The Charlotte News

Monday, December 13, 1948


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that HUAC investigators were searching for an old typewriter on which, according to Whittaker Chambers, Priscilla Hiss had transcribed some of the documents which he received allegedly from Mr. Hiss, recently provided to HUAC and the Federal grand jury in New York, following their being retrieved by him from his nephew's Brooklyn home in response to a discovery request in the suit filed by Alger Hiss against him for defamation, after the documents had remained there for ten years, since Mr. Chambers had parted ways with the Communists in the spring of 1938. The Committee wanted to assess the characteristics of the typewriter, allegedly belonging to Mr. Hiss, to ascertain whether it matched the typed documents and, in turn, whether those documents would match known exemplars typed by the Hiss family on the typewriter. Acting chairman of the Committee Karl Mundt was said possibly to have a forthcoming announcement anent the typewriter during the afternoon.

A half a million people were expected to show up, so many that the New York State Thruway would be closed.

Mr. Hiss submitted his resignation as head of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace this date, but trustees of the organization tabled the resignation and granted him instead a three-month leave of absence.

In China, the Communists had approached to within 50 miles of Nanking. Government sources said that the Nationalist troops might soon have to abandon the key defense line at the Hwai River and remove to the Yangtze. More than 50,000 Government troops had been wiped out west of Suhsien. The 12th Army group, once 110,000 strong, now was forced into an area of only four square miles.

Communist forces in the north had also moved to within eight miles of Peiping.

Costa Rica appealed under the Rio Pact to the 21 Western Hemisphere signatory nations for help in repelling an armed invasion led by Communists, consisting of 200 to 1,000 men out of neighboring Nicaragua. The foreign ministers would determine by the next afternoon whether to convene an emergency session to determine what measures should be taken. The treaty had only gone into effect ten days earlier.

In Nicaragua, war minister and "strong man" General Anastasio Samoza denied that the troops came from his country and claimed that they were Costa Ricans. He said that his forces were patrolling the border to prevent contact with the attackers.

In Buenos Aires, Argentine Federal police arrested fourteen persons, including some of El Presidente Juan Peron's closest advisers, for fraud for obtaining a loan from the Government for transfer of a non-existent aluminum plant from Italy to Argentina. Three Italians allegedly had provided bribes to Argentine officials to assure the deal would be approved.

The President asked Congress to boost the pay of Cabinet officers from $15,000 annually to $25,000. He also sought pay increases for other top-level Government officials. The Budget Director also suggested that the President's salary of $75,000 and the Vice-President's salary of $25,000 ought be substantially increased. By the Constitution, such a raise would not affect either President Truman or Vice-President-elect Barkley unless passed prior to inauguration day.

The Supreme Court held 6 to 3 in McDonald v. U.S., 335 U.S. 451, an opinion announced by Justice William O. Douglas, that police officers violated the Fourth Amendment proscription against unlawful warrantless searches by forcing their way into a rooming house and peering over a transom to collect evidence to arrest two Washington men for violations of gambling laws. There were no emergent circumstances, such as the suspect fleeing or seeking to destroy evidence, allowing the officers to conduct the search without a warrant. The men had been under surveillance for several months and warrants had been sought and denied for lack of probable cause. On this occasion, the officers, while passing the boarding house, merely heard an adding machine, inadequate to provide grounds for search without first obtaining a warrant.

Justice Harold Burton dissented, joined by Chief Justice Fred Vinson and Justice Stanley Reed.

In another case, Upshaw v. U.S., 335 U.S. 410, the Court ruled 5 to 4, in an opinion delivered by Justice Hugo Black, that a confession obtained by police after 30 hours of questioning was violative of the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination and Due Process by not having taken the defendant without delay before the nearest magistrate for arraignment, and thus invalidated the conviction obtained for theft pursuant to the confession. Justice Reed dissented, joined by the Chief Justice and Justices Robert Jackson and Burton.

