Friday, April 12, 1946

The Charlotte News

Friday, April 12, 1946


Site Ed. Note: The front page, primarily devoted to the first anniversary of the death of President Roosevelt, reports that President Truman spoke at the ceremonies dedicating the Hyde Park estate of the late President as a national historic site and part of the National Park system, to be opened to the public as a museum. The President pledged in the speech his continued support for the New Deal and its principles in conducting the reconversion program.

Harold Oliver, one of three reporters on the scene a year earlier in Warm Springs when the President was stricken at around 2:00 p.m. and died from a massive cerebral hemorrhage two and a half hours later, at 4:35 Washington time, recounts again the last hours of the President's life. He carries over an error, incidentally, from reports a year earlier that FDR was the 31st President. He was the 32nd President.

If you have never been to the Roosevelt home in Hyde Park, incidentally, and you have the opportunity, you will not regret spending the better part of a day there as it is not only located in a beautiful setting in the Hudson Valley but is one of the better presidential museums in the country open to the public.

Harold Ickes devotes his column to the late President under whom he had served as Secretary of Interior for twelve years, calling Mr. Roosevelt a born leader whose impact on the country had been beneficial, historic and lasting.

"Those whose steps are likely to falter may strengthen their convictions by listening again to Roosevelt saying: 'The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today. Let us move forward with strong and active faith.'"

President Truman the day before had blasted admirals and others in the Navy Department opposing the merger of the armed forces in a Department of Defense. Speculation was running therefore that Secretary James Forrestal, in office since the death of Frank Knox in April, 1944, might resign and that Admiral Chester Nimitz, chief of Naval operations, might retire. The President was resentful over continued criticism of the merger despite the firm policy commitment to it made by him as Commander-in-Chief.

The President also termed the complaint by Poland against Spain addressed to the U.N. Security Council to be politically motivated.

Meanwhile, an exiled Spanish Republican leader, Dr. Fernando De Los Rios, former dean of the University of Madrid, stated that 450,000 Spanish troops had been arrayed by Franco along the French border, outnumbering the strength of the French military. He also stated that Spain had an aggressive plan against France, as shown by a document purported to have been discovered by Republican agents in Spain.

Chairman of the House Military Committee Andrew May of Kentucky, promised to offer an amendment to the draft extension bill to limit it to those above 20 years of age, citing testimony by General Eisenhower that those below 20 did not make the best soldiers. General Eisenhower had, however, urged the draft of 18 and 19-year olds to achieve the necessary manpower for occupation.

The Democratic National Committee again struck a raw nerve with Congressional Democrats after a letter had been mailed to local party chairmen in New York asking that they select "proper candidates" for Congress. House Democrats caucused and circulated a petition saying that the letter reflected adversely on present Democratic members. The vice-president of the DNC, Richard Nacy, called the entire matter an error and that the letter should not have been sent.

The incident followed the upset caused among Southern Democrats by the publication of a statement in the women's section of the DNC magazine that a vote for the Case anti-labor bill, which included most of the Southern Democrats, was a vote against Americans.

In Worcester, Mass., the wife of "The Stomach", Chester Salvatori, divorced the former soldier who had earned the title from his ability to eat huge meals while in the military. She could not stand the notoriety her husband had received, which she said made her ill. Mr. Salvatori reportedly could eat seven orders of chicken, drink two quarts of milk, and down five slices of apple pie at one sitting.

Perhaps, her real beef was that she had to cook for his insatiable appetite, enough to make anyone ill.

But, as The News had pointed out in July, 1945, that level of consumption stood as nothing compared to C. E. Wister of the News proof desk, who had "The Stomach" beaten by a mile.

On the editorial page, "A Year Without Roosevelt" conjectures that it would be foolish after only a year to try to fix FDR's place in history, that controversy still surrounded his memory despite his political heirs having made something of a mockery of his principles and ideals. It posits that such controversy would continue until the generation which knew him had passed.

With the war gone, it was possible to see him in a new light, of having led during a time when old political systems were passing from the scene and revolutionary ardor was running high, with the United States being the only country surviving the time with its tradition of free enterprise intact.

