The Charlotte News

Tuesday, December 31, 1946


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the President declared all hostilities of World War II ended as of noon, thus relinquishing his war powers granted by Congress to the Chief Executive in 1942. Eighteen statutes thus went by the boards, while 33 others would expire in six months. Notably, it ended the Government's ability to take over industrial plants and mines in the event of strikes.

Within six months, absent new legislation, the Government would be compelled to turn the coal mines back over to the private owners. The Government had operated the mines since May 22, a week before the Government concluded a contract with the UMW, one which the operators had not yet accepted, a contract which was soon to be tested in the Supreme Court in January to determine whether John L. Lewis had the right to declare it void on November 20 and was subject thereafter to a Federal restraining order that he not do so and not declare a strike against the Government. The Smith-Connally Act, passed in 1943, afforded the Government the power to take over such vital industries and prevented strikes against it on penalty of jail and fines for the organizers.

Several excise taxes enacted for the war would also expire in six months, cutting revenue by about 700 million dollars. A piece lists the affected items, such as liquor, wine, beer, and furs.

By acting before the close of 1946, the President had knocked a year off the Government's price support program for farmers, which would extend two more years as it was.

The President, however, made clear that he was not formally ending the war or the national emergency, thus leaving in place some of the powers premised thereon, such as the Selective Service Act.

The United States proposed that the Security Council of the U.N. give top priority to the atomic energy question in relation to arms limitation. The Council, with Russian concurrence, intended to take up arms limitation starting Tuesday.

Senator Allen Ellender of Louisiana stated that the committee which had investigated Senator Theodore Bilbo with regard to his alleged intimidation of blacks in the Mississippi elections, would issue a majority report stating that it knew of no reason to bar him from his seat. The Republican members of the committee would issue a minority report, both reports due Friday.

The War Investigating Committee, however, had already issued a report finding that the Senator had used his office for personal gain, in relation to receipt of payments and substantial gifts for recommendation of war contracts.

General LeClerc, just sent by France to command French forces in Indo-China, was revealed to be in fact Count Philippe LeClerc De Hautecloque, an identity maintained as secret from the Germans during the war to prevent persecution of his wife and children living in occupied France.

The nation's traffic deaths reached about 34,000 in 1946, compared to 28,800 in 1945, when wartime restrictions on automobiles remained until right after V-J Day, August 14.

In New York, a woman shot another woman with a gun, believing it to be a camouflaged camera, wrapped in Christmas paper. The victim was in serious condition at Roosevelt Hospital with a wound to her hip.

The assailant had been employed by an insurance company to investigate the victim in a claim over missing jewels. A man had, she said, given her the package, saying it was a camera, and explained how to operate it. She then did as directed and wound up firing the single shot. The victim stated that she had been threatened by some unidentified man previously and had now been rendered a cripple by him.

Also in New York, a Samaritan, Joseph Bonavita, a tavern owner in Brooklyn, who had given out $1,100 to persons on the Bowery on Christmas, had returned to distribute $3,500 for the New Year. Police had to restrain the crowd. He was overcome by the experience and had to be taken to Bellevue for observation.

In Los Angeles, final rites for W. C. Fields, who had died Christmas Day, would be held on Thursday. Only his closest friends would be present. Mr. Fields had always opposed burial in the ground and so his family chose to place him in a mausoleum, as the Catholic Church frowned on cremation.

Dick Young of The News reports of the newspaper having selected the city Planning Board's consulting engineer, J. B. Marshall, as Charlotte's Man of the Year for his good citizenship.

Noisemakers and other items conducive to New Year's celebration were being sold rapidly and at high prices, making the New Year's celebration likely to be the costliest in the country's history for consumers. All nightclub reservations had been filled up, with record crowds expected.

New York City clubs were charging $5 to $40 as a cover. The city had assigned 1,684 patrolmen and detectives to New Year's Eve duty. A similar picture was taking shape in Washington, Chicago, Atlanta, New Orleans, Miami, Kansas City, and Los Angeles. Judges in the latter city threatened jail terms for drunk drivers after 40 people had been killed in the city in holiday traffic accidents during Christmas. In San Francisco, bars were ordered closed at midnight and clubs, at 3:00 a.m. The clubs were booked solid.

