The Charlotte News

Tuesday, December 14, 1948


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that rumors of a negotiated peace or a coalition government were spreading through Nanking this date, urged by petitioners for peace, denounced by Chiang Kai-Shek as "peace mongers". Even some of the Government's highest officials were talking of a possible peace.

Similar rumors had swept the capital a month earlier as Suchow was being attacked by the Communists, moving ever closer to the capital. Chiang then had warned members of the Government that such talk of peace was treasonous.

Most of the Government, except for Chiang's immediate lieutenants, were adopting an attitude of waiting to see what would transpire, as the Communists moved closer to Nanking. No one was committing to leaving Nanking and moving the Government south. Even Sun Fo, Chiang's newly chosen premier, had delayed coming to the capital from Shanghai to form a new cabinet. Many members of the legislative Yuan had already left the capital. Only 170 of 750 members attended the meeting this date.

HUAC questioned Marion Bachrach this date, a Communist writer, anent the typewriter which the Committee believed to have been used by Priscilla Hiss to transcribe some of the "secret documents" allegedly provided by Alger Hiss to Whittaker Chambers in 1937-38. Ms. Bachrach, sister of Progressive Party attorney John Abt, said that she had not copied any Government documents herself. She pleaded the Fifth Amendment and refused to answer several of the Committee's questions, including whether she knew Alger Hiss or had ever resided in Washington. She denied ever loaning a typewriter to Mrs. Hiss or receiving one from Mrs. Hiss, but refused to say whether she had ever seen a typewriter in the Hiss home. She admitted writing for Communist publications but refused to answer whether she was or had been a member of the Communist Party. She then told reporters that she did belong to the party, saying that she was proud of the fact.

Acting HUAC chairman Karl Mundt said that the Committee had a good idea of the whereabouts of the typewriter in question, but had not yet located it.

We bet that it's on a farm in New York, buried down a rabbit hole, beneath several grains of salt and other substances too dangerously acidic to dig without protective clothing and dark glasses.

The Philadelphia Evening Bulletin had reported that a private detective there had begun a search for an old typewriter which had supposedly come from the office of Mrs. Hiss's father who had died in 1940. That typewriter typed on rainbow-colored ribbon, rocked decidedly back and forth as one typed, so was quite distinctive.

Congressman John Rankin of the Committee told the press that he believed treason had been committed against the Government until at least 1943, possibly to the end of the war, through spying for the Communists—America's ally during the war—and if they pressed hard enough, they could prove it. He even claimed that the Japanese may have benefited from the spying in their attack on Pearl Harbor by stealing the documents which the Committee had in its possession.

He may have been digging too hard for that typewriter.

Mr. Rankin, incidentally, during this date's hearing, said that HUAC was the only committee of Congress declared by the courts to be legal and that he was the only member of Congress declared to be legal. He adverted to the Dennis v. U.S. decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia for the proposition. By logical deduction, supplemented by other of his statements through time, we conclude that Mr. Rankin believed HUAC to be the only legal committee of Congress and that he was the only legal member.

Representative Emanuel Celler of New York, to chair the House Judiciary Committee, urged abolishing HUAC in the new Congress and replacing it with a committee on civil rights, intended to investigate violations of same by any group, the Klan, Fascists, Communists or others. Such a committee would take an affirmative approach rather than a negative one as did HUAC. He said that after a meeting with the President, he was encouraged to move forward with the proposal.

In Savannah, Ga., the Southern Governors conference got underway with Dixiecrat Governor Fielding Wright of Mississippi, vice-presidential nominee on the Dixiecrat ticket in 1948, planning a fight against the proposed Federal control of the National Guard. Governor Beauford Jester of Texas was planning to argue for tidelands oil retention by the states. Governor Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, the Dixiecrat presidential candidate, was planning to tell of the long Southern fight against discriminatory freight rates. The conference had approved the previous day the initial budget of 1.7 million dollars for the first two years of the plan to establish regional graduate schools in the South, initially to be limited to medical, dental, and veterinary schools. Southern Legislatures would have to approve the program. The largest single item in the budget was $600,000 for a black medical school in Nashville, to be divided among the states on the basis of $1,500 per student sent to the school. A $300,000 budget was set aside for a regional dental school for white students from eight Southern states without dental schools.

