The Charlotte News

Saturday, March 13, 1948


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the Senate the previous night defeated the effort of Senator Taft to slash ERP to four billion dollars from its proposed 5.3 billion. The vote was 56 to 31, including 23 Republicans against the amendment. Senator Arthur Vandenberg was credited with achieving the victory. It was anticipated that the Senate would pass the entire Plan by this night. The Senate had not recessed the previous night until 11:03.

Southern Governors were preparing to inform the President that the South would not support him if he persisted in his civil rights program. Governor Ben Lacey of Arkansas said that the Southerners did not want to run the race with a "politically dead mule", referring to the President. Governor Strom Thurmond of South Carolina also reiterated his opposition to nomination of Mr. Truman.

Secretary of Agriculture Clinton Anderson announced his intended resignation, probably to become effective in July, so that he could run for the open Senate seat in his native New Mexico. Incumbent Senator Carl Hatch had announced that he would not run for re-election. Secretary Anderson had held the post since June 30, 1945.

Former Secretary of State James Byrnes, in a speech at the Citadel in Charleston, S.C., recommended action, not just protest, should Russia interfere with the independence of Greece, Turkey, Italy, or France. He favored revival of the draft to maintain military manpower at necessary levels to meet the Soviet threat, increased by the Communist takeover in Czechoslovakia and impending takeover in Finland. He said that he had not spoken with the President regarding the contents of his speech.

Jan Masaryk, who had committed suicide the previous Wednesday in Prague, was laid to rest this date in his native Bohemia following a state funeral. Hundreds of thousands of mourners clogged the streets of Prague to see the procession. Mr. Masaryk had been the foreign minister before and after the Communist takeover of February 20.

Maj. General Bennett Meyers was convicted by a Federal jury in Washington the previous day of three counts of subornation of perjury in connection with hearings the previous November before the Senate War Investigating Subcommittee, was scheduled to be sentenced on Monday. He faced as much as 30 years in prison. He still had related income tax fraud charges pending and a possible Army court martial. He also faced a slander suit. General Meyers remained free on bond until sentencing on Monday. The judge had wanted to commit him to custody immediately but, after hearing defense counsel, allowed the General to remain free over the weekend. Defense counsel also indicated the General's intent to appeal the verdicts.

Of historical interest, note that the dissent in the Circuit Court of Appeals decision cites, sua sponte, as reversible error the manner of presentation to the jury by the Government of the testimony before the Senate Subcommittee by the president of Aviation Electric Company, the basis for the subornation counts. The testimony in issue was provided by William P. Rogers, then chief counsel for the Senate War Investigating Committee, future Attorney General under President Eisenhower and Secretary of State under President Nixon. The dissenting judge believed the error to occur under the best evidence rule, requiring that the "best evidence" available on a given factual issue always be provided to a fact-finder in a legal proceeding, such as an original document in lieu of a copy when the original is available. The dissent found the witness testimony "less certain" than the stenographic record and that thus the latter should be deemed the best evidence under the circumstances, despite the rule traditionally being applied only to documentary evidence rather than verbal statements recorded stenographically. The majority of the Court asserted that under common law, when perjury was at issue, any percipient witness to the perjurious statements could testify to them and that a stenographic record, also submitted into evidence in the case, was not necessarily the "best evidence" but only additional evidence of the same quality as the percipient witness testimony. Query whether the dissent on this point had the better of the argument.

In making your assessment, incidentally, try to avoid any prejudice aroused by either of two subsequently occurring facts: that Mr. Rogers principally talked Vice-President Nixon out of contesting the close 1960 election results in Illinois and Texas on the ground that a contest could then be waged in California, awarded Mr. Nixon, where there were also questionable precinct results in Southern California; and that he also is said to have been the primary author of the "Checkers Speech" which saved Mr. Nixon's position on the 1952 Republican ticket, at which time he was under attack for acceptance of alleged influence peddling by way of a $16,000 slush fund set up by contributors to pay Mr. Nixon's personal campaign expenses—while, technically, not illegal at the time, perhaps not altogether unlike the underlying case of General Benny Meyers, absent the subornation issue. In any event, Mr. Nixon managed, via the speech, successfully to divert public attention from the principal issue to a cloth coat, a 1950 Oldsmobile, and a black and white cocker spaniel, thereby saving his political career for bigger and better things upstream.

