Thursday, July 18, 1946

The Charlotte News

Thursday, July 18, 1946


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that President Truman had replied to questions at a press conference, stating that he would stump for Democratic candidates in the fall if called upon to do so. He stated that he had asked James Pendergast of Kansas City to oppose Representative Roger Slaughter of the district neighboring his home district for Mr. Slaughter's opposition to Administration proposals. If Mr. Slaughter was right, the President said, he was wrong. He made no comment on the defeat of Senator Burton Wheeler of Montana, for whom the President had written a letter defending the Senator against charges made by his opponent that he was an enemy of railway labor.

The Senate-House confreres were still reported deadlocked on the OPA renewal bill.

Representative John Rankin of Mississippi moved to strike the enacting clause from the atomic energy bill pending in the House but was soundly defeated in the effort. The day before, Mr. Rankin had warned that there were spies among the scientists at Oak Ridge and that turning the atomic secret over to a five-person international commission would assure that the secret would leak to other nations.

Correspondent Don Whitehead reports that the second Bikini test, an underwater explosion set for July 25, was expected to turn Bikini Lagoon into a monstrous battering ram capable of crumpling battleships. Because of the sudden pressure wave which would be developed from the bomb, the explosion was expected to cause substantially more damage to the ships than had the first test, which was an explosion above decks. The exact depth of the bomb's point of detonation was being maintained in secrecy but was between 18 and 120 feet below the surface.

The Senate War Investigating Committee counsel disclosed that new evidence had been uncovered anent the nineteen companies being investigated in conjunction with Congressman Andrew May for possible improper influence and payments of bribes to obtain and maintain war contracts. The day before, one of the secretaries of the combine's Washington office told the committee that her bosses were "crooks" and that she had heard a $3,000 offer made to Mr. May for help in maintaining a war contract with the combine.

Jack Kroll was elected to succeed the deceased Sidney Hillman as administrative head of the CIO PAC. Mr. Kroll had been Mr. Hillman's assistant. A new five-man board was also installed as a policy-making body for the PAC.

Now, the Republicans would have to resort to a new phrase: Clear everything through Jack, or at least the Five.

In Commons, Winston Churchill taunted Labor for attacking free speech in its proposed investigation of street posters opposed to the Government plan of rationing bread to determine if any contempt charges should be brought. The plan was said to be moving forward despite a threatened revolt by half the country's bakers. Mr. Churchill branded as a lie an assertion by a Communist member that the Conservatives had stimulated the opposition to rationing.

The Russians rejected the United States and British objections to the seizure by Russia of 22 million dollars worth of industrial property in Austria. The objection was based on the property having become German property only after the annexation of Austria by Germany in 1938 and thus could not be viewed as a legitimate German acquisition.

In Georgia, former Governor Eugene Talmadge was maintaining a wide lead over his Democratic opponents for re-nomination as Governor. Georgia elected Governors based on county unit votes, and Mr. Talmadge led his closest opponent, James Carmichael, supported by present Governor Ellis Arnall, by a margin of 232 to 158, with 206 needed to nominate. That was so despite Mr. Carmichael leading in the popular vote by a margin of 24,000. Mr. Talmadge was leading in 101 counties compared to 49 for Mr. Carmichael, but including in the latter's column the most populous county, Fulton, and six of the seven other most populous counties. Former Governor E.D. Rivers was a distant third. Most of the 135,000 black voters registered for the first time in the Georgia primary had voted in the election. It was the first time in the Deep South that blacks had voted in great numbers in a primary.

The Chicago Herald-American reported that all plea bargaining appeared set aside as the two sides began preparing for a murder case against William Heirens, yet to be formally charged in the three murders for which there was reportedly evidence against him. The major Chicago newspapers had reported that Mr. Heirens had been questioned about the murders while under the influence of sodium pentothal. Accounts in the newspapers, however, varied as to whether he had actually confessed. Both the prosecutor and defense counsel denied any such confession.

In Philadelphia, Clifford Pierce of Memphis was elected president of the Lions International. Whether any kin to William Pierce of Dallas who had the previous week been elected president of the Optimists was not indicated. Mr. Pierce was succeeding Dr. Ramiro Collazo of Havana, Cuba.

