Monday, June 10, 1946

The Charlotte News

Monday, June 10, 1946


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that another hotel fire, at the Canfield Hotel in Dubuque, Iowa, had occurred shortly after midnight on Sunday morning. Sixteen had died in the fire, including the owner and his wife. Nineteen others were missing and fifteen were hospitalized. Most of the missing appeared to be permanent residents who had registered but were away from the hotel during the weekend.

With the death toll having risen from the initial 58 to its final 61 from the La Salle Hotel fire in Chicago of June 5 at the same hour, the death toll had risen to 77 persons in four days from the two hotel fires.

Three more would die from the Dubuque fire. The origin would be placed, as with the La Salle fire, in the area of the Canfield's cocktail lounge. The first alarm was received at 12:39 a.m., four minutes after the time of the first alarm on the previous Wednesday for the La Salle fire.

Government mediation efforts to avert the maritime strike set to begin June 15 had failed. The chairman of the House labor subcommittee, Augustine Kelley of Pennsylvania, indicated that his subcommittee would begin hearings the following day in an effort to head off the strike.

The anthracite coal miners returned to work this date, having resolved their contract dispute on Friday.

The President recommended to Congress repeal of over three billion dollars of Congressionally-authorized spending, 1.5 billion of which had been for the War Department, adding to the 54 billion already rescinded.

The President announced that he would send a written message to Congress the following day providing his decision whether or not to veto the Case labor restriction bill, with an explanation of his conclusion.

The Supreme Court, in American Tobacco Co. v. U.S., 328 US 781, an opinion delivered by Justice Harold Burton, affirmed 6-0 the convictions of R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., Liggett & Myers, and American Tobacco Company for violations of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act in conspiring to establish and maintain a monopoly, fixing prices and eliminating competition. The tobacco companies had been fined an aggregate of $255,000 in the lower Federal courts. The Government had contended that the companies need not actually exclude competitors from the marketplace but that they only had to have the power and intent to do so for the offense to be complete. The Court agreed.

Justice Stanley Reed did not participate in the decision.

Harold Ickes, in his column, addresses the inflationary road onto which the coal strike and its resolution had set the country at the behest of John L. Lewis. He wonders why the Administration had waited so long to take action to resolve the strike, which, for months prior to its inception on April 1, was anticipated. Since Mr. Lewis received most of what he had been seeking from the beginning of the dispute, on terms close to those which Mr. Ickes had predicted in his column of May 24, Mr. Ickes asserts that the Administration could have arranged the agreement much earlier and saved the lost time in the strike. By waiting, the Government, he says, had allowed John L. Lewis to call the shots in the end.

And ultimately, he continues, it was the railroad unions who received the condemnation of the President during his "hysterical" speech seeking, two weeks earlier, labor-draft legislation before a joint session of Congress, while John L. Lewis was able to exit the coal negotiations with a smile and a handshake from the President.

Economic Stabilizer Chester Bowles predicted that if the Senate Banking Committee's recommendation to remove controls of prices on meat were voted out by the Senate and House, then prices would rise 40 to 50 percent. Whatever legislation they would pass, he said, would result in a continued meat shortage for a year. Senator Claude Pepper predicted that the Banking Committee formulation of the bill, if passed, would renew the "twin horses of isolation and reaction" which the country had ridden after World War I.

Hal Boyle, now in Geneva, tells of the old League of Nations buildings now being guarded by a lone sentry, a "vainglorious peacock", while the surrounding village stood deserted.

"On this farm were dozens of peacocks with dazzling plumage and harsh discordant voices. They walked in spread-tailed wonder as strange men with many hammers built a white-stoned citadel of peace and cooperation in the pleasant pastures."

One by one, the peacocks had died, some "assassinated" by dogs of careless visitors.

Prior to World War II, thousands of tourists came to the site on a daily basis to observe the efforts to maintain world peace, a failed effort in the end. Now, about 300 visitors came through daily to see the remains of the "empty shell of hope and half-hearted idealism".

Though the League was dead, the idea behind it remained alive in the form of the new United Nations.

In Boston, the president of the Great Northern Paper Co., William Whitcomb, was shot to death in his office by an unknown assailant. Police suggested that an unsigned contract on his desk might provide a lead to the killer. A lieutenant stated that he had a hunch as to who it was. Mr. Whitcomb's secretary, who had admitted the killer to the office, stated that he had come there the previous week, representing himself as an employee of the Treasury Department.

In Pittsburgh, a former Marine corporal began reliving the fear he had experienced during the rolling thunder of big guns in 1944 on Saipan, when a major thunderstorm hit the area during the weekend, prompting him to run away from his girlfriend to his home, where, after his girlfriend and her mother had pursued and tried to calm him down, he grabbed a pistol and shot himself.

