Tuesday, July 11, 1944

The Charlotte News

Tuesday, July 11, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page and inside page report that the day before, President Roosevelt, responding to a letter from Democratic National Committee Chairman Robert Hannegan, informing the President that a majority of the delegates from the state conventions had reported that they would vote to nominate him for a fourth term, answered that he would, reluctantly, "as a good soldier", not wishing to desert his post in time of war and world peril, accept the nomination of his party. He would not run, in the conventional sense, he said, for the presidency. But, if the people were to choose him, he would serve. He much preferred, however, to return to his home on the Hudson River and enjoy civilian life. Yet, he realized his overriding responsibility was to the country.

Poignantly, he remarked that, by the following spring, he would have been in office for twelve years, and could look back on three terms with pride in accomplishment, that the nation was far better off economically than when he took office. Prior to 1937, terms of the President had traditionally and constitutionally begun during the first week in March, in deference to weather and outdoor ceremonies without artificial heating devices. The first inauguration day on January 20 was in 1937. That is why the President referred to spring, rather than winter as being the twelfth anniversary of his first inauguration, March 4, 1933.

Of course, by three weeks after the official start of spring, he would be dead of a stroke in Warm Springs, Georgia.

The final hammer blow to his health likely was the long trip to Malta and Yalta in January and February of 1945. Or, perhaps, even had he not run for a fourth term, the result may have been the same. It was plain that his health had been gradually slipping away since the arduous trip to Tehran and Cairo in November and December, 1943, to meet with Churchill, Stalin, and Chiang Kai-shek.

The full text of his historic letter, giving assent to the nominating process at the convention, appears on the pages, together with Mr. Hannegan's letter to the President.

This time, unlike at his return from the trip abroad in December, he did not dismiss the fourth term question from reporters as "picayune".

There was no discussion of whether Vice-President Wallace, who had just returned from his trip to China and the Soviet Union, would be retained on the ticket. The Vice-President stated that he had discussed with the President only his trip abroad, and not referred to the issue of his own re-nomination.

An accurate report circulated that the President would announce his support for the re-nomination of the Vice-President but would not seek to enforce it upon the convention the following week.

Mrs. Roosevelt, traveling in Ohio for a speech, was informed of the news by journalists, and indicated that it was the first she had heard of her husband's decision to run for the fourth term, as he never discussed such things with her.

Americans of the First Army on Cherbourg Peninsula, operating along a forty-mile front, attacked at dawn toward St. Lo, making slow but steady progress against heavy German resistance, moving two to three miles to the north and east, to within two miles of the vital German road junction. The move was preceded by a huge artillery barrage, one of the severest concentrations of artillery fire yet during the war, as described by correspondent Don Whitehead. The Germans had also loosed a heavy artillery barrage on the American lines before the attack began.

The drive was threatening the lateral road between La Haye Du Puits, Periers, and St. Lo. Fall of St. Lo would force the Germans out of the Cherbourg Peninsula completely. The ground was heavily booby trapped and mined, causing the advance to be deliberate and sluggish.

A column, striking eight miles south from Carentan, took Maugerie and La Roserie. Another column, moving west from the Vire River, took Haut Verney and Le Mesnilangot, three miles beyond captured St. Jean De Daye.

To the east, the British struck across the Orne River east of Caen, occupying with the Canadians the west bank of the Orne along a four mile extent, from Caen to just north of Maltot. Fierce fighting from the Germans had forced the British and Canadian lines to fall back temporarily in some spots. The Canadians had cleared the north bank of the Odon River of Germans, down to the point of confluence with the Orne. The British had control meanwhile of Hill 112, after slicing to pieces the German defenders, affording from its height surveillance of the land areas between the two rivers.

General Sir Bernard Montgomery, delivering a message to the Allied troops under his command in Normandy after the first month of operations, stated, "Well done! Well done, indeed!" Taking 54,000 prisoners since D-Day, and having taken Cherbourg and now Caen during the previous week, the offensive was stated by the General to be going well.

President Roosevelt informed the press that his meetings with General De Gaulle had resulted in his decision to accept the French National Committee of Liberation as the civil authority within liberated France. But the Committee would continue not to be recognized as the provisional government of France. General Eisenhower would have exclusive authority to determine when military control of a town in France could be relinquished to the Committee for civilian control, until such time as the people could choose their government.

Operating out of Italy, 2,000 American planes struck Munich in southern Germany and Toulon in southern France.

RAF Mosquitos the night before struck Berlin and Mannheim, as well as coastal targets in France.

The day before, it was reported, an RAF flier landed at an airfield on Normandy, with his plane bearing evidence of having been a true hedge-hopper. The Spitfire's radiator had corn stalks in its fins while twigs were sticking from the cannons.

In Italy, the Fifth Army continued to make progress toward Leghorn, taking Lajatico, 21 miles southeast, bypassing Pomaja, and taking Casale. The 110th Battalion, operating three miles west of Pomaja, and comprised primarily of Japanese-Americans, was making steady progress.