On the editorial page, "The Fleece Is Golden Again" recalls the South Carolina Agricultural Commissioner who, in 1920, had told farmers to hold their cotton until it hit 75 cents per pound. It never did, but instead fell precipitously, sparking the song:

"Six cent cotton and forty cent meat,
How in the hell can a poor man eat..."

Now came the report from Texas and Georgia that cotton prices, presently at 35 cents, break-even level given the weather and weevil problems of the season, would reach 40 or 50 cents. But, it urges caution, that the golden fleece beneath the chinaberry trees was likely to drop before it rose.

There were reports of record surpluses abroad, and even record consumption of domestic cotton would produce no shortage to raise prices.

"The Good News from Montana" finds it salutary that Senator Burton Wheeler had been defeated for re-election. When he had come to the Senate in 1922, he had been a fire-breathing liberal, getting the goods on Attorney General Harry Daugherty in the Teapot Dome scandal and forcing President Coolidge to request his resignation. Mr. Daugherty had responded that Mr. Wheeler was under Communist influence. Eventually, Mr. Wheeler would adopt the same line.

He had first been a New Dealer while also an isolationist. Eventually, in 1937, he split from FDR on domestic policy also and earned the enmity of labor.

It was likely his isolationism which defeated him, a stance which his opponent had stressed. His defeat appeared to signal a shift toward internationalism in the West and Midwest, even more so than the defeats of former Senator Gerald Nye in North Dakota and Senator Henrik Shipstead of Minnesota.

Yet, Mr. Wheeler, while steering perilously close to treason in his opposition to the European war, nevertheless was of good moral character, far more so than the likes of Theodore Bilbo. But Mr. Bilbo was so disreputable that he made little difference, whereas Senator Wheeler had still exerted influence, keeping alive isolationism.

"The PAC's An Empty Threat" finds the impact of the PAC to be negligible thus far in 1946. It had operated actively in only four Southern states, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and Alabama. Only in Alabama, in the race for Governor, did it have any real effect. But the nomination of Jim Folsom was probably as much the result of the favorable impression made by the hillbilly band backing him as it was the influence of the PAC.

In California, the PAC candidates had not fared well in the primaries. In 18 states, 194 incumbent Representatives had been renominated, despite 116 of them being opposed by PAC for their stand on the Case bill.

The people appeared little motivated to throw the rascals out, but the aftermath of the OPA fight might yet arouse the electorate from its apathy in the fall.

Drew Pearson discusses how wires had been pulled during the war by Army brass to provide an E (for "Excellence") award in war production to Erie Basin Metal Products Co., now shown to be war profiteers. The while, lower ranking Army officials had recommended against it.

The Navy had given an E award to a company, National Industries, in December, 1945 while it was under indictment for war frauds. The award was made less excusable by its having been made after the war was over.

He next tells of quiet pressure being applied to try to stop the investigation by the Kilgore Committee in the Senate into Nazi activities in America during the war. The Army and Justice Department investigation in Germany had yielded many interesting facts, such as the revelation from the files of former Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop that Charles Lindbergh would be more useful to the Nazis were his name to be kept out of the press as he had requested.

He next tells of the revelations regarding William Rhodes Davis out of the investigation, covered more thoroughly below by Marquis Childs. He adds that while Hermann Goering could only recall the name of John L. Lewis as one of four persons Mr. Davis had stated would be helpful to the Germans in the 1940 election to defeat Roosevelt, other German officials recalled that the other three were Senator Burton Wheeler of Montana, former President Herbert Hoover, and former FDR kingmaker Jim Farley—who had turned against Roosevelt for a third term and even declared himself a candidate for President at the Robert E. Lee Hotel in Winston-Salem, in February, 1940. Mr. Pearson states that these latter three had no knowledge of their being targeted for use by the Nazis, but unwittingly had played into their hands.

