The Charlotte News

Saturday, July 31, 1948


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the U.S., Britain, and France had taken a "preliminary step" in renewing their demand for an end to the Berlin blockade. The ambassadors to Moscow from the three countries had called separately on Deputy Foreign Commissar Valerian Zorin—representative of Moscow at the U.N. during the Cuban Missile Crisis 14 years later, part of the possible reason for which, as perceived at the time by President Kennedy and his advisers, including Dean Acheson, the next Secretary of State within a few months, was to effect a quid pro quo of missiles in Cuba for evacuation or limiting of Western forces in West Berlin. The ambassadors had already been informed that Foreign Commissar Molotov was on vacation. There was no indication as to what the "preliminary step" was.

A Berlin non-Communist newspaper, The Social Demokrat, opined that the absence of Mr. Molotov was suspect and that it was likely simply a ploy to delay resolution of the crisis.

President Truman and Governor Thomas Dewey met to dedicate the opening of the New York International Airport, commonly known as Idlewild until shortly after the death of President Kennedy when it was officially named in his honor. The President, as did Governor Dewey, declared the airport to be a symbol of American faith in lasting peace. About 100,000 spectators showed up for the ceremonies. A contingent of military aircraft, including the new B-36 bomber, flew above the crowd.

Before HUAC, admitted former Soviet spy Elizabeth Bentley accused Lauchlin Currie, former aide to FDR, and Harry Dexter White, former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, among others, of having provided secret wartime information to the Soviets, U.S. allies, during the war. She said that Mr. Currie was not a Communist but provided information, including the incipient breaking of the Russian codes to their diplomatic representatives, causing the codes to be changed. She identified Nathan Silvermaster as a Communist spy ring leader and Russian secret police agent who had worked for the Farm Security Administration of the U.S. Government at the time. Information, she contended, was provided to Mr. Silvermaster by Mr. White and others and then given by Mr. Silvermaster to Ms. Bentley who claimed to pass it to the Soviet Government. Committee members said that they would seek a special grand jury to look into the charges.

The Senate Investigating Committee chaired by Homer Ferguson of Michigan, which had heard Ms. Bentley the previous day, questioned William Remington of the Commerce Department, whom Ms. Bentley also identified as a leading Communist in the Government, allegedly providing secret information on American plane production to the Soviets during the war. Mr. Remington denied the charges. When the FBI began investigating his association with Ms Bentley, he testified, he was being offered a job with the Atomic Energy Commission.

Bob Sain of The News reports that Mary Price of Greensboro, chairman of the North Carolina Progressive Party, had threatened to sue Ms. Bentley for having said before the Senate Investigating Committee the previous day that she believed Ms. Price was a Communist, claiming that Ms. Price had helped Ms. Bentley obtain information for Russia from the files of columnist Walter Lippmann, for whom Ms. Price was secretary in 1943.

Before HUAC, Ms. Bentley testified that she also received a referral from Ms. Price anent OSS employee Duncan Lee, who Ms. Price believed would be helpful in acquiring secret information, that he had given information to her previously. Ms. Bentley testified that Mr. Lee, legal adviser to OSS director General "Wild Bill" Donovan, provided valuable information, including whether the Government had become aware of Communists working within the OSS. Mr. Lee denied being a Communist or ever providing Government information to either Ms. Price or Ms. Bentley, that his acquaintance with both was strictly social, that he and his wife broke off the relationship with Ms. Bentley because she was a pest. He described her story regarding his provision of information as the product of a "vivid imagination". He did not think that Ms. Price was a Communist.

Ms. Bentley also contended that she met Ms. Price at her apartment in New York and therein collected information and Communist Party dues from Victor Perlo, a leader, she claimed, of a second spy ring within the Government, similar to the "Silvermaster group". On two other occasions, Ms. Bentley contended, she collected the information from Mr. Perlo at the apartment of attorney John Abt, current counsel of the Progressive Party.

Louisiana Congressman Edward Hebert of the Committee was on the hush-hush and qui vive.

