The Charlotte News

Wednesday, July 14, 1948


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the Russians replied to the protest against the Berlin blockade registered by the U.S., Britain, and France jointly. But Secretary of State Marshall did not disclose yet the contents of the reply as a translation of the full text had not yet reached him and publication, he said, would have to be approved also by Britain and France. But the official Soviet military newspaper in Berlin stated that the Western protest was "laughable". It was believed that the reply was negative.

In Palestine, Israeli troops appeared to have made major progress by seizing from Iraqi forces Ras Al Ein, nine miles north of Tel Aviv, a village at the terminus of the water pipeline to Jerusalem, thus promising relief from the water shortage besetting 100,000 Jews in the city for several weeks. Capture of the village also removed a threat to Tel Aviv and halted Arab shelling of Petah Tiqva, a suburb of Tel Aviv.

The U.N. Security Council was prepared to vote on taking strong action in Palestine, and with Canada and Great Britain supporting the U.S. proposal, it appeared assured of passage. It provided for a cease-fire order to be enforced if necessary and efforts to demilitarize Jerusalem. It also would freeze immigration and continue the Middle East arms embargo, aspects opposed by Israel. A similar proposal had received five votes in May, without Canada and Britain, seven votes being required for passage. China opposed the measure but was expected to abstain rather than exercise its veto power.

In Rome, Palmiro Togliatti, the top Communist in Italy, was shot and gravely wounded by three of five bullets fired at him as he emerged from the Chamber of Deputies building. Antonio Pallante, a 25-year old Sicilian nationalist, was arrested for the shooting. Violence then began to flare throughout Italy as crowds formed, shouting, "Viva Togliatti". The Communist-led Federation of Labor called a general strike in Rome. Premier Alcide de Gasperi condemned the shooting. Attending physicians said that they expected Mr. Togliatti to live. He had recently signed the Cominform statement denouncing Yugoslavian Communists and Marshal Tito for being anti-Soviet.

In light of the resolution by UMW and management of the strike in the captive coal mines of the steel industry, the Government withdrew its proceedings to obtain an injunction against the strike.

In Philadelphia, the Democrats hoped to wrap up the convention this night with an acceptance speech by the President, contingent upon the duration of the fight on the civil rights plank by the Southerners. Senator Alben Barkley had expressed his willingness to accept the vice-presidential nomination and that was considered assured. Given the 28-minute demonstration Monday following his keynote address, some delegates, however, expressed a desire to have him head the ticket. Texas was considering placing his name in nomination in that regard, as was Alabama. California was also interested in his candidacy for the top of the ticket. Former North Carolina Governor and Senator Cameron Morrison had come to the convention favoring the Barkley presidential nomination and maintained his enthusiasm about the prospect.

James Roosevelt and railroad brotherhood president A. F. Whitney spoke for repeal of Taft-Hartley, both added to the list of speakers as a show of party unity, despite Mr. Roosevelt having led an effort to have General Eisenhower as the nominee.

The showdown on the civil rights plank was about to begin as the 5,000-word platform went to the convention for approval this date. The civil rights plank was deemed objectionable by some Southerners, some threatening to walk out of the convention if it were adopted. Mississippi succeeded in having seated an anti-Truman delegation led by Governor Fielding Wright—to become the Dixiecrat vice-presidential nominee to Strom Thurmond later in the month following the Dixiecrat walkout this date. A minority report opposing the seating of the Wright delegation was adopted by California, Michigan, New York, Illinois, and several other states.

Not mentioned on the page, one of the historic moments of the 1948 convention would take place this date, as Mayor Hubert Humphrey of Minneapolis, candidate for the Senate, would rise to support a minority civil rights plank, explicitly to state in the platform the endorsement of the President's ten-point civil rights program articulated to the Congress on February 2, which included anti-lynching legislation, anti-poll tax legislation, legislation to enact the Fair Employment Practices Commission, and elimination of segregation in interstate transportation facilities and in the armed forces. The plank was adopted by the convention.

While some historians have suggested that the Dixiecrats walked out of the convention in direct response to this speech by Mayor Humphrey and the adoption of the plank, that, strictly speaking, is not accurate. The walk-out had been planned for weeks in anticipatory response to the civil rights plank and nomination of the President after he had proposed the civil rights program February 2. The Dixecrat strategy began to be formulated within days thereafter. Save for adoption of the states' rights plank proposed by the Southerners, the passage of which was not ever realistically anticipated, the walkout would have occurred regardless of Mayor Humphrey's statement to the convention and the adoption of the minority plank, perhaps given more historical weight for Mr. Humphrey's subsequent prominent role in the Democratic Party, as Senate Majority Whip, Vice-President under President Johnson, and presidential nominee in 1968. Regardless of its weight or effect at the time, the statement was both bold and prophetic in its setting the course for the future of the Democratic Party and the society, some aspects of the program he set forth having to await nearly twenty years, until 1964 and 1965, for enactment in the form of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act.

