The Charlotte News

Tuesday, May 17, 1955


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that Senator Walter George of Georgia, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, had said in an interview this date that Russian leaders appeared ready to discuss relaxation of world tensions at a conference of the heads of state without raising annoying collateral issues, similar to a cautionary note of optimism stated by Secretary of State Dulles, following his arrival the previous day from Europe, telling newsmen that a prospective meeting between the Big Four heads of state had been arranged under conditions which would hold some promise of constructive accomplishment. The Secretary was set to report to the nation this night regarding his talks in Europe with free world and Soviet diplomats, in an informal talk which would last 30 minutes and be carried live by the ABC, CBS, Du Mont and NBC television networks, with delayed rebroadcasts by radio on ABC, CBS, NBC, and the Mutual Broadcasting System. Both the Secretary and the President had said several times that not too much should be expected from those talks and that as much stress should be placed on what the foreign ministers, meeting both before and after the heads of state, would be able to accomplish. Senator George said that he was basing part of his optimism on the signing of the Austrian independence treaty the previous Sunday, predicting that it would be ratified as soon as it was submitted to the Senate. Senator William Knowland, the Minority Leader, raised questions about the results which could be expected from a summit meeting of the heads of state, indicating the previous night in Cleveland that he believed the Russians were going to proceed according to plan to break up the Western European defense alliance if they could. He expected the Russians to attempt to neutralize Yugoslavia, West Germany, Norway and Denmark. He said that the Russians now "zag instead of zig" but that their long-term strategic concept of the "destruction of human freedom" remained the same.

Senator Lister Hill of Alabama, chairman of the Labor and Public Welfare Committee, said this date in an interview that there was no question but that Congress would quickly approve the President's request for establishing a 28 million dollar fund for the Salk vaccine against polio for children whose parents could not afford the shots, and that the other request of the President, for appropriating an additional two million dollars for more inspectors to police the vaccine output, would also pass as soon as Congress could get around to considering it. He expressed reservations, however, about the Administration's new 11-point program for voluntary allocations and controls over distribution of the vaccine, as had been proposed to the President by HEW Secretary Oveta Culp Hobby, and approved the previous day by the President. The Senator found the program not detailed or definite, and Democrats on the Committee had indicated by their questions and comments at a hearing the previous day that they were not necessarily supportive of the Administration's plan to make sure through voluntary methods that the supplies of the still scarce vaccine would reach the most susceptible age group in sufficient quantities and with equitable distribution, with some Democrats charging Administration "bungling". Republican members of the Committee, however, defended the Administration and its handling of the problem and congratulated Mrs. Hobby for the job she had done. Senator Irving Ives of New York stated that he was inclined to support proposals for standby controls if needed, rather than being reliant solely on voluntary distribution. He expressed disagreement with Mrs. Hobby's statement that there was no necessity for Federal control of the vaccine to the under 20 age groups because, at present, the program for vaccination of first and second graders was being handled through the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis and so there was no real commercial distribution being made of the vaccine, that it would be August before any major distribution problems might arise, at a time when Congress was likely to be in adjournment for the year.

The Defense Department announced this date that the Navy had exploded a small atomic device underwater off the West Coast, indicating nothing about when or exactly where the second underwater nuclear explosion had taken place. The Pentagon said that early indications from the test showed no hazard to the American mainland, any island peoples or any consumers of fish.

In Phoenixville, Pa., retired Justice of the Supreme Court Owen Roberts died this date at his home at age 80, having retired in 1945 after being appointed to the Court by President Hoover in 1930. He had been ill for some time and until the past weekend had been a patient in a Philadelphia hospital. Friends quoted him as saying that if he was to die, he preferred to be at home. During his tenure on the Court, he often decided cases between the evenly divided viewpoints of his colleagues, with the Court having been generally divided at his appointment between the conservatives, Willis Van Devanter, James McReynolds, George Sutherland and Pierce Butler, and the liberals, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Louis Brandeis, Harlan Stone and Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes. The Court had been asked during the early part of his tenure to decide in 27 instances the constitutionality of New Deal legislation, passed in the early years of FDR's first and second terms, with Justice Roberts having voted against all except two of the 13 New Deal measures which the Court decided prior to October, 1936, but then sided with the liberals on the Court 14 times during the President's second term, from 1937 to 1941. He had cast the deciding vote which ruled that the Agricultural Adjustment Act was unconstitutional and also cast the deciding vote which upheld the constitutionality of the Wagner Labor Relations Act and the unemployment compensation provisions of the Social Security Act. Conservatives had called him a liberal and liberals had called him a conservative. His friends insisted that he was merely interpreting the law as he saw it, but others had claimed that Chief Justice Hughes had brought about the change in his views. During his latter years, he had become known as the leading dissenter on the Court, when it had become dominated by liberals appointed by FDR. Immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, he gained national prominence after FDR named him chairman of a five-man commission to fix responsibility for lack of American alertness in advance of the attack, the report of which was released to Congress in 1942, prompting hearings.

