Wednesday, November 8, 1944

The Charlotte News

Wednesday, November 8, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that President Roosevelt had been re-elected to a fourth term, accumulating 407 electoral votes to Thomas Dewey's 124, based on the latest counts the day after the election. New Jersey had appeared in the Dewey column until late afternoon. New Jersey would ultimately be decided by only 26,500 votes in the President's favor.

It would turn out yet worse for Governor Dewey in the end as President Roosevelt ultimately grabbed another 25 votes from the Governor for his final total of 432. Initially close races in Michigan and Oregon had finally swung from Dewey's column to the President's.

Governor Dewey had graciously conceded the election at 3:15 a.m, after the President's electoral tally stood at 391, 266 being needed for election. The President remained awake until 3:50 a.m. to hear the results and telegraphed Governor Dewey his thanks upon hearing his concession. The new Vice-President-elect, Harry Truman, stated from Independence, Missouri, his thanks as well to Governor Dewey and Governor Bricker for their showing of magnanimity.

In 1940, the President had beaten Wendell Willkie by an electoral vote of 449 to 82.

At the current count, the popular vote stood at 20,647,097 for the President and 18,193,492 for Governor Dewey. The final tally would be 25,612,916 for FDR and 22,017,929 for Dewey, 53.4% to 45.9%, almost precisely that predicted the previous week by Harry Luce-published Fortune Magazine, predicated on voter attitudes, as set forth in Monday's News.

The President carried 36 states while Governor Dewey carried 12, Maine, Vermont, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Wyoming, and Colorado. Ohio was won by the Governor by only 11,500 votes.

A table on the page shows the state-by-state vote tabulation as of 1:30 p.m.

In Detroit, 50,000 votes had been misplaced, resulting in the need for a canvas of 100 precincts. Michigan, while in Governor Dewey's column at this point, finally went to the President by 17,500 votes. It was, of course, not a crucial state in the final tally, either electorally or by popular vote.

In the Senate, isolationist Gerald P. Nye of North Dakota conceded defeat to Governor John Moses.

The Democrats had won 16 seats in the Senate to the Republicans' eight, with eleven races still undecided. That there were 35 seats up for election, when ordinarily only a third of the Senate, 32 seats at the time, would be standing for re-election was the result of special elections in three states. The Democrats held 58 seats to the Republicans' 37 before the election. There were now 51 won Democratic seats and 32 Republican. The final result would give essentially the same party alignment in the Senate, 57 Democrats, 38 Republicans, and one from the Progressive Party.

In the House, isolationist Ham Fish of New York, having served 26 years in the Congress, was defeated by August W. Bennet. Mr. Fish stated that he had wanted to win to serve as chairman of the Rules Committee to stop the march of Communism and totalitarianism in the country. Mr. Bennet had been defeated by Mr. Fish in the Republican primary but ran as an independent in the general election.

The House races had thus far given 219 seats to Democrats, exceeding the 218 necessary for a majority, and included 21 formerly Republican seats. Republicans had won 127 seats, including two formerly Democratic seats. There were 87 undecided seats and two won by other parties. The final result would provide a House composed of 242 Democrats, 191 Republicans, one Progressive, and one from the Labor Party.

Democrats were successful in eleven gubernatorial races and leading in five others, while Republicans had won ten states and were leading in six others. Democrats had taken three states thus far from the Republicans, who, going into the election, held 26 of the 48 state houses. A Republican tide in governorships had begun in 1938 and they had gained five positions in 1942. The FDR tide this time had scotched the tendency and rolled it back the other way.

The re-election of the President prompted anew speculation that a Big Three conference between Stalin, Churchill, and Roosevelt would soon take place, some having been predicting in September such a conference as early as December. The Malta Conference with Chiang Kai-shek and the Yalta Conference with Stalin would not take place until late January and early February. The long, strenuous trip, all the way to the Crimea, would prove the final undoing of the President's health, which had suffered for the previous year since the Tehran and Cairo conferences of late November and early December, 1943.

The foreign press covered the election as never before. Editorials in London newspapers praised the outcome. Belfast newspapers welcomed the victory of the President. Chungking also appeared to rejoice at the news.

Berlin radio commented that the large vote for Governor Dewey indicated that the Roosevelt foreign policy was troubling to "wide circles of the American people". German propaganda leaflets were dropped on American lines proclaiming: "Jews govern, suckers fight; Vote for Roosevelt's Hebrew might."

There was scant war news on the page this day. The American offensive launched Thursday southeast of Aachen had lost most of its ground gained in the opening salvos. The Americans lost Kommerscheldt.

To the south, the Third Army crossed the Seille River, a tributary of the Moselle, midway between Metz and Nancy, gaining a mile against lightly held positions.

