The Charlotte News

Saturday, August 7, 1948


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the Congress was preparing to adjourn the special "Turnip Day" session this date after sending to the President a housing bill without provisions for slum clearance and public housing, and reaching informal agreement on a bank credit control anti-inflation measure, which was expected to pass during the day before adjournment by nightfall. The GOP anti-inflation bill would allow the Federal Reserve Board to fix down payments and the term on installment buying. The Banking Committee of the Senate slightly increased the amount of bank reserves which the Board could order and cut out a House-approved measure to raise gold reserve requirements. The housing bill was said by Democrats to do some good in encouraging construction of low-cost housing, but not enough to reach the levels where the needs were greatest. The bill prohibited the banning of children from rentals.

Congressman John Rankin of Mississippi, HUAC member, insisted that the Committee subpoena former Vice-President Henry Wallace to testify anent the shipment of uranium to the Soviets while he was Secretary of Commerce in 1945, as brought to light by Committee member John McDowell of Pennsylvania. Mr. Rankin also wanted the Committee to invite the testimony of retired General Leslie Groves, former military head of the Manhattan Project which developed the atomic bomb. The Mississippi Congressman said that there was something sinister about the Communist spy ring seeking the atomic bomb secret and the materials to make it.

In Denver, Seward Potter, general manager of the S. W. Shattuck Co., a chemical company which shipped uranium nitrate and oxide to Russia in March, 1943, said that the amount involved, 420 pounds, was so small as to be nothing about which to become excited. Both the Army and Navy, he said, were informed of the order and made no attempt to stop it. Even if processed into pure uranium, the amount shipped would have provided only a negligible quantity. And that would have to be shrunk further to produce usable bomb material, U-235 or plutonium. The Russians had ordered the uranium directly and the Government had known nothing of it until the company reported it. The proper Government agencies then cleared the shipment. The company out of New York which placed the order for the Russians said that the Government was informed from the start.

Congressman Richard Nixon of California said that one of the witnesses to be called before HUAC would be Alexander Koral, not otherwise identified. Mr. Koral, who would turn out to be an assistant engineer for the Board of Education of the City of New York since 1922, would testify on Monday. Congressman Karl Mundt and other members refused to say whether Mr. Koral was the "mystery witness", described the previous day by Mr. Mundt, slated to break the case of the spy ring in the Government "wide open". Mr. Mundt said that Mr. Koral was in the spy ring and could provide direct information regarding a contact man for the ring.

You can't hit the beach on coral. It will slice you to threads. We learned that during the war.

Representative Edward Hebert of Louisiana said that there was no mystery witness. And he is on the hush-hush and qui vive.

Mr. Koral would take the Fifth Amendment on each and every substantive question posed to him by the Committee, whether he had ever been a Communist, whether he knew a "contact" by the name of "Frank", whether he was asked by Frank to become a courier of information for the Communists, whether he had received a package from a "Greg" for transport from Washington to Brooklyn, whether he had ever testified or signed a statement for the Government admitting to having been part of a Communist spy ring, and whether he knew Elizabeth Bentley, the confessed former Communist courier of secret information who had claimed that at least two spy rings operated within the Government supplying her information which she gave to the Soviets during the war. The only thing substantive which Mr. Koral stated was that he had testified before a grand jury, presumably the one in New York. Mr. Hebert stated at the conclusion of the questioning that he knew on reliable information that Mr. Koral had signed a statement with the Government confessing his part in a Communist spy ring.

This date, Whittaker Chambers would again testify before HUAC, this time meeting in executive session in New York. He had testified in open session the previous Tuesday, accusing former State Department official Alger Hiss and others in the Government of being either Communists or supplying valuable information to the Communists, of which Mr. Chambers was a former member. Mr. Chambers testified this date that Mr. Hiss was incorrect when he claimed, without having at that time met Mr. Chambers in person, that he did not know him. Mr. Chambers said that he knew Mr. Hiss between 1933 and 1937 and visited him many times in his home, gave details of his home life and Mr. Hiss's family. He said that Mr. Hiss never knew the name Whittaker Chambers but knew him by his Communist name "Carl", common practice within the party, he said, to be introduced to other members via pseudonyms. He would subsequently deny that he had ever used the name "George Crosley", which Mr. Hiss would subsequently claim, after meeting Mr. Chambers face to face, to have been the name under which he had known Mr. Chambers only during the period of late 1935 through spring or summer 1936, and only as a sub-lessee of an apartment, a freelance writer down on his luck whom Mr. Hiss said he sought to help.