In Atlanta, it was reported that five striking telephone workers in Savannah, Ga., were fired this date because of alleged misconduct during the strike of the Communications Workers of America against Southern Bell Telephone Co., bringing to a total of 136 dismissals for charged misconduct since the walkout had begun on March 14. A spokesman for Southern Bell said that there was considerable damage done to company property in the Atlanta area the previous night, with 17 cables cut or shot in two, impacting 3,400 telephones. The largest single instance had been a 1,200-pair underground cable which had been severed during the morning in nearby Decatur, affecting 2,300 telephones. Company spokesmen said that 377 instances of major damage had occurred in the Atlanta area since the start of the strike. Meanwhile, two Federal mediators were expected to return from Washington this date to renew their efforts to settle the nine-state dispute after reviewing developments with the director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, with the director instructing them to return to Atlanta immediately. Spokesmen for both Southern Bell and the CWA had expressed hope the previous day that an agreement might be imminent.

In Raleigh, a bill which would have increased unemployment compensation benefits was killed by the State House Employment Security Committee following a public hearing this date. The State Senate completed action on its version of a House-passed tax bill, passing the bill on third reading by a vote of 44 to 0, with the bill designed to raise 9.768 million dollars per year in new revenues, with major changes effected by the Senate including elimination of a 25 percent across-the-board increase in business privilege license taxes and elimination of a 3 percent tax on newspaper sales, in lieu of which the Senate passed a two-cent per bottle increase in the tax on beer.

The 1955 biennial session of the General Assembly was now the second longest in modern times, set to become the longest if it continued in session through May 25. The second longest record had been set in the 1933 session, with the 1931 session having established the record for modern times, both of those sessions having dealt with problems associated with the economic depression. A substantial amount of time in the present session had been taken up with trying to balance the state's budget and finding sufficient revenue from some source to do so.

Emery Wister of The News reports that nearly 7,000 persons had been added to Charlotte payrolls during the previous four years, increasing those payrolls by nearly 59 million dollars, as announced by the Chamber of Commerce in its May issue of its monthly publication, Charlotte. It brought the number of Charlotte employees covered by State Unemployment Insurance to 69,598, with an estimated total working force in the city of 94,900.

In Raleigh, the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence bill had taken another step toward becoming law this date when it was approved by the Senate Committee on Counties, Cities and Towns, with the measure possibly coming up for final action on the Senate floor the following day. It had produced historical debate before it was approved by the State House the previous week, but the Senate Committee had approved it after only a brief explanation. It would set up a committee to gather materials on the controversial document supposedly signed on May 20, 1775 and claimed to have been the first colonial document to declare independence from Britain. Officials of the State Department of Archives and History had objected to the bill for the lack of authentication of the document and the House Committee on Conservation and Development had eliminated a section of it which would have required the Department to display the materials gathered by the special study group. In addition, the measure substituted "is believed to have been" signed for the word "was" regarding its putative date. The original of the document was burned in 1800 and was only reproduced from memory thereafter, raised to prominence by a Raleigh newspaper in 1819, thought for several reasons "spurious" by Thomas Jefferson in a July, 1819 letter to John Adams, the primary reason having been that Captain Jack of Charlotte, reportedly having been dispatched with the document as a courier to the Second Continental Congress meeting in Philadelphia and supposedly having returned with the advice that it had been well received, had never arrived—perhaps having been waylaid by highwaymen or pirates, or one too many jugs o' punch while weaving his way from inn to inn and out again.