When phoned by The News for a response to the allegations made by Ms. Bentley to the Senate Investigating Committee, Ms. Price, originally from Madison, N.C., quoted from "Freedom Train" by Langston Hughes, (which Mr. Sain ascribes to Paul Robeson for his recording of the poem), saying, "I'm gonna check up, I'm gonna check up." The poem refers to the Freedom Train touring the country during the previous year with the nation's founding documents aboard. Ms. Price, says Mr. Sain, did not want to discuss whether she had ever met Ms. Bentley.

The Catawba County Board of Elections had received affidavits from persons saying that their names were forged by the Progressive Party on its petition for inclusion on the North Carolina ballot. Ms. Price said that there was basis for requesting the removal of the chairman of the Board of Elections in Catawba County.

In Nuremberg, Alfred Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach, head of the Krupp Works, was convicted of two war crimes and sentenced this date to twelve years in prison for exploiting slave labor and plundering Nazi-occupied lands during the war. The three-man military tribunal convicted ten other Krupp executives on the slave labor charge and five of them on the plundering charge. One of the twelve defendants was acquitted. The judgment said that the convicted defendants exceeded even the orders of Hitler.

In Budapest, the Parliament was expected to name a pro-Communist Socialist, Arpad Szakasits, as the new president of Hungary on Monday following the resignation of Zoltan Tildy, after his son-in-law, the minister to Egypt, was arrested on charges of spying and treason. Mr. Tildy was the first President of the Hungarian republic founded in 1946.

If Mr. Szakasits failed to win, he could start his own acne medication company and be assured of success. If he failed at that, he could change his name to Zasu Pitts.

House Speaker Joe Martin claimed that the President's inflation control program, if enacted in its entirety, would double income taxes, referring to the call for renewal of the wartime excess profits tax. The Republicans appeared receptive to the President's call for bank credit and installment buying limits, but not wage or price controls, rationing or the Taft-Ellender-Wagner housing bill. GOP leaders met with Governor Dewey's campaign manager, Herbert Brownell, future Eisenhower Administration Attorney General, to discuss strategy on the special session.

In Birmingham, Ala., a gas explosion in a large coal mine the previous day had so far resulted in eight deaths, with another of the injured in critical condition.

In Rockingham, N.C., a 13-year old white girl who gave birth to a brown-skinned baby, had told her step-parents that the father was a black farmhand of Hamlet. He was then arrested on charges of rape and carnal knowledge of a white girl, an offense punishable by death.

A series of photographs show two white boys in Daytona Beach, Fla., saving an elderly black man from drowning after he had fallen from his crabbing boat in a channel.

In Charlotte, a real estate agent who went out to look at some property for an hour had been missing since the previous afternoon, until he phoned home to his son early in the morning to inform that he had run out of gas on a remote side road and could not find a pay phone to call for help, so spent the night in the backseat of his car. City and County Police had been searching for him since the previous night.

Emery Wister of The News reports that July was about to end in a dead heat with 1942 as the hottest on record in Charlotte since 1931. The monthly average temperature had been 81.1 degrees, the same as in 1942. It was the hottest month since June, 1943, at an average of 81.4. In 1931, the average had been 82.5 degrees, with 26 days of at least 90 degree temperatures. This month had recorded 17 days at 90 or above. The norm for July was 78.4. The month was also on track to be the second driest July in city history, only wetter than the .62 inches which had fallen in 1925. Heavy rains and cooler temperatures were predicted for August. This date, the high was 84 and the low, 68.

But what was the humidity?

On the editorial page, "Truman Needs Some Control" tells of the vice-chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, Marriner Eccles, former chairman until recent months, having testified before the Senate Banking Committee against the President's inflation control program, perhaps motivated in part by his having been demoted by the President after Mr. Eccles promoted a deflationary device disfavored by the President. He said that it was too late to control inflation by the means urged by the President, indeed that the program might cause worse inflation.

The President, in his mid-year economic report just sent to Congress, admitted that the program might reduce profits and thus depress production. He had pointed out that government spending for defense and foreign aid plus another round of wage boosts had been among the causes of inflation. But his program did not address these issues, lending credence to the charges of his opponents that the program would not work and was more of a campaign maneuver than a panacea.

The overall picture of the economy as one of production racing to keep pace with unprecedented peacetime demand, was one of more hope than alarm. The President's program, it concludes, was not only wrong but Mr. Eccles was selling the country short by predicting, as he had, certain bust.

