Tuesday, May 28, 1946

The Charlotte News

Tuesday, May 28, 1946


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that Secretary of Interior J. A. Krug had resumed conferences with John L. Lewis to resolve the coal strike. Senator Lister Hill of Alabama predicted resolution within two days, stating that agreement on the basic terms for a new contract had been reached.

Senator Carter Glass of Virginia died at age 88 after protracted illness which had for four years kept him from his Senate duties. He had been the father of the Federal Reserve System by co-sponsoring the bill in 1913 which had created it, served in the Senate for 26 years after serving in the House for 16 years, and, in between that service, was Secretary of Treasury during the last two years of President Wilson's term, from 1918 to 1920. He had started his adult life as a reporter in Lynchburg, and eventually became editor and publisher of the Lynchburg News, buying up its competitors.

Perhaps, W. J. Cash provided Senator Glass the best eulogy in foresight, in January, 1941, his ability to be plain-spoken when the times demanded action, even if issuing storm warnings not heeded. But, as to domestic concerns regarding the South, he was, as Cash had pointed out both in editorials and in The Mind of the South, while a man of integrity, a voice representing the interests of the past rather than social progress.

Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz and Army Chief of Staff General Dwight Eisenhower, appearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, asked the Congress to transfer arms and war goods to other Western nations to permit advance organization in the event of another war. A pending bill would authorize the President to make agreements with the other American states to transfer arms and ammunition, to maintain the military equipment of the other countries, and to instruct and train military personnel of those countries.

Following a cloudburst the previous day, the Susquehanna River flooded sections of north-central Pennsylvania and southern New York, causing several million dollars worth of property damage and at least six deaths.

In Chicago, James Caesar Petrillo of the American Federation of Musicians called a strike of musicians performing at Chicago radio stations. He had called three studio librarians off the job because radio station WAAF refused to hire three more librarians. He stated that he expected to be prosecuted for the action under the new legislation aimed at his activities. The Lea Bill provided for up to a year in jail and penalties against any union which sought to compel broadcasters to employ more employees than they desired. He believed the recently passed law was in violation of the Constitution and thus suggested that there would be a court test of its validity.

The radio station stated that it had sought to meet with Mr. Petrillo to discuss his demands but that he had refused.

The major labor unions suggested that they would shift allegiance to a third party headed by either Secretary of Commerce Henry Wallace or Senator Claude Pepper in 1948. Mr. Wallace would in fact head the Progressive Party ticket in the 1948 election, seeking appeal to farmers and labor.

Meanwhile, former Minnesota Governor Harold Stassen labeled "totalitarian" the President's proposed emergency labor legislation, including the ability to draft workers into employment of Government-seized plants.

The Republicans caucused with Senator Arthur Vandenburg of Michigan to stop the proposed legislation. Senator Robert Taft stated that a series of amendments would be laid before a special minority committee for consideration.

It appeared that a majority of the Senators disfavored the proposed draft legislation in the already approved House bill. Senate Majority Leader Alben Barkley stated his intent to have the bill come to a floor vote during the week, keeping the Senate in session during evening hours, but Senator Pepper vowed to delay hasty consideration with another limited filibuster.

Senator James Murray of Montana proposed a compromise whereby the Senate would pass a bill providing for a six-month strike truce during reconversion, in exchange for a veto of the Case bill and withdrawal of the draft provisions of the President's proposed labor bill. During the truce, the Senate could then extensively study management-labor relations.

Representative John Taber of New York called upon President Truman to fire OPA head Paul Porter and for Attorney General Tom Clark to investigate whether he had violated criminal statutes, as Mr. Taber stated that he had, in publishing "propaganda" at Government expense, disseminated to Congressmen to perpetuate price control.

In Rochester, N.Y., a series of sympathy strikes in the city followed refusal by the City Government to recognize a bus drivers' union, idling 26,000 workers. The strike, however, was settled and a return to work appeared certain for the following day.

