Saturday, May 4, 1946

The Charlotte News

Saturday, May 4, 1946


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that following two days of battle, the attempted prison escape from Alcatraz had been foiled and firing from Cell Block C had ceased during the morning hours. The night before, one of the prisoners had called the guards to ask to surrender but was told that all of the convicts would first have to throw out their weapons. Silence followed.

The escape attempt was termed possibly the worst and bloodiest in the history of the Federal prison system.

The National Farmers Union encouraged President Truman to fire Secretary of Agriculture Clinton Anderson for having caused the meat shortage in the country, and sought the support of AFL and CIO in the move. The President stood by Mr. Anderson and said price controls on meat and livestock would remain in effect.

Senator Scott Lucas of Illinois urged the President to seize the coal mines to avert further shortages of coal, which had already caused a brownout in two-thirds of Illinois and Northern Indiana.

In Milan, twelve persons had been arrested in connection with the snatching of Mussolini's body from a pauper's grave. The twelve were associated with the Fascist group which claimed credit for the snatching, but were not implicated directly in the taking of the corpse.

On Sardinia, a mass of locusts, 28 miles long and two and a half miles wide, threatened crops in the area of Crostano.

Franklin Institute in Philadelphia recorded a large earthquake about 12,000 miles away, in an undetermined location somewhere in the South Pacific.

Hal Boyle, still in Coburg, Germany, tells of the border region of forest and farm land between the Russian and American occupation zones of Germany. Deals were made between the soldiers of each nation to smuggle gas, cigarettes, and food between sectors. Profits were made from the sale of the goods in the black market.

Murder and mayhem went unnoticed in the border area. Russian guards staged manhunts for Germans seeking to return to their homes in the Russian zone and for Polish Jews seeking to obtain passage to the American zone. American police found twenty bodies in one twenty-mile sweep through the area during the winter, most apparently having been Germans killed by Russian guards as they tried to cross into the Russian zone. Thousands of persons, nevertheless, had managed to cross the border in either direction.

Other than the black market operations, relations between the Americans and Russians were cool and formal.

American officers complained that the Russians fired indiscriminately into the American zone and at night, 10 or 15 Russians would cross the border and beat up German guards.

An American officer told Mr. Boyle that tension was high along the border as every Russian soldier believed himself an intelligence agent.

Near Texarkana, Ark., Virgil Starks, a farmer, was killed and his wife critically wounded by shots fired through a window of the farmhouse in which they lived. The assailant had then apparently entered the house and walked about, as bloody footprints were found leading from the residence. Since March 24, four other persons had been killed by gunfire in the area and their assailants also had not been found.

In St. Martinsville, La., a 17-year old, convicted of murder, survived an attempt to execute him in the electric chair, saying that it had tickled a little but did not hurt too much. The youth stated that the Lord was with him.

Governor Jimmie Davis, author of "You Are My Sunshine", granted a six-day reprieve for the young man, and the Sheriff stated that he would seek to have the execution carried out the following week.

Young Willie Francis, after failing to obtain relief in Louisiana state courts, would have his petition for writ of certiorari granted by the U.S. Supreme Court to determine the case of first impression as to whether seeking to execute a convicted person a second time would constitute cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment, as well as violate double jeopardy under the Fifth Amendment and due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment. The ensuing January, in Francis v. Resweber, 329 U.S. 459, the Court would decide 5 to 4, however, that the second attempt did not violate the Constitution, there being no wanton or deliberate infliction of unnecessary pain in the manner of execution, and Mr. Francis would be executed May 9, a year after the first attempt had failed.

The dissent, authored by Justice Harold Burton and joined by Justices Douglas, Rutledge, and Murphy, found that electrocution, to pass constitutional prohibition under the Eighth Amendment, has to be administered so as to cause instantaneous death without any more suffering than necessary to cause death itself, and that the Louisiana statute called for a continuous current to pass through the body until death resulted, not repeated or interrupted applications of current. The dissent thus found that the interrupted electrocution was not "instantaneous" death and thus, by definition, was cruel and unsual punishment pursuant to prior cases. It reasoned that if two such attempts were acceptable, then there would be no drawing of the line at three, four, or five botched attempts, that the single, continuous execution was the only way to develop a bright-line rule.

On the editorial page, "It's Getting Late, Sheriff" comments on the upcoming election for Sheriff of Mecklenburg County and the questions which continued to swirl around the job of the incumbent, that he had neglected his duties by allowing lapses in jail security which had permitted six escapes during the previous couple of months. He had provided no satisfactory explanations or undertaken apparently adequate remedial measures to prevent future recurrences.

"Mrs. Clement Did It Herself" comments on the selection of former Charlotte resident Emma Clement as Mother of the Year for 1946 based on the accomplishments of her seven children. Mrs. Clement was the granddaughter of a slave but was living outside the South when chosen and the choice was not made by Southerners. So, the argument that her selection somehow spelled the end of discrimination had nothing to do with the South. Nor did the argument hold any weight that liberals and radicals were behind the choice.

The important thing was that Mrs. Clement well deserved the award she had earned.

"A House Somewhat Divided" contrasts the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce positions on labor and business with that of Eric Johnston, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The former favored the anti-labor Case bill and believed that labor legislation should be left to the states. Mr. Johnston believed that government had to be active in labor relations and that old prejudices against organized labor needed to be eliminated, that there should be nothing sacrosanct about the notion of free enterprise and capitalism.