In Atlanta, a square dance and hillbilly jamboree, called "'Til Milking Time", was scheduled at the Municipal Auditorium. We don't want to know what that's about. It could be Klan related.

On July 20, 1966, we saw the Animals and Herman's Hermits live at the Municipal Auditorium in Atlanta, in the Battle of the Bands.

Three years later, man landed in the Sea of Tranquility, finding it not to have green cheese as its substantive constituency.

On the editorial page, "An Invitation to Disaster" comments on the inevitable understanding, even among the most tenacious isolationists, that in the atomic age two oceans afforded the country no insularity. But, nevertheless, a new formula for isolation had come into being: that the United States had to take its place as a world power to expand its economic and political interests. It was a theory which large segments of both parties were accepting. It was reflected in Administration foreign policy as "diplomatic realism": thus, the move for Pacific bases and the desire of the Army for universal military training. The new isolationist, historically against expansion of the military, now was the chief proponent of the arms race.

The current trend was to replace disarmament with faith in arms, hence turning away from the internationalist concept.

Thirteen Southern agricultural commissioners had signed a joint declaration favoring high tariffs to protect Southern crops against foreign competition. The move was a break from Southern tradition and admission that Southern agriculture was not self-sustaining. It also tactily admitted that Southern faith in internationalism was waning.

The South had never suffered from isolationism as a whole, especially in economic terms or in the willingness to fight anywhere in the world. It had served to counterbalance the Midwest and New England tendencies to the contrary.

As the thirteen commissioners were addressing the new Republican Congress, favorable to higher tariffs, they would speak with a loud voice and receive support from Northern industry, also desirous of protectionism. The effort, if successful, could turn out to be economically disastrous.

"A Precedent from Mississippi" finds it likely that Senator Theodore Bilbo would be allowed to take his seat in the new Senate and not be ousted from it, as one of the two main counts against him, being responsible for electoral irregulaties, preventing African-Americans from voting through intimidation, had been apparently set aside. Senator Burnet Maybank of South Carolina, on the committee investigating that charge, had stated that he would support state's rights of Mississippi on the issue and vote not to interfere with the manner in whcih it conducted elections.

Furthermore, no evidence had been adduced that Mr. Bilbo personally had deprived any voters of their rights. That the system which produced him had done so was no argument against his being seated, any more than it was in any other Southern state, equally guilty of such irregularities.

The Senator remained vulnerable, however, on the receipt of money for war contracts. Reports were stating that Southern Senators nevertheless were prepared to vote in favor of Mr. Bilbo, based on a sense of regional loyalty.

The piece suggests resort to the 1910 ruling by the Mississippi Legislature, which had determined that Mr. Bilbo was unfit to serve in that body for having accepted bribes, finding his defense that he was serving as an undercover decoy to ferret out corruption to be unworthy of belief.

A piece from the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, "A Note on Baffling Bristles", tells of the toothbrush ads promoting new forms of the instrument to better conform to the mouth. The ultimate test was cocoanut candy and blackberry pie.

It favors that which a sage dentist once advised, a big bite of cabbage before bed and breakfast.

Drew Pearson looks back at some of the less wise decisions on the economy in 1946. The "hold the line" strategy which began a year earlier had led to inflation and a high cost of living, with the threat of a recession or even depression in its wake.

He looks at the women's wear industry as a leading opponent of price control during the year. The result was that stores had huge stocks of women's wear, without buyers. Skilled needlecrafters were, in consequence, without work. With prices so high, women had staged a virtual buyers' strike. Sales were down 20 percent for the previous month compared to a year earlier. The ratio of stock on hand to sales was the highest in Federal Reserve history.

Thousands of small businessmen could not plan for the future as they did not know what materials would cost and how high wages would go.

OPA directors Leon Henderson and Chester Bowles had made price control work during the war, as they refused to play politics with it. The result was to win powerful enemies in business.

Early in 1946, Mr. Bowles had been overruled by the President, operating on the advice of John W. Snyder, in wanting the strike of steel workers resolved without allowing steel to raise prices, based on the industry's high profits during the war. U.S. Steel had, as a result, racked up in the first three quarters 196 percent more profit than in the first three quarters of 1945. The other major steel companies had done even better.

