Friday, May 31, 1946

The Charlotte News

Friday, May 31, 1946


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that no sooner than the bituminous coal strike had been settled, the 75,000 anthracite coal miners had gone on strike at midnight. The previous day had been Memorial Day and so the strike had effectively begun the day before. The entire Pennsylvania anthracite coal region was idle.

The issues were similar to those of the soft coal dispute, higher wages and establishment of a health and welfare fund. It was hoped that the anthracite miners would agree on terms similar to those which had resolved the bituminous strike.

West Virginia miners began returning to work in the soft coal mines and the bulk of the remaining 400,000 miners were expected to return the following Monday.

The Senate had defeated the proposed labor-draft urged by the President, striking it from the labor bill still under consideration. The House had already approved the bill the previous Saturday, with the draft provision. The Senate also voted against an amendment proposed by Senator Robert Taft of Ohio to limit the applicability of the legislation to public utilities, transportation, and the steel, oil, and coal industries.

President Truman continued to debate whether to veto the Case labor bill, which had just been passed earlier in the week by the Congress. If he vetoed it, then the Congress might not pass the proposed legislation before it, and he would be without power over strikes. Moreover, a veto might not be sustained.

The President assured that he would do everything in his power to keep the nation running, including use of the Army and Navy, in the event of a maritime strike, set to start June 15.

The President announced that he had invited Prime Minister Stalin to visit thirty days earlier but that he had declined on the advice of his doctors. The President had also issued an invitation the previous July at Potsdam but Stalin had declined on the same ground. The President had no immediate plans to meet with the Soviet leader elsewhere.

At Dachau, Germany, Anna Willems of Ligueville, Belgium, testified at the trial of the German defendants accused of the Malmedy massacre of unarmed American soldiers on December 17, 1944, at the start of the Battle of the Bulge, that she saw German soldiers kick the dead bodies of American soldiers, calling them "pigs" and asking why they had not stayed in America.

Former Secretary of State Edward Stettinius tendered his resignation as U.N. Ambassador, saying he had completed the job he had agreed to do, organization of the U.N. The President, however, refused to accept it.

Britain's new Food Minister, John Strachey, told Commons that bread rationing might become necessary within a few weeks. British food had been stretched by having to feed 20 million Germans in the British occupation zone and 400 million in India.

Opposition Leader Winston Churchill criticized the Labor Government's handling of food distribution and stated that Germany's own food supply was east of the "iron curtain", that demands thus should have been made to Russia, in control of the granaries, to provide this source to the German people.

Dr. Sun Fo, president of China's Legislative Council told the American University Club in Shanghai that unless the Chinese Government could obtain complete control of Manchuria, the continuing tension with the Communists could lead to world war.

Emperor Hirohito made his second call on General MacArthur, the first, at the time unprecedented in the history of Japan, having been the previous September 27. There was no indication of the subject matter discussed.

In Nuremberg, Hermann Goering was said to be despondent, losing ten pounds during the previous week, 35 pounds since his capture a year earlier.

He needed to go on a diet anyway.

With the coal strike over and newsprint no longer in danger of shortage, The News announced that it would resume normal service on Monday, having truncated the paper to an eight-page edition without any advertising.

In Miami, Richard Joshua Reynolds, son of the founder of R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., and former Mayor of Winston-Salem in 1942 until joining the Navy, filed for divorce from his wife. They had been married since 1933. Mr. Reynolds had been discharged from the Navy the previous September and at that time told his wife that he never intended to live with her again. Among other grounds, he said that she had called him a drunk, that when he declared his intent to run for mayor of Winston-Salem in 1941, she refused to admit the former mayor and another prominent citizen to their home.

On the editorial page, "When John Lewis Won, Who Lost?" tallies up the score sheet on the coal strike. John L. Lewis was the ostensible victor, receiving virtually all of his demands in settlement of the strike. The miners would receive, on average, about $10 per week more for the same hours of work. The consumer, however, would pay 35 to 50 cents per ton more for coal the following winter. Labor as a whole would thus suffer as OPA and price controls slowly crumbled and, with it, the incipient spiral of inflation.

President Truman and the Democrats would likely pay a sizeable political price for having acquiesced to the demands of Mr. Lewis, with the perception being that the President did so to regain his political capital with labor. Yet, the general resentment among labor to Mr. Lewis's tactics would likely neutralize any political return to the President.

