The Charlotte News

Thursday, April 15, 1948


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that a detailed truce plan was being presented this date to the U.N. Security Council with prospects of early passage. It was not clear, however, whether Jews and Arabs in Palestine would accept the proposal, which included a section barring males of military age from entering Palestine, effectively blocking Jewish immigration except for women and children, as well as Arabs from other countries. The truce would be in effect until the General Assembly could determine what to do with regard to the previously approved partition plan. In the meantime, in addition to halting the fighting, it would end importation of arms and war materials.

At Mishmar Haemak in Northern Palestine, 15 miles southeast of Haifa, Haganah forces numbering 2,000 claimed a victory over Arabs led by Fawzi Bey Al Kaukji, saying 200 Arabs had been killed. The Arab League admitted that the Fawzi Bey forces were surrounded by Haganah forces, but the Arab Higher Executive stated that the Arab forces had surrounded the Jewish forces. Six villages near Mishmar Haemak had been captured by the Jewish forces, but the Arabs claimed that it was the result of a planned withdrawal on their part.

In Italy, a 32-hour cooling off period began, banning additional campaigning prior to the Sunday election, with the Government saying it was prepared for any last minute attempts by the Communists to cause trouble.

The House passed a 3.198 billion dollar appropriation to expand the Air Force, adding 822 million to the original appropriation which allowed for only 55 groups. While 70 groups had been proposed by Air Force Secretary Stuart Symington, no one knew how many additional aircraft the added money would allow. The President stated that he was supporting Secretary of Defense Forrestal's plan for a 55-group force with the draft and UMT, and did not know why Mr. Symington was disagreeing. The President added that unification of the armed forces was taking time for the services to become accustomed to it.

The President stated that he was as surprised as anyone else at the previous week's riots in Bogota during the Pan-American Conference of 21 nations. A Congressional inquiry had been launched to determine whether the CIA had any advance warning of the uprising and had warned members of the Administration.

In discussing the newly completed second-floor balcony for the South Portico of the White House, the President, following a meeting with Bronx boss Ed Flynn and New York Democratic chairman Paul Fitzpatrick, said that he was confident that he would win in November. He added that the D.C. Fine Arts Commission criticism of the White House project was for the fact that they scared more easily than did he.

Hah, this guy's so far out of touch, it's not funny. Can't they impeach him for being out of touch with reality?

The publisher of the Ketchikan Chronicle stated that Congresswoman Margaret Chase Smith of Maine was correct in her assertion that Russian planes had violated Alaskan airspace. He added that U.S. planes had also violated the territorial space of Russia during the previous several months as the Russian planes transgressed the Alaskan territorial border. The commander of the U.S. Air Force in Alaska and officers at Air Force headquarters in Washington stated that there were no reports of Russian activity over Alaska.

The publisher also asserted that a reported Russian submarine in Kiska Harbor had lingered for about ten days and that the Navy had a fix on the submarine, had awaited word from Washington on whether to take any action. He said that the Aleutian bases were placed on alert during the period.

He also asserted that a B-29 which crashed near Nome on December 27 had been hit by a Soviet shell and was carrying new photographic equipment.

The Navy announced that a fleet of twelve fighting ships would visit European waters during the summer, with 3,720 trainees aboard.

In Moscow, Izvestia accused American correspondent Robert Magidoff of spying for the U.S. and stated that the Russian Government had asked Mr. Magidoff therefore to depart within two or three days. Mr. Magidoff worked for NBC, the British Exchange Telegraph, and McGraw-Hill Publishing. The report was based on a letter dated April 14 from an American secretary of Mr. Magidoff and who had worked at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, that Mr. Magidoff had dispatched reports and received assignments via Embassy diplomatic pouches to and from Washington, circumventing Soviet press censorship requirements. The secretary said that it was evident that employees of McGraw-Hill, on whose stationery the transmissions were contained, were engaging in espionage activities in Russia. She said that the instructions included how to make acquaintances in Russia with informed persons and particular instructions to Mr. Magidoff on collection of information on underground buildings.

