strike the following Monday. He had issued the opinion in response to an inquiry by Secretary of Labor Lewis Schwellenbach. The FCA did not expire six months after the termination of hostilities as other laws, which would expire June 30.

Representative Howard Smith of Virginia, co-sponsor of the Smith-Connally Act, providing emergency war powers to the Chief Executive, stated his opinion that the Act would apply to prohibit a strike against the Government, subject to criminal penalties for violation, in the event of a seizure of the telephone companies. The seizure clause of that Act had expired December 31, but not its other provisions, until June 30. Thus, the seizure could take place under the FCA while the S-CA provided for the penalties.

Western Union employees provided a thirty-day notice of an intended strike.

Soviet Foreign Commissar V. M. Molotov told an American journalist, Johannes Steel, that he foresaw the American plan for organizing Germany leading to its eventual dismemberment, giving German militarists and revanchists the excuse to take matters into their own hands. He also stated, in the first official Soviet comment on the Truman Doctrine, that he doubted that the U.S. aid to Greece would restore democracy there, advocating instead the elimination of foreign interference in the country.

John L. Lewis demanded from Congress new safety legislation to protect miners from "underground slaughterhouses". Various House members supported his demand and that for return of the fines imposed on UMW and Mr. Lewis, totaling $710,000, 2.8 million dollars of the fine against UMW having been remitted by the Supreme Court, provided Mr. Lewis would withdraw, as he had, his previously stated threat of renewing the UMW strike on March 31. He wanted the fines to be paid to the widows and orphans both of the Centralia disaster and that at Straight Creek, Ky., in 1945. None of the members of the Labor subcommittee before which he testified, however, showed any sympathy for his demand that they urge President Truman to fire Secretary of Interior J. A. Krug.

As to the latter demand, the President had emphatically refused to entertain such a suggestion.

At least a quarter of the 518 mines, normally mined by about a quarter of the nation's miners producing 26 percent of the nation's coal, closed the previous day by Secretary Krug pending further safety inspections, were expected by Monday to be reopened following recertification as safe.

In Columbus, O., a foster home housing nine children, ages ten months to 2 years, burned down, killing two of the children and causing burns to the others. The home was licensed to care for only two children, ages 1-9, and had only five rooms. The fire ignited from a failed effort by a caretaker to light a stove.

Near Chicago, in suburban Downers Grove, the Burlington Railroad Twin City Zephyr passenger train jumped the tracks the previous night, killing two and injuring 34. The accident was caused by a tractor falling off a freight train which had just passed the area, onto the adjoining tracks.

The Government backed out of the Mt. Clemens Pottery case, which had originally upheld portal-to-portal pay, when the job preparation and clean-up time was required by the employer, and remanded the matter to the Federal District Court for determination of damages, the District Court then having found the damages to be de minimis and thus not compensable under the Wages & Hours Act of 1938, involving, as evidenced, only seven minutes of such portal time required of employees per day. Attorney General Tom Clark had asked the Supreme Court to revisit the case to determine whether the District Court had properly ruled the time de minimis. The Government, however, left the case because a settlement had been reached between the parties.

The North Carolina Senate majority passed a House bill to authorize counties and municipalities to vote on the sale of wine and beer after petition by fifteen percent of the voters for such a referendum. The bill would thus become law after some amendments to the House bill were reconciled. The Senate Finance Committee voted against approval of the bills to prohibit sale of wine in twenty counties and to allow local authorities in 29 counties, inclusive of those twenty, to determine whether beer could be sold.

A North Carolina House member, acting in bold, had introduced a bill to make contributions to the American Veterans Committee no longer tax deductible, based on his view that the AVC membership consisted predominantly of Communists. The action prompted a letter from Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr., protesting the action and stating that the AVC had been careful to weed out Communists from its membership. The Representative nevertheless stood by his former statement and refused to withdraw the bill he had introduced.

Well, now listen heya, boy. That seems a mite extreme. Time to get on the caboose.

A woman in Baltimore, maybe a little loose, refused to identify herself when ordered jailed after failing to pay a $50 fine for disorderly conduct, ordered because she had been arrested in a pawn shop after entering the shop and saying nothing, nevertheless sang loudly in the jail. So the jailers refused to lock her up because she would not reveal her identity. The judge remitted the fine, but the woman was still at the police station awaiting examination by psychiatrists.

Hal Boyle, perhaps in need of a toidy linguist, says that one does not mention Yaupon teas in the presence of a "Big Kinnakeeter", as he explored Eastern North Carolina, around the Outer Banks. Turn to page 12-A for that.

On the editorial page, "John Lewis' Extravagant Gestures" finds the six-day work stoppage of coal mines declared by the UMW boss as a mourning period in sympathy with the Centralia miners to be inadequate to establish mine safety and more than sufficient to constitute a symbolic period of mourning.

Many observers believed it to be part of the Lewis campaign to merge CIO and AFL, hoping to become leader of the combined organization.

