The Charlotte News

Thursday, February 26, 1948


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that as dispatches came from Prague indicating that the Communists the previous night had gained full control of the Government and all political parties in Czechoslovakia, the U.S., Britain, and France jointly condemned the "disguised dictatorship" of the new Government, stating that the Communists had seized power through an artificial crisis utilizing methods tested elsewhere, an apparent reference to Hungary. It was anticipated that all other parties would be purged.

In Richmond, Governor William Tuck addressed the Virginia General Assembly, urging adoption of legislation which would bar President Truman's name from the ballot in November, in protest of the President's civil rights program. The proposed change in the ballot would eliminate all names of party nominees and allow voters only to indicate the name of the party for which they were voting. Electors would then be free to vote for the candidate of their choice within the winning party. He also implicitly proposed that the third party of Henry Wallace be banned from the ballot by the device of limiting allowed parties to those which had polled at least ten percent of the vote in the general election during the previous five years. He said that the President's proposal violated the province of states' rights.

Southern Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee blocked the anti-lynching legislation which had the previous day passed the subcommittee, by imposing a technical rule which disallowed Committee action while the House was sitting. The bill was certain to pass the following day. Representative Ed Cox of Georgia meanwhile told the House that the National Committee to Abolish the Poll Tax was a "Communist front organization".

The British War Office released a report, published in The London Gazette, which said that that the defending armies and air forces of Malaya at the outbreak of the Pacific war in December, 1941 were inadequately manned and equipped, that Singapore's defenses constituted only a bluff, and that Japan's air strength had been unforeseen. The policy of reliance on air power to defend Malaya had never been made effective. There had been 85,000 British troops, many of whom were non-combatants, in south Malaya, but 100,000 Japanese troops quickly overwhelmed them. The sinking on December 10 of the Repulse and the Prince of Wales, costing the lives of 604 officers and men, resulted from a false report that the Japanese had landed on the east Malayan coast at Kuantan. The British Navy had not released a version of events leading to the downfall of Singapore.

Federal District Court Judge E. Yates Webb, 75, of Shelby, declared his intent to retire as a sitting judge the following Monday. He had sat on the Federal bench for 28 years. Federal judges are appointed for life. Judge Webb had obtained his undergraduate degree at Wake Forest in 1893 and attended law school at UNC in 1893-94, after which he was admitted to the Bar. He had served in Congress from 1903 until his appointment to the Federal bench in 1919. A prohibitionist throughout his tenure in Congress, he had co-sponsored the Webb-Kenyon Act, prohibiting importation of liquor into dry states.

The Mecklenburg County Police Department began to decline acceptance of the personal checks of bondsmen for the release of prisoners, in an effort to halt the practice of allowing assistants to post bail by filling in blank checks, regardless of the known financial status of the bondsman. The Chief noted that the courts had on occasion reduced the bond when defendants failed to appear in court.

The Charlotte Chamber of Commerce elected new officers for 1948. On the directorate were current News publisher Thomas L. Robinson and former publisher W. C. Dowd, Jr., who left that post after the formerly family-owned newspaper was sold to a group of investors in January, 1947, the investors including Mr. Dowd and his brother, the former Editor and present General Manager, J. E. Dowd. The Chamber meeting marked "Kuester Night", honoring longtime Charlotte booster C. O. Kuester, providing him with a new car and a check for $1,261.

Whether he preferred cash was not indicated.

General Eisenhower had overtaken Henry Wallace in The News straw poll of readers, the General receiving 36 votes to Mr. Wallace's 23. The two had been tied the previous day. Senator Vandenberg and Thomas Dewey were tied for second at 18 votes, and President Truman was fourth with 16. Among the others receiving ayes, Senator Harry F. Byrd had 15 votes and Strom Thurmond, two.

The only thing that the poll had determined thus far was that North and South Carolina Republicans liked to participate in straw polls earlier and more often than Democrats.

On the editorial page, "Marshall Is 'Just the Man'" finds the Southern move to obtain a different candidate from the President on the Democratic ticket to be a hunt in search of a ghost, that of FDR, for whom there was no replacement.

Secretary of State Marshall was the only viable alternative to the President, as suggested by Senator Olin Johnston of South Carolina. But Secretary Marshall's loyalty to the President far outweighed any likelihood that he would agree to become such a candidate. Moreover, the Secretary appeared to lack the color and popular appeal necessary for an effective campaigner. But as the party candidate, he could effectively challenge the claim of Henry Wallace that the Administration was adopting a policy moving toward war rather than peace.

The editorial suggests that if the President could not manage the leadership to lift the party out of its present disarray, then he might perform his best service by stepping aside and allowing the party to nominate Secretary Marshall.

"Backwards Step in the South" suggests that the victory in the Louisiana gubernatorial primary by Earl Long, brother of the late Huey Long, plus the court decision in Georgia which found the Talmadge forces to be the official voice of the Democratic Party, had registered victories for the forces of reaction.

It ventures that perhaps Herman Talmadge would not be as reactionary as his late father, Eugene, and perhaps Earl Long would not be as corrupt as his brother. But the machines would continue in each state and likely produce a return to the irresponsible government of the past, producing a call once again for something to be done about the South.

But what about their mudders?

"Steel Price Hike 'Mystery'" tells of Senator Taft being pleased that the Administration was having the Justice Department look at whether there had been impermissible collusion among the big steel companies to raise prices by $5 per ton. It finds the reason for the price hike to be no secret, that it was the result of the challenge by Southern Democrats plus the Wallace third-party candidacy causing the likelihood of a conservative Republican being elected to the White House and the slump in commodities markets. The former trend led the steel manufacturers to conclude that raising prices would not sufficiently aggravate the electorate to interfere with the political winds. The latter slump had produced a desire to build up cash reserves while conditions still allowed for it.