Senator Wheeler, for instance, had several private conferences in defense of Nazi agent George Sylvester Viereck while the latter was on trial for sedition. He had also given a speech supportive of Senator Lundeen after he had been exposed as having speeches written for him by Mr. Viereck. Senators Curley Brooks of Illinois and Kenneth Wherry of Nebraska, plus Senator Scott Lucas of Illinois, all appeared fearful of the influence of the Chicago Tribune and were trying in consequence to stop the Kilgore Committee inquiry. So was Senator Styles Bridges of New Hampshire, a friend of Senator Wheeler.

Mr. Lewis, despite it being obvious in 1940 that Mr. Davis was cozy with the Nazis, had allowed Mr. Davis to pay $50,000 for a broadcast of Mr. Lewis in which he denounced President Roosevelt and urged labor to support Wendell Willkie. Mr. Lewis had also sought through Assistant Secretary of State Adolph Berle to get the State Department off the back of Mr. Davis, after Mr. Davis told Mr. Lewis that he was being shadowed everywhere he went, including outside his apartment at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington.

Mr. Pearson next states that the security chief at Oak Ridge had stated that he had not made any statement that there was a security issue at the Tennessee nuclear facility, as attributed to him by the counsel for HUAC.

Marquis Childs also discusses oil man William Rhodes Davis and his dramatic attempt through use of Nazi money to influence the outcome of the 1940 election in favor of Wendell Willkie. Mr. Childs begins by indicating that while he had been a reporter on the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, he had sought to establish a connection between Nazi money and the effort to influence American politics, but could never find the critical missing pieces.

The investigation in occupied Germany conducted by Assistant Attorney General O. John Rogge had uncovered a consistent story in separate statements from Hermann Goering, Herbert von Strempel, formerly of the German Embassy in Washington, and Joachim Hertslet, Herr Goering's agent in the Western hemisphere. Herr Hertslet had told Herr Von Strempel in fall, 1939 that he had five million dollars to invest in defeating President Roosevelt in 1940. At first skeptical, Von Strempel confirmed with Goering that Hertslet was his agent.

William Rhodes Davis had called on Goering in the spring of 1939 and boasted of his friendship with John L. Lewis and that he believed he could enlist Mr. Lewis's opposition to Roosevelt. Mr. Davis then became the conduit for the money, which was estimated to be at least five million dollars. Herr Goering had told investigators that the Nazis were prepared to spend between 150 and 200 million dollars to defeat President Roosevelt.

Mr. Lewis had been helpful to Mr. Davis in securing the support of Vincente Lombardo Toledano, the head of the Mexican Confederation of Workers and powerful within the regime of Mexican President Cardenas, for finalizing the oil deal between Mexico and Germany which moved the oil expropriated from the British and American companies in March, 1938 via tankers supplied by Mr. Davis through then neutral Italy and via Vladivostok and along the Siberian Railway to the West, enabling enough oil to fill the gap needed to launch the Blitzkrieg of September, 1939 against Poland. Even in late 1939 and early 1940, oil continued to slip via these routes through the British blockade erected after the start of the war.

Mr. Childs had interviewed Mr. Hertslet at the Mayflower Hotel during the time in question but had never learned of the entire scope of his role in the operation. He confirmed with the Justice Department all of the information which Goering had provided.

Mr. Davis was able to get Mr. Lewis to endorse Wendell Willkie and supplied $50,000 toward a broadcast by Mr. Lewis denouncing FDR and asking labor to support Mr. Willkie. Mr. Davis later admitted to a grand jury that he had contributed $40,000, presumably Nazi money, to the Willkie campaign. One of Davis's associates stated that he had contributed $100,000 to an anti-war committee.

After the defeat of Mr. Willkie, Mr. Davis went to Florida to try to dissuade Mr. Willkie from supporting the Roosevelt foreign policy. Shortly afterward, Mr. Willkie spoke to Mr. Childs and told him that he knew nothing of the Davis contribution to his campaign and would not have accepted it if he had. Mr. Childs expresses his personal belief in that statement by Mr. Willkie. Subsequently, Mr. Willkie backed Lend-Lease and went on a world tour, including the Far East and Russia, at the request of the President.