A Japanese broadcast reported accurately that a Naval Task Force was approaching Tinian Island in the Marianas, with two carriers and over 30 cruisers. American planes had attacked Tinian, as well as striking on Saturday and Sunday Guam, for the second time, and Rota. Some planes were coming from Aslito airfield on southern Saipan, in use for about a week.

Chinese troops in Yunnan Province in China were reported to be attacking from all sides the Japanese-held city of Tengchung.

The Russians were moving along a 400-mile front from the Pripyat Marshes to the Latvian border, to within striking distance of East Prussia, into Lithuania between Daugavpils and bypassed Wilno, the latter in which street fighting continued against a huge contingent of inevitably trapped Germans. General Ivan Bagramian's troops advanced 28 miles to within twenty miles of Daugavpils, cutting the road between that city and Kaunas.

To the south, General Konstantin Rokossovsky's troops had captured Luniniec, thirty miles east of Pinsk, on the rail route to Brest-Litovsk and Warsaw.

Other forces striking north through the Pripyat Marshes moved to within nine miles of Pinsk.

Opinions sampled from various political leaders appeared nearly unanimous in praise of the President's decision to run for a fourth term. The only dissenting voice among the quoted Democrats was that of Senator Wilbert Lee "Pass the Biscuits, Pappy" O'Daniel of Texas, who stated that, in his opinion, three terms were enough for any one man, that personalities had nothing to do with his considered determination.

On the editorial page, "Our Censors" comments with disdain on the dismissal of former New York advertising executive Col. Egbert White as director of Stars & Stripes in the Mediterranean. The reason for the dismissal was his adamant stand against continued Army censorship of any type of controversial news from the States. It was a foolish policy, argues the editorial, and one which ran contra that followed by the Eighth Army News, sporting spicy, contentious stories and editorials, unrestrained in content.

Unless the policy were changed soon, predicts the piece, none but a small number of men in service would vote in the November election, for the fact that they had not been provided with sufficient news from which to make any intelligent decision.

"Hard To Do" finds the job of the insistent pessimists on the progress of the war, those who consistently were charged with the responsibility by the Army and Navy to keep public sentiment undernourished and depressed, to be one inevitably fraught with difficulty these days in light of the consistent litany of successes on all fronts: Cherbourg, Caen, Wilno, Volterra, Saipan, Noemfoor, etc.

"Mrs. Tillett" comments on the unassuming character of Gladys Tillett of Charlotte, about to depart for the Chicago Democratic convention to assume her place on the rostrum as the Assistant Chairperson of the convention, the most powerful woman in the Democratic Party hierarchy, and set to make one of the more important speeches of the convention. Yet, her personality was humble and down to earth. No one locally could detect any bright airs which might have been assumed to complement such a lofty position.

"Ha, Ha, Ha!" discusses the irritation felt by the press at FDR's sometimes unkindly jests at their expense during news conferences, and their frustration at not being able to prick his outer armor to obtain a scoop on the greatest topic of concern until finally allayed this day, that of whether he would run for a fourth term. The pressmen had sought the previous week with assiduity to wrest from him his views on Thomas Dewey's candidacy and whether he would make a public statement on the campaign prior to the convention. He had shot back, albeit with a smile, that he had not thought about it, but believed the questions to be out of order and not serving well journalistic posterity.

Despite his good humor in delivering another lecture to them, the bet was that they had not been amused.

"War Boom" remarks on the steady rise in stock prices, especially booming in the first week after D-Day and the fall of Rome to the Allies. The Dow Jones average of the leading 65 stocks was eight percent higher than a year earlier.

The brisk and upwardly bound trading contrasted with predictions that the invasion of France might depress stock prices for the cautionary sell-offs it might provoke with war's end and thus war's economic boom becoming apparently imminent. Railroad stocks, because of anticipated lower railroad profits after the war, might fall in favor of a rise in automobile stocks, with passenger car production set to resume following the war. Yet, none of these trends had become evident. Railroad stocks climbed along with the rest.

It was a move on the big board not dissimilar to that of 1918 at news of the Armistice, when stocks rose to high levels and remained there for a year, not approached again before the halcyon days of 1927. The stocks had not fallen even when Germany had victories in France in the spring of 1918. By opposite strokes, they did not rise when, in October, the Germans and Austro-Hungarians had first sued for peace.

The recent trends followed the advice that corporate taxes would likely fall precipitously at war's end.

Samuel Grafton again looks at the short-sighted American isolationist opinion being delivered up anent the Bretton Woods, N.H., conference concerning the establishment of a world bank to aid in rebuilding war-torn countries and stabilize world currencies to avoid future economic depressions which had served to stimulate the Fascist and Nazi movements during the 1920's in Europe.

