The Charlotte News

Tuesday, November 2, 1948


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that it was election day across the nation, with good weather in most of it, save the Rockies and the State of Washington where it was raining. A heavy turnout of about 50 million voters was being predicted. Balloting was heavy in industrial centers where it was hoped that labor would carry the day for the President. The largest previous turnout was in 1940, with 49,820,312 casting ballots. The 1944 turnout was about two million fewer.

Heavy turnouts were being recorded in New York City, Baltimore, and New England.

Governor Dewey voted in a Manhattan school, P.S. 18, at 12:20 p.m., while 500 persons cheered him. He had a suite at the Hotel Roosevelt.

In Independence, Mo., the President cast his ballot at the Memorial Hall gymnasium, accompanied by First Lady Bess Truman and First Daughter Margaret. The President, obviously on leave of his senses, said that he could not see anything but victory.

You had better take an early look tomorrow at the front page of the Chicago Tribune, pal. You will then have a major reality check in store.

Both candidates had addressed the country via radio the previous night.

Henry Wallace cast his ballot in Salem, N.Y., during the early morning. Even his friends were not expecting him to win any single state in the election, though he could affect the outcome in New York.

The final Gallup poll showed Governor Dewey leading with 49.5 percent, followed by President Truman with 44.5 percent, then Henry Wallace with 4 percent, and Strom Thurmond at 2 percent.

DNC chairman Howard McGrath, also having obviously taken a hiatus from his wits, said that the Gallup poll actually favored the President because Gallup had overestimated the Dewey popular vote totals in 1944, and if that overestimate held true, the President would win. The poll had underestimated President Roosevelt's strength by 2.8 percent, leaving therefore a Truman victory in the offing at 47.3 to 46.7 percent. He believed the poll had also overestimated the combined strength of Messrs. Wallace and Thurmond.

A piece recommends keeping an eye on the returns from West Virginia and Maryland as fair indicators of the national trend. Maryland had backed the ultimate winner in the presidential race 13 of the previous 16 elections, spanning back to 1884, while West Virginia had done so in 14 of the previous 16 contests. New York had backed Charles Evans Hughes in 1916, but otherwise had supported the winner in each of the previous 16 elections. Arizona, New Mexico and Idaho were also good predictors.

There were eleven pivotal Senate seats in play. Key gubernatorial races were in Illinois, Washington, Montana, Tennessee, Ohio, and Indiana.

Fragmentary returns out of Texas showed the President in the lead. Minuscule returns are given from Michigan, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Florida, and Alabama.

The President led Governor Dewey in Cataloochee, N.C., 7 to 0. The 1944 result had been FDR 8 and Governor Dewey 2. Thirty percent fewer people were interested.

Amid good weather, with a high of 77 degrees, a record-breaking turnout appeared in the offing for Mecklenburg County, with polls remaining open until 6:30. Registrars expected their biggest rush in the last two hours. In the Myers Park Ward 7, half the voters registered in the precinct had voted by 1:00. About 40 percent of the registered voters in a predominantly black precinct, Ward 2, had voted by noon, considered a very heavy turnout. It was expected that 40,000 would vote in the county.

The Chinese Communists called for quick surrender of the Nationalist troops in Manchuria and Communist leader Mao Tze-Tung boasted that they would conquer all of China. He said that the Communists already controlled 24.5 percent of the land area, with 163 million people, about a quarter of China's population. Reliable reports stated that fighting had ceased in conquered Mukden. The loss of Mukden and consequently Manchuria had sent ripples through China's economy and threatened a shake-up in the Cabinet of Premier Wong Wen-Hao. Shanghai prices jumped 300 to 400 percent.

It was expected that Shanhaikuan, Great Wall gateway, would be the next target in Northern China. Others believed that concentration would center next on taking Nanking.

Near Lille, France, Communist-led coal strikers battled with police and French troops, utilizing grenades and guns. About 15 policemen were reportedly wounded and an undisclosed number of strikers hurt, albeit no injuries apparently being serious. It was the first defense of the mines since the 60,000 police and troops began clearing northern coalfields a week earlier.

Near Paris, Ky., a stuffed ballot box containing 17 ballots had been discovered in a Clintonville precinct.

Near Shelby, N.C., the new steel and concrete bridge over the Broad River at Stacy Ferry on Highway 18 between Shelby and Gaffney, S.C., had opened.