In a third case, Uveges v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 335 U.S. 437, an opinion delivered by Justice Reed, the Court ruled 6 to 3 that the Pennsylvania courts should provide a habeas corpus hearing to a defendant who filed a petition claiming that he had been held incommunicado for two weeks at the time of his arrest at age 17 for burglary and was convicted without being provided the right to have counsel. Justices Felix Frankfurter, Jackson, and Burton dissented.

In another case, the Court refused hearing and let stand a lower court ruling which held that the GI Bill of Rights gave the courts authority to award veterans a year of back pay if, on release from the service, the veteran's former employer did not restore him to his pre-war job.

On Guam, a 27-year old American woman who had disappeared near her place of employment Saturday night was found in the jungle near the spot from which she had vanished, in a pool of blood after being raped and assaulted. Her condition was critical. Authorities said that she had been kidnaped by a gang of "sex fiends". The woman worked for the Navy as a civilian employee at a curio shop.

In Tarlton, Tenn., seven men had been arrested in connection with a hooded, night-riding "reign of terror", not associated with the Klan. The barn of the foreman of the county grand jury, which had been investigating illegal liquor traffic in the county, had been burned down the previous winter. A witness before the grand jury also had his home set on fire. Another witness was threatened. Other fires damaged two stores and a school. The night-riders were said not to be members of any organization.

In Shelby, N.C., a 22-year old man was held without bail on a charge of raping a teen-aged girl the previous Saturday night as the two were returning to her home in the man's car after an outing. The girl was badly beaten about her face.

In Eugene, Ore., the rain-swollen Willamette River flooded lowlands, causing 500 people to flee and cutting off roads. It was the third Oregon flood of the year, the first two having been along the Columbia River in May and June.

Tom Fesperman of The News tells of the Mecklenburg delegation to the General Assembly preparing to discuss improvement and control of city streets in Charlotte, as well as housing and elimination of slums.

Emery Wister of The News reports of actor Rod Cameron coming to town and giving a Christmas party the previous day for the children of the Thompson Orphanage. He had flown into Charlotte Friday for the sole purpose of buying presents for each of the 86 children. Each received a bright cowboy shirt, individually wrapped and bearing the words, "from Rod".

Well, that's better than not getting a cowboy shirt. It's the thought that counts.

The children sang for the Western star, "Here Comes Santa Claus" and "You Call Everybody Darling". The children insisted that he visit every dormitory and cottage, detaining him for six hours.

The previous night, Mr. Cameron gave a party in his hotel room for friends and afterward attended a supper in his honor.

The children of the orphanage were also to be Mr. Cameron's guests at a special showing of one of his latest pictures, "The Plunderers", on this afternoon. He said that he had not seen the movie, himself.

Mr. Cameron had adopted the children the previous spring when visiting as a guest of the rodeo.

He was also shopping around for another present for each of the children.

Well, let's try to make it something useful this time, a doll for the girls and a basketball for the boys. How's that?

Hey, watch that lip. We don't care if you don't want a doll. That's what you're going to get or Santa will introduce you to his black belt.

Parcheesi? That's too expensive to ask of Mr. Cameron. What do you think he is, a millionaire or something?

No, no electric train sets. Maybe next year, Mr. Gable will come and then you can ask for that.

On the editorial page, "Bare-Faced Bid for Headlines" discusses HUAC's latest round of hearings on the "pumpkin papers" of Whittaker Chambers, claimed to have been received from Alger Hiss in 1937-38, in light of the release for publication of twelve of the Chambers documents the previous day—one to be read on each day of Christmas, a holiday in need of limiting its color to green only, we suppose.

The release had been announced by HUAC the previous Friday night, two days before their actual release, cleared by the State Department. The Committee released the documents to the newspapers some 20 hours before their publication.

The piece finds the episode tawdry and urges that if the documents were so important to the American people, they should have been released as soon as they had been cleared by the State Department, without any delay, a delay designed merely to whet the public's appetite and grab headlines for an extra day.

"Tuesday Night's School Meeting" tells of the State Education Commission report on the schools of North Carolina showing manifold deficiencies, in teacher pay and work loads, equipment shortages, space shortages, etc. The problems stemmed from the turn of the century.

