The Charlotte News

Tuesday, January 6, 1948


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the Administration had removed one major stumbling block for Congressional approval of the Marshall Plan by removing the 17 billion dollar cost estimate from the recommended four-year package. There was no change, however, in the 6.8 billion recommended for the first year.

Senator Arthur Vandenberg, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, stated that the change recognized the reality that it was impossible to determine what the situation in the world would be three and four years down the road. But he still favored a four-year commitment, without any fixed amount of aid being stated.

Senator Robert Taft, who favored a one-year commitment, refused comment on the change.

William Arbogast of the Associated Press reports on the first day of the regular session of Congress, with little being done until the President's State of the Union message would be provided the following day. The House consisted of 245 Republicans, 186 Democrats, and one American Labor Party member, with two older vacancies and one new vacancy, after the death of a Democratic member from Virginia. The Senate was comprised of 51 Republicans and 45 Democrats. The President's message was likely to point up sharp differences between the Administration and the Congress.

General MacArthur's headquarters reported of plans to take ten million dollars from the occupation trust fund to purchase 50,000 bales of cotton to keep the Japanese mills operating until spring. By the following month, headquarters indicated, it hoped to have resolved issues on use of 120 million dollars worth of Japanese gems and precious metals with which to purchase cotton. American banks had agreed to loan 60 million dollars for purchase of American cotton, provided part of the Japanese gems and metals would be put up as collateral.

Recently retired chief of naval operations, Admiral Chester Nimitz, stated in a report that the U.S. held undisputed control of the seas and could, if necessary, establish a floating airfield off any shore in the world. He predicted that in the future the Navy would add to its arsenal carrier-based planes with atom bombs aboard.

While relatively deficient in manpower, he continued, the U.S. could make up for the deficit in superior technology and weaponry. East Asia and Western Europe would not be in a position for decades to become a threat. Only Central Asia could imminently contest American security.

The President's personal pilot, Lt. Colonel Henry Myers, was retiring to return to commercial aviation.

In Georgia, Herman Talmadge, who had failed a year earlier in his bid to succeed his deceased father as Governor—but who would win the special gubernatorial election in 1948 and would eventually become Senator—expressed the view that a last ditch effort would be made in Georgia to bar blacks from voting by passing a law similar to that on the books in Alabama, the Boswell amendment, whereby persons seeking to register had to explain the Constitution to the satisfaction of the registrar of voters. He stated his view that not more than 10 to 15 percent of blacks should be allowed to vote, while 85 to 90 percent of whites, including those who were illiterate, were capable of exercising their franchise with independent thought.

A lawyer for the N.A.A.C.P. said that any such law in Georgia would be challenged in the courts, just as the Boswell amendment was being challenged in Alabama as denying the franchise to blacks.

The statements of Mr. Talmadge were in the wake of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision the previous week striking down the South Carolina private-club primary law which had stripped the statute books of all references to primaries and sought to enable the parties to operate the primaries as private functions, regulating who they wished to allow to vote.

In Winston-Salem, the 16-year old boy who fatally shot both of his parents with a rifle on New Year's Eve at their home on Robin Hood Road following an argument over money as the boy sought to elope with his girlfriend in York, S.C., was arraigned on the two counts of murder.

In Charlotte, Southern Bell announced plans to construct a three-story addition to its building on N. Caldwell Street, to cost 1.8 million dollars.

You'll look forward to that.

Dick Young of The News tells of the City Planning Board in a meeting having added to its master plan for 1948 the widening of the bottleneck underpass on E. 4th Street.

A graphic representation is included, albeit not recommended for younger viewers.

Now, you'll be able to get your wagon through there without getting stuck in the neck of the bottle.

Street improvements in the black section of town were emphasized at the meeting.

Mrs. C.N. Peeler of Charlotte, long active in civic life in the city, passed away at age 68. She was married to a prominent physician in the community.

The Empty Stocking Fund campaign for the season, sponsored by The News, had delivered presents to 2,971 persons from 581 needy families in the community, plus 114 foster home children and 294 lone adults. The Fund fell $250 short of its $7,700 goal, a deficit made up from a permanent reserve fund. The Fund provided presents for 850 more persons than in 1946, when $5,600 was spent. No person who qualified for the assistance failed to receive their gifts.

In Santa Monica, California, actor and swimmer Johnny Weissmuller was planning a fourth marriage after he obtained divorce from his third wife. He had met his intended, a professional golfer, on a golf course.