The report by Eddy Gilmore of the A.P. did not indicate why the American secretary provided the information to the Soviet Government newspaper—but apparently she was working, for want of a better way of putting it, with "Oswald", if not "O.H. Lee".

At Shannon Airport in Eire, a Pan American Airways Constellation, bound from Calcutta to New York, crashed short of the runway, killing 30 of the 31 persons aboard, including a crew of ten. The dead included 19 Americans and a prominent Indian industrialist, Sir Homi Mehta. The sole survivor was an American from Burbank, CA., manager of the Lockheed Aviation offices at Shannon, who was thrown clear of the flaming wreckage as it crashed, shot back through the baggage compartment, suffering only slight injuries. Lockheed built the Constellation. Visibility was clear at the time of the crash at 2:34 a.m.

As flooding continued for the fourth day in the Ohio River Valley, the prospect of a respite in the rain gave hope for an easing of the flood waters. Two young persons, 17 and 9, had drowned in West Virginia while attempting to recover a wild duck.

The Senate was debating between passage of amendments offered by Senator Joseph McCarthy to the Taft-Wagner-Ellender long-term housing bill and those offered by Senator Taft. The bill encouraged the construction of 15 million new homes in the ensuing decade.

The contempt trial of John L. Lewis and UMW in Federal District Court in Washington continued, with the court hearing final arguments and deferring decision until Monday. Mr. Lewis had not called off the strike until the previous Monday, a week after service of the court's order to end the strike immediately. The demand for a $100 per month pension fund out of the existing miners' welfare and pensions fund, established in 1946, had been settled on Sunday, at which point Mr. Lewis called the miners back to work.

The defense refused the court's invitation for a detailed argument, resting on the notion that the Government had failed to prove its case and that Mr. Lewis had never called the strike in the first place, that the miners had walked out on their own in response to the UMW demand for the pension pay and the operators' refusal to agree as not affordable by the welfare fund.

On the editorial page, "Stassen the Giant Killer" finds the victory by Harold Stassen in the Nebraska primary, following his victory the previous week in Wisconsin, to have placed him as the front runner for the Republican nomination and changed the whole political picture of the race.

He had beat out the entire Republican field in Nebraska. The emergence of Mr. Stassen was problematic for the President's chances. The Democrats had asserted that the President might still have a narrow chance to win the election should the Republicans nominate either Senator Taft or Governor Dewey. But the fresh face of Mr. Stassen was not so pleasing as a prospect. Thus, the movement by the Democrats to draft General Eisenhower had new impetus.

Mr. Stassen would appeal to progressives and independents, as well as labor, causing potentially a stampede from the Democrats which could have long-range effects on their political fortunes.

So, it looks like it will be President Stassen. Who will be Vice-President?

Maybe, this McCarthy fellow. No, he wouldn't provide enough regional balance. Somebody young, maybe, out of the House, with solid anti-Communist credentials.

"$4,500 'Low Income' for Families" discusses a ruling by a New York court that the proper qualifying family income for low-income public housing was $4,500 per year, dismissing a taxpayer lawsuit contending that it was too high.

The piece, comparing apples to oranges, looks at Charlotte and Mecklenburg average family income, finding it, respectively, at $4,822 and $4,295, thus concluding that almost all families in the county would qualify for low income housing on the New York standard. Per capita income in North Carolina was $817 and $1,200 nationally.

It concludes that while public housing had its place, the standard for qualifying income could not rest near the average income level lest property values generally be adversely affected.

It never appears to allow for the higher cost of living in New York than most other places in the nation, including North Carolina—a bit strange since the publisher of The News, Thomas L. Robinson, had come to the newspaper in early 1947 after a long stint at The New York Times.

"A New Plan for United Nations" discusses the "ABC Plan" advanced by 15 U.S. Senators during the week for establishing a new U.N. It would provide for an international police force to enforce U.N. decisions and would be inclusive of the Soviet bloc members if they so desired. If, however, they chose not to participate, then the police force would be formed as a mutual defense pact around the consenting nations, thus resulting in a continuation of the East-West divide, possibly making the division deeper. A similar proposal had been introduced in the House by 14 Representatives.