In Washington, a woodworker made an unscheduled appearance before a Congressional committee, wearing his work clothes and holding a loaf of bread which he said took him two hours to find after exploration of five bakeries. He complained that meat was also becoming scarce, that only salami was available, and that it took bread to eat salami.

On the editorial page, "It's a Cheap Political Trick" indicates that the Senate bill which would emerge on extension of OPA, by the time it cleared further adjustments in the House and reconciliation of the differences between the versions passed by each chamber, would reach President Truman only a day or two before the July 1 expiration of OPA, placing pressure on him to sign the watered-down measure or leave the country completely without any price and wage control.

It was a cheap trick by Congress to put the onus on the President to sign the bill or appear responsible ultimately for the death of OPA.

With all of its amendments, it would be difficult to discern how individual Senators and Representatives had voted. The reason for the chicanery was that continuation of price control had broad popular support.

Most Congressmen, it was plain, however, favored abandonment of controls and letting inflation run rampant in consequence.

The cheap political trick had been used also with respect to the military draft extension and the temporary housing bill, albeit in the latter the provision for two-thirds of the 600-million dollar builder subsidies sought by the Administration had been restored.

The piece urges the people to see through the trickery and apportion blame appropriately between a weak and vacillating President and the Congress.

"A Project with Possibilities" comments on a plan proposed by the Independence Post of the American Legion in Charlotte to alleviate the housing shortage by establishing a non-profit organization to undertake immediate construction of housing for veterans.

The piece suggests that such a private endeavor would have considerable advantages in being without the legal constraints and bureaucratic red tape of a publicly funded organization.

"Mr. Royall's Change of Pace" discusses Underscretary of War Kenneth Royall, a native North Carolinian, and his speeches which he had been making in the state, explaining that the War Department was vast and had to be taken as a whole in assessing its achievements rather than focusing on a few of its shortcomings such as the recent flak regarding the disparity in treatment between officers and enlisted men in the Army and the issue of a peacetime draft and the drafting of teenagers.

But winning the war in such a relatively short period of time was no small accomplishment and demonstrated mass efficiency in Washington.

Mr. Royall, a welcome visitor, was about to address the Executive Club in Charlotte on this night, but was scheduled not to debate those issues, rather to report on his world tour regarding the effects of the war on foreign countries. The piece suggests that those issues were of prime importance and would continue to be, long after the issue of the caste system and court martial procedures had passed from concern.

A piece from the Richmond Times-Dispatch, "Liquor Dollars and Alcoholism", comments on the increasing advocacy of use of Government revenues from alcohol to combat alcoholism. It cites a report by Dr. Karl Bowman, retiring president of the American Psychiatric Association, suggesting allocation of ten percent of alcohol revenue for the purpose. He estimated that there were at least 750,000 alcoholics in the country and that seven billion dollars worth of alcohol was consumed annually, with 750 million dollars worth of damage done from excessive drinking.

He favored emphasis on treatment of alcoholism as a disease rather than as a moral deficiency.

The piece favors joint Federal and State contributions from liquor revenue to such programs and research.

Drew Pearson comments on the emasculated OPA extension bill which had emerged from the Senate Banking Committee. No one wanted to sign it and so the members of the committee formed a circle so that no one would know who signed it first.

Senator Alben Barkley remarked: "It reminds me of the young man who shot his mother and father, then appealed to the court for leniency on the grounds that he was an orphan."

Mr. Pearson next reports that Fred Vinson, James Byrnes, and Robert Hannegan were all opposed to the appointment of John W. Snyder to replace Mr. Vinson as Secretary of the Treasury as Mr. Vinson was appointed to be Chief Justice. Mr. Snyder, however, was the strongest advocate among the high-level advisers to the President for Judge Vinson's appointment. Mr. Pearson ventures that he wanted the job of Treasury Secretary for himself.

One of Mr. Snyder's worst blunders had been to promise to the steel industry a price increase before there was any commitment to a wage increase, prolonging the steel strike by several weeks. Mr. Snyder had also recommended shortly after V-J Day that all price controls be abandoned, and only the intervention of Mr. Vinson had prevented that from occurring. Mr. Snyder did abandon controls on construction, but had to re-implement them, as well as with woolen goods and nylons, creating shortages in each category.

The House Un-American Activities Committee had voted not to investigate the recent increase in Klan activity. Congressman Thomas D'Alesandro, Jr., of Baltimore had demanded such an investigation and committee member Gerald Landis of Indiana had promised publicly that an investigator would be sent to Georgia.

