The Charlotte News

Friday, November 22, 1946


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that two Federal marshals had served John L. Lewis with an order to show cause why he should not be held in contempt for violating the temporary injunction of the Federal Court ordering him to postpone the called strike at midnight Wednesday for at least nine days until a hearing on the permanent injunction. Mr. Lewis would appear in court on Monday. It was within the discretion of the judge to impose a penalty.

Legal observers had noted that the Court order had required Mr. Lewis affirmatively to take action and thus was inconsistent legally with the scope of a restraining order, designed to prevent an action.

In strike violence, two men were shot to death in West Virginia.

The union local of the Progressive Mine Workers, rival union to the UMW in Illinois, voted to stop work until the mandatory court action against Mr. Lewis was lifted. The PMW mined about a fifth of the Illinois coal.

The lights in the Capitol were dimmed to conserve electricity. The steel industry estimated that it would be cut in production by 50 percent within two weeks. G.M. had only a 24-hour supply of steel on hand. Brownouts were expected to follow in several Eastern states. Virginia had already declared one for several parts of the state.

John L. Lewis's home in Alexandria, Va., was reported to have no more than a one-month supply of coal. The coal supplier to his home stated that he only had a small bin capable of handling a one-month supply, and no coal had been delivered lately. He did, however, have a woodpile in the back yard.

Everyone had the right to more coal if they got below a 10-day supply, provided there was coal to deliver to them.

A GOP leader on the House Ways & Means Committee, just elected Governor of Kansas, Frank Carlson, stated his belief that the coal strike would imperil the Republican plan to grant a 20 percent across-the-board decrease in taxes.

Calls came from Congress to suspend the Wagner Act and for the President to call Congress into special session to deal with the strike. The President was said not to be contemplating such a step.

The President went fishing off Key West, aboard the U.S.S. Stribling. He and personal chief of staff Admiral William Leahy each caught a barracuda and a Spanish mackerel, and Admiral Leahy also hauled in a pompano.

Secretary of State Byrnes proposed to the Foreign Ministers Council, meeting in New York, that the Allied military forces limit their numbers to be used for oversight of Trieste, in compromise of a Soviet demand for a deadline by which all troops would be withdrawn.

Another issue still to be resolved on Trieste was the economic relationship of the city with Yugoslavia. The Russians wanted a customs union between the two entities and joint administration of the Trieste railways. The British and Americans opposed such economic union. Russia indicated that it might drop the proposal and abide by a French compromise to have special docking privileges in Trieste for Italy and Yugoslavia and have some provision for coordinating rail services with Yugoslavia.

Foreign Commissar V. M. Molotov rejected a British proposal to combine the proposed U.N. troop inventory with discussions of Russia's proposal on disarmament.

Louis P. Budenz, former Communist leader, now an assistant professor of economics at Fordham, told HUAC that the Soviet Government was engaged in a war of nerves with the United States, which could become a military conflict. He named Gerhard Eisler as one of the top Communist Party leaders in the United States.

Prime Minister Josef Stalin thanked publicly those who had sent greetings and congratulations on the anniversary of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution on November 11.

In Washington, the Federal District Court dismissed the case against the 26 defendants who had been prosecuted by the Government for sedition during the war. After a trial of eight months in 1945, the Federal judge had died before the case could be concluded and a mistrial therefore had to be declared. Assistant Attorney General O. John Rogge, recently dismissed for revealing portions of his report on American dealings with Nazis during the war, had prosecuted the case and had expressed doubt that even if convictions could be obtained, they would hold up on appeal.

The CIO, meeting in Atlantic City, re-elected Philip Murray as president of the union organization, played for him "Hail to the Chief". The convention adopted resolutions calling for world disarmament and opposing further stockpiling of atomic weapons. The organization also began its campaign against restrictive labor legislation and affirmed the continuation of the CIO PAC.

In Switzerland, the wreckage of an American C-53 transport plane, which had disappeared Tuesday, was discovered in the Alps near Interlaken. All eleven aboard were still alive, but eight required stretchers. The transport was on a 10,000-foot peak, 500 feet from the top. The members of the crew and passengers had pleaded via fading radio for aid. Swiss mountain climbers and American nurses and doctors were being dispatched to the scene.

In Maidstone, Eng., a father pleaded guilty to murdering his seven-year old daughter in a mercy killing for her being retarded. He was sentenced to hang under a mandatory capital punishment law. On July 4, he had come home from work, given his daughter a piece of chocolate and then placed her beside a gas jet which he turned on, then played with the child until he had to don a respirator. He kissed her goodbye and she went limp. He said that he had loved her very much and it had caused him great pain to take her life.