In Moscow, a source stated that talks between Soviet Foreign Commissar V. M. Molotov and the Big Three ambassadors to Moscow had gone smoothly regarding resolution of the Berlin crisis and would continue into the following week, with likely another session on Sunday. A three hour talk had transpired on Friday. It was likely that they would see Prime Minister Stalin again in the ensuing couple of days. They had met with him the previous Monday.

In Berlin, the official Soviet news agency the night before had stated that British and American planes taking part in the airlift of food and supplies to Berlin could be forced down for flying over unauthorized areas, claiming 62 such violations between July 31 and August 4. An unidentified American Air Force official said that while technically such planes could be forced down, things would get pretty rough if the Russians started trying it.

In Belgrade at the Danubian Conference, the U.S. warned that Danube River traffic would remain cut in two if Eastern Europe's Communist states denied Austria a seat on the Danube control board. The Conference then approved for discussion the Russian plan for the Danube, providing for its control exclusively by the seven Communist states of Eastern Europe. Under that procedure, France, the U.S., and Britain could only offer amendments to the Soviet plan. Only France opposed the procedure. Since the end of the war, the Danube had been cut in two at Linz, Austria, by the Soviet refusal to allow non-Soviet shipping down river, keeping some 700 barges empty and idle in the American occupation zones of Germany and Austria.

U.N. Secretary-General Trygve Lie stated in his annual report that the big powers should resolve the German situation and place a limit on the development of bacteriological and chemical weapons. He also made mention of the fact that the U.S. had supported the November 29, 1947 plan to partition Palestine but had not backed it up by force. He also criticized the Soviets for not participating in the Korean and Balkan commissions. He said that it was unrealistic to believe that the any single economic system, whether based on capitalism or Communist doctrine, could be accepted worldwide.

The President's campaign strategists outlined one of the busiest schedules for the ensuing three months of campaigning ever undertaken by a President. The group included Senator J. Howard McGrath, DNC chairman, George White of Ohio, former Postmasters General Frank Walker and Robert Hannegan, also former DNC chairmen, former Attorney General under FDR Homer Cummings, and Bronx boss Ed Flynn. James Farley, FDR kingmaker, would join the group when he returned from abroad. Publisher James Cox, 1920 presidential nominee with whom FDR had run as the vice-presidential nominee, had also been invited to join.

The main strategy would be to strike at the inaction of Congress and to lay inflation at their door. The President would begin a whistle-stop campaign on Labor Day.

In Greece, the Greek Army moved forward on the northeastern flank of the Grammos Mountains guerrilla front, seeking to sever the last major supply line from Albania. Guerrilla leader Markos Vafiades had moved his headquarters into Albania.

In Tennessee, Memphis boss Ed Crump remained silent after his candidates had gone down to defeat in the Senatorial and gubernatorial primaries, Congressman Estes Kefauver winning the Senate nomination and former Governor Gordon Browning winning the gubernatorial nomination. It was the first major defeat for Mr. Crump in twenty years.

In Benton, Tenn., three men were charged with suspicion of murder after the election-day strife in Polk County which left two men dead. A fourth man was arrested for attempted murder. Four others were arrested for carrying concealed weapons. The election ended the grip on the county by a political machine.

In Charlotte, Ray Stallings of The News reports that County Police were questioning two men in relation to a cap-pistol holdup of a Charlotte cab driver the previous night. A third suspect was being sought. One of the two men was charged with armed robbery and the other was being held as a material witness. The third man, probably to be played by Orson Welles, was said to have been an accomplice in the robbery. They sought from the cab driver change for $10 and then stuck a pistol to the back of his neck and ordered him to give up his fare money. They escaped with $10 in ones and ten dollars in change.

They wanted eleven dollars bills and only got ten, and a roll of dimes.

At Mays Landing, N.J., the nudist convention at Sunshine Park was ending this evening with a fancy undress ball where only face masks need be worn. Some delegates would wear tattered clothing and others sashes, to poke fun at clothing. You don't need to wear those rags for us.

