The Charlotte News

Friday, February 27, 1948


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the Senate Rules Subcommittee, without hearings, approved the anti-poll tax legislation proposed by the President. Senator John Stennis of Mississippi had wanted to hold hearings, but was overruled. The bill would now move to the full Committee for consideration. The measure had already been approved by the House. Seven states still had poll taxes.

Representative Hamilton Jones of Charlotte announced his opposition to the President's civil rights program as an invasion of states' rights. He also said that he would not support tearing away from the national party until it was clear where the President's proposals would lead, that there would be time to determine action, as counseled by Senator Harry F. Byrd, should the program pass.

In Prague, President Eduard Benes swore in twelve new members of the new Cabinet of Premier Klement Gottwald, loaded with Communists. The President expressed hesitancy at performing the duty but wished success to the Premier.

Prime Minister Stalin urged Finland to sign a pact with the Soviet Union similar to those linking other satellites to Moscow. It was believed that the pact proposed mutual defense or some other form of amicable relations.

In Greece, it was reported that the Greek Army had initiated an offensive along a 16-mile front against guerrilla forces northwest of Ioannina, near the Albanian border. Guerrillas were reported to be fleeing in disarray from five towns in the region.

Senator Joseph McCarthy presented a billion dollar, five-year program on housing to encourage construction of 1.5 million units per year for the ensuing decade, with a large percentage being low income dwellings. The bill guaranteed investors 3.5 to 5 percent profit per annum.

In Newburgh, N.Y., a news editor and a reporter of the Newburgh News were sentenced to ten days in jail and fined $100 each for contempt for refusing to disclose to the Grand Jury where they obtained illegal numbers tickets which were reproduced in the newspaper. The judge expressed reluctance in passing the sentence but said that it was his duty to find them in contempt for refusing to divulge their source.

In San Diego, an earthquake shook the ground for 38 seconds.

The head of the American Red Cross, Basil O'Connor, was in Charlotte promoting the annual drive, with a national goal of raising 75 million dollars. The local chapter hoped to raise $99,500.

The News straw poll of presidential candidates showed General Eisenhower leading with 63 votes to Thomas Dewey, in second, with 39 votes. Henry Wallace had 38, Senator Vandenberg, 34, and President Truman, tied with Harold Stassen, mustered only 25 votes. Senator Harry F. Byrd had 24 votes and Senator Taft, 22.

It appears that President Truman is all washed up and might as well begin packing his bags for Independence.

If you want it otherwise, you floogie birds, you had better start singing, clip that ballot, lick it, stamp it, and send it in.

On the editorial page, "Brotherhood in the 1948 Crisis" tells of the Brotherhood Week ceremonies taking place locally the previous night at the Hotel Charlotte, in which leaders of the Protestant, Jewish, and Catholic faiths assembled to hear leaders in the state and community. U.N. deputy delegate Herschel Johnson received the Carolina Israelite award for the Carolinian demonstrating the greatest contribution to brotherhood during the year, primarily for his role in pushing through the General Assembly the Palestine partition plan.

The piece reminds of various Catholics and Jews who were involved in the Founding of the country, including a loan of $140,000 made by Solomon Hayam to General Washington when things looked bleak for the Revolution during the winter at Valley Forge. At the first inauguration, President Washington had a Protestant clergyman, a Catholic priest, and a Jewish rabbi present beside him.

It suggests that the brotherhood thus conveyed then and presently offered hope for the future.

"Forward Charlotte in '48" tells of the new Chamber of Commerce officers being heavily weighted toward industrial expansion as distinguished from civic and public welfare, as the previous officers. The piece praises the new direction without detracting from the previous Chamber's efforts.

"The War of the Magnolias" comments on the proposal by Governor William Tuck of Virginia to the Virginia Legislature that it bar the President's name from the ballot by allowing only party names to appear, freeing electors to vote for candidates of the winning party. It showed that in the wake of the President's civil rights proposals, the South was united in opposition and would not retreat unless President Truman were not to become the Democratic candidate.

It was unlikely that the Republicans would allow a filibuster by Southern Democrats to interfere with the legislation and dampen the ardor of the Southerners against the titular head of the party, inuring to the benefit of the Republicans in November.

It suggests that the rebellion would probably come to be known as "The War of the Magnolias". The conflict presented the conservative President in the role of President Lincoln when he had only been trying to please everybody. It was a peculiar situation, opines the piece, one which historians might find nearly comic, should the struggle between civil rights and states' rights wind up in the defeat of the President and the division of the Democratic Party, allowing for entrenchment of the Republicans.