In nearby Hollywood, actor Van Johnson became the father of a new daughter. The mother was the former wife of actor Keenan Wynn, by whom she had two children. The couple were married a year earlier.

On the editorial page, "Back to Normalcy and Isolation" finds the alternatives to the President's anti-inflation program and the Marshall Plan being set forth by Senator Taft to be in fulfillment of his wish for a return to normalcy and isolation. The inflation control measure which had become law during the November-December special session was, as the President had described it in reluctantly appending his signature, "pitifully inadequate". The alternative proposed for ERP was equally bad.

It was likely to cut the expenditures on aid to the 16 nations, attach unacceptable conditions to the aid, and take administration of the Plan from the State Department and vest it with a bipartisan committee, so that the Republicans could obtain credit for whatever success it enjoyed.

But after these revisions, the Plan would be less likely to succeed. The Truman Administration, working through Senator Arthur Vandenberg, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, would seek to preserve the Plan intact, as proposed by the President. And several GOP progressives had given signs of intent during the special session to bolt from the Taft leadership.

It concludes that the world was out of step with Senator Taft and, "by cracky, it is just too bad for the world."

You don't want to miss it. It will be the biggest event since the Coolidge inaugural.

"The Drama of Mecklenburg" tells of the effort of Charlotte booster Clarence Kuester to establish an outdoor drama depicting the signing of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence on May 20, 1775.

Playwright Paul Green had expressed an interest in authoring such a work and research had been performed by Charlotte writer-historian Legette Blythe and Charlotte composer Lamar Stringfield.

The piece thinks the effort worthwhile and that the resulting drama would draw many visitors to the city, as had prior such historical presentations in 1925 and 1930. In the latter year, President Hoover had attended a celebration held at nearby Kings Mountain, site of the crucial Revolutionary War battle, and had told Mr. Kuester that the area was so rich in history, it ought to be tapped. He was taking the advice.

Get one of those for the Martian landings.

"More Inflation as a 'Cure'" tells of Senator Elmer Thomas of Oklahoma advocating more inflation finally to stabilize prices. He believed that the citizens in his state would rather suffer anything before returning to rationing and price control.

It was unlikely, offers the piece, that the Senator had consulted with anyone save those in business ecstatic about higher prices. The increasing malnutrition among children was likely not on his radar scope.

His statement betrayed the notion that behind the opposition to control was the desire for a prolonged boom.

While inflation could not be stopped until production restored the balance between supply and demand or deflation cut the money supply, price controls would at least spread the burden over the whole population and prevent wrecking of the economy during the period of readjustment.

But inflation had passed beyond all remedy when such politicians as Senator Thomas recommended more inflation as the anodyne.

A brief piece from the Christian Science Monitor, titled "The Red and the Black", finds the bishop in charge of Methodist work in twelve European countries reporting that the most resistance to the work came in Franco's Spain, where Protestantism was not allowed religious freedom. In the Soviet Union, Methodist work was being effected without interference.

Sumner Welles, former Undersecretary of State until August, 1943, tells of internal events in Italy justifying optimism, with the new Republican Constitution having been adopted and a more representative Government being the result. The de Gasperi Cabinet was much stronger than that of Robert Schuman in France. The Government's popular appeal had led to the failure of the Communist-inspired strikes.

The chief cause for the confidence was that the Cabinet was getting things done. The financial and economic program was succeeding and inflation was coming under control, with prices going down on basic necessities. Employment was slowly increasing.

With 750,000 tons of coal per month coming from the U.S. and 200,000 more from the Ruhr and 60,000 from Poland, Italian industry could function satisfactorily. The interim aid from America would tide the people over through March, and promised wheat from Argentina would extend their sustenance to June.

But if Greece were brought under Soviet control, then Italy would be the next target. The unsettled status of internationalized Trieste invited a major incident between Italy and Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia was already busy provoking minor incidents in the Adriatic, as its recent unjustified seizure of 25 Italian fishing boats.

The Communist Party in Italy had the largest treasury of any of the many political parties in the country and it was prepared to try to decrease the turnout of supporters of the democratic parties in the elections in the spring by provoking riots on election day and engaging in other nefarious activities. Yet popular sentiment ran so high against the Communists in Italy that, short of an armed revolt orchestrated by the Soviets, any attempted coup d'etat would fail.

Mr. Welles suggests that Winston Churchill had done the world a salutary service the previous year by suggesting that Soviet rulers understood only force. Many American leaders were making a mistake in assuming that loans and relief alone could maintain European freedom.

