Monday, April 1, 1946

The Charlotte News

Monday, April 1, 1946


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the 400,000 bituminous coal miners, as anticipated, had gone on strike at midnight Sunday after a failure to reach a new contract during the previous month. UMW head John L. Lewis stated that there would be no picketing.

Coal rationing began on Government orders. One major steel company said it would have to shut down twenty furnaces. The UMW was demanding a ten-cent royalty on each ton of coal mined to form a fund for the welfare and health of miners. The companies had offered a wage increase of 18.5 cents per hour, a shortening of the day from nine to eight hours, and creation of a fund for the welfare and safety of the miners to be controlled independently of the union.

The first day of April, however, was a normal coal mining holiday in honor of John Mitchell, one of the UMW's early presidents, and commemorating the start of the eight-hour day in 1898. So, the effects of the strike would not be felt until Tuesday.

The U.N. Security Council delegations expressed the hope that Russia would soon return to the Council, having walked out the previous Wednesday in protest of the Iranian issue not being postponed, per the request of Andrei Gromyko, until April 10. Meanwhile, Premier Ahmed Qavam of Iran expressed full confidence in Iran's delegate, Hussein Ala, and assured that he had full authority to act.

The elections in Greece, as expected and explained by Hal Boyle on Saturday, resulted in right-wing victories of the Populist Party and a defeat of the left, possibly paving the way for a return of King George to the throne. The vote was more than two to one in favor of the Populists over the National Bloc and three to one over the moderate Liberals. Between 65 and 75 percent of the electorate participated in the election. In the last election held in Greece, in 1936, 62 percent had voted.

The Supreme Court, in an unanimous six-Justice opinion delivered by Justice Frank Murphy, in North American Co. v. S.E.C., 327 U.S. 686, upheld the constitutionality of the section of the Public Utility Holding Company Act which required interstate gas and electric holding companies to limit their operations to a single, integrated system, both economically and geographically. North American had challenged the section as beyond the powers of Congress to regulate matters affecting interstate commerce under the Commerce Clause and otherwise violative of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. The Securities and Exchange Commission had in 1942 ordered North American, whose principal office was in New York City and operations were in seventeen states plus D.C., controlling as many as eighty corporations furnishing electric power, to divest itself of all except one of its utilities systems and confine its operation to the St. Louis area. Factually, North American claimed that because its role was only as a large investment firm for the stock of these companies and not involved in the ordinary operations, it did not significantly impact interstate commerce sufficiently to fall within the ambit of the power, "its relationship being essentially that of 'a large investor seeking to promote the sound development of his investment.'" The lower Federal Appeals Court had upheld the S.E.C. order.

Justices Stanley Reed and William O. Douglas had recused themselves from participating in the decision and Justice Jackson remained on leave at Nuremberg, though had also previously recused himself. The decision had been delayed from 1943 because of lack of a six-justice quorum of the Court to rule on it, apparently until Justice Harold Burton replaced Justice Owen Roberts in the fall.

In Detroit, a bus and trolley strike began, stranding 1.8 million passengers ordinarily utilizing the system. The striking workers were demanding an 18-cent per hour raise and the Railway Commission had offered 15 cents. Ford and Chrysler reported only about 15 to 18 percent of its employees absent from work.

Another transportation strike in Akron also interrupted normal transit, especially impacting rubber workers.

President Truman provided a message to the American Retail Federation in which he predicted good returns in the future for business, workers, and farmers, as the country was embarking on a course toward full employment, full production, and a mass market economy.

Lt. General Albert Wedemeyer announced the deactivation as of May 1 of the U.S. Army in China, save for 3,000 to 4,000 personnel to continue as military advisers under General Marshall, Ambassador to China. There were only 6,000 troops remaining of the 65,000 at the wartime peak. The 30,000 Marines he had commanded in China would revert to Navy control and they, too, were being demobilized quickly.

Former Secretary of Interior Harold Ickes, the "Old Curmudgeon", who had resigned in February after 13 years in the post, upset by the President having stated that he might be mistaken regarding his perception of the intent of Ed Pauley in making an offer to raise $300,000 for the 1944 Democratic campaign from oil interests should the Government abandon its claim on tidal oil lands, begins his three times per week column this date.