Again, while on this topic, we address the events of Dallas in November, 1963, which, in at least some degree, and very likely in a primary way, were fueled by the hatred of those opposed to any progress in civil rights, the breach of the final barrier to integration having been promulgated by President Kennedy in June, 1963, that of public accommodations, including restaurants, inns, and theaters, any business operating in interstate commerce and holding itself open to the public generally. The same form of reaction was present in 1948 and serves as a model for that which was still extant, becoming even more determinedly resistant and embittered, by 1963, deepening with every inroad to "states' rights" and the maintenance of Jim Crow segregation. There were, of course, other issues in 1963 which inspired the same degree of zealotry, possessed with a dynamic approaching religious fanaticism, among political opponents of the Kennedy Administration, namely the perceived softness on Communism, despite the standing down of Russia a year earlier in the Cuban Missile Crisis. Often, these traits were intensely held by the same person, as with General Edwin Walker, for instance. The resolution of the Crisis, with its pledge of no invasion of Cuba, had, when compounded with the failure of the Bay of Pigs in 1961, left in the minds of many anti-Castro activists a feeling of intense betrayal and desertion, much as had the civil rights proposals of the Kennedy Administration.

It is worth, therefore, in this context noting a few significant facts not usually stressed when discussing the assassination. Secret Service Agent Roy Kellerman, riding in the front passenger seat of the Presidential limousine in Dallas on November 22, 1963, told the Warren Commission, at Volume II, pages 73-75 of his testimony, that he heard the President say in his distinct Boston accent, "My God, I am hit," just after Agent Kellerman heard the first report, which sounded to him as a firecracker. Mr. Kellerman was quite familiar with the President's voice from the President having conversed with him, being generally friendly with the agents, on several occasions, and no one else in the limousine shared the same voice characteristics. When Agent Kellerman heard the firecracker noise and the statement of the President, he then turned first to the right and then around to his left to look over his left shoulder at the President and saw that he had, at that point, his hands to his throat.

This point in time equates to Zapruder film frame 262. Mr. Kellerman's initial look to the right, toward the grassy knoll area, begins at Zapruder frame 222, consistent with a blur at frame 221. That distance of 40 frames, between the first look to the right and the turn to look at the President, amounts to 2.18 seconds with the film running at 18.3 frames per second, assuming the camera was fully wound. It is an additional 51 frames or 2.8 seconds before the fatal head shot at frame 313.

When the limousine first emerges into view in the Zapruder film after the Stemmons Freeway sign, prior to either Governor Connally or the President coming into view, at frames 218-220, Agent Kellerman is still looking straight ahead, then in an instant, at 222, turns to look to the right, the point at which he recalled having heard the first report.

When Governor Connally first comes into view at frames 221-222, he, also, is looking distinctly to his right, toward the knoll area, i.e., directly at the camera, as is Agent Kellerman.

The President first comes into view at frames 224-225, with his right hand rising and his left hand quickly beginning to rise beneath his right in the clutching motion toward his throat, fully visible in that position by frame 227, with his shoulders suddenly hunched upward, at which point there is another distinct blur. The President, initially, is also looking directly toward the position of Mr. Zapruder, quickly looking straight ahead as he fully clutches his hands in front of his throat by frame 227, in the span of a ninth of a second.

Governor Connally, when asked by Life to view the Zapruder film in 1966 and analyze it frame by frame, recalled being struck at frame 234, slightly more than a half second after the President initially begins to react, at least insofar as the Zapruder film reveals, and two-thirds of a second after Agent Kellerman, along with Governor Connally, looks suddenly to the right in the direction of Abraham Zapruder, right into the camera.

The point is that if Agent Kellerman was accurate in his recollection of hearing distinctly the President say, "My God, I am hit," right after the first report, which he would necessarily place at frames 221-222, the President could not have been hit in the throat by that bullet, as the Warren Commission, of necessity to maintain a single-shooter theory, found. Obviously, the President could not have uttered any words after being hit in the throat. Dr. Malcolm Perry, who performed the tracheotomy on the President, stated, at Volume VI, page 10, that the wound in the throat damaged the trachea.