In White Sands, N.M., the Army was preparing for its first nighttime launch of a V-2 rocket. The purpose was to create an artificial shower of shooting stars which observatories were alerted to watch as the emitted sparks re-entered the earth's atmosphere. In addition to recording devices, the rocket would carry cottonseed to be analyzed after the flight. The apogee of the flight was to be 63.5 miles.

In Santa Monica, California, Bing Crosby left the hospital after a four-day routine checkup and treatment for a stiff elbow which had interfered with his golf game.

On the sports page, News sports editor Ray Howe reports from Durham on the readiness of the Duke football squad for the season showdown with the University of North Carolina, set for the following day in Chapel Hill.

Don't forget to tune in. It could be a nail biter. Someone may get atomized.

On the editorial page, "The Baptists and the Races" remarks on the State Baptist Convention which had adopted the previous Tuesday a resolution supporting Federal anti-lynching legislation, supporting equal opportunity and wages in employment, and opposing segregation in the church. In response to telegrams received opposing the latter move, the convention had backtracked and rescinded the resolution on segregation the previous day. They had also watered down the economic provision to make it clear that they did not favor a permanent FEPC.

Orginally, the resolution on the church stated that segregation was opposed to the teachings of the New Testament that all believers were equal in the eyes of God.

The newspapers had reacted with a variety of opinion. The High Point Enterprise viewed the resolution as inviting blacks into white churches. The Winston-Salem Journal opined that it "certainly cannot mean a merger of white and Negro Baptist churches" but rather should be interpreted as an invitation to greater brotherhood between the races to promote the common good.

Elimination of the last sentence of the resolution regarding segregation meant that the convention recognized the matter as the Journal recorded it. No Baptist congregation was bound by the resolutions of the convention. They only stated the sense of the membership. The convention had not originally intended to create a revolution in the state in race relations and many had feared that the statement on segregation would have preciptated such a revolution.

The editorial disagrees with that assessment. But even with the revision, the statement opened the way for some militant Baptist liberalism in North Carolina and in the South at large. It was a first step in the evolutionary process.

"John Lewis: Labor's Worst Enemy" suggests that by the time the piece appeared, John L. Lewis might either be in jail or resting after declaring a truce in the battle with the Government. Leaders of both AFL and CIO had aligned with him, making the fight now between organized labor and the Government.

At stake was the power of the courts to enjoin strikes, prevented by the Norris-La Guardia Act of 1932. But the Smith-Connally Act passed during the war prohibited strikes against the Government.

Whether or not the injunction would be upheld immediately in the courts, when the Congress would meet, it would assuredly pass legislation which would severely alter the Norris-La Guardia prohibition. By insisting on the strike, Mr. Lewis was gambling that such a result would ensue. It was ironic that William Green and Philip Murray, both enemies of Mr. Lewis, were bound by principle to support him in his folly.

"Don't Forget Number Two" urges passage by the City Council of the proposal to have a survey completed by an independent agency to assess the benefits of City-County Government consolidation.

It hopes that it would not be lost in the muddle over the first issue on the agenda for the following Tuesday, that being the vociferous complaints by citizens who lived along the route of the proposed cross-town boulevard, seeking to prevent its passage by the Council.

A piece from the Asheville Citizen, titled "Idle Dreamer of the GOP", discusses the control of patronage which the Republicans would have when they took control of Congress in January. Senator Ralph Flanders of Vermont had suggested that half the jobs over which they would have control be filled with Republicans. He was a dreamer. The Republicans would fire all of the patronage position holders and start over.

Drew Pearson again, for the fourth time recently, examines John L. Lewis, focusing on the continuing loyalty of the UMW miners to the union leader despite his several moves through time which should have alienated them. During the early twenties, he had ousted John L. Lawson, hero to Colorado miners, from the union. During the thirties, 21 Illinois miners, members of the Progressive Miners, inimical to Mr. Lewis, were killed because of directions from Mr. Lewis. Mr. Lewis and his inner circle had complete control over the union's bankroll.

The worst thing he had done, according to observers, was that in 1937 he spent $350,000 of miners' dues without their permission or knowledge to pay a coal operator, the Mine B Coal Co. at Springfield, Ill., to shut down for two and a half years until November, 1939, causing 500 Progressive Miners to lose their jobs. His motive had been to throw the Progressive Miners out of work. The Progressive Miners had voted against being part of UMW.