The program, however, was that proposed by the President, the source of a Southern maelstrom since the day of the proposal. The ultimate political bravery also was that of the President, whose support substantially diminished across the country thereafter, further complicated in liberal circles by his withdrawal of support for a time for the U.N. partition plan for Palestine originally proposed by the Administration, nearly, in tandem, costing him the election. Thus, properly, the reason for the Dixiecrat walkout was the President and his program, not Mayor Humphrey and the civil rights plank which endorsed that program.

The plank as adopted stated:
The Democratic Party is responsible for the great civil rights gains made in recent years in eliminating unfair and illegal discrimination based on race, creed or color.

The Democratic Party commits itself to continuing its efforts to eradicate all racial, religious and economic discrimination.

We again state our belief that racial and religious minorities must have the right to live, the right to work, the right to vote, the full and equal protection of the laws, on a basis of equality with all citizens as guaranteed by the Constitution.

We highly commend President Harry S. Truman for his courageous stand on the issue of civil rights.

We call upon the Congress to support our President in guaranteeing these basic and fundamental American Principles: (1) the right of full and equal political participation; (2) the right to equal opportunity of employment; (3) the right of security of person; (4) and the right of equal treatment in the service and defense of our nation.

Thus, in somewhat roundabout language, it endorsed the anti-poll tax legislation, the FEPC, and the anti-lynching legislation, stopping short of direct endorsement of elimination of segregation, while so advocating in principle.

The platform favored outright repeal of Taft-Hartley, but also favored some substitute legislation to foster free and effective collective bargaining and to enable unions to remain free from Communist influence.

It also supported revision of the U.N. Charter, curtailment of the Big Five unilateral veto on the Security Council and establishment of an international armed force to back up U.N. decisions.

The platform was more than three times as long as the 1944 Democratic platform, the latter running only 1,366 words, in a wartime convention pledged first to win the war before engaging in extensive furtherance of domestic programs.

Hal Boyle reports that California Congresswoman Helen Gahagan Douglas had been a hit with the convention in her speech of the previous night, providing an answer to the GOP convention's glamour entry with former Connecticut Congresswoman Clare Boothe Luce. Ms. Douglas fared better, he reports, than Ms. Luce within the new eye of television, Ms. Luce reduced to a "pale, gesturing ghost", while makeup allowed Ms. Douglas, a former actress, to appear as Ingrid Bergman from a distance to the television audience. Ms. Douglas was nervous, shook and shouted at the audience, but all to great effect, calling for an expansion of the New Deal and continuing concern for the welfare of the individual. She received an ovation second only to that of Senator Barkley on Monday night, but she had been placed so late on the schedule that few remained in the hall by the time she began speaking. Few left, however, once she began.

Congresswoman Douglas, of course, would be defeated by Congressman Richard Nixon in the 1950 California Senate race—and the rest, as they say, is history.

In Salisbury, N.C., the polio outbreak had forced cancellation of the planned August 5 annual Nazareth Orphans picnic, which ordinarily attracted 3,000 to 5,000 persons.

On the editorial page, "Truman, Barkley and Party" approves the selection by the President of Senator Barkley as his running mate, that he would do as much for the Democrats as anybody else could in the number two position. But he was more significant for holding the party together than for achieving victory, as Senator Barkley could effect reconciliation among disaffected Democrats and recovery of the party after the election. His advancing age of 70 would be an asset in that effort.

The quick shift to Senator Barkley after the rejection on Monday by Justice Douglas of the offer of the second spot, suggested that the President had made the offer to Justice Douglas only as a gesture to the New Deal left of the party. The selection of Senator Barkley to deliver the keynote address on Monday suggested that all of it was carefully stage-managed. It regards it as a criss-cross play combined with the hidden ball trick, whether carried out with or without the full assistance of the President, and one which would give the Democrats a better than anticipated chance in the election.

"When High Prices Get a Laugh" tells of Mrs. India Edwards, during her Monday night speech to the Democratic convention, having displayed a basket of groceries tied to a balloon to represent inflation and said that the poor were getting poorer and the rich, richer. Everyone, reportedly, enjoyed the skit.

It thinks that such a strategy would be highly effective during the campaign if the country were in the midst of a depression. But the problem was that everyone was seemingly responsible for inflation, as no one knew how to stop it. And to complain of high prices was to counteract the President's claim of postwar prosperity under the Democrats. Employment was at 95 percent and wages were high.

The Republicans would be sure to win if there were significant unemployment in the country. And the Democrats would attract few votes on the inflation theme.