The Germans had been completely routed from the area south of the Meuse, save for one small pocket south and east of the Moerdijk bridges, with the Allies holding the entire south shore of Hollandsch Diep and the Meuse.

On Walcheren Island, north of the Schelde Estuary, the Germans were now limited to an area northeast of Domburg on the north shore.

On the editorial page, "Ratification" uses the figure of the sun passing from one hemisphere to the next over the globe, first over war-torn Europe, over the United States, and then over the war-torn Pacific, as a unifying device in the aftermath of an election day on which the country had ratified the economic and foreign policies of the Roosevelt Administration.

In the final analysis, it says, it was not the independents who had put the President over the top, but rather the Democratic Party and the plain people who made up the bulk of it. They had voted for a world statesman to continue in office rather than take the chance on a man who had only lately come to realize the need for internationalism. It was, indicates the editorial, a wise choice.

"The 79th" speaks of the mandate given the President by electing substantial Democratic majorities to each chamber of the 79th Congress. The people wanted to get on with the war and to make sane, safe peace. The President was the person in whom they had reposited trust to accomplish both tasks.

Isolationists had not done well in the election. The defeat of Ham Fish in the House, Senator Danaher of Connecticut and Senator Nye of North Dakota were but three already gone. The Republicans had lost 14 House seats, even before the vote count in the West was completed.

Yet, there would inevitably be isolationist speeches and criticism of the President's foreign policy in the future, it predicts. Clare Boothe Luce, for one, would still carp and crow. Senators Wiley and Capehart would be back to do likewise. Senators Taft of Ohio and Reed of Kansas, identified by Senator Truman during the campaign as problematic, would continue their isolationist rhetoric.

But the voters had spoken overwhelmingly in favor of effecting the end of the war on the current policy terms and then establishing out of it a peace with an international security organization formed from the United Nations.

"Old Story" notes an observation recently by Drew Pearson in the President's study at the White House of an opened volume of Abraham Lincoln: The War Years from Carl Sandburg's 1939 four-volume set, (a work not to be missed by any student of Lincoln, a volume of reviews of which may be read here).

The editorial finds parallels between Franklin Roosevelt and President Lincoln coming out of this first wartime election since 1864. Lincoln had been attacked by his Democratic opponent, General George McClellan, for squandering the public funds, mismanagement of government, and even as a destroyer of civil liberties. President Lincoln's opponents also criticized him for demanding unconditional surrender from the South.

Just as in the 1944 election cycle, when D-Day and its ensuing campaign through France, Belgium, and Holland and the taking of the Marianas, Saipan, Tinian, and Guam, and then the recent Battle of the Philippine Sea, were all successfully fought as major advances in the war effort in both theaters, in 1864, the Union had successfully fought in Mobile Bay and Sherman had conducted his March to the Sea in Georgia and South Carolina.

President Lincoln had carried all but three states in that earlier election. The Union came out of it more determined than ever to fight through to victory, which came the following April. "And this is true once again."

The editorial, of course, could not know how complete the comparison would finally become, with Allied victory over Germany to come in April, and the death of the President on April 12, two days before the 80th anniversary of the assassination of President Lincoln, who had died the following morning and thence belonged to the ages.

The country, just as the bloody fight of three and a half years was coming to an end in Europe, would be faced with the bitter tears of loss of its leader once again, diluting the exultation of victory.

Drew Pearson discusses a feud in the family of Senator Carter Glass of Virgina, 86 years old and generally a supporter of President Roosevelt. War Mobilizer James Byrnes had stated that Senator Glass had called him to congratulate him on his speech in support of the President's re-election to a fourth term. Powell Glass, a newspaper man in Lynchburg and increasingly anti-Roosevelt, promptly issued a statement that his father was too ill to comment on the election, effectively calling Mr. Byrnes a liar.

The feud had simmered behind the scenes for sometime, since Senator Glass had remarried four years earlier a woman who was a strong supporter of President Roosevelt. The sons of the Senator did not like their step-mother. During the Virginia State Convention, Powell Glass had threatened to declare his father too ill to issue any statement should there be any supportive of the President sought to be presented to the convention. The convention at the time was considering support of Senator Harry Flood Byrd of Virginia for the Democratic nomination.

Mr. Pearson next tells of a report from State Department adviser John P. Davies regarding General Joseph Stilwell's problems in India, those in addition to his differences with Chiang Kai-shek which had led to his being recalled from the China-Burma-India theater command. The Indian troops serving under him, as had been reported by Ambassador William Phillips to the President during the summer, were not fighting determinedly because they had not received an assurance of independence from Great Britain. The problem with the Indian troops had apparently caused much of the sloth in the Burma operations, according to the report by Mr. Davies.

Additionally, General Stilwell had mounting problems with Lord Mountbatten, both interpersonally and as a result of the British-Indian issue of independence. Said Mr. Davies, so inured to the game of empire were the British that they practiced the ploy of divide and rule "almost unconsciously".