Moreover, other unions might now desire welfare funds of the type negotiated by Mr. Lewis, creating a further wave of strikes in the fall when other one-year contracts would expire.

The Republicans were making the most of the issue by seeking to inject amendments to the President's emergency labor bill in the Senate.

The likely result ultimately would be legislation to limit labor and thus all labor would probably suffer from the success of the miners in this strike.

"And we shall not always be burdened with a weak President and a Congress dominated by penny-ante politicians who cannot see beyond the next election."

"Byrnes Has Been Busy Too" discusses the temporarily strike-eclipsed international situation, following V. M. Molotov's charge, printed in Pravda, that the United States and Britain had, at the four-power Paris conference of foreign ministers, played power politics against Russia. The statement made clear the Soviet intention to establish a sphere of influence in Eastern Europe and Asia.

Meanwhile, Mr. Byrnes had made equally clear the intent of the United States to oppose the creation of such a sphere. The conflict appeared to undermine any hope for a new era of peaceful cooperation, disarmament, and world progress without war.

But the hope might still persist to avoid war, even if two spheres were to coexist.

"Perhaps the only possible basis for building an enduring peace is to recognize the conflict between the Soviet and Western World and attempt, over the years, to reduce it."

It offers that expectations after the war may have been exaggerated but that presently realizing the conflict between East and West, and facing it, might at least have prevented a fatal error.

"Here's That Cloud Again" suggests the murmurings of a coming political revolution to overthrow Democratic rule. In one of the primary races in North Carolina, an elderly Democratic official had slugged a Republican poll watcher, emblematic of the Democratic frustration being felt even in a Democratic stronghold as North Carolina.

At the University, 1,157 students had cast their ballots in a straw poll for Harold Stassen to be the next President.

In Asheville, the "G.I." ticket had made headway in breaking the grip of a local political ring.

North Carolina would remain, it predicts, Democratic and a one-party state, but the rumblings suggested that there would be a coming sea change in Congress in 1946, which might extend into 1948.

A piece from the Columbia Record, titled "If One, Then the Other", counsels that if the Congress passed the President's labor proposal, including the provision for the draft of striking labor into the armed services, then it should also pass a revision of the draft law affecting all others. It would be fair, it opines, to draft striking workers only if the rest of the country were also subject to the draft, i.e., the exempted 18 and 19-year olds and fathers.

The present draft act was inadequate, having extended the draft only 45 days as a stopgap measure, with the stated exemptions—the original one-third pregnant version out of the House having extended the draft for nine months but barred inductions for the first six of those months. It finds the action incompatible with the hastily passed House labor bill of the previous Saturday, which included the draft provision.

There appears to have been considerable confusion on the part of the newspapers as to what was being proposed, a military draft or a labor draft. It was being reported both ways. Strictly speaking, it was to be a labor draft via the military. The draft into the military was to provide a color of legitimacy to the action, within the powers of Congress to raise and support armies. Once drafted, the "soldiers" would then be ordered to report to work in the striking industry. But, as suggested Wednesday, could the Congress do indirectly what it could not do directly, that is draft labor? And what was to become of any drafted labor once the strike would end? Would they be discharged from the military? If not, assuming induction of the bulk of the work force in a given industry, who would supply the work for that industry?

To figure out this conundrum, may have been another reason why President Truman was about to appoint Secretary of the Treasury Fred Vinson, also one of his chief labor advisers in the latter stages of the recent strikes, to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

Drew Pearson discusses the declining mental condition of Senator Kenneth McKellar of Tennessee, president pro tem of the Senate, who had been given of late to lapses of attention or even unconsciousness, twice while working in the Senate. The Capitol physician explained that the problem was that not enough blood was circulating into his brain.

He next discusses again the absence of teamwork prevailing at the start of the negotiations to end the rail strike, without the able men of the War Labor Board available to the Administration, John W. Snyder having advised the President the previous summer to abolish the Board, including firing of its members, Frank Porter Graham, Lloyd Garrison, and George W. Taylor, all knowledgeable of the labor situation. Only when Fred Vinson and James Byrnes had entered the rail negotiations had the impasse been broken. The inept team from Missouri had gotten nowhere.

Mr. Vinson and Mr. Byrnes had found the President angry at the rail leaders, A.F. Whitney and Alvanley Johnston, railing at them in unprintable language.