"Would not every advocate of independence have rung the glories of Mecklenburg county, in North Carolina, in the ears of the doubting Dickinson and others, who hung so heavily on us? Yet the example of independent Mecklenburg county, in North Carolina, was never once quoted. The paper speaks, too, of the continued exertions of their delegation (Caswell, Hooper, Hughes,) 'in the cause of liberty and independence.' Now, you remember as well as I do, that we had not a greater tory in Congress than Hooper; that Hughes was very wavering, sometimes firm, sometimes feeble, according as the day was clear or cloudy; that Caldwell, indeed, was a good whig, and kept these gentlemen to the notch, while he was present; but that he left us soon, and their line of conduct became then uncertain until Penn came, who fixed Hughes, and the vote of the State."

On the editorial page, "Segregation Decision: One Year Later" provides some quotes from the Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education decision of exactly one year earlier, in which the Court held that segregation of public schools, per se, violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, which could no longer be satisfied by the doctrine of Plessy v. Ferguson of 1896, allowing "separate but equal" facilities to pass constitutional muster.

It recounts that after the first discontented wave of reaction in the South, there were alternating moods of fear, anger, apathy and hope, with a year ahead of either portent or promise, as the newspapers had commented and most Southerners believed. People and governmental entities of the region had reacted to what one Southern historian had called "the challenge of the age" in many different ways, with many people speculating on what lay ahead. Some prophets had foreseen violence and bloodshed, accompanied by race riots, which had thus far not materialized.

It finds that the South had weathered the storm remarkably well, with a reservoir of good will and sensible leadership demonstrated in both the white and black communities, while appeals to fear and hatred had been eschewed in most areas. The calm reaction, especially among North Carolinians, had not necessarily indicated acceptance of the decision or even a willingness to agree in principle with it, but did, it asserts, suggest that the South's "moral image" was one of honor and reason rather than hysteria and confusion. Most Southerners remained confident that even the gravest problems could be solved provided faith in the democratic procedures and traditions remained firm.

Some Deep South states, such as Mississippi, Georgia and South Carolina, exhibiting a strong desire to retain segregation, had undertaken arrangements to abolish the public school system if necessary to accommodate the implementing decision in Brown, due shortly. Meanwhile, other states had sped up programs to equalize public education facilities in the hope that whites and blacks would voluntarily segregate. But the border states of Oklahoma, Kentucky and Maryland were already moving toward desegregation, while in Tennessee and Alabama, extreme laws to evade the decision had failed to pass. North Carolina and Florida had enacted local pupil assignment measures, but Texas and Arkansas had adopted a wait-and-see attitude. In border areas where desegregation was underway, the transition had, for the most part, been orderly, with certain local exceptions, such as in Milford, Del., not having been the rule.

There had been unanticipated apathy on the part of blacks to take advantage of newly won rights in the segregated school districts, with experts suddenly realizing that there was an unevaluated factor in terms of what blacks really wanted, one which could have a great bearing on future developments. There was an indication that many blacks wanted to see the legal restrictions eliminated while actually preferring separate facilities in practice. It finds that it was an issue deserving greater attention.

It indicates that with the implementing decision would come a new act in the drama with more dangers accompanying it, and that much would depend on the nature of the decision, that if the Court demanded desegregation immediately, in a uniform manner, great damage could occur to both the cause of public education and the cause of social justice. If the Court were to grant time for gradual adjustment to desegregation, it believes that public acceptance of it could be encouraged. It urges that the South had to have time and much local discretion to implement desegregation, and if given that time and discretion, the region also had to make up its mind to recognize its governmental responsibilities rather than evading and avoiding them.

It concludes that the future held immense uncertainties but expresses the belief that there was growing self-confidence in the South to meet whatever the future had to offer with "intelligence and honor".

"The Debt of Personal Service" indicates that one of the many organizations leading Charlotte toward new horizons was the Chamber of Commerce, which this date opened its annual membership drive. It finds that it was a broad force in the community, as demonstrated by its goals of improving recreational facilities, transportation, education, health, civil defense, city-county relations, fine arts and agriculture. There were Chamber committees working in those and many other fields and there were places on those committees which ought be filled by business and professional persons presently unaffiliated with the Chamber.

The Chamber had compiled a list of ten reasons for belonging to the organization and the piece thinks that the first one was the best, to enable an individual citizen to render service for the city in which the person lived and made a living, that everyone owed a debt to their community which could not be paid in taxes, "the debt of personal service".