"Our New Mission to Moscow" tells of ambassador to Moscow Walter Bedell Smith now seeking a conference with V. M. Molotov to discuss a settlement of the Berlin crisis and possibly a general settlement of the European situation, whereas only three months earlier Mr. Molotov had sought diplomatic talks and was receiving the cold shoulder from the West. In May, Mr. Smith had addressed a note to Mr. Molotov which was interpreted by the Kremlin to be an invitation to talks. Then, London and Paris expressed concern as to why they had not been alerted of the supposed invitation, at which point Washington said that the note was not so intended and that the Soviet reaction was merely a propaganda trick. Secretary of State Marshall had said that the U.S. could not discuss the European situation bilaterally with Russia, that any such discussion had to occur before the U.N.

The piece suggests that if the diplomatic route was worthy now, it had been worthy in May, but that the Western allies were in a weaker bargaining position presently because of Berlin, causing a breakdown in the plan to establish a separate government for Western Germany. The Western allies' problems in Germany had caused concern elsewhere in Europe among friendly governments. In May, the setback had just occurred to the Communists in the Italian elections of April 18.

It hopes that, to avoid war, Ambassador Smith and the other diplomats would not discard the opportunity this time to conduct settlement discussions.

"To the Defense of Mt. Mitchell" tells of a man who was gathering stones to build 42 more feet onto the height of Tennessee's Clingman's Dome, that it might tower above North Carolina's Mt. Mitchell by one foot, thus making it the highest point in the Appalachians and the East. It reminded of the plan of the Aloadae to pile Mt. Ossa on Mt. Pelion on Mt. Olympus, to reach the promised land.

It counsels retaliation by adding another couple of feet to Mt. Mitchell.

Drew Pearson tells of Cissy Patterson, his former mother-in-law who had died at age 64 recently, publisher of the Washington Times-Herald. He imparts that she used to write of her former son-in-law in such scathing terms that even Time Magazine had to interpret the billingsgate in ellipses. Her brother Joe published the New York Daily News. Both had been heirs to their grandfather's Chicago Tribune, published in 1948 by first cousin Bertie McCormick.

Her family had brought a new vigor to Washington, along with neighbors Evalyn Walsh McLean and Alice Roosevelt Longworth, the latter of whom was one of Ms. Patterson's close friends. But just as her mansion on Dupont Circle, built by her mother, her journalism stood as a monument to the past, a form of personal journalism on which she maintained a close watch daily.

Frequently, the first page had headlines about her "headache boy", Mr. Pearson, helping Senators draft speeches attacking him on the Senate floor to supply those headlines. Senator Owen Brewster of Maine had made 75,000 copies of a speech on Mr. Pearson, largely culled from Ms. Patterson's previous diatribes against him, which the Senator was sending to constituents at taxpayer expense. Mr. Pearson refrained from suing her for defamation because, he says, they had been through a lot together and he concluded that the public would determine what a man was, not what someone said he was. She failed to understand that great wealth and power in pursuit of journalism defeated its own ends.

More publishers had come to realize their obligation to provide fair and dispassionate news. Editorial opinion belonged on the editorial page. The Washington Post was an example of this new realization of public duty. The Akron Beacon-Journal, published by John Knight, was another. Philadelphia's two newspapers had shown more breadth of news coverage since the demise of the Record.

The Chicago Tribune, another example of personal journalism, would continue to make money but it would not influence its readers. It had not won an election for which it campaigned in years.

He says that, nevertheless, he would miss the personal journalism of Ms. Patterson, even though he did not agree with it. He would even miss the diatribes against himself.

She had been tired at the end of her life, having alienated some of her old friends and part of her family. He concludes that she would be troubled by headaches no more.

Marquis Childs tells of the Congress being in an angry mood for being called away from their summer vacations to wrangle over legislation which they had thought was laid to rest for the session. For some, it gave opponents a chance to campaign at home while the incumbent was stuck in Washington.