That first report, resembling a firecracker in sound, would be consistent with the President's shallow back wound, never traced in the autopsy, but assumed to be the point of entry for what was assumed at the autopsy to be an exit wound in the throat, obscured after the initial emergency room procedures by the enlargement for the tracheotomy. Dr. Perry described, at Volume VI, page 9, the original wound as being small and round, about 5 mm or .2 inches in diameter. He stated at a press conference on November 22 that the wound appeared as a wound of entry, as Dr. Kemp Clark testified at page 22, but stated before the Warren Commission at page 11 that he did not trace the bullet path and lacked adequate information therefore to determine whether it was a wound of entry or exit, the observation having been made before it was realized that the President had a wound to the back. Parenthetically, Dr. Perry informed, at page 13 of his testimony, that he also speculated at the press conference that it was possible for one bullet to have entered the throat and been deflected upward through the head after striking the spinal column. But such an explanation obviously would not fit with the visual evidence of the Zapruder film.

Dr. Kemp Clark, who arrived after the tracheotomy had been performed, described, at Volume VI, page 21, the massive rear wound to the head as being unclear to him as either a wound of exit or entry because of its appearance as a "tangential" wound, caused by the entry of a missile at an oblique angle, not entering on a distinct and straight path through to its exit. He originally stated at a press conference on November 22, as he relates at page 21, that it could be an exit wound.

Such a shallow wound in the President's back, which the Parkland doctors never examined, could also, of course, account for the bullet found on the stretcher in the hallway, long dubbed the "magic bullet", simply dislodged from the back wound in moving the President from the limousine to the emergency room.

Agent Kellerman stated in his testimony that in his viewing of the President's body during the autopsy at Bethesda Naval Hospital on the night of November 22, he observed a large circular wound, as described at pages 80-81 of his testimony, about five inches in diameter, with a missing piece of the President's skull at that location, in the right rear of the head, consistent with that described by the Parkland doctors. He then testified to a point which has never been given wide circulation and appears of crucial importance, that the entry wound for that apparent massive wound of exit was at a point to the right of the right ear, looking to the side of the President, and even with the bottom quarter of the ear, within the hairline, in other words, an entry wound consistent with a shot from the front. This wound was about the size of the little finger. The Parkland doctors stated that there was too much blood around the President's head to descry a wound of entry, something which they did not need to ascertain in their efforts to save the President's life, but that a wound of entry in the front could have been obscured by the blood within the hairline. With the other evidence pointing to a rear shooter only, this point of apparent entry described by Agent Kellerman so confused him that he looked closely at the limousine on November 27 in the White House garage to determine whether the wound possibly came from a ricochet off the limousine itself, as he described at pages 85 et seq.

He also stated at pages 76 and 78 of his testimony that the second and third shots sounded distinctly different from and louder than the first report, and that those latter two shots came back to back as "bang-bang", which he analogized to the double bang of a jet breaking the sound barrier.

Governor Connally recalled in his testimony, at Volume IV, page 136, hearing distinctly the first and third shots, but not the second shot which he believed hit him, later identifying it as being consistent with Zapruder frame 234. As he testified at page 134, he never heard the President say anything.

Dr. Charles Crenshaw, who was not called before the Warren Commission, had no doubt that the head and throat wounds were consistent only with wounds of entry.

The central point is that Agent Kellerman's testimony creates a broad hole within the conclusions of the Warren Commission Report that there was only a single shooter, a finding which was adopted by the Commission only as a probability in any event, a conclusion which Senator Richard Russell of the Commission at the time found problematic. If the President spoke words after being hit initially in the back, an instant before the shot to the neck, inevitably then coming from a position to the front of the President, there had to be two or more shooters, the same conclusion reached from Governor Connally's determination of being hit at frame 234, a half to two-thirds of a second after the shot to President Kennedy's neck. The account by most witnesses of hearing only three shots can be attributed to either overlapping shots, perfectly timed, or simply the echo patterns of Dealey Plaza, the existence of which were acknowledged in the Report of the House Select Committee on Assassinations, issued in 1979. When the single assassin theory is eliminated, enabling thus overlapping shots, the discrepancies left by the single shooter theory suddenly evaporate.