Mr. Bowles had sought early in the year to have Congress renew price control for a full year, that only this move would forestall the cycle of demand for higher wages, higher prices, and resultant inflation. But with the special interests lobbying Congress, it refused Mr. Bowles's exhortations and only gave a watered-down, ineffective extension of price control, ultimately failing.

The people who were hurt the most by these changes were wage earners at the bottom of the income scale who had nothing to do with the cause. The result might be depression.

Samuel Grafton tells of one national department store chain, disappointed with Christmas sales, having blamed the dearth on "foxy shoppers" who were waiting for clearance sales the following month.

Merchants associations were warning against heavy stocking of merchandise.

Both trends were part of the natural processes which were supposed to bring prices down in the wake of release of controls. But food prices were still at their highest point in history at a time of the highest sustained production. The claims in October that release of price controls on meat would allow production to rise and thus bring prices down, had proved without prescience.

The so-called natural process was not working in an unnatural period of time after a great war. The prices of newspapers and admission to art museums, for instance, were going up, even as other prices were starting to fall. Some even speculated that a few strikes in the coming year might restrict production enough to keep prices high.

There was an emotional price to be paid for large-scale changes in national policy at one time.

A letter writer finds the 80-year rule of Democrats in the South to be indicative of lack of democratic participation fully by the citizenry and a forfeiture of the basic right of citizenship to be heard. It was possible, he suggests, that an oligarchy had been so constructed that the average citizen simply felt he had no power to alter it and so made no effort.

The absence of a strong Republican Party in the South, he offers, was ultimately destructive of democracy and hence the Democratic Party also.

"Between the Potomac and the Rio Grande democracy walks on one leg. So it is."

Marquis Childs tells of a day-long meeting to be held January 4 in Washington under the auspices of the Union for Democratic Action, headed by progressive Dr. Reinhold Niebuhr, professor of Christianity at Union Theological Seminary. Eleanor Roosevelt was scheduled to participate as were several union officials, along with Mayor Hubert Humphrey of Minneapolis, having earned a wide reputation in Minnesota progressive circles. Representative Helen Gahagan Douglas and defeated Representative Jerry Voorhis, both of California, and Representative Chase Going Woodhouse of Connecticut were also to be present. Edward R. Murrow of CBS likewise intended to be at the meeting, along with many other luminaries.

But the object was not publicity, rather to discuss ways of uniting on matters of social reform, race relations and other problems facing the country in the coming years.

A statement of common purpose in this regard was suggested by Mr. Childs as being useful to counteract the Red-baiting and witch hunting sure to follow should the Republicans allow the mentality of Congressman John Rankin and HUAC counsel Ernie Adamson to prevail in the 80th Congress. It was the reason that the sponsors of the meeting were being careful to avoid any ties to Communists. The meeting might not accomplish much but it would form a platform corresponding to the desires of millions of Americans.

—Bob, did you see?

—I know, yeah. Every Commie in the Democratic Party, including Voorhis and that Douglas woman. Yeah.

—Good thinking, Bob. Get somebody up there to take down their license plate numbers and give them to Mr. Hoover. Then, we shall be in good stead with him.

—O, yeah, yeah. To the future, Bob. Happy New Year to you, too. Who will win tomorrow in the bowl games?

—Yeah, good. Justice in the Sugar. Remember to congratulate for me any California teams who win.

—Okay, Bob. You know best. I'll do it myself.

And so passed the world from 1946, a year of adjustment and economic and political change and turmoil, into 1947, with a new Republican Congress set to take its oath on Friday. It was not the pleasant, happy-go-lucky year, as often mistakenly painted with a broad brush. It was full of despair and lack of direction, veterans' complaints over lack of suitable housing, high prices, low wages, strikes, complaints over labor unions having too much power, Congressional tugs of war with the President over retaining price controls, and generally a citizenry disheartened with its leader, forced upon them by circumstance in April, 1945, and none too impressive to them thus far.

The entire year can be summed up as the year of the blahs, interspersed by anxious concern regarding the future of the world and the economy, not leftover ecstacy regarding victory in World War II, but disappointment that the future was not shaping up better domestically or internationally, peace, with the threat of the atomic bomb and an arms race with the Soviets imminent, seeming only to be a temporary status, with a foregone conclusion prevailing that another war would soon have to be fought to restrain Soviet Communism.

