The Charlotte News

Monday, July 5, 1948


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the American and British airlift into Berlin gained momentum as nearly 400 planes were flying supplies daily into the city to beat the Soviet rail blockade. Ten flying boats were set to go into service to increase the tonnage per flight. Soviet officials appeared preparing to lodge new protests on alleged violations of the flight corridor into the city. They also appeared to desire a meeting of the four powers.

The stoppage of coal shipments had in the 17 days of the blockade cut in half the industrial output of the Western zones of the city. The West was in consequence preparing to fly coal into the city as well.

Count Folke Bernadotte, the U.N. mediator in the Palestine situation, stated that he had asked the Arabs and Israelis to extend the four-week truce set to expire the following Friday. He said that he had proposed demilitarization of Jerusalem and Haifa, in addition to the already stated proposal to have Trans-Jordan administer the Arab portion of Palestine under the U.N. partition plan and place Jerusalem under Arab control rather than international control. The U.N. would have the final say on immigration. It appeared that both Jews and Arabs had turned down the proposal, but the Arabs reportedly had given a counter-proposal and the Israelis were expected to do likewise.

Jews and Arabs exchanged gunfire for twelve hours in Jerusalem the previous day and both sides appeared to be preparing for resumption of hostilities.

An American Jew was arrested in Amman, Trans-Jordan, for not having a proper visa.

In Trieste, pro-Tito and pro-Russian supporters reportedly clashed.

The President's majority of delegates for the Democratic convention, set to start July 12 in Philadelphia, dwindled by 36 New Jersey delegates, led by Boss Frank Hague of Jersey City, committed instead to General Eisenhower, reducing the President's total to 640 pledged or claimed delegates, with 618 needed to nominate. But those claimed included 54 from California and 98 from New York, both of which delegations were looking for an alternative candidate to the President, with California supporting the draft-Eisenhower movement. The General had 110 pledged delegates to the President's 286.

The captive coal mines had still formed no contract satisfactory to the UMW, as the possibility of strike loomed at midnight.

The National Safety Council reported that 355 persons had died in accidents during the weekend, 206 in traffic fatalities, 29 fewer than in 1947, though the counting was not yet done—especially in Riverside. There were two known deaths from fireworks and 106 drowning deaths. The deaths by states are listed. North Carolina had 6 traffic deaths, four drownings, and five deaths in miscellaneous accidents. Ohio, with 16 traffic deaths, led the nation in that category, followed by Michigan with 15, Pennsylvania with 14, California and Texas with 13 each, and New York with 10.

The Treasury's list of the highest paid persons in the country showed no million dollar salaries, the highest being $985,300 to theater owner Charles Skouras. Betty Grable received $229,300, the top salary for a woman. Bing Crosby got $325,000 from Paramount Pictures. Bob Hope was able to attract only a measly $275,000, but he didn't sing or have attractive legs. Ray Milland could have an expensive weekend or two with $229,166. Cary Grant could build a nice dream house on his earnings.

And so on and so forth.

In Charlotte, 46 cars had been stolen during the previous two months of operation of the Police Department's Auto Theft Squad, and 46 had been recovered.

Who'd want those old jalopies? The thieves probably abandoned most of them once they had a test drive for a couple of blocks.

The News was once again sponsoring an amateur photo contest. Send in your snapshots.

In Riverside, California, more than 2,000 motorcyclists invaded the Southern California city for the Fourth of July, resulting in the jailing of 48 persons. The Sheriff had invited the cyclists, but became involved in one of the brawls, as the rowdies punched him and nearly tore off his clothes after he remonstrated one group for speeding on Main Street. Some used traffic lights as start signals for races. Military police and highway patrolmen came to the rescue of the local law enforcement, closing about half the bars in town the previous night. The motorcyclists had come for the dirt track racing this date at nearby Box Springs, next door to Mattress.

It had been the previous year on the Fourth that the better known invasion had taken place in Hollister in Northern California, memorialized in Life, thought to have been the inspiration for the movie "The Wild One". But, no doubt, the Riverside invasion had a role in the making of that script as well. The drunks and rowdies probably don't remember whether they were in Hollister or Riverside and whether it was 1947 or 1948 anyway, and likely don't give a damn.

On the editorial page, "Mystery in Eisenhower Boom" finds Senator Francis Meyers of Pennsylvania being mystified by the boom for General Eisenhower in advance of the Democratic convention set to start in Philadelphia on July 12. He could not understand why the General held such an exalted place in the minds of so many when he was untried politically and no one knew where he stood on the issues or even whether he was a Democrat or Republican.

The piece agrees and wonders how long it would be, if he did by chance become the nominee, before he alienated either the liberal wing or conservative wing of the party. He lacked the experience of a campaigner which both Governors Dewey and Warren possessed.