Two months earlier, according to Mr. Whitney, the President had told him that the Trainmen's support of him in his tough re-election bid for the Senate in 1940 had ultimately been responsible for him becoming President. But now the President was telling Mr. Whitney, in no uncertain terms, that the latter was going to do what the President wanted.

Mr. Whitney further informed that the President had not seemed familiar with all the facts, had spent but 18 minutes with the union leaders, whereas President Roosevelt had spent eight hours with them during the rail crisis of Christmas, 1943.

He notes that, upon the return of Senator Arthur Vandenberg of Michigan from the four-power foreign ministers conference in Paris, he had met with Congresswoman Clare Boothe Luce of Connecticut, a student of foreign affairs.

The tough road for the Democrats in the fall was indicated by the Democratic primary in North Carolina in which able Congressman John Folger was facing a stern test for the nomination from Thurmond Chatham, blanket king. Though within the same party, the race bespoke the notion that purge was in the air.

Mr. Folger would ultimately prevail.

Harold Ickes, again appearing on the editorial page because of the shortage of newsprint from the coal strike, discusses again what he viewed as the poor conduct of Robert Hannegan, Postmaster General and DNC chairman, in announcing before a New York supper club the appointment of Charles Ulrich Bay as Ambassador to Norway. Protocol called for the announcement to be reserved to either the President or Secretary of State.

Mr. Ickes suggests that the transgression derived from Mr. Hannegan's experience in local St. Louis politics as a dispenser of patronage, causing him to view all posts in that light.

He notes that Mr. Hannegan neither smoked nor drank, and so the announcement could not be attributed to an artificially induced loose tongue. Moreover, he deliberately disclosed the matter to an open-eared columnist so that it would be printed in the press.

Mr. Ickes notes that Mr. Hannegan had recently had several teeth removed, but that his real problem with his mouth came from his feet.

Marquis Childs tells of the Senate colleagues of Senator Vandenberg urging him to return to Paris for the second part of the foreign ministers conference, set to convene June 15. Otherwise, they counseled, the principles on which the country had stood firm in the first conference might be compromised. The Senator's insistence that he needed to go home to campaign for his re-election bid was met with the reminder that Pravda, in its regular negative reporting on the Senator, was doing his campaigning for him.

The Russians were demanding that all treaty matters be resolved before the convening of a 21-nation conference, while Secretary of State Byrnes was demanding that the matters be left to the nations to resolve at that conference.

Thus, though Senator Vandenberg, contrary to his previous statements, would likely follow his colleagues' advice and return to Paris, it would be with little hope of bridging the ever widening gulf between the West and the Soviet Union.

Samuel Grafton drives from Birmingham, visits New Orleans, reports that there were no longer in evidence any but a smattering of sailors, even in the bars of the French Quarter. There were few shortages, twelve slices of toast proving the custom for a party of four at breakfast in the restaurants.

There was little evidence along the roads of any great social change. A sharecropper's shack stood twenty yards from the intersection of a new natural gas pipeline and a new television cable. But the shack remained as it had been for more than half a century.

The discussion of news was desultory, if discussed at all. An airline agent had commented that the country had better get straightened out, but was not concerned about what was taking place, simply wanted it to end.

New Orleans was determined, "with blood in its eye", to become a great air hub, domestic and international. Yet, the city's residents spoke little of foreign policy. The insouciance of the Southern mind was in clear evidence, the problems of Russia and labor being treated as minor annoyances.

"Our republic seems to pull back from thinking about the world it has gone so far to meet; our ebullience turns inward, and fancy new motor courts, in the shape of wigwams, rise from the fruitful earth; and our bellhop turns out to have been a flier who worked the Russia shuttle, but that is now a matter of small note."

There was a moral lag, as after the First World War, but one could not work up a good argument against it while it was going on. For now, there was plenty on the table and people stared at each other and ate, turned to other topics.

A letter takes serious issue with the two writers, one who had written originally on May 16, and another who had responded in support, who had advocated letting the foreign nations starve so that they could not start another war. This letter finds that inhumane notion to be the sure path to another war. The country was being asked to provide only its surplus wheat and it was a minimal contribution to prevent mass starvation.

"B" from "Herblock" on May 20, is now here. "D", also from Herblock, is now here.


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