The proposal was different from world government, which it regards as the proposal best suited to afford world peace, based on an international code of laws backed by international enforcement.

Lorraine Eskew of the Charlotte unit of the United World Federalists, at the request of The News, provides the first in a four-part series of articles setting forth the basis for the proposed world government favored by the organization. She proposes a system similar to that favored by the foregoing piece, as distinguished from the Congressional proposal only for an international police force.

She points out that the old League of Nations had failed for want of a means of enforcement of its determinations. The organization she represents favored that the nations give up individual sovereignty as an outmoded concept in the atomic age.

A piece from the Christian Science Monitor, titled "Code of Fairness", found it heartening to see a growing movement to protect citizens against abuse of power by Congressmen, the latest example of which was a code of fairness developed by the House Procurement & Buildings Subcommittee. It permitted witnesses before the committee to have advice of counsel on answering questions and permitted anyone who believed his reputation injured by testimony to file a sworn answer which would be made part of the record of the hearings.

Senator Scott Lucas of Illinois wanted the rules formalized and to include safeguards against members using Congressional immunity to broadcast scurrilous accusations.

It favors the move as it would offer protection to the public against bullying by Congressmen. The Truman War Investigating Committee and the La Follette Committee had during the war shown themselves to be fair. Formalization of such practices would be salutary in protecting citizens' Constitutional rights.

Drew Pearson, as does Marquis Childs, discusses John L. Lewis and his political game afoot, allowing Speaker Joe Martin to be the hero who solved the mine crisis during the previous weekend. Mr. Lewis had a penchant for changing political alliances. He had supported FDR in 1936 and then in 1940, he urged labor in a nationwide broadcast paid for by the late William Rhodes Davis, sleazy Texas oil millionaire who helped to provide the oil for the initial Putsch of the German Wehrmacht in 1938-39, to vote against the President. Hermann Goering had said, after he was captured at the end of the war, that Mr. Lewis was being paid from German coffers to defeat President Roosevelt on the notion that another President would provide peace terms favorable to the Nazis.

Mr. Lewis had sought to defeat West Virginia Senator Harley Kilgore in 1946, also without success.

The previous spring, he had managed to obtain a large wage hike for the miners following the Government return of the mines to the private operators, leading to inflationary prices in coal and steel. It supposedly was a deal worked out between the supporters of Governor Dewey and Mr. Lewis for him to provide political support for the Governor. Mr. Dewey had not thus far appeared, however, to have been helped.

It appeared that Mr. Lewis was shifting his support to Speaker Martin. Senator Styles Bridges, whom Mr. Martin recommended the previous weekend to resolve the impasse on the pension fund demand, had derailed the investigation of the Davis payment for the 1940 broadcast, which could have proved embarrassing to Mr. Lewis. It proved that Mr. Lewis could settle a coal strike whenever he wanted to do so. With both Governor Dewey and Senator Taft flagging in their presidential fortunes, Mr. Lewis might be able to put Speaker Martin across for the nomination, making the UMW leader, for the first time, a kingmaker.

Senator Homer Ferguson's investigation the previous year of Howard Hughes and his war contracts with the Government had led to a report just released, but which said nothing of Senator Owen Brewster's lobbying for Pan Am and the favors which he had received from the airline and its head, Juan Trippe.

The House Post Office Committee was keeping a confidential report from the Cleveland Post Office under wraps because it could lead to wholesale revision of the big city post offices. It might help to trim the 345 million dollar deficit in the Department. Cleveland was targeted for experimental streamlining to save money, which, if successful, would be implemented in other large cities.

Marquis Childs finds the power of John L. Lewis to affect adversely the country having been once again demonstrated in the strike just ended. The nation's coal reserve was practically gone and the miners had lost 100 million dollars in wages. Whether his call to end the strike would be obeyed was still an open question.