The NAACP condemned the regional education plan, saying that it did not meet the standards imposed by the Supreme Court for providing equally accessible and equal in-state facilities for black students to those available for whites. It added that segregation by its nature nurtured inequality.

Former President Herbert Hoover urged pay raises for Government officials "all along the line". He advocated relieving the President of the burden of paying the operating expenses for the White House. The President had only about $30,000 of after-tax income, from which he had to pay White House expenses. He also recommended that the Government provide a place to live for the Vice-President. The Hoover Commission had adopted nearly the plan of salary increases proposed by the Director of the Budget James Webb, endorsing doubling of the President's salary to $150,000 per year and raising the Vice-President's $25,000 salary to $50,000, among other proposed raises.

In Kuala Lumpur, insurgents had killed the American-born headmaster of a boys' school at an orphanage Monday night. He had refused security at the orphanage because of its adverse effect on the boys under his charge. He said, "Terrorists have nothing on me."

On Guam, the young American woman who had been violently raped the previous Saturday and was found in the jungle yards from her place of employment, died of her injuries. A search had intensified for the attacker or attackers after a pair of paratroop boots with bloodstains had been discovered in the jungle near where the woman had been found.

Near Kings Mountain, N.C., a Charlotte resident, a passenger in a truck belonging to Lance Packing Co., was burned to death and the driver seriously injured, when a Pilot Freight truck, the driver of which was only slightly injured, struck the other truck in a head-on collision on Highway 29, seven miles south of Kings Mountain. The Pilot Freight driver was charged with reckless driving for causing the accident while attempting to pass another vehicle in a dense fog. The man killed had been in the sleeping compartment of the Lance truck.

In Charlotte, a bus passenger from Cincinnati, who had taken a walk the previous night while waiting for a bus to Florida, was beaten into unconsciousness and robbed of his pocket watch and wallet containing $118. Despite a one and a half inch gash across the top of the man's head, his condition was not serious. The watch was gold with a small gold link chain, should you come upon it. Detectives had found no other clues in the crime.

We think we know who did it.

In London, Buckingham Palace announced that the new baby born the previous month to Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip would be christened Prince Charles Philip Arthur George of Edinburg.

He has a choice.

On the editorial page, "How Much Profit?" tells of two Harvard economics professors airing contrary views before a joint Congressional subcommittee investigating whether big business profits were too high. Professor Seymour Harris said that they were too high and that the Government ought to impose stiffer taxes and spend less. Professor Sumner Slichter took the contrary stance, saying that business profits were deceptive because business had not been setting aside enough of its profits for reinvestment in plant and equipment replacement and higher costs of new inventories.

Unions were starting to take a role in trying to assist management, as in the case of Ford, in trying to show management how it could afford higher wages without raising prices. But the question arose whether labor should be telling management, with its investment sunk in the business, how to manage finances.

Most businessmen were coming to grips with the notion that they would have to conduct their business in the public interest, especially after the election results. Labor, it offers, ought also recognize their limits.

It recommends that business exercise responsibility over profits to avoid Government control.

"Congratulations to the Independent" tells of the Kannapolis Independent, at age 21, having started as a weekly, the Kannapolis Toweler, in 1927, when Jazzy Moore purchased a $37.50 typewriter and set about establishing the newspaper on his own. By 1938, it had become a daily. Now, the newspaper had 47 regular employees, 80 carriers, six modern Linotype machines, a $52,000 press and a thoroughly modern plant.

The newspaper had issued a 50-page commemorative edition and The News, just surpassing its 60th birthday, offers its congratulations.