A piece from the Christian Science Monitor, titled "Don't Ask the Fish", finds that the definition of an aquarium offered by the Encyclopaedia Britannica, as "a receptacle or institution in which living aquatic animals or plants are exhibited or studied," was inadequate, that it was, to the contrary, a place where people were studied by fish. The human, to adopt the fish's point of view, would not only have to learn how to breathe through the ears and steer by the coattails, but also to mind one's own business, only then developing "a fish's capacity for indifferent amazement at inconsistent humans, who, though propelling themselves in a horizontal direction, yet do this in a vertical position."

It wonders whether what made many people seem awkward and somewhat on the defensive as they moved through an aquarium was "the feeling of anyone anywhere who, commenting on all about him, suddenly feels himself the object of inscrutably silent observation", finds that a human could not be sure and that it was no use asking the fish.

Drew Pearson indicates that the President was upset over the handling of the Salk vaccine inoculations, though not having shown his displeasure publicly. But he had let it be known privately to HEW Secretary Oveta Culp Hobby. She had been called to the White House the previous week to brief him on the matter and had given the President a somewhat superficial report, of the type typically given by a Cabinet officer to the press when the desire was not to say too much. It had failed to satisfy the President and he told Mrs. Hobby of that dissatisfaction. She then argued in response, which got the President upset. Shortly thereafter, photographers had taken pictures of the two, though they had cooled down and showed no irritation when the cameramen had entered. But when the President had made a remark about being glad that his grandchildren had received the vaccine, it had been quoted by the press and press secretary James Hagerty then barred, for the time being, the press from photo sessions, though the directive was later reversed.

Congressman Adam Clayton Powell of Harlem, one of three black Representatives in the House, had received the runaround when he first sought to see the President, following his return from the Asian-African conference in Indonesia. But when the President learned about the runaround from a news item in the Washington Post, he sent a messenger to Mr. Powell's office and invited him to the White House, where the two men met for 35 minutes in what was scheduled as a 15-minute appointment. The President had remarked that he was in somewhat of a dilemma about the problem of colonialism, that he was against it whether it was practiced by the Communists or by allies, while on the other hand, it was difficult for him to turn against an old ally such as France which had fought and died with American soldiers since Revolutionary days, especially when France was fighting another type of colonialism, Communism, in Indo-China. At the request of the President, Mr. Powell had promised to prepare a memorandum on the colonialism question, setting forth his own views for the White House and the State Department, a memo on which Mr. Powell was now at work in collaboration with Republican Congressman Ralph Judd of Minnesota, a former missionary in China. The President told Mr. Powell that he had followed the conference closely in the newspapers and was very proud of the way the Congressman had spoken out for minorities, which the President described as a subject close to his heart. Mr. Powell indicated that he knew that it was and that he would not have been able to speak out the way he had if it were not for the Supreme Court and the President's efforts on behalf of racial integration in the U.S. during the previous two years.

When the meeting broke up, the President complained about his bursitis, saying that his doctor was trying everything, that at present he was on a diet of soybeans, at breakfast and in salads in the evening. He admitted that he did not like the taste of soybeans but was willing to go along with the experiment if it would cure his bursitis. You need to stop playing so much golf.

John Lord O'Brian, distinguished constitutional lawyer, speaking on the issue of security in excerpts from the first of two Godkin lectures at Harvard University, asserts that the most dangerous aspect of Communism was that its adherents were able to destroy personal honor, decency and good faith in the individual, as exampled by the Rosenbergs and those involved in the Canadian conspiracy case, among others. He regards that aspect of Communism as incomprehensible to the citizen of the Western world, insofar as the emergence of "soulless individuals trained in treachery" which he finds to be the result of a new psychological technique for which there had been no antidote developed other than the reassertion of faith in the older moralities. He finds that American behavior, particularly the failure to deal justly with minorities and the socially underprivileged, caused American defenses to be weak on that front, stating that the argument over segregation was a prime example.

The fear caused by those aspects of Communism had provoked an initial reaction akin to panic and then evoked from Congress and the executive branch drastic measures aimed at the suppression of subversive ideas, simultaneously impacting the constitutional guarantees of the right to freedom of thought and speech, as well as the right to engage freely in criticism. No one could deny or minimize the difficulty of balancing the necessity for national security and the traditional rights of the citizen.