But it appeared as oversimplifaction, the piece opining that he acted instead out of a sense of wounded pride from losing the Supreme Court fight on the contempt citation issued for his calling the UMW strike the previous November after being ordered by the Federal Court to refrain from doing so until the Court could determine whether he had legal authority to declare the Government contract void and enter into a strike against the Government operation of the mines. He could rely on the decorum of the Supreme Court not to take legal action for his temporary defiance in the wake of the Centralia disaster.

The result of this effort, however, would only add steam to the Congressional determination to enact restrictive labor legislation.

"A Topic for Jefferson Day" finds the Democrats of the new Congress being more cohesive than those of the previous Congress, yet still exhibiting a schism which ought become the subject of discussion at Jefferson Day dinners. The Democrats were less disciplined in party voting than were Republicans, the latter having 90 percent cohesion in all of the roll-call votes in the House, 67 percent in the Senate. But, by contrast, only 40 percent of the Democrats consistently voted with their party on all roll-call votes in the House, 48 percent in the Senate.

Senators Harry Flood Byrd of Virginia, Kenneth McKellar of Tennessee, and Pass the Biscuits Pappy W. Lee O'Daniel of Texas each voted with the Republicans more often than with Democrats. Four of six Democratic House members who did likewise also hailed from the South.

The piece lists the record votes of each member of the North and South Carolina delegations to Congress.

It ascribes this voting characteristic to the South's one-party political structure.

"Mecklenburg's Donation to York" tells of the failure of prohibition in Mecklenburg County being exhibited by the South Carolina figures showing that out of over 10.5 million dollars in profits from legal liquor sales, only three counties, including neighboring York, with but a population of 58,000, had sales in excess of a million dollars. By comparison to a similarly populated county in South Carolina, with but $233,000 in liquor profits, the piece concludes that three-quarters of the liquor money came from Charlotte and Mecklenburg residents going over the line, primarily on behalf of bootleggers, to bring back the legally permissible gallon per person from Fort Mill stores.

A piece from the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, titled "Nepal, Pole and Peleliu", tells first of a State Department mission headed to Nepal to set up a legation and discuss development of the country's resources, such as gums, drugs, and jute. Nepal would also serve as a listening post along the Soviet border.

It then reports of an Army Air Forces B-29 flying over the North Pole to begin routine weather observation, and, not incidentally, allowing in the process the Army to maintain surveillance of the Arctic region.

In Peleliu, some Japanese soldiers continued to be holed up, unaware that the war was over. Marine reinforcements were being flown from Pearl Harbor to convince them otherwise.

The three events suggested the new era of proactive global diplomacy into which the United States was thrust. It advises the reader to purchase a globe for ready reference.

Drew Pearson again examines John L. Lewis's responsibility in the Centralia, Ill., mine disaster, as Mr. Lewis pointed the finger of guilt at Secretary of Interior J. A. Krug. Centralia was in the middle of the coal fields in which Mr. Lewis had, years earlier, undertaken one of the bloodiest fights in the history of coal mining against the rival Progressive Miners union, resulting in the deaths of 21 miners of the latter union, murdered at Herrin by Lewis hirelings, with his imprimatur having been given for the action. Mr. Lewis had paid $300,000 from UMW funds to an Illinois mine owner to shut his mine down, throwing out of work the Progressive miners.

The Senate, he suggests, ought be probing Mr. Lewis on these earlier matters.

During a discussion of the complex issue of allowing Germany enough industry for economic development, so that it could afford reparations, while not allowing it enough with which to wage war, a colloquy produced the quandary, as posed by General Lucius Clay, commander of the U.S. occupation zone, that even a baby carriage factory could be utilized for war purposes, as it was good for the infantryŚnot to mention the infancy.

He next discusses William L. Shirer, author of Berlin Diary and former Berlin correspondent prior to Hitler's coming to power in 1933, suddenly terminated by CBS radio amid questions as to who had terminated him, the network or the sponsor, Williams Soap Co., for his open opposition to the loans to Greece and Turkey. Mr. Pearson and his former partner Robert Allen had once worked under the aegis of that same sponsor, finding it impossible to make any political statement without lawyers from the company descending upon them to admonish them. Even the foregone prediction that FDR would defeat Wendell Willkie in 1940 had been controversial with the soap company. CBS, too, had proved previously its timidity with regard to Cecil Brown and his reporting of some unpleasant truths about the war.

ABC had always protected free expression. Mutual Broadcasting, though owned by Colonel Robert McCormick, notorious isolationist, had hired both Mr. Brown and Mr. Shirer, and appeared to be willing to let the radio network say what it wished politically, despite Mr. McCormick running a newspaper, The Chicago Tribune, which was heavily politically oriented to the right.

He next tells of Secretary of State Marshall seeking to have Congress approve the shipment of 25 million dollars worth of oil refining equipment to Russia, despite Congress having put the brakes on the shipment, pursuant to lend-lease. But Secretary Marshall stated that Russia already had title to the equipment and so it should be shipped. The Congress, though doubtful of the premise, was considering the matter.