A piece from the Richmond Times-Dispatch finds the South advancing in its cultural appreciation during the three decades since 1920 when H. L. Mencken had dubbed it "The Sahara of the Bozart". A recent survey of subscribers to The Saturday Review of Literature showed that the thirteen Southern states had about a thousand more subscribers than the six New England states, even if Massachusetts and Connecticut easily topped the list among the 19 states. And Book Merchandising Magazine gave the South a higher score than both New England and the Southwest-Central region in its book-buying habits.

Someone might wish to impart to the Times-Dispatch that culture is not a thing easily quantified, that it is best gathered in the way Frederick Law Olmsted gathered his observations, through anecdotal experience wandering the region or state in question for a little while, talking to people along the way. On that score, we are not so sure about the Times-Dispatch assessment. A better indication of cultural advancement might be the type of entertainment to which the general population leans, and NASCAR-sanctioned events, for instance, do not a cultural resume form in the eyes of most. If one thinks that they do, the Sahara is thus established anew, in full blossom.

During fiscal year 2013-14, 170,000 people visited the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, down from 179,000 the previous year. About 278,000 people visited during its initial year of operation, 2010-11. During 2010-11, the Charlotte Mint Museum's new downtown location on South Tryon Street was projected to have 150,000 visitors, after 100,000 visited during the first five months of operation. The Harvey Gantt Center for African-American Arts & Culture had 67,000 visitors during its first year of operation in 2009-10. Charlotte also has the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, established in 2010. It would be interesting to know how many visitors to each of these museums had been to any of the others and how many were repeat visitors to each. From that might be gleaned some relative understanding of cultural advancement and appreciation, especially when compared through time to attendance at the Mint Museum, as adjusted for the growing population of the region. But at least Charlotte can brag that more than half as many persons attended the downtown Mint Museum exhibits as the NASCAR Hall of Fame exhibits in the opening year of each.

Drew Pearson discusses the Southern revolt to the President's civil rights proposal, beginning with the effort of former Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn to corral the Texas members and prevent from committing as a unit to the opposition to the civil rights program. Representative Ed Gossett of Wichita Falls had led the movement to try to get the Texas members to oppose as a group the program.

Representative William Colmer of Mississippi had been working on a resolution to oppose the program, and after several false starts, Congressman Bayard Clark of North Carolina came up with an acceptable draft. Congressman John Rankin of Mississippi had bellowed at the meeting of Southern Congressmen that the first thing they knew, Congress would be "flooded with niggers". He wanted a more strongly worded resolution than that proposed by Mr. Clark—probably one that simply said: "No Niggers allowed."

No one during the meeting suggested a bolt from the party.

Just as General MacArthur continued to impose censorship on newsmen in Japan, General I. D. White of Fort Riley, Kansas, was doing likewise by ordering Mr. Pearson not to print a story about a lieutenant who was acquitted of being drunk and assaulting an enlisted man. Finally, after being challenged by Mr. Pearson on the basis of the First Amendment, General White relented and released the story.

The Aviation Advisory Committee, chaired by Senator Owen Brewster, would recommend a five-year aviation building program to obviate the necessity for Universal Military Training, plus coordination between military and commercial air systems, coordinating air routes, establishing an independent agency to control air safety, and unification of armed forces aviation.

Sumner Welles, former Undersecretary of State until August, 1943, responds to a letter from a Congressman objecting to his view that Germany should not be re-unified, that it should be formed of decentralized states allowed to combine politically and economically with other nations of Europe to enable establishment of a United States of Europe, the only form, he believes, which would assure lasting peace.

He disagrees that unification of Germany would do anything more than repeat the mistakes of World War I, and would no more enable Germany to pay its reparations costs than the same structure had after the the former world war.

While the division between East and West in Germany prevented any final settlement, the U.S. could go forward with re-education of Germans in the West, to lay a foundation for a system which would enable integration of a federated Germany into a United States of Europe.

Samuel Grafton looks at the possibility of the withdrawal from the campaign of President Truman, however fanciful the prospect might be, finds that it would revitalize Democratic hopes for victory and energize the campaign.

Mr. Wallace had demonstrated that the left wing of the Democratic Party could not be treated with disdain. By the same token, Southern conservatives were being assayed against Northern liberals within the party. The President had reversed the practice of FDR, choosing to please the Southern conservatives while trying to offend the Northern liberals as little as possible. But the party could not win nationally without the liberal North and the party's success enabled the Southern conservatives to thrive. The recent success of Mr. Wallace showed that the liberals had to be given their due within the party or they would go elsewhere.

A letter writer finds the Southern revolters who were favoring allowance of state electors to vote at will, regardless of the outcome of the popular vote, to be suggestive of Soviet-type conduct. He thinks that anyone suggesting such a strategy was unfit to hold public office.

A letter writer praises the commentary of P. C. Burkholder anent the New Deal, thinks it apropos. He thinks those who laughed at the letters of Mr. Burkholder would soon be filled with sorrow.

Appears another Pome from the Atlanta Journal, this one contributed by Sol Broad, "emphasizing the value of moderate living":

"Worry and tension will speed the pulse
And sometimes produce a stomach ulce."

One could add:

Knocking societal integration into the gulch
Conduces the garden to retardation in the mulch.


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