Associated Press correspondent Howard J. Blakeslee reports of the dangers of "atomic poison gas", referring to radiation from secondary radioactive atoms, a drop of which in liquid form could endanger everyone in an industrial plant and within a square kilometer of ground zero. The information was based on a report by the Federation of Atomic Scientists, indicating that the gas was potentially a new lethal form of warfare.

Dr. Leo Szilard had reported to President Roosevelt the conceptualization of a "death ray" composed of neutrons which could either kill directly or by transmutation of the chemicals within the human body into temporarily radioactive atoms—the theoretical basis for the neutron bomb developed in 1958.

In Yakima, Wash., a man was released from a railroad refrigerator car after being locked inside without food or water for two weeks. A warehouseman heard him kicking the door. The man had lost 44 pounds, a quarter of his weight, in the process. He had entered the car at Auburn, Wash., for unstated reasons, and someone had then locked the door behind him. The car was connected to a train which then proceeded to Yakima. The man's condition was reported as good and he would be released from the hospital within a few days.

He should have at least received commendation from the President for being a good practitioner of voluntary rationing.

On the editorial page, "The Path of the Lemmings" remarks on some of the initial conservative reaction to the President's speech before the joint session of Congress on Saturday, asking for immediate passage of emergency strike-control legislation. The New York Herald-Tribune doubted that mass conscription of labor would work. The New York Times found the proposed legislation "drastic from the point of view of the employer". The Baltimore Sun doubted the wisdom of the draft clause, as did The Portland Oregonian, the latter finding the President to be reacting as "an angry and frightened man demanding with a note of hysteria powers so dictatorial that he could send an idle workman to jail for a year or draft him into the armed service"—though jail time was not contemplated as a punitvie sanction for continued striking in the face of Government seizure, the Oregonian apparently referring to possible sanction for resisting the draft.

But, while the House had quickly responded to the President's call, it appeared that the Senate might take more time to act, in obedience to the advice of both Senators Claude Pepper and Robert Taft that it not pass hasty anti-labor legislation which might be subsequently regretted, even if only an emergency measure.

The crisis appeared to have passed with the resolution of the rail strike on Saturday. But the coal strike still loomed large, as John L. Lewis had not permitted the miners to return to work after the truce deadline on Saturday night. That action would serve to re-energize the move to restrict labor's right to strike in industries which affected the entire national economy.

The piece hopes that when the dust would settle, labor leaders would recall the ground they had lost this spring from the actions of John L. Lewis, A.F. Whitney of the Trainmen's union, and Alvanley Johnston of the Locomotive Engineers, insisting on dragging the country to a halt to obtain their demands.

"Solicitor Whitener's Impossible Task" laments the decision of the voters to retain the incumbent Solicitor despite his having done an exceptional job in the office since being appointed in January to succeed the late John Carpenter. For it meant that it would now be harder for the Legislature to divide the tenth judicial district and its crowded calendar between Gaston and Mecklenburg Counties, as Mr. Whitener came from Gaston.

The outcome had been determined in Gaston by a heavy turnout, relative to the sparse turnout of Mecklenburg voters, only about 12,000 casting ballots. The outcome left intact the traditional agreement that the resident judge of the Superior Court would come from Mecklenburg while the solicitor would come from Gaston, and with it, the consequent difficulty for the Legislature in dividing the district.

"The Church Opens New Fields" discusses two independent moves by the Church into politics, one by Catholic bishops in Italy, warning of loss of the sacraments under canon law, such as church-recognized marriage and burial in consecrated ground, should Italians vote for the leftists in the upcoming election, the other being the appointment by Methodist Bishop G. Bromley Oxnam of Rev. Charles C. Webber as the "chaplain to organized labor".

From opposite sides of the political spectrum, both moves might increase awareness of the role the Church could play in political life.

A piece from the Durham Herald, titled "Apostle to North Carolina", comments on the role apparently assigned to Undersecretary of State Kenneth Royall of North Carolina to speak for the War Department. Mr. Royall had been making numerous speeches of late throughout the nation, and had recently spoken in Fayetteville, N.C., about the contribution North Carolina had made to the war effort. The piece recommends more such speeches.