President Roosevelt altered the functions of the United States Government without changing its Constitutional form, always staying strictly within the boundaries imposed by the Founders, while exercising powers of the Chief Executive never exercised previously—in response to a time of unprecedented economic collapse in the country and then to a time of unprecedented world war. The powers were not, as some critics had it, usurped, but freely provided by the American people by electing him four times.

It suggests that unborn American historians would finally place him as a great conservative whose experiments, which would appear cautious a century down the road, were designed to preserve institutions while expanding the services they provided.

It suggests that the problems being experienced in the country were the direct result of his death a year earlier.

It is perhaps mute testimony to the lack of sweeping change in the country, albeit certainly in many respects changed in 68 years since the death of FDR, that he is still regarded as a great Liberal President, the most liberal President of the Twentieth Century, perhaps chased in that category, domestically, only by President Johnson and President Clinton, leaving aside the unfinished work of President Kennedy, as his domestic agenda was just getting off the ground at the time of the assassination, preoccupied as he was during his first two years primarily with Cold War issues.

No one yet, in 68 years, would certainly, with a straight face, seek to categorize President Roosevelt as a great conservative, though many later neo-conservatives who were young in that era, including Ronald Reagan, were New Dealers at the time, and so, perhaps, the argument is more valid than it superficially at first presents itself.

In any event, it would be difficult to make any case at this juncture that FDR appears, by comparison to Administrations since, as being at all "cautious", save perhaps in the ever unfolding area of civil rights, which has had to progress generationally through time, and is more a function of that generational progress, urged along by the three branches of the Federal Government, than necessarily the guiding hand of any one President, though President Kennedy initiated more action in that regard than any of his predecessors since Abraham Lincoln, action which was then guided to passage and extended by President Johnson.

"How Abominable Is the Bill?" finds the bill of Congressman Bulwinkle of Gaston County to exempt railroads from application of antitrust laws to be not without its rationale even if subject to a strong opposing argument. The fundamental basis was that since the Interstate Commerce Commission already oversaw railroads, the antitrust laws could be suspended by ICC when it best served the public interests to do so. The bill so provided.

But, as Congresswoman Helen Douglas Mankin of Georgia had argued persuasively, the ICC had done such a poor job historically of regulating the railroads in the public interest, citing the freight rate discrimination regionally as the prime exhibit, that there was no reason to reposit confidence in the ICC to follow the public interest in determining application of antitrust laws to the railroads.

The piece agrees and thus disagrees with Major Bulwinkle, while finding him, however, not without rationale, contrary to The Raleigh News & Observer, which had labeled him a quisling to the South for the bill, by inference impugning his motives for sponsoring it.

"Post-Mortem on Minimum Wages" comments, that while the minimum wage bill, having been saddled with amendments which promised its veto, was now a moot issue, the North Carolina Unemployment Compensation Commission had come up with figures which showed that the 65-cent minimum, if passed, would have made little difference for the reason that most of the minimum wages below that level within the state were in intra-state enterprises, not covered by the bill as being outside Congressional power to regulate interstate commerce. In interstate enterprises, average wages in North Carolina stood at $29.16 per week, above the $26 proposed minimum.

Intra-state enterprises, however, paid on average only $17.91 per week in retail trades while service industries, such as hotels and restaurants, paid an average of $20.62. Teachers also earned less than the $26 average.

An argument presented against the minimum wage bill by Southerners in Congress, tacking on the fatal farm parity amendment, was that the industrial workers in interstate commerce were already receiving most of the Federal benefits.

But someone, the piece reasons, ought be concerned about the underpaid workers in all those many areas of the economy not regulated by the Federal minimum wage law. It was left to the states to remedy.

We note parenthetically that the conceptualization of businesses and institutions subject to regulation by the Commerce Clause of the Constitution for operating within and having a substantial impact on interstate commerce, was being interpreted, at least in this study by North Carolina, more narrowly than would come to be the case with regard to future civil rights legislation, particularly the 1964 Civil Rights Act forbidding discrimination in public accommodations which operate in interstate commerce, Mrs. Murphy's Boarding House being the central example from which all roads radiate, posited for its power in the Commerce Clause.