The present president of the nudists wanted members to "buttonhole" people in their neighborhoods to inform them of the organization and seek new members. They only had 1,500 members and 15,000 affiliated through local organizations. They claimed another two million persons in the country who were unorganized nudists. The convention attendees played a game of musical chairs and "who's got the button". They hid the buttons, they explained, in their hands and armpits, but did not explain where they got the buttons.

You can blame the Associated Press for that one.

On the editorial page, "Boss Crump on His Way Out" discusses the first major loss for the Tennessee political machine of Boss Ed Crump in twenty years, finding it one of the more heartening victories for progressivism and clean government anywhere in the nation in many years. Congressman Estes Kefauver had beat incumbent Senator Tom Stewart and a circuit judge, the latter backed by Mr. Crump. Former Governor Gordon Browning had beat the Crump candidate for the gubernatorial nomination.

Mr. Crump remained a power in Memphis but had lost prestige across the state, especially given the loss of the Governor's office.

Nationally, Mr. Kefauver, ten year veteran of the House, aroused interest, having scored a victory for liberalism over reaction in a place where regimentation and demagoguery had long been dominant. He had overcome a propaganda campaign waged by Mr. Crump, utilizing both radio and newspaper advertising to attempt to smear Mr. Kefauver as a Red, suggesting that he had voted the same line as Congressman Vito Marcantonio of New York. He had also sought to label the Tennessee-born Congressman as a "foreigner". One of Mr. Kefauver's most valuable allies was a committee of business and professional men in Memphis.

Mr. Crump's days in the sunshine, it concludes, appeared done.

"Two Sides of 'Appeasement'" looks at the negotiations ongoing between the Western diplomats in Moscow and the Kremlin, finds that because of Western European pressure, principally from France, which had balked at any use of force to end the Berlin blockade, the West was being forced to negotiate a settlement with Russia which would be a form of appeasement. In all likelihood, it posits, the West would have to allow Russia to have access to the industrial resources of the Ruhr and give up the idea of a separate government in the Western zones of Germany. Those had been the cornerstones on which the West had resolved to keep the Russian expansionist influence out of Western Europe.

While the Russians would be forced also to make concessions, it was unlikely to result in an even exchange. But another show of force by the U.S. would only create more consternation among the Western allies.

The path left open was to negotiate a settlement, pressing for resolution of all remaining European questions, including Austria and Greece.

The movement to end the cold war was coming at a time when the world seemed little prepared for peace. But reason and diplomacy might yet prevail as the nations were also not prepared for war.

"Labor and Culture Tangle" tells of the Metropolitan Opera Association having declared that there would likely be no prospective season in 1948-49 for the fact of the Association not having reached agreement with the twelve unions whose members presented the music.

For 65 years, the Met had been many things to many people, to some a dream of achievement in singing, to others a mystery. It had been forced to close its doors only twice previously, in 1892 because of a fire, and in 1897, the result of financial woes.

It might yet resolve the situation and open for the season, as attempted bluff might characterize both sides, reliant on public opinion to place pressure on the negotiations for the benefit of one side or the other. It urges, however, that there was enough money in a period of prosperity to keep the Met from closing its doors.

"Justice for Dixiecrats" comments on the claim by Dave Clark's North Carolina Dixiecrats that they would go to the State Supreme Court to challenge the ruling by the Board of Elections refusing to qualify the Dixiecrats for the ballot for failure to have the local registrars validate the signatures on their petition.

It hopes that they would hurry and proceed. It feels sorry for the Dixiecrats, not only for those who wanted to vote for them and their candidates, Governors Strom Thurmond of South Carolina and Fielding Wright of Mississippi. It also expresses sadness for those who wanted to vote against them.

Drew Pearson again looks at HUAC chairman J. Parnell Thomas and his kickback scheme with hired bogus personnel on his staff so that he could pocket a higher salary than permitted by law. But that was not the only questionable thing the New Jersey Congressman had done.