He points out that those who criticized the fact that America was, under proposed guidelines, to contribute 2.25 billion dollars to the eight-billion dollar fund--trimmed from a sixteen-billion dollar fund favored by British economist John Maynard Keynes--while Britain would only contribute 1.5 billion, were myopic in their focus. For the reason for the greater contribution of the United States was its stake in world trade and its size; its greater commitment also meant that it had commensurately greater power over how the fund was dispensed. Thus, the larger contribution was a good thing. Else, why was Russia asking to be allowed to contribute more than its proposed one billion dollars?

Moreover, the attacks had centered on the perception of too great influence being exerted by Lord Keynes on the conference, for his stance generally favoring elimination of unemployment from the world.

That betrayed the true source of the opposition, that it was merely the coalescing of anti-Roosevelt and anti-New Deal sentiment, having little or nothing to do with the actual stakes of the monetary conference.

Dorothy Thompson discusses the nearly identical stances on foreign policy adopted by President Roosevelt and Governor Dewey, that there was to be a new League of Nations with four predominant powers rather than two, a World Court to adjudicate international disputes, but no surrender of national sovereignty, no commitment of troops except by decision of each member government unilaterally.

These were not the views of the more Utopian Vice-President Wallace and former Governor Harold Stassen of Minnesota, both of whom favored uniform participation for the smaller nations of the world, in a truly democratic international organization where no single group of nations predominated, plus a strong multinational police force.

The concern regarding loss of sovereignty, contends Ms. Thompson, was born of a specious argument. For no nation on earth, as individuals, voted on whether to go to war, but each was forced to it by the actions of stolid leaders who made the decisions for them, often contrary to their collective will. She agreed with the words uttered recently by Pope Pius: "The peoples of no nation can easily be held responsible for wars."

The important issue was prevention of further war, not whether there would be loss of sovereignty not truly held in the first place when it came to determining war. Party platforms and elections were too temporal ultimately to decide the fate of these matters in the future; rather, they would be determined by reason and the will to prevent further shedding of blood a generation hence.

Drew Pearson first examines the story circulating that President Roosevelt was going to turn the choice of vice-presidential nominee over to the convention. He reminds that Vice-President Wallace had, himself, told the President in private meeting before he had left for his overseas trip that he did not wish to be a liability to the ticket and would not be offended should the President choose another running mate. The President was standing by his Vice-President, but, ultimately, the choice would be left to the convention.

Interestingly, Mr. Pearson presents a long list of candidates for the nomination, including former Justice and War Mobilizer James Byrnes, Justice William O. Douglas, Governor J. Melville Broughton of North Carolina, House Speaker Sam Rayburn of Texas, Secretary of Commerce Jesse Jones, and five others.

Among the ten, most notably, was not named Senator Harry Truman of Missouri--eight days from the start of the convention.

He next reports on intelligence analysts finding that the latest radio broadcasts and photographs and newsreels of Adolf Hitler betrayed a man puffed, pallid, gaining weight, confused, dispirited, and appearing not to be in good health.

Mr. Pearson next relates of the poker game in which Governor Dewey participated with newsmen on the train ride back from the Chicago convention to New York. He lost the first several hands, until one of the journalists gave him advice to stick with a king and a pair of fives rather than fold. He took the advice, was dealt a king, won the hand. Press relations were improving.

Whether Longergunner was aboard the train was not told.

At least he didn't draw a pair of red queens.

Ye Fala?

The column next relates of the personal bruised feelings of the President after reading the caustic speech of Clare Boothe Luce at the Republican convention, in which she had charged that the President took the country into an unnecessary war which he could have avoided, and so was laying to waste the lives of young American men.

He was not angry, just hurt.

Mr. Pearson drops a note that, by happenstance, former Undersecretary of State Sumner Welles was about to publish his memoirs in which he was essentially refuting the argument of Ms. Luce, indicating that in November, 1937, less than a month after the President's Chicago speech, in which he had denounced the warlords of Japan--though not expressly naming any nation except under the general rubric "bandit nations", which presumably meant to include Germany and Italy--as inimical to world peace, he had sought a council of nations to try to avert war, but the idea had been vetoed finally by Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain of Britain.

Marquis Childs provides for Adolf Hitler his observations made from a three-hour tour of the Ford Willow Run bomber factory outside Detroit. The previous week, the plant's work force had completed their 5,000th bomber. He saw women of all descriptions among the 40,000 employees on the vast assembly line, which put together a million and a quarter parts for each plane. There had been 80,000 employees working at the plant thus far during the war. The payoff came when each new shining bomber rolled off the line.

Hal Boyle reports from Normandy that "biscuit blast" was the most common tooth ailment encountered by dentists on the front. Few mouth wounds were being treated. But the hard biscuits contained within the K-rations had caused numerous broken teeth and bridges. The best solution was to soak the biscuits in water to soften them up before chowing down.

The dentists' drills were run by heavy foot power afforded by dental assistants.

A squib below the column tells of an African-American man being admitted to Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas, for an injury to his pelvis and a torn ligament, apparently suffered while jitterbugging.

And, that's the way it was, July 11, 1944.

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