The fact of the chase, however, was a repudiation by the Democrats of their own Administration and was thus proving embarrassing to the President and the party. And if the General rejected the draft publicly, it would be a sign of his having no confidence in the Democrats, reducing further the already diminished chances that the President would be elected.

It decides that "tragedy" might be a better word than "mystery" to describe the mad scramble after General Eisenhower.

"Russia's Game in Germany" finds the Soviet refusal to state when or if the blockade of Berlin would be lifted to be hedging to prolong the crisis as long as possible while not forcing the issue to active military conflict. Russia had not sought to block the airlift of the Western allies, a move which would have been resisted with force. The effort appeared to be not so much to force the West out of Berlin, as originally thought, but rather to make it as expensive as possible for the West to stay in Berlin, a part of an overall effort to make the European rebuilding effort so expensive that it would bankrupt the U.S.

"Stray Thoughts on a Dull Holiday" wonders how to spend the holiday, getting restless after reading accounts in the newspaper of the adventures some had undertaken, such as a modern Ulysses pursuing his odyssey down the Amazon and across the Atlantic to Miami, finding $11,000 worth of treasure along the way in Trinidad, or a neo-Jonah who had ridden a whale off Cape Cod after it had crashed into his boat.

Meanwhile, the editor was preparing to read a book, type a letter, fix the Ford and snooze on the davenport. Next day would perhaps be a day of dreaming again of adventures vicariously experienced through others. The editor decides to retire to the davenport, as such high adventure, even if lived vicariously, was quite tiring.

Next year, he might wish to join a motorcycle gang and head to California.

A piece from the Asheville Citizen, titled "Inflation Goes Rolling Along", tells of a Fortune poll which stated that 48 percent of businessmen believed the economic boom had passed its crest and was turning downward.

But according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the consumer price index in May had reached an all-time high, meaning that inflation was again on the march. Inflation had been having its way since the scrapping of controls in 1946. The Federal Government kept interest rates low to service the national debt, meaning that cheap money abounded in the marketplace, fueling inflation. ERP also was inflationary as companies bid for contracts. The cut in taxes was inflationary. Industry had allowed a third wave of wage increases, meaning higher prices.

The worst of the inflation, it finds, was therefore yet to come, not behind.

The commencement address to the University of Virginia graduates by David Lilienthal, chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, is set forth on the page. He related that in the Twenties, the guiding principle was to take care of Number One, applying to groups, as farmers and bankers, as well as individuals. It was true of international relations as well, leading to isolationism. And it worked for awhile, allowing President Coolidge to take his famous naps and Congress to have long vacations.

But in the end, the philosophy failed, leading to depression and war.

He thus urges the graduates to take an interest in government by being informed on public questions, as well an active role in science by keeping abreast of its developments. He also urged public service for a number of years and that it be performed on a rotating basis within the educated population.

Drew Pearson tells of the Yugoslav people not being Communists at heart and thus difficult to deal with from the standpoint of Moscow. Yugoslavs, especially the Serbs, loved to fight the Turks, and, having liberated themselves from that yoke, did not want to be subdued by Communism. So said an American relief worker in Yugoslavia. He had predicted a year earlier that Tito would be assassinated by the end of 1947. It would be par for the course in Yugoslavia's history. Tito was becoming unpopular with the Serbs, Croats, and with the peasants.

The Kremlin wanted to communize the peasant population, quite against the will of the peasants. They lived in mountainous isolation and had little community life, prized their ownership of the land, would fight to defend it. Thus Tito chose to rebel against the Kremlin rather than face trouble at home by allowing Moscow to communize the peasants.

Moscow resented the fact that Tito had forgotten that he was developed in Moscow. Stalin had offered Tito's leadership to Britain at the 1943 Tehran conference. Both Prime Minister Churchill and FDR accepted the advice, based primarily on intercepted communiques between the Nazis and the opposition leader Mihailovitch. Tito, however, became suspicious of the British when Randolph Churchill, sent by his father as liaison to Tito, was absent during a Nazi raid from which Tito barely escaped. Thereafter, he began to become cozy with Moscow, believing that the British were trying to get him killed.

Marquis Childs discusses the centennial of the Washington Monument, the cornerstone to which was laid on July 4, 1848, with President James K. Polk and future Presidents Fillmore, Buchanan, Lincoln, and Andrew Johnson present at the ceremonies. The Monument rose to 154 feet by 1854 on the strength of public subscriptions, but then had to be suspended for lack of funds—not as popularly thought by the Civil War—until resumption in 1876 during the nation's Centennial, finally being finished in December, 1884.

He finds the 550-foot tall Monument in its simplicity to be symbolic of the nation itself and the first President for whom it was named.

He suggests that most Americans took for granted freedom and the country in which they lived, an attitude approaching smugness. The Monument ought be a reminder, he offers, "of a day when men struggled and fought and died for the freedoms we enjoy."