It ventures that a more enlightened public would make fewer mistakes in 1965 or 1970.

The report dealt with most of the problems, but the public would likely not see it before the Legislature convened in January for its biennial session. Thus, a meeting to be held the following evening at Central High School in Charlotte to discuss the report would provide the public with a good opportunity to learn of its contents and recommendations. The executive secretary of the Commission would be present to interpret it.

You best get there or Santa will take his shiny black boots to you. Because if you make these mistakes in 1965 or 1970, we will take our black boots to you—and we have a mind that you will make some serious mistakes in that time, dear Charlotte, as Charlottean Harry Golden will, we predict, discuss in a column appearing in The Virgin Islands Daily News, August 1, 1974, a week before the President of the United States, Richard Nixon, the same you know from HUAC these days, will announce his resignation from office for his role in obstructing justice in the break-in by his campaign operatives in 1972 at the Democratic National Headquarters offices in Washington, among numerous other Nixon Administration crimes coming to light in the process, all subsumed under the general rubric "Watergate". We could be wrong though. It may just be a bad dream that we had. But we think, out of an abundance of caution, that you should go to that meeting and tell them what we said, and maybe you can change history before it is too late.

"The Case of the Slanderous Tombstone"—with an inaccurate title, legally speaking—tells of the case of Hamp Kendall, accused and convicted falsely of the murder of a man in 1907, and serving ten years in prison until finally released after the actual culprit confessed and committed suicide.

A bill had been passed by the General Assembly authorizing payment of $500 per year of imprisonment to all such persons wrongfully convicted.

Mr. Kendall, however, remained disturbed by a libelous tombstone at the victim's grave which stated that he was the murderer. He addressed a letter to Governor Gregg Cherry, beseeching his assistance in having the inscription removed. Governor Cherry responded that he had no power to do so, suggested that Mr. Kendall contact the family or the cemetery.

Meanwhile, the national wire services had picked up the story and given Mr. Kendall national recognition. Perhaps, it suggests, the publicity might finally right the tables of injustice, but the case reminded that the criminal justice system was, at times, seriously flawed.

Mr. Kendall could actually have brought suit against the family to have the inscription removed for the fact of it being a libel.

It is best not to set things like that in stone, with such abiding certainty, based only on the findings of a jury, quite fallible. Had, for instance, the tombstone read, instead, "convicted of the murder", then it would not be libelous, though it might cast Mr. Kendall in a continuing false light without adding that he was later cleared. A tombstone is not a newspaper, except maybe in Tombstone.

A piece from the Congressional Quarterly tells of prospective legislation in the 81st Congress on housing legislation, rent control, Federal aid to education, mandatory health insurance, and expansion of Social Security benefits, and the lobbying efforts set to transpire for and against the bills.

Drew Pearson tells of a Navy guidebook for officers making speeches, urging them to represent the Navy and inform the public only of the benefit of the Navy. They were not to refer to Russia as a potential enemy. They would speak with confidence regarding the U.N. And they would not belittle the other branches of military service. The book also sniped at the Air Force and favored broader Naval aviation, despite the Joint Chiefs having twice fixed the role of the Navy in this regard.

The Navy was buying more airplanes than the Air Force, set by 1951 to have an advantage of 14,000 to 10,600 planes.

President Truman told the son of the chairman of the FCC, during a White House visit, that his being shy about asking for the President's autograph, as related by the father, was nothing about which to worry. For he, himself, had not been able to speak when first visiting the White House in 1935. But, he added, the reason was that the President had done all the talking.

Representative John Rankin had been depressed until the revelation of the "pumpkin papers" of Whittaker Chambers. Mr. Rankin was set to have effective control of HUAC if it survived, a dubious proposition, as many Democratic leaders, including Speaker Sam Rayburn, wanted to kill it off in the 81st Congress. With the indictment of HUAC chairman J. Parnell Thomas, that prospect had appeared likely. But now, with the Chambers revelations, the Committee was back in the saddle and Mr. Rankin believed it would survive. Congressman John Wood of Georgia would be titular head of the Committee, but in the 79th Congress, when Mr. Wood held the position, Mr. Rankin had pulled the strings. He thus felt assured of a highly visible role in the Congress. His countenance had visibly improved accordingly.