But chairman John Wood of Georgia held a vote at the next meeting, before which Representative John Rankin stated that the way to investigate the Klan was not to send investigators to Georgia but rather to subpoena the Grand Kleagle to testify before HUAC. Liberal Representative John Murdock, however, opposed that proposal on the basis that it would give the Klan a sounding board to promote its ideas.

Mr. Rankin then made the statement that the Klan was completely American and that the committee was not set up to study such an organization but rather was intended to stress foreign organizations.

A voice vote then defeated the proposal for an investigation. Only two of the members favored it. Mr. Landis did not oppose dropping the idea. Three members voted against it and two were not present.

Marquis Childs discusses the variation between the statistics marshaled by Secretary of Agriculture Clinton Anderson justifying the food relief program to the foreign nations and the statements of the technical experts who contended that America could provide 20 percent more high-protein food, especially wheat, than it was presently producing.

The Secretary contended that the country was doing all it practically could and far more than any other nation, the latter incontestably true. But the former part of the statement begged credulity when measured against potential production.

Meanwhile, as of June 15, India would have less than a month's supply of starvation-level rations. There was fear that mass starvation on the subcontinent would destabilize the Government of India within five or six weeks. Thus, Mr. Childs expresses, there should be no surprise at that time if grim headlines of starvation and revolt greeted the reader.

Samuel Grafton, still in Los Angeles, discusses the aftermath of the California primary which had hit the Democrats hard with the state's unique primary cross-over capability, permitting candidates to file in both party primaries.

Governor Earl Warren had won both party primaries, assuring him re-election as Governor in November. Several other positions were won likewise in the same manner by Republican candidates.

The only victory for the Democrats had come with Will Rogers, Jr., who captured the Democratic nomination for Senator. It was the only major race in which the Democratic nomination was not won by a Republican.

Mr. Grafton finds the shift signal of the loss of Franklin Roosevelt and his ability to hold the Democratic Party together. There was no Democratic Party left in the state. Voters might support a Republican with a strong anti-labor stance, but not a Democrat. The voters had not turned against the Democrats; the party had simply crumbled from within, departing from its liberal stance of the previous dozen years.

The party no longer was either an organization or an idea, the latter having held it together during the New Deal years. Labor and liberal groups were now split between those supporting President Truman and those bitterly opposed, both as to labor issues and foreign relations with Russia.

The swing to the right by the Democrats had made it both the victim and vehicle of its own demise.

In a Congressional race which would over time loom large on the American landscape, both Congressman Jerry Voorhis and Republican opponent Richard Nixon cross-filed in both primaries, each winning their own party nominations, with Mr. Voorhis capturing 7,700 more votes overall than candidate Nixon. The outcome in November would be different.

And the rest, as they say...

A letter writer comments on an article by Burke Davis from May 20 regarding the signing of the Mecklenburg Declaration in 1775, declaring independence from the Crown. The author states that one of the prime movers behind the Declaration was his great-great-great-grand uncle, John McKnitt Alexander, originally from Maryland. He proceeds to provide the Alexander family history, that Alexanders had emigrated from Ireland after facing religious persecution from the Irish Catholics for their Protestantism. He suggests such persecution as the primary reason why the settlers had viewed Revolution to be the only way to be free from the British Crown.

The Declaration, as we have noted previously, is of doubtful validity; the Mecklenburg Resolves, which only abolished all royal offices, was signed on May 31, 1775. The Declaration, appearing to be more myth than reality, did not surface as a document until the early part of the nineteenth century, replete with some language identical to the Declaration of 1776, the Mecklenburg document having been constructed from memory by Mr. Alexander in 1800 after the supposed original documents, including the Resolves, had been destroyed by fire.

A letter from a staff sergeant observes that as he was walking to work, he saw that the flag over the Mecklenburg County Courthouse was flying upside down. He felt it was not the fault of the custodian, but rather the upside down events in the world, strikes, famines, hate and prejudices.

A letter responds positively to two letters appearing on June 6 regarding organized labor, that of the trainman and that of the attorney. The writer did not belong to a union but predicts that the President would lose in 1948 for his anti-labor positions.

But did not the two letter writers take incompatible stances, with the only thing shared being criticism of the President, the trainman stating that the President had sided with the capitalists, while the lawyer opined that the President was bringing about the reduction of capitalism to feudalism?

A letter expresses support for Alcoholics Anonymous and its saving graces through reconstructing self-esteem.

A quote of the day comes from Paul G. Dallwig, an anthropologist with the Chicago Museum of Natural History: "Our days will be numbered if we don't spend less time splitting atoms and more time trying to relax and enjoy life."

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