President Johnson believed, as expressed to Senator Russell in September, 1964, that different bullets struck the President and Governor Connally. And if different bullets hit each of them, because of the proximity in time of the shots, necessarily more than one shooter had to have fired. No one contends that the rifle could be fired twice in as little as a half to two-thirds of a second, the interval between the wound to President Kennedy's neck and the wound to Governor Connally. Nor can anyone contend that Governor Connally could continue to hold his Stetson hat in his right hand if he had been hit in his right wrist by the same shot as the President, eliminating from consideration a delayed reaction by Governor Connally. In addition to the autonomic reaction of Governor Connally associated with the wound to the right wrist, loosing his grip from his hat, both men would have reacted simultaneously in any event to the same shot, traveling at 2,000 feet per second. Indeed, President Johnson, after he left office, stated, in an interview with Walter Cronkite, that he had come to believe that some form of conspiracy was behind the assassination.

The questions, as always, then devolve to who and why. We posit that the answer lies somewhere, as a starting point at least, in "The War of the Magnolias".

Drew Pearson reluctantly criticizes Secretary of State Marshall for not recognizing the rule that victory goes to the side which takes the offensive. The Secretary, he offers, needed to be more assertive in diplomacy as had been the case in war. The lack of that offensive had rendered the situation in Palestine dangerous. Secretary of Defense James Forrestal had taken stands conflicting with those espoused by Secretary Marshall with respect to Palestine, and the resulting conflict had fueled the hopes of the Arab states.

He cites historical examples of the previous twenty years, heading off such problems with assertive conduct by the State Department.

In early 1940, FDR had overruled General Marshall, as chief of staff of the Army, regarding shipment of old, obsolete rifles to France and Britain. In early 1939, General Marshall had resisted a build-up of the air strength of the country by manufacturing 50,000 planes as proposed by the late Herman Oliphant, general counsel of the Treasury Department. General Hap Arnold had also opposed the plan. The 1939 Army budget allowed for only six B-17's. General Marshall had lacked appropriate foresight under the circumstances. FDR and Secretary of Treasury Henry Morgenthau backed Mr. Oliphant's plan and it was why the 50,000 planes were built.

He promises another piece the following day showing how Secretary Marshall could have demonstrated greater foresight regarding Palestine and headed off the current trouble.

Marquis Childs finds that the thing which would justify American foreign policy, whether with regard to Greece, to Palestine or the Middle East in general, was oil. Yet, a bill was before Congress to override the Supreme Court decision which awarded tidal oil land rights to the Federal Government and to grant them to the states. The bill had been addressed by 44 Governors on the basis of states' rights.

The Administration wanted to effect a compromise whereby the oil would remain under Federal supervision with deference to the Navy, while revenue from the oil would pass to the states.

Mr. Childs posits that if the need for oil was as desperate as had been indicated, then it was necessary to preserve the tidelands oil under Federal control, as being far more secure to the nation than Middle Eastern oil. He recommends A National Policy for the Oil Industry, by Eugene Rostow of the Yale Law School, later to serve as Undersecretary of State under President Johnson. He showed that present methods of exploitation of American oil fields were wasteful because state compacts and laws did not enforce the best methods of conservation. He recommended a Federal law to assure uniformity and maximum conservation. Anti-trust violations no longer required proof of actual conspiracy and the loosened standard would make it easier to police the oil companies under a Federal standard. But the first step was to maintain Federal control of the tidal oil lands to enable the Government to enact conservation measures.

Samuel Grafton again defines various terms. "Languor" referred to lassitude among voters and could result in the voter not bothering to go to the polls on election day, despite support of a candidate.

"Dark Horse" was a candidate who ran ahead of the field of professional politicians in straw polls.

"Election Campaign" referred to the period in which conservative politicians suddenly turned liberal and liberal commentators turned conservative.

"Orderly Readjustment" was the period in which food prices began to drop as steel prices rose.

"Cycle" referred to the time in which a period returned to its inception point.

"Middle of the Road" referred to a person who had political ties to both the left and the right and made enough concessions to both to emerge in the middle. That person was to be distinguished from the President who came out in the "center of the whirlpool".

"The Power of the Purse" referred to the right to spend and dispose of the public moneys. The power arose under the Constitution in the House but, as a practical matter, under any foreign government claiming menace by Communists.

A letter writer finds wrong the segregationists who believed in gradualism and stood opposed to the President's civil rights program. He thinks that only by lifting segregation could the white community come to know the black community in other than subservient roles. Little children got along with each other, proving that the prejudices were not inherent. The parents instilled the prejudices.

A race problem existed only because the people favoring segregation insisted on the problem persisting. Legislation would not bring about brotherhood overnight. But segregation was a conspiracy to subjugate a race in paternalism. He favors continued agitation for the end of segregation, a system which fostered the prejudice it pretended to avoid through separation.

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