Mr. Childs states that he would, in a subsequent column on the subject, seek to demonstrate Mr. Davis's motives for these intrigues.

Mr. Davis, of course, has been an object of inquiry at this site since its inception in 1998. That which we did not know when we first focused attention on Mr. Davis back in 1991 while investigating the death of W. J. Cash, begun by coincidence on July 18 of that year, was that Mr. Davis, as we found out through his biography, Mystery Man, published in 1999 by Dale Harrington, had stayed in the Reforma Hotel presidential suite whenever he went to Mexico City and was there in mid-June, 1941, at the same time W. J. Cash was in Mexico City on his Guggenheim Fellowship, having just arrived June 5, then having been found dead on July 1, hanging by his own necktie in the Reforma, to which he had just checked in that evening, apart from his wife Mary, for unknown reasons. Cash had written of William Rhodes Davis in a pair of News editorials in January, 1941.

As we have indicated previously, it was thought within the intelligence community of the time that Mr. Davis might have been eliminated by British intelligence to end his interference in the war effort. Mr. Davis ostensibly died of a heart attack on August 1, 1941 in Houston.

Samuel Grafton writes from Los Angeles regarding the Bikini test of July 1 and the news reports regarding it, that it had proved its power as a weapon of war. At the same time, a book had appeared by William C. Bullitt, former Ambassador to Russia, stating that America had the power with the bomb to destroy Russia and ought to use it to arrest Russian expansionism, though not by offensive attack unless necessary.

At the time that peace was hanging in the balance and efforts were being made to try to obtain Russian cooperation in a practicable plan for sharing the atomic secret and insuring its use only for peaceful purposes, the timing of such a book was anything but propitious. "You don't get the kitten into the house that way."

And the counsel for HUAC had reported that there were scientists at Oak Ridge who were in favor of world government, had spoken to persons outside the United States and intended to do so again, thus posing a security risk to the country. Mr. Grafton fails to see how such scientists posed any threat, but the fact that the committee was holding up such views as security risks suggested where its thinking was. (Mr. Pearson reports that the assertion was, according to the security chief at Oak Ridge, made up from whole cloth by the HUAC counsel.)

The House Military Affairs Committee was moving to restore military oversight of the atomic secret, which had been removed from the civilian commission proposed in the Senate bill.

These occurrences suggested that some of the country was rejoicing at each controversy, making it harder to deal with the Soviet Union, counting these controversies as blessings, while the rest of the country was trying to encourage cooperation and peace.

A letter writer suggests that Augustus Cardinal Hlond of Poland had made anti-Semitic attacks on Polish Jews by saying that the Kieles Pogrom was a manifestation of Polish resentment against Jews occupying high government positions. Jews in Poland, the writer asserts, had every right to be upset at their treatment at the hands of the Poles through the centuries.

A letter writer says that he had seen the face of the man who ought be the next President, adorning the cover of the June 24 Life. He did not know who the man was at the time, but subsequently came to realize it was new Chief Justice Fred Vinson, strengthening his opinion as to Mr. Vinson's presidential potential.

A letter from a lieutenant colonel in the Army, the head of the Civilian Retirement Accounts Branch of Charlotte, thanks the newspaper for its support, as he was departing for the foreign service.

A letter finds trouble on the horizon from the end of price control, with labor strikes and strife surely to follow, murders in its wake, and finally communism as a result. There was no one of the stature of FDR to lead the people out of the wilderness this time. The writer hopes that many of the cheap politicians would be defeated in the fall elections.

A regular letter writer compliments "Report from Under the Bed", and finds encouraging the letter of July 12 asking for some account which was more objective on Russia than the anti-Soviet serialized book published in The News by Victor Kravchenko, I Chose Freedom. He suggests any of the works by Maurice Hindus.

The editors respond that Mr. Hindus's most recent work, Cossacks, would not provide insight to Russian life, and that he had reportedly revised his opinions since his 1943 work, Mother Russia.

Framed Edition
[Return to Links
Page by Subject] [Return to Links-Page by Date] [Return to News<i><i><i>--</i></i></i>Framed Edition]
Links-Date -- Links-Subj.