He cites Congressman Estes Kefauver of Tennessee, running for the Senate against incumbent Tom Stewart and a circuit judge, as one who would suffer a handicap as a result. He was a liberal who had fought consistently for the New Deal. He faced an advertising campaign from Boss Ed Crump of Memphis, trying hard to defeat him, smearing him as a Red, seeking to show that he had voted on some measures consistently with Congressman Vito Marcantonio of New York, a supporter of Henry Wallace. Mr. Kefauver was doing well prior to the special session.

In the fall race, the victor in the primary would likely face former Congressman Carroll Reece, who had recently resigned as chairman of the RNC. Boss Crump would likely support him.

Thus, he concludes, were the cards stacked against liberalism in 1948.

Francis Lemay looks at what the President's inflation program meant to the average citizen. The President claimed that it would cap food prices and prevent the Communists from being able to exploit the collapse of American prosperity. The GOP countered that the President sought to invoke "police state methods" which would discourage production and thus hamper the stability of the economy.

Paul Porter, who was the last director of OPA, told the House Banking Committee that retail prices on food had jumped 47 percent in the previous two years since the end of OPA.

The President wanted limits on installment credit, requiring a large down payment to prevent bidding up prices of consumer goods normally so purchased, such as cars. Some of the GOP claimed that the plan would give the person with cash an advantage in the marketplace. Some Republicans, however, did not disagree with the President on this point.

On rents, the President urged more controls while the GOP claimed that taking controls off rents to a degree had encouraged building.

On the housing shortage, the President urged passage of the Taft-Ellender-Wagner bill which would provide public housing, slum clearance, and rent subsidies. The GOP contended that private enterprise could solve the shortage.

The President wanted authority to establish wage ceilings only after a maximum price had been set on a given product and the manufacturer expected to use a wage increase as a basis for raising the price.

The average person would not have anything to do with the President's other proposals, such as regulation of bank credit, speculation on the commodity exchanges, allocation and inventory control of scarce commodities, and restoration of the wartime excess profits tax. But the President contended that these things caused inflation, driving the rise in costs of food and clothing.

The Editor's Roundtable, compiled by James Galloway of Asheville, surveys editorial opinion regarding the Government's case against the twelve American Communist Party leaders just indicted. The majority opined that the timing of the indictments on the eve of the Progressive Party convention and while the Berlin crisis was ongoing was not mere coincidence. Only a small minority believed that the Government was treading on thin legal ice in making a gesture against Russia and Communism.

The Manchester Morning Union finds that since the Government had been preparing its case for a year, there was no guesswork involved, that ample evidence existed of a conspiracy to overthrow the Government by force.

The Greensboro Daily News explains that the two counts against the defendants charged both conspiracy to overthrow by force and violence and belonging to an organization which so advocated. It believes that if they were convicted only for membership, the Supreme Court would be reluctant to uphold the convictions based solely on beliefs and association.

The Canton (Ohio) Depository says that the Government contended it would use the defendant's own words to show conspiracy to overthrow the Government, plus would adduce evidence to show overt acts toward accomplishing the object of the conspiracy. It says that according to "old Commie" Benjamin Gitlow, the party had received grants from Moscow when it was still known as the Workers' Party.

The Philadelphia Bulletin finds that no acts of sabotage were being alleged against the twelve defendants, not required for conviction under the 1940 Smith Act. The party doctrine included advocacy of violence to achieve its ends.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch wants treasonable acts of the twelve defendants shown before it accepts that the indictments were correct. It suggests that the grand jury's action might encroach on and embarrass American foreign policy as Moscow would exploit the prosecution as representative of American policy.

The Denver Post finds the indictments to suggest how serious the Berlin crisis had become in the view of the Government. Russia, convinced by its American Communists of the preponderant view in America being simpatico with the Wallace party position, was not understanding of the fact that it was gambling on atomic war by bringing about the Berlin blockade.

A letter from David Lilienthal, chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, thanks the newspaper for its editorial of July 6 regarding his commencement address at the University of Virginia. He was impressed, as the editorial suggested things beyond the speech itself. He was thankful that someone had taken the time to read his speech and finds that other positive response as well had caused him to consider that he had been wrong in assuming that regard for public service, which he had encouraged to the graduates, was on the wane. It appeared that the public did care about having persons of integrity and ability serve them.

Get a load of HUAC this date and wait 20 years, and you may be singing a different tune.

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