"Cossacks on Capitol Hill" provides a poem by Bob Sain of the "Ivory Tower Syndicate", i.e., The News, regarding the Hiss-Chambers spy case.

It begins:

"Oh, the heat is on the punkin
And the shoddy in the flock
Thumb their noses at Whittaker Chambers:
Young Alger Hiss they mock."

After three intervening verses, it concludes:

"So, press on Bob Stripling, Nixon:
Press on, conservative Mundt!
Perhaps you'll find the lost chord
In your fabulous great spy hundt!"

Mr. Sain, you have no idea how well you hit the nail smack on the head. The only things missing are references to plumbing, a jar lid, and a cocker spaniel, perhaps each of which, when you consider it, easily fitting right in at the time.

A piece from the Baltimore Evening Sun, titled "The Young Idea", tells of boys and girls in Baltimore having declared "Be Kind to Adults" week. They wished to crack down on the fringe youth of the city who had been engaging in delinquent behavior.

Five teenage Portland neighborhood boys had sawed off a large limb which fell on a streetcar line, cutting power in a large portion of the city, including two radio stations. Another boy had dynamited a streetcar station in the same Council Crest area of the city on Halloween.

The youngsters also hoped that the campaign would carry over to adults as well, who were not always sharing their load of courtesy toward the young.

They wanted to convince the dopes that only dopes behaved as dopes. The piece finds it an honest effort and commendable.

Sumner Welles, former Undersecretary of State until 1943, tells of the Communist press in Latin America attacking Mr. Welles for his recent columns warning of several Latin American governments undermining the Inter-American regional system by flagrant intervention in their neighbors' internal affairs. Several letters to editors had also cropped up in American newspapers, taking the same stance as the Communist propaganda. Generally, they claimed that Mr. Welles had favored intervention in Latin America when he was in the State Department.

He corrects the record, saying that when he first went to the Dominican Republic in 1922 for Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes, he had worked actively for an inter-American agreement which would provide for non-intervention, an agreement concluded at Buenos Aires in 1937.

He further corrects the record that he had not, as claimed, ordered, while Ambassador to Cuba, President Gerardo Machado of Cuba to resign in 1933. It had been the Cuban Army. He had been acting to effect FDR's Good Neighbor policy in Cuba. Nor had he installed the successor, Carlos Manuel de Cespedes, selected unanimously by Cuba's party leaders to serve until national elections could be held.

He had also not counseled intervention in Latin America in 1942, as further claimed by the letter writers. He had merely urged fulfillment of the commitment in the inter-American agreement to hemispheric solidarity in breaking relations with the Axis, which Argentina and Chile had delayed in doing after Pearl Harbor.

He urges therefore not paying attention to such efforts of Communist propaganda to convince that black was white. The common interests of the hemisphere lay in cooperation.

Drew Pearson tells of the real estate lobby having recruited 3,300 amateur lobbyists to push against public housing and rent control at the grassroots level. The head of the lobby claimed that they would defeat the President's program in the new House by 30 votes. He recalled that FDR had failed to get a billion dollars sought for public housing from a solidly Democratic House in 1938. The lobby would probably have $200,000 to spend in the campaign, financed by its members.

The primary actors in the lobby were Doug Whitlock, Frank Cartwright, Herb Nelson, Morton Bodfish, John Owen, and Herbert Brill. The President had referred to it as the worst lobby in Washington.

White House press secretary Charles G. Ross was upset at a report that he was trying to sell his house before the election. General Harry Vaughan had remarked that he and several others in the White House inner circle had taken such hits in the press and Mr. Ross had stood on the sidelines amused. But when he was the object of the rumor mill, he hit the roof.