We note parenthetically that a macabre anniversary of anti-freedom is marked this date, the sesquicentennial of the executions at the Federal Arsenal in Washington of four of the convicted co-conspirators in the Lincoln assassination, Lewis Powell, a.k.a. Payne, George Atzerodt, David Herold, and Mary Surratt. The three men were undoubtedly involved in the assassination conspiracy for their direct roles on April 14, 1865 in the attempted assassination and stabbing of Secretary of State William Seward and the inchoate attempt on the life of Vice-President Johnson, as well as direct involvement in aiding the escape of John Wilkes Booth. Ms. Surratt's case has always been the most controversial for the fact that her primary role in the conspiracy was that of the keeper of the Washington boarding house where the co-conspirators, including Booth, met with her son, John Surratt, during the three months prior to the April 14 assassination of the President.

The conviction of Ms. Surratt rested primarily on the testimony of John Lloyd, who claimed that she had visited the Surratt tavern in Maryland, which he tended for her, on Tuesday, April 11 and again on Friday afternoon at around 5:00, about five hours before the assassination, and on at least the latter occasion, if not also the former, referred to "shooting-irons", consisting of two carbine rifles and ammunition, which her son had provided to Mr. Lloyd for safekeeping under some floorboards above the storeroom about five or six weeks prior to the assassination. Ms. Surratt, according to Mr. Lloyd, had told him to have the "shooting-irons" ready for the night of the 14th as "some parties" would come by to pick them up, along with the other items. And at around midnight, he testified, nearly two hours after the assassination, Mr. Booth and Mr. Herold showed up at the tavern and asked for the guns and some whiskey, though they took only one of the carbines as Mr. Booth's leg was broken and he could not therefore use the rifle—presumably needing a kickstart to shoot it.

If the testimony was to be believed, then plainly, Ms. Surratt had some knowledge that something was afoot for the night of the 14th. That, coupled with the fact that she had, without dispute, rented rooms to the other co-conspirators and that Booth met at the boarding house with them on several occasions, linked her ineradicably to the conspiracy. The question was whether her knowledge of the intent of the conspirators was sufficient to warrant the allegation of complicity in the assassination and whether, in any event, the level of complicity merited the death penalty.

Ms. Surratt, as her son, was a staunch Southern sympathizer during the war, and perhaps stood more as an example of Southern womanhood, the idea of chivalry and the average Confederate soldier fighting for the cause of states rights and slavery, all wrapped up together, being hung on July 7, 1865, the first such execution of a woman in the United States, than her personal culpability actually warranted. But that does not make her a martyr for any cause beyond one which is despicable in its premises. No tears should be shed for Ms. Surratt, a traitor at very least to her country, even if the military justice tribunal which ordered her execution did not comport with fairness and the Constitution in extraordinary times unlike any other in the history of the republic, following four years of open rebellion during which President Lincoln, himself, had suspended habeas corpus.

In truth, if justice had been served properly, every last Confederate who willingly fought in the war or aided the Confederacy should have been shot or hung, male and female alike. The world would have been better off for decades, even a century and more, to come.

Those who ordered the execution of Ms. Surratt likely saw it thus, as a symbol, a warning never to repeat such absurdity. To try to parse the matter therefore under the rubric of "justice" in such circumstances is similar to Senator Robert Taft worrying about the justice of the Nuremberg trials in 1945-46 and whether it constituted application of ex post facto rules of warfare never before exacted, premised on the 1928 Kellogg-Briand Pact outlawing war. There had never been a war quite so brutal as the Civil War in America, just as there had never been a war so brutal toward the civilian population as World War II. Thus, to speak in terms of "justice" for those who helped further the aims of either of those wars is to speak in the abstract of nonsense. They gave no justice and understood none, were entitled to little beyond the mere form of due process thus in the end, more than the murderous lot of them gave their victims, more than the co-conspirators in the instant case gave to President Lincoln.

That inevitably must include Ms. Surratt, the traitor. That she believed the South was her "country" is only to bespeak her purblind ignorance and that of thousands like her, hardly an excuse before the law. Rather, it was a manufactured rationale to try in vain to obtain sympathy for that "cause", so damnably hateful and inhuman in its premises and thus in need always of rationale for justification before God and country—utter nonsense. If one starts with the sentimental absurdity that the South was justified in secession anent the slavery question, then the rest of the rationale can follow in teary-eyed treacle. But to adopt that position is to engage in a fiction which never properly existed, the fiction of the Confederacy. If one starts with treason, no matter the intervening circumstances or how dressed up in cute sigils and wild justifications it becomes, the end is still treason. To hang Ms. Surratt under the peculiar circumstances then extant was therefore to do justice to the matter, to form the lasting symbol for the potential traitors into the future that neither man nor woman in such an effort to undermine the very foundations of the country, its Government and its Constitution, could rest secure from that ultimate fate which Ms. Surratt suffered on the gallows that hot summer day in Washington in July, 1865.