A chartered Northwest Airlines DC-4 with 30 persons aboard had disappeared over Alaska during a flight from Shanghai to St. Paul, Minn. The passengers were seamen who were returning home after taking an oil tanker to Shanghai. A fire had been spotted on Mt. Sanford and a search of the area was taking place. Last radio contact was late the previous night. Visibility was good at the time of the crash.

Charlotte Police Chief Frank Littlejohn blamed negligent parents for recent acts of vandalism, including the Thursday night draining of the Freedom Park lake of most of its water, killing most of the fish in the lake. In addition to numerous recent acts of vandalism, the previous night, several automobiles in a supermarket parking lot had been entered and their contents scattered by vandals.

They were just Kings of Kansas City.

John Daly of The News tells of the death at age 70 of longtime Charlotte "booster" Clarence Kuester, covered further in the first editorial of the day. He had died of a heart attack the previous night.

On the editorial page, "Charlotte's Clarence Kuester" laments the passing the previous night of Mr. Kuester, long a force in civic affairs as executive vice-president and general manager of the Chamber of Commerce since 1921, until his retirement at the beginning of the year.

He had been a devout Christian and dedicated family man and had long been an advocate of the growth of Charlotte, for which he was given primary credit in facilitating through the years.

"Our Cards 'Close to the Chest'" finds former Georgia Governor Ellis Arnall's statement to the Charlotte Executives' Club that the South revolted every four years to be inapplicable to North Carolina, as the state was showing remarkable restraint compared to the other Southern states. Mr. Arnall believed that the South would again be in the Democratic column come fall.

The piece finds North Carolina's political leaders in between the extremes, not following the line of Mr. Arnall but also not adhering to that of Senator James Eastland of Mississippi, favoring separation from the national party. It uses as example Charlotte's State Senator Joe Blythe, who had said that he was keeping his cards "close to his chest" when he went to Washington during the week to protest to the President regarding the civil rights program, meeting with Senator McGrath on the subject. He had told him that the people of the state were opposed to the program but had stopped short at predicting whether they would join in the revolt. The statement tracked those of Senator Clyde Hoey and Governor Gregg Cherry on the subject.

The editorial finds the position doing more for the South's cause than the more extreme statements coming out of the other states. It posits that if the others had shown equal restraint, then the Republicans in Congress would not have been so ready to impose cloture on filibuster to allow the provisions of the program to pass, in the hope of splitting the Democratic Party for the election. It thinks that the restrained position also maintained the people in an equanimous state of mind.

"Timely Advice to Merchants" tells of Elmer Roessner, New York business writer for The News, finding that the days of the sellers' market were coming to an end and a new period of competition beginning, especially in the mercantile field.

Cash had been drained off and independent businesses were increasingly granting installment credit to improve sales. Credit reporting in Charlotte was up 15 percent over 1947. Charlotte merchants had formed an association, the membership of which had more than doubled in three years, to 652 merchants, said to be the nation's largest. It had a credit bureau which promised to put the business community on a favorable footing.

Drew Pearson tells of President Truman being angry with Senator Harry F. Byrd as the leader of the Southern revolt, expressing that anger viscerally to DNC chairman J. Howard McGrath and vice-chairman Gael Sullivan when the two went to see him during the week. He told them that he wanted his candidacy announced at once and told Senator McGrath to announce it.

The President also launched into a tirade on the "no-good columnist Drew Pearson" for printing that Senator McGrath wanted to resign as chairman and thanked the Senator for refuting the claim publicly.

The President said that Russia was busy trying to edge into Palestine so that it could have control of the Middle Eastern oil on which the West, especially Britain, depended. He had favored setting up a trusteeship in Palestine and the British continuing their mandate until it could be established, as recommended by the Anglo-American Commission on Palestine. But things had not turned out that way. The report of the Commission had warned against establishing separate Jewish and Arab states as causing worldwide disorders. It had also recommended allowing immigration to Palestine and other countries of a million Jewish refugees from Europe.