Marquis Childs tells of the Democrats appearing to forgive and forget the Dixiecrat revolt and welcome back the wayward rebels.

In Alabama, the Dixiecrats were ruled by wealthy corporate lawyers with ties to the North. One such person was James Simpson, who had narrowly lost to Senator Lister Hill in 1946. Senator Hill, who was despised by the Dixiecrats for his liberal voting record, nevertheless had forsaken the President before the convention, as had Alabama Senator John Sparkman, up for re-election, both of whom, however, having supported the President in the general election.

According to national Democratic officials, reform of the Southern Democrats had to originate locally to avoid resentment.

The status quo meant that Southern Democrats would continue to hold seniority and chair key committees, six in the Senate, with each chairman being over 70. No chairmanships would go to the West, Midwest or the Northeast.

Senator Kenneth McKellar of Tennessee, about to turn 80, would take over the Appropriations Committee, having announced during the campaign his split with Boss Ed Crump of Memphis and wholehearted support of the President.

The Democrats stood powerless to stop the seniority system as they envisioned a Southern revolt, sabotaging the committee system were they to be deprived of the traditional spoils of seniority.

Joseph & Stewart Alsop seek to put the Hiss-Chambers case in perspective. They categorize the papers turned over to HUAC by Whittaker Chambers as consisting of five sets: full texts of cables from Paris and other embassies; brief typewritten summaries of cables; three summaries of cables alleged to be in Alger Hiss's handwriting; notes on ONI reports, in the handwriting of another official whose name had not been disclosed; and original copies of unimportant Navy technical orders on such topics as light switches.

One of the communiques was from former Ambassador to Britain Joseph Kennedy, explaining that the then Italian Ambassador was happy that Neville Chamberlain had been made Prime Minister of Britain. Another was from the American charge d'affaires in Berlin, saying that small European neutral countries were afraid that the U.S. would encourage Britain not to appease Hitler. Another was from Paris, saying that one of the "sillier" ministers, Yvon Delboe, had been greatly cheered by Hitler's interest in the "humanization of warfare".

Besides such relatively innocuous material, there were one or two documents of more recent significance. A report, for instance, from China showed that then Col. Joseph Stilwell sympathized with the Communist Chinese in 1938.

Still, there was nothing which would cause any serious disturbance in any foreign office in 1948.

The Alsops indicate that they were not privy to what, if anything, might additionally be contained in the documents held by the New York grand jury.

Before Pearl Harbor, everyone had known that the diplomatic codes had been compromised by foreign code-breakers and were insecure. President Roosevelt communicated his most important messages via Navy communications. So, the communiques in the possession of Mr. Chambers were largely worthless, probably already at the time in the hands of foreign countries through decoding of radio intercepts.

The proceedings boiled down to determining whether the four men accused by Mr. Chambers of passing documents, Mr. Hiss, William Ward Pigman, Henry J. Wadleigh, and deceased Harry Dexter White, had in fact passed the useless documents. They suggest that the determination was for the courts, not Congressional committees.

For the fact of the statute of limitations having expired, each of the three living men faced no criminal charges for the transmittal of the documents, per se. Mr. Chambers claimed that he left the Communist Party and ceased therefore receiving the documents in the spring of 1938. Each could only be prosecuted for perjury for more recent affirmative testimony denying alleged facts related to the claims of Mr. Chambers.

A letter writer quotes from the Apostle Paul re the abuse of alcohol when it caused a brother to stumble or to be made weak. She applauds the December 9 letter of the doctor who had written, urging education against the use of alcohol. She says that she is her brother's keeper. And so was everyone else.

A letter from the president of the Midwood Men's Club congratulates the newspaper on its 60th anniversary.

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