Friday, September 20, 1946

The Charlotte News

Friday, September 20, 1946


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that President Truman had asked Henry Wallace to resign as Secretary of Commerce, and the Secretary had tendered his resignation, effective immediately, in a friendly letter, addressing the President as "Harry". His only comment in his letter of resignation was, "I shall continue to fight for peace." Mr. Wallace had served either in the Cabinet or as Vice-President, a position he held from 1941-45, for thirteen years since FDR appointed him Secretary of Agriculture. He was the last of the New Dealers in the Cabinet.

Mr. Wallace's aides doubted that he would say anything to the press. He intended not to campaign in the fall elections.

The President called a press conference to announce the resignation, read a brief statement and received no questions as 197 reporters present bolted for the doors to tell the story.

Secretary of State Byrnes, in Paris, had no comment but aides said he did not appear displeased at the announcement. It was doubted that Secretary Byrnes had requested the resignation during his parley with the President by teletype the previous day, but rather had likely stated that it was necessary to establish a clear foreign policy.

Republican Senator Robert Taft of Ohio thought it an appropriate move by the President to reaffirm consistency in the Administration's foreign policy. North Carolina Senator Clyde Hoey stated that Mr. Wallce had failed to recognize that as Secretary of Commerce he was not charged with forming foreign policy, the responsibility of the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress.

Former Secretary of Interior Harold Ickes, who devotes his column to the Wallace situation, stated that he believed President Truman acted badly in first approving the Madison Square Garden speech and then asking for Mr. Wallace's resignation after the speech had produced controversy regarding American foreign policy. He said he did not think it "very brave" of the President and that he had "humiliated" himself in throwing Mr. Wallace to the lions. He added, however, that Mr. Wallace had "overstayed himself in the Cabinet".

Mr. Ickes begins his acerbic column, written before the resignation, by saying, "The Presidency has reached a new low." He asserts that the American people could overlook a mistake so egregious as Mr. Truman's approval of the Wallace speech, but could not overlook the "humiliatory conduct" of the President in trying to extricate himself from the mess by "weasel words".

The President, he says, should have frankly admitted that he did not know what he was doing rather than hiding his error behind a "fog of words".

On the morning prior to the speech, the President had told a press conference, in reply to questions, that he approved the entire speech and that it echoed the policy of Mr. Byrnes. Then, the President ignored the warning of Assistant Secretary of State Will Clayton, who called 90 minutes before the speech to warn that it could embarrass Mr. Byrnes in dealing with the Russians at the Paris Peace Conference.

The President's explanation for the problem was that he answered the questions extemporaneously, "a childishly weak justification", according to Mr. Ickes. Moreover, he was not extemporizing when Mr. Clayton called.

Mr. Ickes states his uncertainty of the Byrnes foreign policy, as to its internal consistency or its consistency with the policies of President Roosevelt. He also wonders why Mr. Wallace, as Secretary of Commerce, was making any foreign policy statement.

"The people of the United States are not fools, Mr. President. The Chancelleries of the United Nations are not staffed with fools, Mr. President."

With the announcement of Mr. Wallace's resignation, stocks rallied from the previous day's decline with a flurry of buying for nearly thirty minutes after the resignation was disclosed.

The Soviets advised the American Military Government in Berlin that henceforth the Red Army and the Red Navy, the official names since the Revolution of 1917, would be called the Soviet Army and Navy.

In Niagara Falls, N.Y., a large 30-foot by 120-foot section of rock wall fell from the falls causing an earthquake-like jolt to the town. Another part of the same wall had fallen in 1942.

Whether that was also in response to the Wallace firing could not be determined yet.

North Carolina had been allotted by Congress $650,000 for capital outlays to build airport facilities. Charlotte planned to obtain its share to make improvements to Morris Field, the former Army Air Corps training facility deeded to the city earlier in the year.

In Charlotte, the local office of the War Assets Administration was set to move into the former U.S. Rubber Co. munitions plant on October 1.

Near Lancaster, S.C., the body of a taxi driver shot in the head was discovered, apparently having been pushed from his cab. The murder appeared to be by the same pair of assailants, a man and woman, who had shot and wounded a taxi driver in Charlotte the previous night.