China was in the midst of civil war between the Government and Communist forces. French Indo-China was showing signs of instability, with the French-recognized Vietnamese Government of Ho Chi Minh seeking to oust the French. Korea had shown signs of instability between the northern and southern sections, and the desire generally to be rid of Russian and American occupiers. Palestine was a source of continuing violence as Jews protested the British restriction on immigration of displaced persons from Europe. The long, enduring struggle in that region had begun in earnest with the bombing earlier in the year at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem.

It was a better world than that of the preceding eight years. But it was a world uneasy, unstable economically, hungry and cold in Europe, and concerned that the next war, set to end civilization, might be around the corner as soon as Russia inevitably developed its own atomic weapon. Advances in weaponry, rocketry, the jet, and the atomic stockpile in the United States thus continued apace along with the concomitant desire being expressed for universal military training, or, as the President had recently recommended, "universal training", without being associated with the military aspects.

The first hints of the post-war corrosive Red-baiting also had shown its divisive head in the campaign and promised to be a centerpiece of the new Republican Congress, as the Republicans lashed out at all Democrats as being either Red in fact or at least fellow travelers. It had reacquired its spark and traction, dissipated during the war, from two major well-heads: the brakes placed on reconversion in the country from strikes thought stimulated in many instances by Communist elements within the CIO, even if John L. Lewis and the UMW were decidedly Republican in orientation; and the caveat issued in March at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, by Winston Churchill regarding the dangers of an iron curtain descending over Russia and Eastern Europe.

The reactionary violent impulse in some, no longer satiated actually or vicariously by the war, again found its weak targets, the Nisei being restored from wartime resettlement camps in the West, blacks in the South, a trend largely, though not completely, in abeyance during the war.

The Nuremberg trials of the 21 leading Nazis left alive at the end of the war transpired during the year mainly to yawns among Allied observers, with typical expressions among both liberals and conservatives being that it was a sham with a foregone conclusion, performed more for its theater than any genuine meting of justice, albeit praised in the end in October for having set a major precedent in international law, with swiftly exacted executions of the eleven condemned prisoners, one which thus held hope for future deterrence of the ready henchmen necessary to give breath to a nationalistic people's movement bent ultimately on forging militaristic expansionism fomenting inexorably war, as the Fascist movement which had transpired in Italy in 1921-22, in turn stimulating the seeds of Nazism in Germany between 1923 and 1933, born ultimately from widespread material want and normless dissatisfaction.

The one bright spot had come at the end of the year, with the seeming agreement at the U.N. on control of atomic energy and arms reduction. But dangerous disagreement on how to implement it practically and assure adherence to the limitations through inspections and insuring sanctions for violation had also overshadowed the success, the Soviets opposing a relaxation of the veto power on the Security Council for approval of sanctions. Thus, even that bright spot had its reservations.

The United States missed its dynamic leader, even if in some circles there was relief that he no longer was around to unite Democrats politically, leaving Southern reactionaries and moderates pitted against the liberal New Deal faction, both domestically and in foreign policy, a faction which had seen its input to the Administration dwindle to nil by the time of the unceremonious firing of Henry Wallace in September in the wake of his expression in Madison Square Garden of dissent from Secretary of State Byrnes's recently articulated "get-tough" policy with Russia, a policy which Mr. Byrnes subsequently clarified had been misunderstood in its intent.

President Truman, considered well-meaning and honest, despite his taint of the Pendergast machine out of Kansas City, and being too eager to please his coterie of Missouri advisers, too compromising with Congress, simply had failed to spark the imagination of the people to put shoulder to the wheel in cooperative effort in the post-war era. The result was drift, perilous drift, even if the successful and tough stand taken to end the coal strike in early December had closed out the year for the Administration on a positive note.

So we hope and trust you are not falling for the silly notion that 1946 constituted somehow the good old days and would it were that we could return to them. You are far better off entering 2014 than they were entering 1947, and, be it known, in large thanks to the relentless efforts maintained through time by those then in positions of leadership and among the citizens, to resolve the problems besetting the world at the time, far greater than anything troubling us as a society and world today.

So have a happy and safe New Year and a pleasant 2014.

Framed Edition
[Return to Links
Page by Subject] [Return to Links-Page by Date] [Return to News<i><i><i>--</i></i></i>Framed Edition]
Links-Date -- Links-Subj.