He asserts that the Congress and the executive branch were establishing a kind of new system of preventive law applicable to ideas, different from traditional American procedures. There had been a deliberate expansion of the restrictive operations of government, placing national security ahead of traditional individual rights, demonstrating a trend of curtailment of First Amendment rights, authorizing, for the first time, administrative officials and agencies, in contrast to judicial bodies, to inquire into and pass judgment on the beliefs, associations and opinions of employees or prospective employees of the Government. The more startling invasion of traditional individual liberties, however, resulted from the methods and procedures adopted by the administrative agencies in carrying out those programs. The Supreme Court, by a narrow majority, had ruled that those hearings, which involved the good name and reputation of an individual and that person's fitness for government employment, were merely "hiring" inquiries and were not trials within the constitutional sense and so, because there was no loss of property or liberty resultant from those inquiries, there was no entitlement to due process under the Fifth Amendment, or the 14th Amendment, when dealing with state government agencies.

Often the people making such decisions at the bureaucratic level had no training in constitutional law and there were often no standards by which to measure the qualifications of security officers as well as the panel members of those determining the loyalty of the individual. There had been established a number of procedural processes which, until recently, had been denounced as foreign to the conception of American freedom, such as evidence consisting of secret information obtained from anonymous informants on whose reliability or competence there was no information. That practice resulted in the denial of the right of cross-examination. It also had given rise to use by government officials of agents provocateur and paid informants, whose evidence was usually taken from secret dossiers maintained by various intelligence services. In the several cases in which those points had been contested, the Attorney General had refused to permit even the hearing officers to see the anonymous informants, and in at least one important case, the Attorney General had refused to disclose even to a Federal District Court judge in camera the reasons for which he had taken the official action.

The excuse which had been given for those practices was that disclosure of the identity of secret witnesses would hamper the prosecution in obtaining evidence. Mr. O'Brian finds it necessarily following that the constitutional freedom of the individual was subordinated for the sake of ease of prosecution and that it was undeniable that inevitably that practice impaired the constitutional presumption of innocence.

The Wall Street Journal indicates that most towns had their beginning either at a crossroads or where such travel and trade were served, sometimes on a river or at the end of the trail where it intersected with a railroad. But when the community of interest ceased, for instance in the case of Western mining towns, the miners departed. It finds that there were few sadder sights to see than a ghost town which progress had bypassed.

Some people feared that what had occurred to the abandoned sawmill and mining towns of the past might occur to the textile mill towns in the East, where many mills had moved to the South to obtain greater economic opportunity. Union leaders indicated that many of the mills were departing to take advantage of non-union labor because it was cheaper, referring to them as "runaway industries".

It finds that one of the answers to the problem had already been discovered in some places of New England and showed that the fear of those towns dying was unfounded, that answer being diversification of industries and bringing in smaller factories and businesses to replace those departed. Some of the towns were better off than they had been previously. The empty mills were being filled up because high construction costs made the low rentals and low sales prices of the older buildings desirable, and there were good transportation facilities already established and an ample labor supply.

While many of those towns were still struggling, many were far from becoming ghost towns and never would become so, as the community of interest was working for their economic well-being, often making them sounder economically than they had been.

The mills had departed because the people who had run them sought greater opportunity elsewhere, and the mills were filling up again because other people saw greater opportunity in the mill towns than they had seen elsewhere. To deny those either departing or those moving in the ability to seek new opportunities would be to immobilize capital and limit development, endangering a free economy and destroying freedom and initiative of the individual.

A letter from Morganton comments on the Communications Workers of America union strike against Southern Bell Telephone Co., indicating that there had been some statements made in recent weeks in various newspapers which needed correcting, that the claim that employees at work at the company had surpassed 31,000 on May 6 was in error, that had it been true, the strike would have been over and the union broken, as 31,000 workers would constitute a majority of the people on strike. Another error had been in saying that telephone service continued to be normal, the writer stating that her calls were not being referred to her new number when someone called her old number. She also finds that the public was paying for the strike, that the rate increases granted to "the poor old 15-billion-dollar-a-year telephone company are paying scabs' and supervisors' hotel bills, meals, cab fares and overtime." Yet, the public was not getting its money's worth because the best and most experienced operators remained on the picket lines. She finds that the company wanted to break the union because it believed that Southerners were "poor ignorant people who don't know what it's all about" and would be contented with anything the company chose to provide. She finds that the labor movement in the South was coming whether the telephone company liked it or not and that they were out on the picket lines, glad to be a small part of that movement, that the sooner the company realized it, the better off everyone would be.

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