He states that during the war, one Army private, fearful of being shipped overseas for combat duty, sought help from Mr. Thomas who then told the Army that the man was an undercover agent for HUAC, indispensable to their investigations. The private was then transferred to Camp Upton in New York and assigned as an investigator for the Internal Security Division in New York. His superior, a colonel, then quickly discovered that the private was 18 and had no background in investigations, had never even met Mr. Thomas or worked for HUAC. Mr. Thomas then sent an investigator for the Committee to see the colonel and explained that the private was merely feigning ignorance as part of his undercover training. The private was kept in the capacity at Internal Security for only 18 days and then assigned to the Broadway Central Hotel in New York, a temporary Army barracks, then to Camp Blanding in Florida where he sat out the war.

Shortly after this favor, on September 23, 1943, Congressman Thomas sent a letter to the private's father, a partner in a firm in New York, seeking to have the Congressman's insurance firm underwrite insurance for the private, referring him to his insurance partner. The father of the private then refused to talk to the partner and said that he did not know Mr. Thomas. He did, nevertheless, contribute in 1944 and 1946 to Mr. Thomas's re-election campaigns.

Joseph & Stewart Alsop discuss the HUAC hearings, explaining that Congressman Thomas's original name was Feeney, changed to end his association with his Irish Catholic Democratic politician father and transform himself into a Methodist Republican. He was, they suggest, engaged in an impersonation of a male member of the D.A.R. "And the hue and cry which he has so long been raising is no more than an episode in this sordid little tragi-comedy."

They posit that there was no honest defense of the HUAC investigation into security issues when the Committee was chaired by such a person who was only interested in a "sordid headline hunt". Yet, the security problem was real.

The Chicago Tribune had revealed during the war America's war plan and the breaking of the Japanese codes. And nothing so important had likely passed from Elizabeth Bentley or Whittaker Chambers to the Soviets. Notwithstanding, sensible investigators believed the two stories, in the main, to be true, even if most officials, following extensive inquiries, had found the Chambers revelations regarding Alger Hiss to be without credit. The only thing against Mr. Hiss thus far discovered was that he had joined a group organized to study Marxist doctrine, a mere intellectual pursuit. But the espionage rings generally described by the two witnesses were thought to have existed in fact.

Ms. Bentley's story had been heard by the New York grand jury and Mr. Chambers's story had been investigated by the FBI in 1941, two years after he initially brought it to the attention of Adolph Berle in the State Department, who then referred it to the FBI. Yet the FBI brought no charges against anyone implicated by Mr. Chambers and the grand jury did not indict anyone mentioned by Ms. Bentley. The Chicago Tribune also was let off the hook in the revelations it had made in the so-called "Amerasia" case, despite there having been top secret documents in the possession of the Tribune. There were other cases in which persons selling or giving away secret information were discovered and dismissed from employment with the Government.

One of the reasons there had been no prosecutions is that the Smith Act of 1940 was considered by most prosecutors to be too loosely drawn.

It also appeared that Government officials charged with administering security programs were simply dumb. The temporary appointment to a Government position of historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., for instance, had been held up for weeks while he was being checked for past associations, despite being one of the leading anti-Communists among American liberals. Regardless, someone had sought to brand him a Communist. One apparently had to be a friend to Mr. Thomas before one could escape the specter of the charge.

Security was important and Defense Secretary James Forrestal had for some time suggested appointment by the President of a special commission, with members such as former Supreme Court Justice Owen Roberts and Judge Learned Hand, to study the matter and make recommendations re remedial legislation and reform of security methods. They suggest that by such a device, salutary results might be achieved rather than sensational headlines.

DeWitt MacKenzie discusses the possibility for peace in Palestine, arising from the August 4 statement of King Abdullah of Trans-Jordan that he was open to any possible compromise which would secure peace and avoid unnecessary bloodshed, followed the next day by the issuance by Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Shertok of a peace plan to Count Folke Bernadotte, the U.N. mediator. No response had yet been made. It was too soon to forecast peace but it was the first genuine step in that direction.

While King Abdullah had prestige and the most powerful army in the Middle East, British supplied and trained, he was also considered at odds with other Arab countries, especially Egypt, Iraq and Syria. He had the most to gain from a peaceful settlement and it was thought that he was proposing the original partition plan of the U.N. Trans-Jordan, originally carved from Palestine, might then join the Arab state in Palestine, a conclusion favored by the Palestinian Arabs but not necessarily by the other Arab nations.