Seeming to take a cue from Charles Foster Kane, he states that he does not know how to start a column and so sets forth his principles on which he would base his writings: 1) to endeavor to tell the truth, admitting mistakes when discovered; 2) not to pull punches; 3) not to promote any third party interest, which he deems as useful as an extra man on a honeymoon; and 4) that he alone would be accountable for whatever he would write, for he had an understanding that he would not in any manner be restricted.

He quotes Thomas Jefferson as preferring a society in which there was no government to one in which there was no press. He vowed not to try to pass off inside information as he was now on the outside, or try to peep through keyholes to obtain information. He would inform the reader if he were guessing on a matter. He would not engage in space-filling techniques and would not refrain from his past habit of criticizing the press when it deserved it.

Starting the following day, The News would publish the first of a five-part series on Palestine by Atlanta Constitution editor Ralph McGill. He had spent many months in Germany studying the plight of the Jews, by attending the Nuremberg trials, inspecting the displaced persons camps, and talking with the survivors of the Holocaust. He had then gone to Egypt to study the Arab nationalist movement, then to Palestine.

The News expressed that it was one of the most informed views of Palestine at the time which it had seen. It assures that the five pieces would answer questions from a non-partisan point of view regarding the average Arab's perception of Jews, whether Jews were really crowding out Arabs from Palestine, whether Jews were hard at work building great cities, and the reason for Great Britain's mishandling of the situation.

The developer of Myers Park and co-founder of the American Trust Co., George Stephens, died at age 73 in Asheville, where he had resided since 1921.

Two very sharp earthquakes, probably centered in Alaska, were recorded during the morning hours at Fordham University. It was the strongest earthquake recorded at the laboratory during the previous year.

The first typhoon of the Pacific season struck the Marianas Islands. No deaths were reported.

In Bridgeport, Conn., a 27-year old sailor, seeking to impress his girlfriend, sat on a railway track and leaped from in front of an approaching train just in the nick of time, escaping only by inches. He was fined $25 in City Court, presumably for trespass and complete and utter stupidity.

Whether his girlfriend expressed delight in his feat and undying affection for his showing of manly courage in the face of self-induced danger was not reported.

She could, of course, accentuate the positive, take out a large life insurance policy, and then urge him to prove himself again, next time by jumping onto the front of the train from his sitting position on the tracks, to prove, once and for all, his ceaseless affinity with his beloved.

On the editorial page, "The Curmudgeon Joins the Chorus" comments on Harold Ickes becoming a columnist, saying that he had done so by popular invitation from editors who enjoyed his colorful anecdotes while Secretary of Interior. Many had urged him years earlier to do so.

While finding his first column of principles mild, it also found his description of third parties apt and promising of further such colorful descriptions.

As with General Hugh Johnson, who had died April 15, 1942, four months after having been cut from the editorial line-up by The News, Mr. Ickes, it says, would be at his best when riled.

"The Dilemma in the Fifth District" discusses a hot Congressional race in the Fifth District of Winston-Salem involving the incumbent John Folger, a consistent supporter of the New Deal and President Truman, making him appear to many in his district as a radical. Thurmond Chatham, a wealthy, conservative manufacturer, was his primary competitor in the Democratic primary race. Mr. Chatham had previously expressed support for opponents of FDR and would probably, if practicable, enter the race as a Republican.

The editorial suggests that Mr. Chatham, however, ought identify his party affiliation with his ideology. It was confusing to voters to vote Republican ideologically while also voting to retain a Democratic majority by voting for a Democrat, thus causing the voters to vote to continue the stalemate in Congress. It effectively disfranchised the conservative voters of the district.

While the newspaper, it says, disagreed with the conservative voters of the state 90 percent of the time, they nevertheless had the right to have their weight placed behind a political organization which reflected their views, not just a candidate. The choice between loyal and disloyal Democrats was insufficient.

"Mr. Dulles States a Principle" finds instructive the statement to Editor & Publisher by John Foster Dulles, foreign policy adviser to the Republicans and future Secretary of State under President Eisenhower, that if allowed only one point of foreign policy, he would choose the free flow of information.