But the U.S. Chamber had also sought revision of the Wagner Act to outlaw mass picketing and violence, as well the sitdown and slowdown strikes. Thus, it was not apparently so at odds with the positions adopted by the Charlotte Chamber after all. It speculates that for all the progressivism demonstrated by Mr. Johnston during his four-year tenure as president of the Chamber, perhaps he had accomplished little in shifting opinions and prejudices within business.

A piece by Ralph Ingersoll from PM, titled "Ralph Ingersoll on Britain", clarifies the belief by some that he was against the loan to Britain because of his criticism of British military high-politics in his book Top Secret. In fact, he was for the loan as it was necessary for free trade and the economic survival of Britain. That was so regardless of his criticism of the British desire to create an anti-Russian power bloc.

He also favored a loan to Russia, and states that neither loan would underwrite either form of government. The three systems could live in peaceful coexistence, and the first steps toward the condition were discussion of differences and undertaking of acts of generosity.

Drew Pearson reports that John L. Lewis was slated to become the president of AFL once William Green, president since 1924, resigned in 1947.

He next imparts of an exchange between Senator Jim Tunnell of Delaware and Senator Theodore Bilbo of Mississippi regarding the return of surplus lend-lease. Mr. Bilbo thought that President Roosevelt had stated that lend-lease materials would be paid back in kind, to which Mr. Tunnell said there was no such indication, that the saving of American lives could not be weighed in dollars or goods.

Mail to Senators objecting to the House amendments emasculating OPA had appeared to motivate the Senators to restore the provisions which had been amended.

He reports among his "Capital Chaff" that Undersecretary of State Dean Acheson had shown up for work wearing striped pants, a black morning coat, black tie, neatly starched collar, and a left shoe with a large hole in the sole.

Marquis Childs reports that the advice of former Chief Justice Hughes to President Truman had caused him to lean toward appointment of the new Chief from outside the Court rather than appointing either Justice Douglas or Justice Jackson to the position, appointment of either one having the tendency to perpetuate the ongoing feud among some of the Justices.

Chief Justice Hughes had exercised firm discipline over the Court while Chief Justice Stone had been tolerant of dissension. It was traditional practice on the Court during conference for the Chief to be first to state his opinion on a given issue or case and to do so without interruption. But Chief Justice Stone was often interrupted and even heckled by some of the other Justices. In one instance, his personal integrity had been assailed.

Enmity on the Court had been particularly bitter between Justice Frankfurter and Justice Black, as well between Justice Jackson and Justice Black.

The other consideration was that appointment from within the Court would mean a Roosevelt appointee would become Chief rather than a Truman appointee. President Truman therefore was said to be seeking someone outside the Court who would be above politics.

As indicated, the choice would be Secretary of Treasury and former Federal Judge Fred Vinson.

Bertram Benedict discusses the intensive campaign of AFL and CIO to increase unionization in the South, primarily in the textile industry. As this issue has already been extensively covered, we leave the facts and figures and which members of Congress each organization supported as being pro-union for you to peruse.

A letter writer takes issue with the editors for having made a joke of the letter from "Private Jefferson Davis" earlier in the week, saying they would forward it to Senator Claghorn who knew his grandfather. The letter asserts that the issue which concerned Private Davis was serious, the exemption from the draft bill of 18 and 19-year olds. He states that his son had volunteered for the service before age eighteen and had expected to be discharged at the end of the war, was instead serving occupation duties in Japan, hoping for replacement.

He says that he was sending the private's letter to Senator Clyde Hoey and Congressman Sam Ervin.

The editors note that they were sympathetic to the plight of those men still serving who would see eighteen-year olds going to college while they could not obtain discharge. But it also made little sense to send young men into service during peacetime. They remind that Jefferson Davis had remarked during the latter phases of the Civil War that he would not "grind the seed corn of the Confederacy" by continuing to draft young men to be killed.

A regular letter writer finds that the editors had semantically quibbled with Samuel Grafton in the April 24 editorial, "It's a Strange Revolution, Sam", regarding the contention that the coalition between Southern Democrats and Republicans resulting in the stripped-down OPA extension bill, was nothing short of a revolution, ending the New Deal. The editors had found "revolution" unsuited to the facts and an overstatement of the case. The letter writer thinks it was every bit the change brought about by Franco in Spain and whether it was called "revolution" or "reaction" was irrelevant.

He suggests that there was no oversimplification by Mr. Grafton, that simplification is the soul of art, suggesting a comparison of Jean-Francois Millet's painting, "The Angelus" with Daniel Maclise's "The Death of Nelson", and the works of Henry George with those of Herbert Spencer. Complexity, he argues, is "the curtain that hides the exploiter".

The editors respond that their distinction was that reaction is formless and negative while revolution has a positive aim. The Southern Democrat-Republican coalition had only the goal of defeating President Truman's program.

The letter writer might have noted that while, as the editors agree, simplicity is the soul of art and complexity the arras, the latter need not be "the exploiter" with which conspires the untoward, but rather may adduce the mind of art, especially poetry, eliciting from the perceiver the higher form of understanding, apart from mere appreciation by feeling, that which separates finally man from the beasts and avoids the worst manifestations resultant of too literal emulation of art through an appreciation only of its soul, ending in self-immolation, loss of soul by attempting vicariously to possess the soul of the art, winding up only possessed, without understanding.


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