It was one possibility which could receive serious consideration, especially if Britain gave its support.

Samuel Grafton, no longer carried by The News, says that the special session had not solved the crisis of complacency in the country but had shown how big the crisis was. The Republicans had acquiesced to the Southern filibuster, thus putting off the anti-poll tax bill and the rest of the President's civil rights program until at least January.

The issue of civil rights, as displayed in the plays and novels of the nation, had worked its way to the top of the collective consciousness. Yet, the salons in Washington had responded with delayed action, showing the crisis of complacency, not only with respect to rights of black citizens but also with regard to everyone in the society and their minds.

Regarding inflation, complacency also had reached a critical level, but in the form of complacency more intricate and diffuse. The Republicans plainly had no program for dealing with it and by their party philosophy, could not have one. Their rejection of any real inflation control in the special session showed that they were complacent and banking on the complacency of the voters.

The special session had adjourned in a crisis of unconcern.

Furthermore, there was no discussion of the relation between domestic and foreign policies, despite the two running to contrary ends. Spending on armaments was likely to reach 20 to 25 billion dollars each year, without controls on prices and wages at home. To the contrary, an uncontrolled economy required a foreign policy of peace and compromise.

The latter problem was not even being considered.

Even though the special session would shortly adjourn, the American people would be in a special session with themselves regarding this problem of complacency for a long time.

The Editors' Roundtable, compiled by James Galloway of Asheville, examines inflation controls, finds most to oppose direct controls as unworkable in peacetime but also favoring a brake on purchasing power through bank and credit controls. A minority believed limits on bank credit might curtail production capacity expansion. Most believed that production depended on the long-range needs of ERP and rearmament.

The Cleveland News says that there could be no selective controls of either prices or wages, as favored by the President. What he had sought would have brought the return to pervasive wartime-type controls, regardless of how it started.

The Boise Statesman says that production had steadily increased since the war, but not enough to keep pace with demand. Thus there were higher prices than in the days of OPA.

The Dayton Daily News states that while production was rising, it was close to hitting capacity of the plants and labor. With consumers and business having more spending capacity from lower taxes and higher wages and profits, severe pressure had been placed on the law of supply and demand, compounded by Government buying for the military and foreign aid.

The Des Moines Tribune states that the Federal budget had been more than balanced the previous year and would be approximately balanced during the current fiscal year. The primary cause of inflation was the rise in supply coupled with ready bank and consumer credit. The money supply was rapidly growing and turning over at an accelerating pace, equivalent to adding 40 billion dollars to the money supply.

The New Orleans States suggests that the only choice for the country was more production or still higher prices, and more production could only come from more work. Controls on prices and wages were too much to expect from Congress in an election year.

The Chicago Daily News finds that everyone agreed that more production of certain goods was required. To cut off plant expansion by a significant rise in interest rates would be a mistake. But an "easy money" policy, particularly with respect to consumer credit, was not appropriate.

The Davenport (Iowa) Daily Times says that if the cold war in Europe became warm, it could fuel inflation. In the industries most vital to defense, production capacity had reached nearly its limit, beyond which controls would be necessary. If there were an orderly allocation of defense materials, the country might be spared drastic action later, so drastic as to end the U.S. economy as it existed.

A letter writer agrees with a previous writer of July 30 who asserted that dealing with civil rights should be on the basis of religious principles rather than legislation. But he recognizes that not all persons were religious and not all religious persons would champion the others' rights which did not directly impact their own lives. He says that if there were more religion, then no one would object to states having more rights. The proposed Federal anti-lynching law, which the previous letter writer believed would only encourage lynching in the South, was intended, this writer thinks, to prevent any crime horrible enough to cause citizens to take out their revenge through a lynch mob.

As with the previous writer, though in a different way, he misunderstands the purpose of the law. It was simply to fill the void of inaction by the states and to deter law enforcement and jailers from giving up defendants to lynch mobs, to supplement rather than supplant the state laws, when either state prosecutors or grand juries, less so in the modern era of the 1940's, refused to act, or, in the more usual case, when petit juries participated in nullification, excusing the plainly murderous acts of lynch mobs, whether by two individuals or thirty.


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