Marquis Childs discusses the Centralia, Ill., coal mine disaster, which had cost the lives of 111 miners, finds the anger of John L. Lewis laid at the door of Secretary Krug to be neglecting of the proper target, the State of Illinois, which had authority for inspection fo the mines until the Government seizure the previous May, and, despite that status, had ignored the miners' written demands communicated to the Governor a year earlier to do something about the precarious conditions.

Instead, as revealed by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch weeks before the Centralia explosion, the Illinois Department of Mines and Minerals had sent its inspectors to collect political contributions from the mine owners, with the larger mine owners asked to pay $1,000 each, the smaller, $100. The money collected went into a fund for the Republican mayoral candidate in Chicago, at the behest of Governor Dwight Green, determined to defeat Mayor Ed Kelly's machine candidate.

The original inspector assigned to the task and told to collect $25,000 from the mine owners of the Centralia district, had refused to participate and repeatedly made recommendations to his superiors to correct safety problems at the Centralia mine, especially with respect to excessive coal dust in the mine, first reported on December 13, 1945, the source of the eventual explosion.

Senator Wayland C. Brooks, Republican made by Robert McCormick and his Chicago Tribune, had written the bill to initiate the investigation into the mine disaster and was said to be instrumental in the selection of Senator Guy Cordon of Oregon as the chairman of the investigating committee.

The matter presented an interesting commentary on the Midwestern isolationist bloc, who constantly promoted states' rights, but, as in this instance, routinely also ignored the failure of the State to adhere to its responssibilities while placing blame on the Federal Government.

Mr. Lewis was determined to defeat President Truman in 1948 and to elect Governor Thomas Dewey as President, pledging political loyalty to him. Mr. Lewis was opposing all efforts regarding labor legislation. Governor Dewey, for his not being part of Congress, could escape responsibility for the Republican effort to pass such legislation.

Mr. Childs urges that the investigating committee get the whole story on Centralia, no matter where it led.

Samuel Grafton examines the varied forms which "defenders of the democratic way of life" wound up taking. There were statesmen who defended democracy against Communism, but allowed it otherwise to defend itself. The previous fall, this group had argued for allowing a certain amount of inflation to occur under released price controls, to stimulate production and, theoretically, thereby eventually to bring down prices. This group showed no perturbation regarding labor disturbances.

Senator Taft was waging a battle with his fellow Republicans regarding the housing shortage, proposing to spend a billion dollars to subsidize reasonably priced housing for veterans. But the debate was on an insipid level, without the religious fervor which characterized the fight against Communism.

The various ways the defense of democracy was being manifested suggested the country as contenders within a ring rather than as a family. The defender should think the role through before running hastily to the defense, with an eye toward whether the goal was to defend against all malice brought against the country or just to stand as a guard while observing others waging a fight.

A letter writer lectures on the evils of one-party sectionalism as found in the South, tells of the dream of John C. Calhoun for two Presidents, one from the North and one from the South. The fruits of that dream had been the war with Mexico and its consequent annexation of Texas to provide the South with additional voting power in the Congress. He notes parenthetically that the Texas Constitution retained a provision by which it could divide itself into ten separate states to provide more voting power in the Senate.

Then came FDR and the end of that dream of Southern power. The South, by adhering to the Democratic Party, had relegated itself to the category of the politically presumed, thus marginalized.

He cites several reasons, such as the nixing of James Byrnes of South Carolina as the vice-presidential nominee in 1944 by the big city bosses, Ed Flynn of the Bronx, Ed Kelly of Chicago, and Frank "I Am the Works" Hague of Jersey City, along with DNC chairman Robert Hannegan, on the belief that Mr. Byrnes could bring nothing electorally to the ticket, as South Carolina's Democratic allegiance was a foregone conclusion, as well for some of his previous stands while Senator, perceived as anti-labor.

In the one-party South, certain reactionary politicians were able to flourish, such as Senators Theodore Bilbo, Eugene Talmadge, and Congressman John Rankin. He also includes liberal Claude Pepper, Senator from Florida, in this mix without making distinction, as well as Senator Clyde Hoey of North Carolina, a moderate, and Congressman Hamilton Jones of Mecklenburg, new Congressman without an established voting record. He suggests them as examples that Southern Democratic statesmen were diminishing in stature as the one-party atmosphere pervaded the more.

He concludes, "So it is."

The letter writer betrays his dislike for Democrats of any stripe from the South. He obviously wanted a Republican South, was no doubt pleased by the results in 1968 and the coming to the fore of such independent, populist Republican voices, converts from the evils of the New Deal Democrats, as those exponents of true liberty and democracy, valiant fighters of the people and for the people, almost all the people, all the time, Senators Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms.

Senator Soaper says: "No 1948 candidate so far proposed is the combination of Galahad, Solomon, Van Johnson and a certified public accountant which the times require, or any three thereof."

Arguably, it would take until 1960 for both major party candidates to fulfill those roles, if each filled a different component of that deemed by Senator Soaper to be the requisite traits for effective leadership in the post-war world and the Cold War. Which of the candidates, however, embodied which of those traits, and whether either could be said to have three, we leave to your imagination and judgment in hindsight to discern. And, to determine whether the Creep "accountant" was maintaining more than one set of books.

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