Wake Forest, after its Saturday victory over N.C. State 34 to 13, had been named Southern Conference team of the week on the sports page. The Demon Deacons were 4-2 at this point, would finish the season 6-4.

On the editorial page, "The Privilege of the Ballot" tells of the right of universal suffrage having developed over time. Until a hundred years earlier, it was considered the prerogative of the landed gentry.

The original North Carolina Constitution of 1776 granted the right of suffrage but limited to freemen casting ballots for the State House while only landholders could vote for State Senators. Those bodies chose the Governor and state executive officials, as well as the electors for President.

Only in 1836 did freemen get the right to choose the Governor. In 1857, an amendment to the State Constitution abolished landholding as a requirement to elect Senators. After the Civil War, the Fifteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution extended the right to vote in Federal elections to all citizens, including former slaves. In 1868, the State Constitution allowed popular election of State and county officials, judicial and executive. In 1900, an educational test was imposed on the right to vote and was still on the books in 1948, though not being used. In 1919, the U.S. Constitution was amended to allow women's suffrage. In 1920, North Carolina abolished the poll tax. In 1929, the state adopted the secret ballot. The piece omits the Seventeenth Amendment, ratified in 1913, providing for direct popular election in each state of U.S. Senators, previously chosen by the state legislatures.

It urges exercise of this hard won right.

"Stay South, Young Man" tells of a dozen Souths appearing in a drive along North Carolina's highways. There was Small Town South, backwoods South, Old South of the plantation era, the Industrial South, and the South of the New Agriculture, with new farms undertaking soil conservation.

Louis Bromfeld, writing in the Atlantic Monthly, had told of the South's accomplishments in agriculture, calling the new farms the "symbol of man's conquest over his own carelessness, ignorance and greed." He regarded the South as "The New Frontier", urging, "Go South, Young Man!"

An Ohioan, he marveled at the four-fold increase of farm income in five years, resultant of greater crop diversity, mechanization and soil conservation.

The piece suggests that the wiser counsel, however, was that of the title of the piece. Many of the best minds of the region had departed for the North and West as the new frontiers.

Mr. Bromfeld said that no state of the South had shown more progress, agriculturally and industrially, in the previous generation than North Carolina. The University had become one of the "most vigorous cultural centers of the nation." Gone was the shabby appearance and the state's inhabitants were making progress away from the old superstitions and prejudices which in the past had handicapped and sometimes paralyzed the Deep South.

Drew Pearson tells of military strategy having been discussed the previous spring to drop the atomic bomb to get a war with Russia over with and to re-elect the President. It was not known who finally blocked the plan. The President had shown personal anguish over his original decision to drop the Hiroshima bomb in his letter to Secretary of State Marshall regarding the proposed mission of Chief Justice Fred Vinson to Moscow to discuss control of nuclear energy.

Secretary Marshall and the diplomats believed the President's sentimentalism in this regard to be dangerous as it would allow the Soviets to realize that he would not drop another atomic bomb. Secretary Marshall did not wish to do so but wanted the Soviets to believe that the U.S. remained capable of it. It was one reason he opposed the Vinson mission.

Mr. Pearson concludes that history would regard President Truman as no warmonger but rather as an "humble though confused believer in the brotherhood of man."

He next compares the election behavior of two pairs of persons once close to FDR. Henry Wallace and Jesse Jones had been taken from obscurity, both close to bankruptcy, to be, respectively, in the first Roosevelt Administration Secretary of Agriculture and chairman of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, the latter responsible for loaning Government money to big business. Both had benefited greatly from the New Deal.

But now Mr. Jones was openly endorsing the Republicans, after being fired by FDR in 1944 for privately building a Republican coalition in Texas. For awhile, in 1944, a controversy brewed in which the nephew of Mr. Jones was leading a crusade in Texas to cast electors for some Democrat other than FDR.

Mr. Wallace was consorting with Communists to try to defeat the very Administration of which he had been a part.

By contrast, both Harold Ickes and Eleanor Roosevelt were sticking with the sinking ship and had openly endorsed the President after both, especially Mr. Ickes, had worked to defeat his re-nomination at the convention.

"As Winston Churchill said, it is when the dark comes down that the stars shine."