Drew Pearson relates of the argument ongoing between Undersecretary of State Dean Acheson and Bernard Baruch, chairman of the U.N. Atomic Energy Committee, regarding control of atomic energy. Mr. Acheson's group of experts, headed by Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer and David Lilienthal, had issued a report favoring denaturing of U-235 to make it useable only for peaceful purposes and then, under safeguards, to arrange for sharing of the atomic secret between nations.

Mr. Baruch did not like the report, tried to hire the scientists for his own committee, but they had refused, thinking they would be required to adopt the Baruch views on the subject. So, he had hired instead three Wall Street financiers, headed by John Hancock, none of whom knew anything about atomic energy.

Mr. Baruch had sought from the President and Secretary of State Byrnes authority to establish American policy on the committee, but had been refused, being told that such a determination would have to be left to the Senate, pursuant to its power to ratify treaties.

The debate, says Mr. Pearson, continued to be one between the elder statesman, Mr. Baruch, and the new statesman, Mr. Acheson, a debate which might determine the future peace.

He next discusses the California primary in which, under California's unique election law, a single candidate could appear on both the Republican and Democratic ballots. Governor Earl Warren so appeared on both ballots and prospects looked good for his beating his Democratic rival, State Attorney General Bob Kenny, on the Democratic primary ballot. That would position Governor Warren as a prime presidential candidate for 1948.

He would in fact be the vice-presidential nominee of the Republicans, running with Thomas Dewey.

Prospects were also good for interim Senator William Knowland, appointed to fill the term of the deceased Senator Hiram Johnson, likewise to be situated as the nominee of both parties, as he would likely be the beneficiary under the Democratic ticket of an open mud-slinging campaign between candidates Will Rogers, Jr., and Ellis Patterson, both Congressmen.

He concludes, "You never can tell what's going to happen in California."

Finally, he tells of the difficulty of observers of the closed-door sessions which resolved the railroad strike, in determining whether the President and other Government officials or other labor leaders were more distressed by the tactics of A. F. Whitney, head of the Trainmen's union. At several points, Mr. Whitney had threatened to exit negotiations, and, in one such instance, the President asked him whether he intended to walk out on the President of the United States. Mr. Whitney replied that he did not, to which Mr. Truman stated, "Well, then you had better stay here until we get this thing settled and try to show a little more cooperation."

Marquis Childs compares the Truman White House to an armed camp in which the first-line defenders, being interested in getting the railroads and coal mines again operating, were willing to sacrifice the goals of the second-line defenders, who wanted to preserve price controls to stem post-war inflation. But the second-line defenders feared the coming of another wave of strikes in the late summer and early fall.

The previous fall, nearly 4,000 voluntary wage increases were granted to avoid strikes while not upsetting the Government's price policy. Some unions signed contracts with increases as low as 6 cents per hour. CIO textile unions in the North accepted 8 cents. As these were one-year contracts, they would be subject to renegotiation in the coming fall and thus another wave of strikes could be predicted, as the demands this time, in the face of increased costs of living, would likely not be acceptable to employers.

Philip Murray, head of the CIO and the steelworkers union, stated that his union would demand a guaranteed annual wage the following winter when the current contract expired. He might also feel compelled to demand a welfare fund similar to that likely to accrue to the UMW in its current strike.

If the coal strike could be settled for 18.5 cents in wage increases, then price control officials could say with credulity that the price line had been preserved, as the steel and automotive strikes had set that standard.

That was regardless of welfare funds, not required to be factored into the wage-price stabilization formula by the Stabilization Act of 1942, despite the fact that the consumer ultimately had to pay higher prices for the existence of the fund. Thus, though Mr. Lewis and the miners might obtain an employer-sustained welfare fund comprised of 3.5 percent of gross profits, or something a little closer to his demanded 7 percent, the Government could still, on an 18.5 cents wage hike, maintain the fiction of holding the price-line, when, in fact, consumers would be paying more for coal to make up for the welfare fund contribution.

If the President were to allow more than 18.5 cents in wage hikes to the miners, then the battle to hold even the illusory line would be lost, and price control officials would be ready to throw in the towel.