"Spots Before Our Eyes" tells of a woman wishing that she could tan rather than freckle, finding the sentiment contrary to the aesthetic pleasantries of freckles, citing Myrna Loy as example. It urges holding onto them, but provides a home recipe for removal if the freckled person was so determined.

A piece from the Washington Post, titled "UN Charter Revision", tells of the "Little Assembly" at the U.N. voting 19 to 7 for revision of the Charter, suggesting the need for a revision conference. The primary objection was to the Russian use of the veto on the Security Council.

The piece believes that the matter had to be considered in the light of whether curtailment of the veto would weaken collective action of the democratic states. Joseph E. Johnson, U.S. representative, believed it would weaken the work of the Little Assembly to dilute the veto power.

A conference could be called by a two-thirds vote of the General Assembly and concurrence of at least seven members of the Security Council. But to amend the Charter would require a two-thirds majority of the conference and approval then by two-thirds of the U.N., plus all of the Big Five on the Security Council. Russia or any other of the powers could thus veto the change.

Drew Pearson, in Philadelphia, tells of the group at the convention, among whom was Senator Claude Pepper, who had sought to derail the nomination of President Truman. They had sought Justice Douglas for the nomination, failing which, then trumpeted Senator Pepper as sure to take several of the five million votes probably to go otherwise to Henry Wallace and his third party. They predicted that if the President were unchallenged for the nomination, the Democrats would be out of power for at least twenty years. Leonard Finder, who had been the chief force behind trying to get General Eisenhower to run, said that the nomination of the President would mean forfeiture of all independent Republican votes.

The late Josephus Daniels of North Carolina had said in 1944 that the Democrats were a party of minorities, none of whom could be President, neither Catholics, nor Jews, nor blacks. He concluded, "Thank God for Franklin D. Roosevelt." Mr. Pearson believes the statement explained the confusion in 1948, with FDR gone from the scene.

The South Carolina Democrats had removed all pictures of Harry Truman adorning their hotel and erected instead the South Carolina state flag. (At least, it wasn't the Confederate flag. Thanks for finally taking it down, South Carolina. Better late than never, but it is also at very least 52 years too late.) Senator Olin Johnston of South Carolina described the confusion following the disintegration of the draft-Eisenhower movement as "organized inertia."

The convention was so dull that one reporter asked his newspaper not to subtract the time he spent covering it from his vacation pay.

The Bellevue-Stratford Hotel had offered an inflated donkey to complement the inflated elephant they provided for the GOP the previous month. The Democrats, remembering how the elephant had been consistently deflated by smoldering cigarette butts, declined, opting for a papier mache donkey with flashing electric eyes—which appeared on the front page Saturday with Senator Howard McGrath, DNC chairman.

Mary Harnaday, in a piece from the Christian Science Monitor, comments on Jonathan Daniels of the Raleigh News & Observer having asked for comments on the progress of the South in the decade since FDR declared it "the nation's no. 1 economic problem", that in response to the study published by UNC sociology professor Howard Odum, Southern Regions.

Senator Lister Hill of Alabama had trumpeted the success of the South in rural electrification through the REA, greater educational opportunities, and increase in farm income by four-fold in the intervening decade. But income, he noted, for businessmen and farmers in the South remained below the national average and the region still suffered from freight rate discrimination and exploitation by absentee owners of industry.

Mr. Daniels said that the South had made great progress in the area in which it received the least credit, race relations, with friction generally now expressed only in talk rather than in violence as in the past. Blacks had better pay and better work and were now seeking entrance to the white universities of the South. Between 1933 and 1938, there had been 74 lynchings, whereas in the five years after that, 21, and in 1947, only one, that of Willie Earle near Greenville, S.C., with none in the previous twelve months.

Ms. Harnaday adds to Mr. Daniels's statement that a black man in Alabama, Roosevelt Boyd, had been acquitted of murder by a white jury for killing a white man. Two local white lawyers had defended Mr. Boyd and obtained the acquittal on the ground of self-defense. Mr. Boyd had shot a white neighbor who was drunk and entered Mr. Boyd's property with a shotgun, upset over the planting of some corn over the property line.

The NAACP reported that there was no great rush by blacks or Jews to enter neighborhoods with restrictive covenants after the Supreme Court had ruled earlier in the year that the covenants were legal by contract but unenforceable in the courts, as barred by the Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection clause when state action is sought to be invoked. There were too many other problems, such as integrating schools, to be concerned with moving into restricted neighborhoods.

Walter White, executive secretary of the NAACP, had told of being apprised by a white man of a planned Klan rally in Gwinnett County, Georgia, to frighten blacks the night before the election. He alerted the FBI and broadcast over an Atlanta radio station that the FBI would be observing. Suddenly, the Klan members decided that they had business elsewhere.