In Mecklenburg Superior Court, the case of Ward Blanton and his codefendant, accused of conspiring to suborn perjury and suborning perjury to accomplish divorces in a divorce mill, went to the jury. The jurors requested the re-reading of the testimony of the state's principal witness, who had testified that she was threatened by Mr. Blanton not to testify and that she had not been promised any immunity from prosecution for perjury in obtaining her own divorce, though she was made aware by the SBI that no charges were pending, with the implication that she would be indicted if she did not testify. She was living in South Carolina, a fact she imparted to both Mr. Blanton and codefendant W. T. Shore, when her divorce was obtained after she represented that she had resided in North Carolina for six months and been separated from her husband for two years, requirements at the time for divorce under North Carolina law.

The third codefendant, Vivian Baird, had pleaded nolo contendere to the charge and left judgment up to the court.

A White House aide occasioned a laugh among the press corps when he directed them into the study of the President to receive the news of the Wallace resignation, saying to them, "Will you move over to the left just a bit, gentlemen?"

What he obviously should have requested was that they prepare to move a bit to the right.

On the editorial page, "New Support for the Zoning Plan" comments on the farsightedness exhibited by the Charlotte Real Estate Board in approving the City Council's proposed zoning ordinance increasing setbacks of buildings from streets. The property owners could lose in the short term, but would gain in the long haul, making downtown more accessible to traffic. The only exception made by the Board was reasonable, that the ordinance should not include narrow streets which would require removal of existing structures.

"What Makes a Red a Red?" suggests that some of the most respected journals of the country now resembled The Red Network of Elizabeth Dilling, that publication which had once labeled President Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt, and half the Cabinet and Senate leadership Red. The anti-Red hysteria had even impacted The Washington Post, which had started an editorial on Elliott Roosevelt's As He Saw It by suggesting that there was a "very remarkable" coincidence between Mr. Roosevelt's memoirs and the Communist Party line.

The editorial, while finding the memoir puerile and in bad taste, states that it was not the fact that Moscow had put Mr. Roosevelt up to writing the book to present Winston Churchill in a bad light, as the Post had suggested.

The fact that there were a few thousand Communists in the country concentrated in New York, and thus having inordinate influence, and that they had obtained some influence over labor unions, was no ground for such widespread fear.

A conscientious American could arrive at the same conclusion of the Communist Party without being a Communist. If the contrary were so, 95 percent of the country would have to be regarded as fellow-travelers when the Communists were fighting Nazi Germany.

A nation built on tolerance of dissent could not rule out opinions simply because they happened to coincide with the views of 70,000 Communists in the country.

"The Pros and the College Boys" takes a comment by Joe Bach, the line coach of the Detroit Lions, stating that it was more difficult to cut a player from a pro roster because of taking away his livelihood than to cut members of a college team, and begins a frank assessment of the college game.

It favors recognition of the reality that college football players were being paid, to bring the practice out from under the table. University of North Carolina president Frank Graham favored a return to the pure amateurism of the sport, but that appeared impractical with the alumni around who insisted on competitive teams nationally.

The present standards were hypocritical, only making a college football player ashamed of his calling.

A piece from the Richmond Times-Dispatch, titled "It's a Mighty Rough Road...." states that the State Conservation Commission was considering the placement of an historical marker in North Danville to mark the location of the wreck in 1903 of Southern Railway Train No. 97, which had inspired the ballad.

Three years earlier, Casey Jones had died in a wreck in Vaughn, Miss., inspiring also a ballad.

While neither wreck was of great historical importance, there was a great deal of popular interest in the events and they thus merited commemoration, as much so as the birthplace of someone of whom no one had ever heard who died 150 years previously.

The Dictionary of American Biography included such figures as "Christy" Matthewson, Walter Camp, Lydia Pinkham, and Tom Thumb. If they merited inclusion in such a scholarly work, then the Old 97 wreck site also merited distinction with an historical marker. It had become a part of the national folklore. The piece concludes that the "mighty rough road from Lynchburg to Danville" thus should have an explanatory statement at its end, as it was more familiar to the average American than the Battle of Bunker Hill or the Siege of Petersburg.

Drew Pearson expresses the hope that the too quick approval by the President of the speech of Henry Wallace might result in the President obtaining some quick-witted advisers around him. An adroit press secretary, such as FDR's Steve Early, would have prevented the President from making such a blunder.