The piece agrees that this principle was uppermost in informing nations of one another and thus reducing misunderstanding which leads inevitably to conflict. The current crisis in Russo-U.S. relations was in large part the result of lack of such free flow of information.

Mr. Dulles had proposed a special committee of the U.N. to study worldwide free press and the exchange of general news.

It was a stand consistent with that practiced everyday in the United States and would be more beneficial therefore to the rest of the world than to Americans. It would aid in defusing the notion that America, as a self-interested party in the dispute with Iran because of Iranian oil, was simply following its own interests in urging U.N. policy.

A piece from the Greensboro Daily News, titled "Raising a Sectional Argument", while loathing a "professional Southerner" as much as anyone else did, says that the Southern Congressmen refusing to go along with the Administration were not to be looked upon with contempt, that they had a right to differ with the Administration. It hoped that President Truman would not go along with liberal Democrats who believed that Southern democracy ought be decried. Southerners formed the glue which held the party of Jackson and Jefferson together.

Drew Pearson compares the present Iranian dispute with Russia before the Security Council to the dispute at the sixth Pan-American Conference at Havana in 1928 at which former Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes, former Supreme Court Justice, future Chief Justice, failed presidential candidate in 1916, and Secretary of State Frank Kellogg successfully managed to sidestep issues regarding U.S. presence in Nicaragua and Haiti and also avoid the issue of arbitration of disputes. One of the chief concerns was fear of restriction of rights of the U.S. to intervene to preserve its oil interests south of the border. The U.S. position at the conference was similar to that of Russia at the U.N. regarding Iran.

When in 1929 the Chaco imbroglio developed between Paraguay and Bolivia, the U.S. suddenly favored arbitration for the two countries.

The key difference between Havana of 1928 and the Bronx of 1946 was that the American people were informed at the time of the 1928 conference and did not support the intervention in Nicaragua or the defeat of arbitration. The Russian people were not informed, most of the Red Army, for instance, having been found by Stars and Stripes to believe that Winston Churchill was an American.

Until the Russian people could become informed following dissemination of information behind the iron curtain, the dismal prospect of turmoil and misunderstanding lay ahead for years to come.

He next expresses the wish that Harold Ickes were still coal czar rather than starting his three-day per week column for newspapers. He tells of how Mr. Ickes in the fall had pressured John L. Lewis to call off the strike of mine foremen by threatening to run natural gas through the Big Inch and Little Inch oil lines, no longer needed to pump oil to the East Coast with the war over. The Texas producers were eager to sell at good rates out of fear that within a few years they would be facing competition from atomic power. They could sell natural gas to Eastern cities at a fraction of the cost of coal. Mr. Lewis folded his tent.

Now, says Mr. Pearson, the pipelines were full of salt water and Mr. Ickes was writing a column.

For unknown reasons, both Marquis Childs and Samuel Grafton are absent from the page for the first time since both began appearing in February, 1944, following the Childs replacement of Raymond Clapper, killed during an assignment in the Pacific, though on occasion one or the other, typically Mr. Grafton, would be absent. And there is no real substitute for either, another atypical situation.

Bertram Benedict, however, responds to a letter from the editor of The News requesting a pro and con report on the proposed 3.75 billion dollar loan to Britain pending before Congress.

He then proceeds to collect the arguments in favor: Britain had made victory in the war easier; the loan equaled only the cost of 15 days of fighting in the war; a strong Britain was a bulwark for the U.S. in the postwar era; Britain was a prime trading partner prior to the war and a strong Britain economically was therefore good for the United States economy; the bulk of the loan would be spent within the U.S.; within 50 years, the interest would net the U.S. 2.2 billion dollars; Britain would immediately cease its controls on doing business with Americans and within a year, the controls would be eliminated throughout the sterling-bloc nations; two competing financial blocs would result without the loan; each request for money over a period of years would be judged on its merits; the loan was to restore Britain's productivity, not pay its past debts; much of what Britain exported, America did not; the socialist program of Labor was domestic only and formed a bulwark to Communism; Britain would engage in imperialism without the loan just as much as with it; America had obtained many concessions in bargaining for the loan; Britain had agreed to view sympathetically the lowering of all trade barriers; a private loan to Britain would entail no trade concessions; the terms were the best obtainable as far as the two percent interest rate; the loan sum amounted to only 1.5 percent of the entire national debt; the advance would be spread over several years and would be used mainly for purchase of capital equipment, not consumer goods.