The impish Mr. Lloyd had all of the oysters on his side of the table on this occasion.

Ms. Surratt's son John was captured 16 months later and tried by a civilian court, pursuant to a decision of the Supreme Court subsequent to the military trials of the co-conspirators mandating such a trial. The jury hung and he was never convicted, the decision having been made not to seek re-trial. In his case, however, the evidence tended to show that he was not in or around Washington at the time of the assassination and had left town two weeks earlier, thus having no direct or indirect role in the event beyond leaving the rifles and other items with Mr. Lloyd some five weeks before April 14, deemed apparently by eight of twelve members of the jury to be too remote in time to have signaled guilty knowledge of the conspiracy beyond a reasonable doubt.

For reasons of policy, to encourage such conduct, withdrawal from a conspiracy affirmatively in a manner sufficient to terminate causal connection to fulfillment of its aims and accomplishment of its acts attenuates, perhaps even eradicates, the culpability for it, though probably requiring divulging of the conspiracy to authorities to accomplish the latter, all, in the end, questions for a jury to resolve.

As to the tearful pleas of Anna Surratt, Ms. Surratt's daughter, importuning at the White House for the President's intercession in the matter to stop the hanging of her mother, she would have been better served to have fallen on her knees in tearful supplication to her mother and brother to withdraw from the deadly plan during the months between January and April when the plot, first to kidnap, finally to kill the President, was being hatched at the boarding house, with full knowledge of everyone present save the abstemious monkeys, such as Anna Surratt.

It is likely, incidentally, that the adoption by the Klan of the sack or pillowcase in ghostly array had its origin from the macabre photographs taken of the hanging of the four hooded co-conspirators, given special elevation in the minds of the sentimentalists by the fact of Ms. Surratt's inclusion, thus the martyred ghost of Southern womanhood on the gallows for her belief in the cause. But for that, fault those idiots engaged in the Klan activity, not the fact of the executions or that photographs were taken and disseminated to appease an outraged nation after the murder of their President, but five days after the surrender by Robert E. Lee of the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Courthouse.

Joseph & Stewart Alsop finds it inevitable that a purge of leaders of the Soviet satellites, comparable to the internal purge of the 1930's within the Soviet Union, was about to commence in Eastern Europe. In Rumania, the Communist leader Gheurghiu-Dej had been accused of lack of sufficient loyalty to Moscow, as Tito, and would likely soon be in prison. In Bulgaria, Tsola Dragoicheva, heroine of the Communist movement in that country, had been relegated to obscurity.

Communist leader Otto Grotewhol in Eastern Germany had demanded a purge of obstructionist elements.

The Red Army and MVD had such a presence in Poland, Rumania, Eastern Germany and Hungary that a purge could take place largely unimpeded. In Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Albania, and Finland, however, steps would have to be undertaken to provide the means for such a purge. Albania was prime example, almost a prisoner of Yugoslavia geographically. Premier Hoxha's defiance of Yugoslavia, however, demonstrated the pressure which the Kremlin could bring to bear. In Bulgaria, dictator Dimitrov was slapped down by the Kremlin some months earlier when he advocated the Balkan federation now endorsed by Tito. He had, however, not rejected Tito's invitation and a wholesale purge in the country was thus likely.

Prague might be the first place to look for trouble as its submission to the Communists was recent and reluctant. The Czech living standard had significantly diminished under Communism. The Kremlin might either order a purge of the Communist leaders or, if they refused to go quietly, Red Army troops sent in to "protect" the country from Western imperialism. Premier Gottwald and others capable of dealing with the West would likely have to go.

These were some of the repercussions in the Soviet bloc resulting from Tito's heresy in Yugoslavia. Already, it had caused the Berlin crisis to be felt less acutely by the Americans, British and French. There was reason to believe that there would be repercussions in Moscow as well.

As indicated, Samuel Grafton had ceased to be carried by The News after June 18, but he continued to write his column through 1948 and we have found about 40 columns for the remainder of the year from other newspapers which will be included as they arise. This date's entry finds him musing about the Democratic convention, expressing the belief that President Truman would be nominated despite the movement for General Eisenhower. The General could not win the nomination for lack of organization. In modern politics, such unorganized candidacies could not result in nominations. The same was true of Justice William O. Douglas, who also had backing but lacked organization. The somewhat surprising nomination of Wendell Willkie by the Republicans in 1940 had not taken place in a vacuum, as Mr. Willkie went to the convention with an active organization. Even if the Democrats were convinced they could not win with the President, his organization would enable him to obtain the nomination on an early ballot.

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