The miners followed Mr. Lewis with fanatical devotion for his having done so much to improve their lot through time. But the power he had acquired also tended toward corruption and he was no exception to the rule. With the strike having been ended by Speaker Joe Martin suggesting that Senator Styles Bridges become the missing third member of the board of trustees of the UMW welfare fund, Mr. Lewis had allowed Mr. Martin to be the hero of the piece. And, he would inevitably want to collect for bestowing that honor.

The Bureau of Mines had recently issued a quarterly report which stated that half of the more than 12,000 mine safety violations had not been corrected. The problem lay in varied enforcement within the states, which had responsibility for enforcement, while the Bureau could only inspect and report violations. Enforcement varied from state to state, good in Pennsylvania, poor in Illinois, where the Centralia mine disaster of the previous year had taken place.

Speaker Martin was a proponent of states' rights, as were most conservative Republicans. Thus, in that light, making Mr. Martin the hero of the strike looked odd. The miner had to wonder, in his loyalty to the leader, whether he was also backing the states' rightists who wanted to keep the Federal Government at bay, enabling the states not to enforce the regulations which kept them safe.

Joseph & Stewart Alsop tell of discussions ongoing in Washington regarding the U.S. joining the Western European Union, to form an "Atlantic Union"—that to become NATO. There were differing opinions in the Administration as to how to achieve this arrangement, whether by treaty or fitting the WEU within the U.N. framework. It was also unclear how such a union would be formed without including Italy, Greece, and the Scandinavian countries, in greater danger of Soviet takeover than the five nations of the WEU, France, Britain, and the Benelux countries.

A treaty would be proposed only if the Senate was sure to approve it. The French insisted on an immediate treaty, a view shared by the British without being so insistent.

Belgian Prime Minister Paul-Henri Spaak, representing the Benelux countries, was most concerned about the practical aspects of providing a means of defense by mutual cooperation.

America was supportive of Mr. Spaak's view but did not want the WEU nations to abandon their own defense goals by being too reliant on the U.S. The ways to achieve a joint command, to apportion contributions to manpower, and other issues still had to be resolved. Only then should the WEU call upon the U.S. for renewed lend-lease.

But thus far, the necessary talks of the WEU nations, prefatory to forming a secretariat and a joint command staff, had not taken place.

On this date in 1865, President Lincoln, after leading the nation through the worst period of its young history for four years of Southern secession and resultant civil war, died at 7:30 a.m., across Tenth Street from Ford's Theater, in the Petersen house to which he had been carried after the shooting at around 10:15 the previous night, some contemporaneous accounts placing his death at precisely 7:22. Now, he belonged to the ages.

The bloodied pillow on which his head rested during the night and the room in which he died, never regaining consciousness, may still be viewed by visitors to the Petersen house and the museum across the way.

It perhaps says something about the societal change in sensibilities since the Nineteenth Century that such bloody artifacts of the death of a President, while traditionally remaining on display in the case of President Lincoln, would be viewed today, if displayed afresh from a contemporaneous event, as grotesque and macabre. Perhaps, in the age of television and probing into private lives of public persons to the point of leaving little sacred, the insistence on maintenance of privacy in matters of death has been given greater sanctity and respect.

Yet, the viewer of the Lincoln death bed and the blood-stained pillow is impressed with a sensitivity to the fate of the slain President as no other display could imbue. And so it remains. Whether that preservation bodes good or ill for the nation has to be left to the perception of the beholder.

Meanwhile, during the night and early morning hours of April 14-15, the President's assassin, John Wilkes Booth, effected his escape on horseback, past sentries, into Maryland, where he received treatment at the home of Dr. Samuel Mudd in St. Catharine for the broken leg which he had suffered when jumping from the Presidential box to the stage after the shooting of the President, catching one of his spurs on the flag adorning the front of the box, interrupting his fall.

After making his way into northern Virginia in the coming days, he would be cornered by U.S. Army soldiers on April 26 in a barn on a farm at Port Royal, and, as the barn burned, was shot by one of their number. The soldiers present recounted that, as he lay dying, unable to move, he asked to see his hands, and when shown them, uttered the word, "Useless," then died.

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