Joseph & Stewart Alsop find that everyone was glad the campaign was over as it had been a bore. One reason was that Thomas Dewey had waged an unexciting campaign, in part by design, in part as a result of the type of person he was. There was something mechanical, even chilling, about his style, even though his speeches were well written and his delivery perfect. Yet, he could not inspire, as FDR, Wendell Willkie or Al Smith, each blessed with the intangible ability to garner intense personal loyalty from the masses. A high proportion of Dewey votes would be anti-Truman votes.

As President, this major flaw of Mr. Dewey would need to be corrected. The next President would need make monumental decisions which he would then have to make stick with a bitterly opposing Congress. He would need to demonstrate to the country that he had a heart. But the presidency forced growth and so perhaps Mr. Dewey, as he had grown significantly in public life, would develop this crucial trait.

Mr. Truman's capacity for growth was severely limited. That also had contributed to the dullness of the campaign, as it was plain from the beginning that the President could not be re-elected. He had tried to appeal to the emotions of the voters and was moving further to the left in doing so, even to the left of FDR. This attempt had largely failed, however, as no one had been taken in by the dire predictions he had made of "gluttons of privilege" controlling the country, largely because the electorate sensed that the President did not believe it himself or even understood completely what he was saying.

James Marlow tells of there being 531 electoral votes up for grabs in the election, with 266 needed to win. The reason for 531 was that there were 435 House members and 96 Senators. Each state was decided on a winner take all basis of the electors, though not a Constitutional mandate, rather determined state by state.

Thus, it was theoretically possible to win the popular vote and lose the electoral vote, as in the 1888 election when incumbent President Grover Cleveland won the popular vote but lost the election to Benjamin Harrison by dint of the electoral college.

Carrying twelve states, California, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Indiana, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Ohio, Texas, and Wisconsin would enable victory with 269 electoral votes.

If there were no majority, then the new 81st House would choose the President, with each state delegation entitled to one vote.

He posits that the division in the South over civil rights would only play a role in the election if the entire 113-vote bloc from the South would change the outcome, as opposed to the electoral votes to be actually obtained from the South by the President, or that the absence of that bloc in toto would deny the President a majority while Governor Dewey also failed to obtain a majority, sending the election into the House.

Samuel Grafton, no longer carried by The News, suggests that the winner of the election might not be known for many years. Conservative opinion formed around Mr. Dewey was certain of its victory. But if it won on paper, it would be hard pressed to set down exactly what it had won and might ultimately find itself with a hollow victory. For conservative opinion had managed to splinter and fragment the two-party system. William Green of AFL was talking about the need for a third party. Many conservatives worried that conservative opinion had gone too far in steamrolling the old Democratic Party such that conservative Democrats would no longer be around to align with other conservatives.

It was not clear how the Democratic Party should be remodeled or what kind of new party ought be constructed in its stead. Such also figured into the uncertain spoils of victory for the GOP.

For the conservative steamroller had also unleashed a new tide of leftist talk in the country, with the President attacking the "reactionary" 80th Congress and Henry Wallace attacking both the Congress and the President.

Thunder was now coming from the left, whereas in the previous two elections, the thunder had emerged from the right, now relatively quiet. The President had been goaded into making speeches further to the left than those of FDR. This side of the political spectrum was therefore winning while being placed on the defensive by the right.

Thus, he reiterates his conclusion that the true winner of the election might not be known for years to come.

A letter writer bemoans the failure of the Charlotte Community Chest drive to meet its annual goal.

A letter from the chairman of the Public Relations Committee of the North Carolina Dental Society thanks the newspaper for its editorial of October 27 supporting a State dental college. He points out one error in the piece: that Emory School of Dentistry in Atlanta did not have any quotas for admissions, even for admittees from Georgia. But it was true that only a small number of North Carolinians matriculated at the school.

A letter writer agrees with the letter writer of October 28 regarding his criticism of the exclusive broadcast of the UNC-LSU game by three of four Charlotte radio stations, excluding games of note in other parts of the country. He had managed to tune in by short wave to the Cornell vs. Army contest and also to the Michigan game. He thinks that all the world had an interest in Army, Navy, Princeton, Cornell, Columbia, Ohio, and many other Northern college football teams, while only Southerners were interested in Southern teams.

Move North then.

You probably never saw a 75-yard, 8-lateral final play of the game to decide the contest, with two or three missed calls which would have nullified the concluding touchdown, following a 12-point comeback in the last six minutes by the opponent, in one of those Northern games.

A letter from the president of the Temple Israel Sisterhood thanks the newspaper for its help in publicizing events involving Charlotte's Temple Israel.

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