Samuel Grafton indicates that Americans were fond of the myth that they gave the shirts off their backs to foreign countries, that they were too kind for their own good.

In the International Civil Aviation Conference ongoing in Chicago, America's position appeared reasonable, that is standing for open competition among nations for post-war international air routes, opposing the British plan to have routes apportioned to countries based on their passenger business. Under that latter plan, Britain might be able to grab fully half of the trans-Atlantic aviation traffic.

It was not greed, however, motivating the British, but the desire to enable a balance of trade, usually accomplished by the British via the transportation industry.

The United States was also at odds with the Soviets for the conference having invited Spain, Portugal, and Switzerland, neutral nations who were opposed to the Soviets. The Soviets had thus refused to attend. The reason for the invitation to the neutrals was simply because they, like the Soviets, were needed in the post-war competition for international air transportation.

A piece reprinted from Business Week tells of a survey of 17 million workers throughout the country, conducted by the Opinion Research Corp. of Princeton, N.J., to tap their views on unions. It found that most union members and non-union members believed that the union provided better wages and working conditions. But they also favored changes in union management.

Only 14 percent wanted the closed shop, mandating union membership before hiring by a company; only 5 percent wanted maintenance of membership contracts, requiring continuation in the union to retain employment. The open shop was favored by 39 percent and the union shop, requring union membership only after hiring, was favored by 36 percent.

Marquis Childs reflects on the election campaign, that the choice had been difficult for many, as the idea of a fourth term was naturally repugnant. But the concern over the war had swept aside that traditional stance, aided by Governor Dewey's negative campaign beginning with his speech in Oklahoma City in response to the September 23 speech of the President before the Teamsters in Washington, after starting his campaign on the West Coast with vague but constructive notions. That negative tone had persisted through the end in his Madison Square Garden speech on Saturday night.

In the latter speech he had called the One Thousand Club hallmark of the most brazen corruption in the country's history, overlooking such forerunners as Teapot Dome during the Harding Administration.

The primary impact of the election had been to take the nation's attention for a few months from the primary task before it of winning the war. Mr. Childs leaves to historians with the long view the determination of the extent to which it had handicapped the nation in the process and delayed the final result. It had also not fostered progress toward reconversion in the post-war environment, with Congress having recessed to campaign and thus not dealing with these issues since August.

The problems had caused many Americans to reflect on whether an inflexible system whereby an election had to be held every four years, even in time of war, was sound and thus whether the Constitution ought be amended to provide for waiving the election in time of war. Mr. Childs indicated that most Americans favored an amendment on term limits of the President.

And of course the Twenty-Second Amendment fixing the limit at two terms in a lifetime was passed by the Congress in 1947 and ratified by three-fourths of the states by early 1951. The Amendment did not apply to President Truman. He could have run a second time therefore, in 1952, even though having served more than two years of the fourth term of FDR, the limit plus one other term having been placed by the amendment on a successor President.

As to any amendment suspending elections in time of war, no serious movement toward that end has ever been undertaken. It brings up the prospect of a power-hungry President stimulating war in order to maintain office indefinitely, and therefore would be a bad idea. Obviously, there are Congressional controls on the President's ability to wage war, the Congress having the power to withdraw funding from the armed forces. Still, it is a bad idea. Elections in time of war are simply distractions which the country must endure to insure democracy. For how else would the country ever change a foreign policy with which the majority disagrees?

One could conceive of having a plebiscite in the event of a Congressionally declared war, to be held one year before the scheduled general election to determine whether the election might be postponed until after the war or until the next scheduled election. But the violence to the American tradition and system of government would likely be too strenuous, could undermine the effectiveness of the President in time of war even if confirmed by a plebiscite a year before the scheduled election.

And, what about the Congress?

Hal Boyle, still in Germany on October 30, reports that Allied troops had destroyed 77 German pillboxes in a mere three days during the First Army's breach of the Siegfried Line northwest of Aachen, enabling them to hold the sector. The force which had knocked them out consisted of 34 medium tanks, 17 light tanks, four tank destroyers, 1,200 infantrymen, and 200 engineers.

The pillboxes were designed to withstand fire for months. The enemy artillery fire had been so thick that they had hit German pillboxes with it, though not piercing the heavily fortified positions.

The reason for the success had been the precise coordination. The troops were given detailed maps of the pillbox locations. They then divided themselves into specialized units, each with a designated task. Two assault teams worked with a clean-up team. One assault team would attack a pillbox directly, while another protected the flank against enemy fire. Then would come the clean-up team to clear out the pillbox and take any survivors as prisoners, then demolish the emplacement with explosives.

The operation against these 77 pillboxes was accomplished with losses so small that the figure, if disclosed, would be embarrassing, said Mr. Boyle, to the Nazis.

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