Public schools had always come within the ambit of Federal regulation, at least since Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896, declaring the mandate of "separate but equal" facilities to be the minimally acceptable standard under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment for accommodation of the segregated races of the time, limited, in Sweatt v. Painter in 1950, as to higher educational facilities for failure of proof by the State of Texas to show equal law school facilities for blacks, and finally overturned completely in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954-55 as to public schools. It remained, however, for the Congress to seek to legislate, as it did in 1964, proposed in 1963, in the area of public accommodations, such as theaters, hotels, restaurants, and public transportation, to rid the country of the onus of "separate but equal" in those areas of private business, not publicly funded, thus not falling within the protections afforded by the Fourteenth Amendment as not involving state action, but catering to the public and operating within interstate commerce, thus subject to regulation by Congress through its powers to regulate matters substantially affecting interstate commerce. The 1964 Act was upheld as valid in Heart of Atlanta v. U.S., also in 1964.

Drew Pearson speculates as to what might have been had Senator Sam Jackson of Indiana not rapped the gavel and adjourned until the next morning the Democratic convention on Wednesday night in July, 1944, just at the point when it appeared that the Wallace bandwagon for renomination of Mr. Wallace as Vice-President was on its way. The following morning, Senator Truman got the nod.

Under President Wallace, he suggests, Sumner Welles, former Undersecretary of State until forced out in favor of Edward Stettinius, in August, 1943, because of his conflicts with Cordell Hull, would have become Secretary of State. Harold Young would have been made Postmaster General instead of DNC chairman Robert Hannegan. Mr. Wallace would have had better rapport with the public via radio but worse press relations than President Truman, especially given the hatred of the former for press photographers. More professors would have populated a Wallace Cabinet instead of "Missouri werewolves" as under Truman. He would have had as much trouble with labor but might have been more adept at handling it than President Truman.

In foreign policy, the troubles with Russia would have been just as acute and the outcome likely no different. Brain trusts would have replaced poker parties. Mr. Wallace would not have supported the draft extension and would have conducted a more efficient administration, recognized for the trait even by his political enemies.

He would have had the same troubles in uniting the country, with a split with Southern Democrats coming earlier. Even had FDR lived, however, this split was likely inevitable after the war.

Most of the trends, indeed, coming out of the war would have transpired as inevitabilities of such readjustment economically and socially to peacetime, even under Roosevelt.

The contrast between styles of President Truman and President Roosevelt was sharp, especially in the method of conduct of Cabinet meetings, FDR having long, leisurely meetings while President Truman conducted meetings which were direct and to the point, lasting precisely an hour. President Roosevelt talked; President Truman mainly listened. The result was that many Cabinet members preferred talking alone to the President, with only Secretary Byrnes, the most politically experienced man in the Cabinet, appearing comfortable with longer discussions of important matters during the meetings.

Weekly Cabinet luncheons were less stiff and formal than the meetings, with Secretary of Agriculture Clinton Anderson often providing the President with a memo to read. There had been no such convention in previous Cabinets and it was conducive to better relations than afforded by the stiff meetings.

The column concludes by relating of an incident in which Ed McGrady visited with President Roosevelt one evening after 11:00 to confer on a strike problem and as he came to the open door of the Lincoln study, the carpeting having muffled his approach, he saw the President as if in stage lighting with the desk lamp highlighting only his face in an otherwise darkened room, staring off into space, not reading or smoking, but thinking.

"And on his face was a look of almost tragic loneliness. A man surrounded by people, problems, and war—and completely alone."

Marquis Childs discusses the ongoing debate of the draft extension by Congress, keeping uncertain the discharge of thousands of men from the occupation forces in Germany and Japan, all for fear of the consequences come election time in the fall.

General Eisenhower had made clear the need for a force of 1.5 million men through July 1 and a million through July 1, 1947, to maintain an adequate occupation force, and that those minimum numbers could not be met without a draft, that otherwise forces would drop to about 400,000 with the planned discharges.