While ERP was indispensable to saving European freedom, it was also necessary that Congress declare that American force would be used, if necessary, to enforce the provisions of the U.N. Charter, to guarantee the freedom of countries such as Italy, whose freedom was essential to American security.

Drew Pearson, in Trieste, suggests that if war were to come in 1948, it would erupt in either Greece or Trieste. There were 5,000 U.S. troops present in the internationalized port city, separated by a thin line from the Yugoslav forces of Tito. The situation in Trieste was more dangerous than that in Greece because of the presence of 100,000 well-equipped Yugoslav fighters.

Many diplomats expected the Soviets to seek to establish Communism in Northern Italy, where many of the municipal councils were already Communist-dominated, and that the Tito troops would be sent there by the following spring to support such a move.

American intelligence had prepared a report showing that the Yugoslav troops opposite Trieste were chosen for offensive capability, not mere guard duty, and were equipped with the latest Soviet arms. Mr. Pearson had a copy of the report and quotes from it.

While the American troops were well-trained and well-equipped, they nevertheless were only 5,000 men against 100,000 Yugoslavs.

He next provides a dinner exchange between the wife of Senator Styles Bridges and Foreign Minister Georges Bidault of France during the Senator's recent visit in France. When Mrs. Bridges asked why it was that the French people did not know how much food was coming from the U.S., M. Bidault replied in French that it was because the Ambassador, Jefferson Caffery, also at the dinner, did not come down to meet every ship. Mrs. Caffery translated M. Bidault's reply, to which Mrs. Bridges rejoined that if the Ambassador met every ship, there would be little else for him to do.

Mr. Pearson notes that Ambassador Caffery met the "Friend Ship" carrying food donated by American citizens and held a reception for French officials.

He next provides three excerpts from the French press in praise of the Friendship Train, delivering to the French 4,000 tons of food, as a contribution directly from the American people.

Samuel Grafton tells of New Yorkers during the 25-inch snowfall the previous week having forgotten their troubles and all thoughts of political differences, lending to their fellow New Yorkers a helping hand when needed. There was a minor bread delivery "crisis" which caused everyone to join together in common bond.

He had been in the blizzards of the previous year in England and France and found the reaction in those countries a little different, as there were no hot baths afterward and no meat with meals. Ordering bread had meant omitting soup or dessert. Thousands of head of livestock had perished in the snows and people had been marooned for four or five days at a time, villages cut off for a week.

When Americans sat in a warm room and spoke against the Marshall Plan, he thought, perhaps they had not experienced enough cold and snow, enough reality. Good, decent people were being led against the Plan for various doctrinal reasons, both from the right and the left. The result, regardless of reasons, was inhumane. Thus, the human situation, snow in the face, would provide a quick check on the inhuman thought path.

Joseph & Stewart Alsop, writing under a common byline for the first time since August, discuss the Greek situation and the declaration of a "free state" in Northern Greece by General Markos Vafiades (appearing under a variant spelling as "Vifiades"), receiving support from Soviet satellites, with Albania being the primary source of military aid. His propaganda came from a loudspeaker mounted on a movable railway car just across the border in Yugoslavia.

When the Soviet Union would, as expected, provide official recognition of the Vafiades Government, it would challenge the West to further action. One course being considered was the establishment of an Anglo-American base in the Mediterranean. More aid could be provided the Greek Government at Athens, with additional emphasis on the military. It was argued that if the Greek Army were enlarged from 150,000 to its wartime strength of 400,000 and equipped with American arms, then it could withstand anything short of a direct Soviet-sponsored assault. But such a force would also place pressure on the economy of Greece and drain necessary manpower from the recovery effort, delaying economic stability.

A second alternative was to send American troops to Greece, with some in the State Department and Defense Department favoring the approach. Even 4,000 men would help to stiffen the Greek forces. But there was also argument being posed against it on the ground that such a small contingent would be unable to resist the guerrillas any more than the 150,000 Greeks had been able to do. The only effective means of defense would be to seal the Greek borders, requiring several divisions of troops. That, the critics contended, would play into the Politburo's strategy of dispersing American troop strength, leaving the Soviets free to change their emphasis and move into Italy or Austria, Turkey or Iran.

So, the third alternative, the contemplation of a base in the Mediterranean, was being considered the best option, to convince the Soviets that the Greek move was unproductive. Such a base might be established in the Bengaul region of Africa, held by the British.

We hope that you had a happy Epiphany.

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