The matter had come to light during a Treasury audit in which it found that Mr. Lewis had covered the payment as a "loan". A move toward income tax prosecution was squelched on the grounds that it would only make Mr. Lewis a martyr and that a jury would likely not convict.

He imparts the story of the decade of enmity between the Illinois coal miners and Mr. Lewis, beginning in 1929, when a feud erupted within UMW between the heads of a local and the national union, prompting Mr. Lewis to replace the local officers with his own people. When the duly elected local officials refused to step down, the matter went to court, where it was ruled that Mr. Lewis had no right to intervene.

In 1932, the Illinois miners voted against a contract which Mr. Lewis had arranged for them. A new ballot was ordered by Mr. Lewis, and then the results were claimed to have been lost. The evidence pointed to the result having been the same in the second vote, but Mr. Lewis signed the contract anyway on behalf of the miners and ordered the men back to work. For the ensuing five years, bloody warfare took place between Mr. Lewis and the Illinois miners, becoming the Progressive Miners.

In 1937, after Mr. Lewis had achieved political power through the support in 1936 of FDR, an FBI agent, George Stevens, collected evidence against the Lewis rivals to support a charge of conspiracy to interfere with interstate commerce and the mails. A special prosecutor was appointed and 41 of the Progressive Miners went to jail, ending the battle. Mr. Lewis had won with the aid of the Justice Department.

Harold Ickes suggests that the first mistake President Truman had made after becoming President was to have DNC chairman Robert Hannegan "dispose of the political goods upon the shelves of the White House." The next mistake was to hire "political Lilliputians who have served him according to their various and sundry disabilities." He then lists the Lilliputians: George Allen, John W. Snyder, Maj. General Harry Vaughan, Matthew Connelly, James K. Vardaman, Ed Pauley, and John R. Steelman, the so-called "Missouri gang".

President Truman had the good will of the people when he became President but it had dissipated rapidly, sending the presidency to a new low. The Cabinet, by the time of the replacement in September of Henry Wallace with Averell Harriman as Secretary of Commerce, had become, with only one or two exceptions, populated by members without note.

The President had never disapproved publicly of John Rankin or Senator Theodore Bilbo and their bilious, racist outcries.

Senate Majority Leader Alben Barkley of Kentucky had endorsed Congressman Andrew May of Kentucky for re-election despite the latter being implicated in a scandal involving favors for war contracts.

Many among liberals and progressives wondered whether the Republicans could do any worse. That was the prevailing sentiment expressed on November 5.

George Allen had consistently advised the President after every stumble that he had done the best he could, causing the President to repeat his political mistakes. The President should have been advised to do better. Mr. Ickes recommends getting rid of the Lilliputians as a first step.

He reiterates his belief that the President should have appointed a Republican Secretary of State and resigned, leaving that Secretary as President in the line of succession. He says that, at very least, the President ought follow the advice of Walter Lippmann and announce that he would not run for the nomination in 1948. If he did not say it, then the people, Mr. Ickes predicts, would say it for him, "to take his hat and go home."

Samuel Grafton suggests that the people were involved in such a personal search for peace that even auto accidents had begun again to appear on the front pages of the newspapers. He thought it one of the reasons for voting Republican in the late election, to achieve a greater quiet in the land. The people were tired of big news out of Washington and the Republicans were less likely to make it. The Government under Republican rule would be "as silent as a radio owned by a music-hater."

But the conception seemed belied by the fact of the Republican opposition to Russia which would becloud foreign affairs. The Republicans, however, did not want peacetime conscription or perpetual mobilization as being too impinging on private life. Thus, the foreign policy was without form, tending toward isolationism.

Nor was there likely to be less news on domestic matters. Price control was gone, but the pressures of inflation, especially from the coal crisis, triggering a shortage also of steel, were now upon the country. Without controls, one industry could precipitate runaway inflation.

Livestock people were suggesting that a packing house strike might move meat prices back to where they had been in September—under Government control.

He concludes that while the ambition for the quiet life was worthy, it was unlikely to be achieved in 1946 or in 1948. It was not conducive to tranquility to change from a course in which Congress could cause inflation to one in which almost anyone in the country could do so. That Government was now as apprehensive as anyone when came the morning newspapers, posed small comfort.

A letter from an Army private wonders about the proposed zoning ordinance in Charlotte and the cross-town boulevard, whether the plans had received proper expert advice and consideration within the whole plan of the area and region before being brought before the City Council. He was not a resident and was simply wondering.