Some in Congress had made absurd counter-proposals, such as that by Representative Forest Harness of Indiana, who wanted to extend the draft by nine months but suspend the flow of inductees during the same time period. Some in the House and Senate wanted to double the pay of enlisted men to increase voluntary enlistments, but the prospect would provide more to the enlisted men than lower ranking officers when clothing and keep were included, making it difficult to obtain officer candidates, and causing the cost of the military to skyrocket, potentially causing a decline in military security as economy would inevitably set in to limit expenditures.

If extension of the draft by up to a year was running into so many obstacles, it appeared that the President's proposal for universal military training, also favored by General Eisenhower, would not stand a chance of passage by the Congress, especially in an election year.

One foreign observer suggested that America once had the freedom no other great nation possessed, the freedom to do nothing, but that such freedom was gone forever.

Samuel Grafton looks not at what might have been had FDR not died a year earlier but what might not have been but for his death. He speculates that with President Roosevelt still in the White House, Winston Churchill would not have come to the United States and made a major foreign policy speech, suggesting by the fact that an imbalance of power had been produced by the death of FDR, who had been the glue of the fragile coalition between the United States, Britain, and Russia during the war.

Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin would not have been the strategic leader in Western diplomacy and Secretary of State Byrnes would not have become a chief foreign policy maker of the United States were FDR still around, as he had occupied both roles while President during the war.

The West was now reliant on "squealing legalisms" whereas, had Roosevelt lived, "bad lawyer that he was", there might have been presently a new level of understanding being attempted rather than "parsing sentences in a charter."

As people were now able to go to Hyde Park and tour the grounds and places where the President had grown up and lived as an adult, the tourists seemed to fit the scene more than in any other fine house "as part of history's joke on historical determinism, which was Roosevelt." The ordinary people seemed to fit the workroom "of one who never altered his accent to please the poor, nor shaped his words to win the rich."

He had the ability to work with both sides, keep them together and make them laugh. He did not attempt to please both sides but never demanded anything of them which was not made clear as necessary and achievable. He was often superficial on the mundane level, but "above the surface, in thin air, almost never."

"One remembers him as a kind of smiling bus driver, with that cigarette holder pointed upward, listening to the uproar from behind as he took the sharp turns. They used to tell him he had not loaded his vehicle right for all eternity. But he knew he had stacked it well enough to round the next corner, and he knew when the yells were false, and when they were real, and he loved the passengers. He is dead now, and the bus is stalled, far from the gates of heaven, while the riders hold each other in deadlock over how to make the next curve."

A letter from OPA director Paul Porter explains the Government's reasoning for establishing higher uniform margin requirements to curb speculative cotton buying and thus curb inflation. The allowance by OPA of increased price ceilings on cotton textiles and yarns to offset increases in labor and cotton costs, as well as additional ceiling increases on particular fabrics to encourage production in areas of shortage in clothing, demanded stable cotton prices or the spiral would simply occur again with higher cotton prices requiring higher ceilings, etc.

Thus, the move to stabilize cotton prices by OPA was premised on stopping this upward cycle from speculation in cotton futures, driving up the price of cotton. Most farmers had already sold their crops for the season and thus were not being affected. To the contrary, allowing prices to rise hampered their ability to compete in foreign markets.

A letter comments on an article appearing April 9 in the newspaper advocating growth of the Fire Department. The writer wants to know who would pay under the pending bond issue, county or city residents, for the improvements to the Fire Department.

The editors respond that it would be the city as the county paid a flat fee to the Fire Department annually, plus a fee for each run into the county.

Whether the Herblock of the day inspired the title to the film released the following January, "It's a Joke, Son!", on the exploits of the mythical Senator Beauregard Claghorn of Charleston, unreconstructed Confederate of the Old School of Southern rhetoric and cavalier flourish, which would have made Ashley Wilkes positively blush and appear as a Yankee spy and traitor interloping on Southern gentility, being neither enough of a grater nor at least a little tumultuous, is not readily discernible, Son.

So we don't know.

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