Whether new legislation to curtail strikes would be successful in preventing them, remained a question. As Mr. Lewis was fond of saying, the coal could not be mined by bayonets.

Samuel Grafton, now in Jackson, Mississippi, still traveling with Soviet journalist Ilya Ehrenburg, observed that Mr. Ehrenburg conducted interviews of three hours duration, and in one small town, had found a Southern lawyer who was adept at providing succinct answers to direct questions. Mr. Ehrenburg asked him how many times he had encountered a black citizen on a grand jury in his thirty years of practice, the lawyer replying that it had happened only once. (Neither Mr. Grafton nor Mr. Ehrenburg appeared to have caught the indirectness of the ostensibly direct answer, in that lawyers, other than prosecutors, rarely appear before grand juries, concerned with issuing indictments and, on occasion, investigation of matters of public interest, not trying cases. The question should have confined itself to petit juries, that is ordinary trial juries, even if likely to have received the same or similar response.) In any event, Mr. Ehrenburg wanted to know from the lawyer whether this frequency of grand jury participation by blacks was average, above average, or below average for the South.

After four hours of such exhaustive questioning of the lawyer, stretching into the wee hours of the morning, principally regarding the place of blacks in the Southern system of jurisprudence, Mr. Ehrenburg asked the lawyer how he supposed Mr. Ehrenburg, as a Soviet citizen, felt about what he had been told. The lawyer simply responded that he could not know, any more than Mr. Ehrenburg could know how he felt. Mr. Grafton observed that the exchange produced some feeling of common understanding of mutual perspective.

Mr. Grafton next recounts of encountering Mr. Ehrenburg in the hotel lobby reading an American propagandist newspaper with a religious bent, making a case for Moscow being the Biblical city of Meshech, with its idols, Gog and Magog.

Outside a black-owned shack in Alabama, Mr. Ehrenburg heard someone say that Russia was so far away that when it was day in America, it was night in Russia. To which, Mr. Ehrenburg replied that it was so, and when it was daylight in Russia, it was also dark in some places in America. The only response, apparently not appreciating the poetic irony, was that it was so.

At lunch in one Southern home, Mr. Ehrenburg saw the host bow his head, at which Mr. Ehrenburg appeared startled. After the host said grace, praying for unity in peace between America and Russia, Mr. Ehrenburg began eating his lunch. Mr. Grafton speculates that he must have wondered whether the host's feelings were average, above average, or below average.

A letter writer refers to two letters appearing May 24, finding the one, suggesting that The News was promoting war, to be "social", and the other, "anti-social", contending as it did that the Army had white-washed an investigation into a black soldier deemed to have accidentally discharged his weapon and killed two American soldiers, that the devotion to the ideal of equality was ruining democracy. The letter writer further offers that comment of the editors under the first letter was better reserved for the second letter.

Like the first letter writer, he believes that the newspaper's serialization of abstracts from I Chose Freedom, by Soviet defector Victor Kravchenko, was a "well-timed nod" in deference to the State Department, "reminiscent of the modus operandi of Messrs. Hitler and Mussolini". He advocated more tolerance as there was enough hate.

The editors find his opinion regarding the nod to the State Department to be "ridiculous" and suggest that the tolerance he advocated ought be available to critics of the Soviet Union as well as its supporters. The newspaper published the account, recognizing the anti-Soviet bias of the author, at it had no more objective account available for the fact of Soviet censorship.

A letter from a colonel in the Civil Air Patrol thanks the newspaper for its stories on the Army Air Forces airshow held May 17-19 in Charlotte.

A letter from a war mother asks plaintively that the newspaper print a picture of her son, Pvt. Richard Parks of Charlotte, still listed as missing in action. A picture had appeared in Life in the April 16, 1945 issue, (as well as in The News the previous June 7 and April 9), showing what appeared to be her son in a liberated P.O.W. camp, lying beside the emaciated Pvt. Joseph Demler. She hopes that one of the many soldiers from the area who were in his regiment and confined to P.O.W. camps might have further information as to what had happened to him.

The editors oblige and publish the photograph.

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