Senator McGrath had planned to recommend Senator Lister Hill of Alabama as a running mate on the ticket but the President's palpable expression of outrage had caused him to forget to mention it.

Congressman Clarence Brown of Ohio wanted his colleagues to condemn the lobbying effort of the Army and Navy to promote universal military training and the attempt to justify huge increases in expenditures by exaggerating the security threat to the nation. He urged that it was for the purpose of perpetuating their power. Minority Whip John McCormack of Massachusetts disagreed regarding the effort to promote UMT but remained mum on the propaganda campaign.

Senators Homer Ferguson of Michigan and Irving Ives of New York appeared on a radio program with Senators John Stennis of Mississippi and Allen Ellender of Louisiana, the former pair in support of the civil rights program and the latter opposed to it. Afterward, Senator Ives suggested to Senator Ellender that since both were Presbyterians, he could not understand why they disagreed on the issue. Then Senator Stennis stated that he was also a Presbyterian, following which Senator Ferguson added that he was as well. Senator Ives concluded therefore that they would likely agree on the issue in church.

Joseph & Stewart Alsop suggest that Secretary of State Marshall's statement to the press was addressed to Premier Stalin, on the premise that the latter was cut off from the world and did not realize the impact on Americans of the takeover in Czechoslovakia by the Communists or that a real danger of war arose from the fact. One top diplomat said that the U.S. had to "shriek in Stalin's ear" to get through to the Kremlin.

An illustration lay in the reaction of two Soviet diplomats, who allowed an interview by a small town newspaper, when asked about the speech, laughed at the notion of aroused passions in the American people, believed that it was just reactionary newspaper talk and that Secretary Marshall was aware that the Czech situation had not altered the balance of power. They found the U.S. paralyzed by the Wallace candidacy and the Southern revolt. They attached significance to the victory of Earl Long in the election for the Governorship of Louisiana as being an indicator of the racial tension in the nation. The people, they believed, were turning against their reactionary masters. The Soviet diplomats found the result pleasing. They quoted Tass dispatches to confirm their beliefs, demonstrating the reliance which the diplomats placed on the propaganda put forth by that captive news agency.

The new Soviet Ambassador had told U.S. Ambassador to Moscow Walter Bedell Smith that he believed Henry Wallace would win the election.

Such unrealistic thinking posed the danger that, while Russia did not appear to want a war, they might take actions, underestimating the American response, which would cause war to happen.

Samuel Grafton finds the foreign and domestic situations in disorder, with a recession looming at home and a worse situation abroad. The next President out of this disorder would likely be elected by plurality only.

The suicide of Jan Masaryk in Prague added to the perception of world chaos.

Yet there was no comprehensive program to meet these disasters, either the potential for recession at home or the prospect of war abroad. Some members of Congress were busy investigating Hollywood while others "hiss" at "'grain speculators'". (Mr. Grafton presumably could not have known how subliminally prophetic that particular phraseology was for the coming months.) Others in Congress wanted to cut taxes as a panacea to the economic tangle. Each advocate viewed the problems from within the chosen narrow perspective of that which he advocated.

He proposes that none of the piecemeal remedies would work and advises realization of that eventuality. A program big enough to deal with the entirety of the problems needed to be put forth. The Marshall Plan was a major step in the right direction. But a renewed drive for negotiation with the Soviets was also necessary to preserve the peace. Humility needed to be the order of the day.

Much of the disorder, he concludes, was the result of the uncoordinated methods for solving problems, not the problems themselves.

A letter writer tells of how much lower taxes were in 1929 than 1947, provides a table of comparison at various levels of earnings. He wants to lower taxes and the budget.

He seems to forget that a Depression and war had intervened, primarily the latter having been responsible for the significantly higher taxes.

A letter writer responds to a letter of March 2 responding to this writer's previous letter regarding universal military training and his belief that it would lead to a military state. This writer clarifies that he was not in favor of UMT on a compulsory basis. He favors ERP instead.

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