The arguments in opposition were: the loan would set a precedent for other nations to seek loans; Britain had a bad record as a borrowing nation, having defaulted on its World War I debt to the U.S.; the loan would strengthen Britain as a competitor with the U.S.; the loan would finance the socialist program of Labor in Britain; it would bolster British imperialism; Britain should be compelled to pay in kind with cession to the U.S. of territory in the New World; Britain had not agreed to dissolve the Empire trade preferences; Britain should be able to obtain a private loan if a good risk; the interest rate of two percent was too low, as the U.S. paid 2.9 percent on its war bonds; the war debt was already at 277 billion dollars; the loan to buy scarce goods in the country would create a stimulus for inflation; there would have been no war had Britain stood its ground with Hitler and the Japanese in the beginning; the U.S. had already provided Britain 18 billion dollars in Lend-Lease aid; the loan did not guarantee that Britain would pursue pro-American post-war policies; the loan would not help much if Britain was as weak as indicated; the loan did not specify where the funds were to be used; Britain would retain controls over its imports; and the importance of export trade to the American economy was overrated.

Britain had paid the first installment on the World War I debt owed the United States, due in 1932, and two subsequent token payments, which FDR declared kept it from the status of a defaulting nation. Congress, however, in response, passed the Johnson Act which prevented any new loans to any nation in arrears on war debt payments. Great Britain made no more payments.

A regular letter writer compliments The News for its editorial of March 23, "Man's Job for a Very Small Boy", anent the U.N. Security Council and its undertaking too much too soon, better left to the individual nations to work out directly major disputes among themselves until the U.N. would gain seasoning.

But he found "A Calm Voice in the OPA Storm", of the same date, to take in too much territory when it opined that several million businessmen had determined that OPA must end. He suggested that a majority would likely support the continuation of OPA for at least another year.

He liked the treatment of OPA given by Marquis Childs, that it was doing its best under trying circumstances with Congress.

He found that the "Senegambian" in the woodpile, when it came to the President's reconversion program, was the Southern Democrats siding with reactionary Republicans, Democrats who had been elected on the coattails of the liberal Franklin Roosevelt.

A "Dubitante" writes a letter finding accurate the observation by Judge Hamilton of the Superior Court that Charlotte's high crime rate was counter-intuitive to its high religiosity. But some of the practices of the courts themselves, the writer suggests, contributed to the high crime rate, especially too many suspended sentences and too many referrals of offenders to probation, leading to contempt of the law and recidivism.

The author also suggests that the "influx of refugees and interlopers" to the city, especially the "boll weevil", contributed to the high crime rate.

And finally, the churches were teaching that hell was air conditioned, causing the letter writer to plump for less salvation and more damnation.

This writer is so far out to lunch that the letter deserves little comment, just that the premise presented obviously leads logically to trying virtually every case coming before the courts, as no one would plead guilty under the implied stern concepts of justice and fairness proposed by Dubitante, that is without suspended sentences and probation available with which to effect plea bargains. The result, as anyone with any experience in the criminal justice system readily understands, would be unmitigated chaos, where the more serious cases could never get to trial, would thus be dismissed for want of a speedy trial, and ... there you are: Perfect justice, with no justice at all for anyone.

Perhaps, the student of Draco could conduct his fire and brimstone form of justice where it belongs, in Hell, judging everybody for every little perceived slight, especially those committed by the refugees, interlopers, and boll weevils, finally him or herself, melting apace, perhaps tanted by one too many Dubies over the line.

A letter writer, who had previously written recently to criticize Britain, takes aim cursorily at Winston Churchill, calling him the strike-out artist during his tour of the United States: "strike out 75 per cent of his talks and their subjects and things would get back to normal fast."

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