The editors respond that the Charlotte Planning Board was ably equipped with experts. Both projects fit well within the master plan for the area. The objections came from sources whose toes were being stepped upon, an inevitable result when it became necessary to correct past mistakes in community planning.

A letter finds no sense in the proposed cross-town boulevard, thinks rather a bypass route would be better. He wants the City to visit Reading, Pa., and study its roads. He supplies details of his proposal.

Whether built on the design of Reading or not, hold your horses for about four decades and you will have your wish in spades.

The editors respond that 85 percent of the traffic in the city originated or stopped somewhere in downtown. The purpose of the cross-town boulevard was to alleviate this congestion, only incidentally to provide a quicker and easier route for through traffic. To accomplish its goal, the boulevard had to cut across the edge of the business district.

On this date in 1963, the President and Mrs. Kennedy attended a breakfast at the Hotel Texas given by the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce at which the President spoke, his last speech. Poignantly, he was presented at the end of the speech with a Texas Stetson which he refused to try on but stated that he would at the White House on Monday. He was also presented a pair of Texas cowboy boots to prevent, said the presenter, the rattlesnakes on the LBJ Ranch from striking him.

As cold irony, the announcer for the local television station in Fort Worth broadcasting the event had, to kill time awaiting the arrival of the President, read a written account of the assassination in 1901 of President William McKinley, committed by anarchist Leon Czolgosz in Buffalo. The statement stands as a singularly bizarre thing to say out of the air during a Presidential visit. The centennial of the Civil War was being celebrated during those years and a reference to President Lincoln's assassination on the centennial week of the Gettysburg Address might not have been quite so strange. That the McKinley reference was made that day nearly defies belief in coincidence, given that a self-proclaimed Marxist who had also been called at times "Leon" was to be charged by day's end with the assassination of President Kennedy.

The breakfast followed an address outside the hotel to the crowd who had shown up in a light drizzle of rain to see the President.

The entourage then departed Carswell Air Force Base in Fort Worth for the short flight to Dallas Love Field, arriving at 11:40 a.m. under sunny skies. The President departed his planned itinerary by going up to the fence at the edge of the tarmac, accompanied by the First Lady, and shaking the hands of spectators.

The fateful motorcade then began at the airport, intending to carry the entourage through the streets of Dallas to the Trade Mart where the President was scheduled to arrive and provide a speech at around 1:00 p.m. Then, it would be on to Austin for another motorcade and speeches, with the President and First Lady scheduled to stay Friday night at the LBJ Ranch in Johnson City.

That which interrupted the journey at 12:30 in Dealey Plaza transmuted the world very quickly. Billions of words have been written about it since, some factual, some not so, some sensitive, some not so. It is, after fifty years, still unspeakable.

There was much confusion at the time in the initial reports, as would be expected. Reporters were doing their best under extraordinary circumstances. There was a need for a feeling of security in the nation, a need to be certain that justice would be done to the assassin or assassins of the President of the United States.

We were assured within an hour of the news of the President's death, transmitted within minutes of the pronouncement at 1:00 p.m. CST, that a suspect was in custody, a worker at the Texas School Book Depository, who had been seen entering without a ticket the Texas Theater in the Oak Cliff section of Dallas after allegedly shooting a police officer a short distance away.

By late in the evening, that suspect would be charged in the murders of the President and Dallas Police Officer J. D. Tippit, along with the assault on Governor John Connally. No one at the time questioned the story.

By the next morning, when the photograph hit the morning newspapers of a smirking Lee Harvey Oswald, everyone knew him as the man to be reviled by history henceforth as the assassin of the President. All of the publicly accessible evidence, the rifle found amid boxes on the sixth floor of the Depository said to belong to Oswald, the three spent cartridges from that gun found by the southeast corner window from which it was believed the shots were fired, and reported fingerprints on the rifle and a box at the window, unerringly pointed to Oswald acting alone.

He was characterized at the time uniformly by the press as a disgruntled former Marine who had lost his honorable discharge by having defected to Russia in October, 1959, returning to the United States in June, 1962 with his Russian-born wife. It was reported the day after the assassination that in January, 1962, he had written to Secretary of the Navy John Connally, albeit six weeks after the resignation of Mr. Connally to run for Governor of Texas, seeking help in clearing his name and in reacquiring his honorable discharge. He received a cursory reply.

The theory proceeded very quickly: evidence; bitterness toward the country; Communist, pro-Castro ties; guilt.