Ms. Harnaday cautions that the Federal civil rights program proposed in Congress, as urged by the President, would only be passed if the states neglected or refused to perform their duties to insure equal rights under the Constitution.

Joseph & Stewart Alsop, in Philadelphia, discuss the fact that in 1944, Justice William O. Douglas had been the favored vice-presidential candidate by FDR. He had left the choice up to the convention, and the big city bosses and the Southerners wanted Harry Truman as a "safe" organization man. DNC chairman Robert Hannegan also favored Senator Truman. Secretary of Interior Harold Ickes and White House adviser Tommy Corcoran had been the champions of Justice Douglas but stood as relative amateurs politically to the opposition advocating Mr. Truman. The President was on his way to the Pacific to visit with General MacArthur during that convention and did not even appear at the convention except by radio broadcast from the West Coast. (They leave aside the other primary candidate for the vice-presidential nomination in 1944, James Byrnes, who was disappointed by having been passed over for it, but supposedly having been promised by FDR the position of Secretary of State when Cordell Hull would soon retire, that having occurred the following November but the President promptly then appointing instead Undersecretary Edward Stettinius, disappointing Mr. Byrnes, this time bitterly, for the second time in a matter of a few months.)

Justice Douglas would have accepted the nomination, they indicate, in 1944 but did not want it this time. But in delaying his announcement for two days, he revealed how bankrupt the Democratic Party was. It had been decided three months earlier that Justice Douglas was the choice candidate, and the Northern leaders and the President's advisers, led by Clark Clifford, relayed the message to the Justice. But the President did not make up his mind until the previous Friday. Justice Douglas had already made up his mind but unfortunately allowed the President to talk him into waiting two days to mull the matter. When he finally refused on Monday morning, the President was bitterly disappointed and angry.

The Northern organization men who championed Justice Douglas this time were the same men who had picked Mr. Truman in 1944, a decision they now regretted. They understood now that progressive thinking was needed to appeal to the voters in their precincts, not "safe" candidates.

The recognition provided a basis for building a progressive Democratic Party in the future, one which would not any longer appear as the "zombie" which the present structure resembled at the 1948 convention.

Marquis Childs, in Philadelphia, asserts that the campaign would wind up as one of the most lopsided in history with the Democrats on the losing end. The Democrats would be virtually without funds during the campaign and the newspapers would be overwhelmingly for the Republican ticket—though that latter fact had also been the case throughout FDR's tenure.

A viable two-party system was good for the country and for government and so it was bad that such was taking place. Competition in the field of ideas was conducive to democracy. The contest was falsely being characterized as being between individual freedom and the state, suggesting that a Republican victory for the individual would open the way to exploitation by interests more powerful than the government.

Lending credence to that assumption, the Republicans had a plank in their platform which advocated in effect repeal of the Federal inheritance taxes and turning them over to the states. That would produce a rivalry among the states to attract the more wealthy to their borders with low inheritance taxes. Already, the new tax bill allowed splitting inheritance and gift taxes between spouses, as with the income tax. When the President had vetoed the legislation, he had said that nearly all of the 250 million dollar tax reduction would go to 12,000 of the country's wealthiest families.

The result of such a scheme would be to pass the tax burden to the lower income groups to substitute for the lost revenue at the top.

The Republicans also wanted to turn public lands over to the states for use by private owners. The GOP was attacking the Forest Service, which protected lands from overgrazing by leased interests. An effort was forecast to break down barriers even of the national parks, a repudiation of the effort of President Theodore Roosevelt to preserve them for public use. In public power, an effort would be made to turn over power to the private utilities, potentially reversing the regional benefits accruing from such worthy projects as TVA.

So, Mr. Childs concludes, a Republican victory won on the basis of individual freedom versus control could give license to the special interests, which they were already planning to exploit.

Samuel Grafton, no longer carried by The News, finds in the disunity which had beset the Democratic Party a mirror of the nation's disunity, even if that mirror was distorted, "like a shiny wheel hub". The Democrats were a cross-section of the country, unlike the more homogeneous Republicans.

So to those who were bemused at the spectacle, the desire was to impart that it was only an image of themselves at which they were laughing. Some people were opposed to civil rights in the country; some were indifferent to the struggle for independence in the Middle East; others wished to curb labor by law. All of these elements were present both in the convention and in the country at large.

He ventures that perhaps the convention showed that the era of locally and geographically based parties was over, that instead the new parties would be built on a common sharing of principles, whether left or right in orientation.

But to discuss going back to the old way of compromise and conciliation would be to assume a community of interests, something beyond the power of those assembled to acknowledge any longer.

The comedy of the convention, he concludes, would likely persist after it was over and would extend long into the future.

A Quote of the Day: "In case the Dixiecrats need a party symbol, there is always the man who painted himself into the corner of his living room." —Arkansas Gazette

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