Maj. General Claire Chennault had personally flown against the Japanese in 1937, prior to his formation of the Flying Tigers in China during the war. Madame Chiang Kai-Shek had even purchased his $55,000 fighter plane for him. She paid General Chennault $500 for each Japanese plane shot down. He had bagged 30 planes and thus took home $15,000. General Chennault was going to tell the full story in his new memoir, but Madame Chiang insisted that he not do so, except that he could tell of her buying the plane. He was able to hint that it was in that plane that he got his first taste of Japanese flak and fighter tactics.

Joseph & Stewart Alsop tell of the President having made up his mind to reduce the power of the Southern Democrats in Congress. Liberals and labor were beginning to resent the President's refusal to clean house of the conservatives in the Cabinet such as Treasury Secretary John W. Snyder. So, as a concession, the President would deliver up the wayward Southern Democrats, either by way of expanding key committees to dilute power and seniority or by a purge against those who had gone over completely to the Dixiecrats, Senator James Eastland of Mississippi and House members John Rankin of Mississippi, John Bell Williams of Mississippi, Ed Cox of Georgia, James Davis of Georgia, Mendel Rivers of South Carolina, Sam Hobbs of Alabama, and Frank Boykin of Alabama.

The key committees slated for packing would be the House Rules Committee and Ways & Means, the latter determining all committee chairmanships under present rules.

Another method was by changing House rules, but that was not preferred by the President, to keep the party manageable after either the purging or packing method had been utilized to dilute Southern power.

It was still questionable whether Vice-President-elect Barkley and Speaker Sam Rayburn would go along with the plan.

Regardless of what would happen, there was a determined liberal-labor bloc in the House, led by Congresswoman Helen Gahagan Douglas of California and Congressman Chet Holifield of California. The fight for policies favored by this bloc would be difficult, with or without the leadership of the President. So would the fight for the President's other proposed legislation, such as a modified excess profits tax and authority to impose limited price and allocation controls.

Whether or not his tactics were to be approved, fair-minded observers would have to agree, they posit, that the President was earnestly attempting to carry out the mandate of the electorate.

James Marlow puts forward the proposition that the only charge which could be brought against the three living individuals, Alger Hiss, William Ward Pigman, and Henry J. Wadleigh, in the Whittaker Chambers spy case was perjury, as the three-year statute of limitations had expired on the decade-old alleged theft of Government documents and transfer of them to Mr. Chambers. Perjury carried a maximum of five years in prison and a $2,800 fine.

The only possibility for further prosecution foreseen by lawyers who had examined the facts was that Government investigators might unearth other, more recent spying by the individuals.

The 18-month term of the New York grand jury would end the following day and rumors were that they would indict one or more persons for perjury. Mr. Marlow says that Representative Nixon was quoted as saying that they would definitely indict Whittaker Chambers for perjury.

That statement was likely misquoted and actually referred to Alger Hiss. Mr. Chambers was never indicted and was a good friend to Robert Stripling, chief investigator for HUAC and Mr. Nixon's right-hand man at the time. Congressman Nixon had testified before the New York grand jury the previous day.

Samuel Grafton, no longer carried by The News, suggests that the Republican Party could save itself only by first determining how to save the nation and the world. But instead, the GOP was busy only trying to save the GOP, a project with which the public was little concerned. The GOP reacted to insignificant changes as if they were major events, the change for instance of Republican floor leaders from Senator Kenneth Wherry of Nebraska to William Knowland of California, a change which the public would hardly notice but which the GOP leadership hailed as being of signal importance.

Republicans shied away from calls to liberalize the party, "as if it were being asked to walk naked down Fifth Avenue under the noonday sun." Even if it did don some liberal coloring, it would not be great news, only suggesting that the Republicans had come to realize that the country favored the New Deal policies 16 years too late. The party misread the world, believing that the world waited with bated breath to see which direction the Republicans would go. The GOP appeared to view itself as a leader of men if it put on an overcoat a month after everyone else had determined that it was winter.

The world had changed and most Republicans, save for a few liberals within the party, had not noticed. It needed to determine how to save mankind before trying to save the party, and only in that could it save the party.

We think that we know what it could do.

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