It rained all day on Saturday, in Dallas, in Washington, and through the South. It fit the country's mood.

Whether or not Lee Oswald was an assassin, of course, remains debatable and debated. Whether, if involved, he acted alone is surely a question by now most people answer in the negative, as has been the case since 1973 when the Zapruder film was first publicly shown in its entirety, showing the President rapidly moving backward, impelled by the force of the shot to his head, apparently coming from the front right.

That, coupled with periodic speculation about other assassins and the grassy knoll as a place on which witnesses saw suspicious movements, some describing a puff of smoke coincident with the fatal head shot, has caused generally a refusal to believe that a single gunman carried out the assassination. There was never any reluctance, however, on the part of the country to accept the theory that a lone assassin killed the President as long as it held together and made sense. That, indeed, remained the prevailing opinion for a decade and more.

Since the mid-1960's, culminating in the 1966 publication of Rush to Judgment by Mark Lane, an admirer of President Kennedy who was hired initially by Marguerite Oswald to try to clear her son's name, the questions which have been raised by the evidence outweigh by far any certainty to be derived from it. Speculation on the validity of the single assassin theory was increased after the House Select Committee on Assassinations provided its report in 1978, declaring there to be a "high probability", based on acoustical analysis of a dictabelt of motorcycle radio "cross-talk" during the assassination coupled with blur evidence from the Zapruder film connoting involuntary reaction to the sounds of shots, that in addition to Lee Oswald, another shooter fired a single shot from the grassy knoll area, one which the committee determined probably missed.

That President Johnson wanted the case resolved initially as the responsibility of a lone assassin is without question, confirmed by his own words to J. Edgar Hoover and others, including Chief Justice Earl Warren, at the time of formation of the executive commission to investigate the assassination. According to President Johnson, Chief Justice Warren accepted reluctantly the task of chairing the commission, acquiescing in tears only after the President finished his explanation of the gravity of the situation, that the fate of a hundred million Americans who could be destroyed in nuclear holocaust hung in the balance.

The reason for President Johnson's insistence was not sinister, we posit, but based on a sincerely held belief that, given Oswald's background as a defector to Russia and his apparent attempt to defect again in October, 1963 via the Cuban and Russian Embassies in Mexico City, the American military, already on tenterhooks since the Cuban Missile Crisis a year earlier, might seize upon the assassination as an excuse to launch an attack against Cuba or even Russia if there was evidence of a conspiracy which led toward Communist backing. In that event, there would be nuclear war. To prevent that scenario and a push from hawks in the Congress toward it, there was a "rush to judgment".

Indeed, President Johnson later expressed, in 1969, his continuing belief that there may have been an international conspiracy involved in the assassination.

The killer, by Sunday, was dead, washed away by the rain of Saturday.

In Washington, ceremonies continued in preparation for the President's funeral on Monday.

As in 1946, a showdown football game to determine whether Duke or UNC would receive a bid to the Gator Bowl and at least a share of the A.C.C. title with N.C. State, had been scheduled in 1963 for Saturday, November 23, in Durham. The game, of course, was postponed, until Thanksgiving Day, November 28.

The Administrations of Wake Forest and N.C. State, however, elected to proceed with a game scheduled in Raleigh for Friday night, given the lateness of the hour before game time when news of the President's death came, about 2:38 Eastern time.

To this day, we cannot imagine how anyone could be so profoundly unwise. Those who attended that game reported that they had never seen such a sad group, players and fans alike, at a football game.

With a good bit of irony, Clemson's football team, scheduled to play the next day the University of South Carolina, left Clemson aboard a bus on November 22 at around noon for Batesburg, site of the 1946 maiming of Sgt. Isaac Woodard by Police Chief Lynwood Shull, acquitted in a Federal prosecution earlier in this week of 1946. Batesburg served as the team's road headquarters before a game in Columbia. The bus arrived in Batesburg at around 3:00, at which time the team was apprised for the first time of the assassination of the President. That game also was postponed until Thanksgiving Day.

That was the week that was.

The President's last words of the never delivered speech to have been made at the Trade Mart that day were full of portent and irony:

We in this country, in this generation, are—by destiny rather than choice—the watchmen on the walls of world freedom. We ask, therefore, that we may be worthy of our power and responsibility, that we may exercise our strength with wisdom and restraint, and that we may achieve in our time and for all time the ancient vision of "peace on earth, good will toward men." That must always be our goal, and the righteousness of our cause must always underlie our strength. For as was written long ago: "except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain."

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