The practice of responding to press questions extemporaneously had not always been followed by Presidents. President Wilson did so, but then, after President Harding tried it and wound up committing a faux pas regarding a statement that under the Washington Arms Conference Treaty, Japan would not be allowed to fortify its own mainland, requring a retraction by Secretary of State Hughes, he adopted the practice of having the press submit questions an hour in advance. President Coolidge followed this format, and President Hoover required the questions a day in advance, even then did not respond to more than half the questions.

President Roosevelt had been effective with extemporaneous responses, but often referred the press to the State Department on foreign policy matters. President Truman tried to oblige reporters but often with embarrassing results. As no President could know everything, the fact that President Truman did not surround himself with the best brains was causing the nation to suffer.

He next looks at the maritime strike and suggests that the CIO seamen had gotten the shaft for having gone along with CIO president Phil Murray in June when he got them to acccept a $17.50 per month wage increase instead of going on strike, bad for the nation at the time. Then the AFL was able recently to obtain its increases of $5 to $10 more, and the CIO thus far was left floundering, with the operators not yet ready to approve the wage increase for the CIO seamen. Next time, because of the recalcitrant operators, the CIO seamen would not listen to Mr. Murray but would strike.

Marquis Childs comments on the controversy surrounding Henry Wallace, prior to the resignation. He was a puzzle to most Americans, suggests Mr. Childs, which was probably why so many names had been hurled at him: "Communist", "radical", "dreamer", "crank", "crackpot", among the nicer epithets. In contrast, his admirers bent over backwards to praise him.

He was at heart a philosopher, but with a plentiful store of practical knowledge, especially in agriculture. Deeply religious, he had a strain of mysticism which led him into strange, paradoxical territory. It produced at times the appearance of bumbling ineptitude on the political stage.

When he left the Senate after his term as Vice-President, not one voice was raised in tribute or farewell.

He loved humanity, but found people hard to deal with. When he returned from his Far Eastern trip in summer, 1944, just before the Democratic convention, he had a heart-to-heart chat with DNC chairman Robert Hannegan, but failed to impress him that he should continue as Vice-President, giggling, according to Mr. Hannegan, like a shy schoolgirl during the confrontation.

He believed that the objectives of the Soviet Union were good but had not looked too deeply at the means used to achieve them. He liked what he saw in 1944 in Siberia with respect to the agricultural experiments taking place and the new industries being developed. He found little interest in China, seeing the Chinese as confused and decadent.

While his fellow speaker the previous week at Madison Square Garden, Senator Claude Pepper of Florida, could easily articulate the words to express his pro-Russian sentiments "with political fluency", Mr. Wallace had difficulty with the expression of the same feelings.

"While he has made minor bows in the direction of political expediency, this stiff-backed, lonely man from Iowa must wrestle with himself and his beliefs in solitude."

Samuel Grafton finds disorientation in the fact that so many American newspapers, contrary to the tradition in the country of republicanism, had greeted with joy the decision of the Greeks to restore the throne. It developed out of the fear of Russia and presented a weak defense of American life.

The fear of the Russians caused America to do harm to itself. The Byrnes intent to build a stronger Germany was typical of this response. It was contrary to the clear approach to Germany of a year earlier.

The Hearst press, for years anti-British, now criticized Henry Wallace for his statement suggesting that America should not follow Britain down the course of imperialism in the Near East.

It presented a kind of "witches' change" in the country since the end of the war, one to make Halloween seem normal, a "night off from fantasy".

He quotes the frustration of a recently discharged Navy man who wanted the atomic bomb shared with everyone so that they might start an atomic war and "blow each other to hell", better than using the victory in the war to support imperialist and royalist regimes.

The Wallace speech had raised the issue of whether the country could return to familiar landmarks and end its disorientation. Those who scolded him acted as if he had done something impolite, "like taking his shoes off at dinner, or eating his peas with a knife."

A letter responds to the letter of September 11 asking the question whether Americans were being unfair to Russia. The previous letter writer, he contends, had suggested that Americans were, even though in fact she suggested the opposite.

This writer disagrees with the previous writer's fundamental premise, that Russia was seeking to force Communism on Eastern Europe while the United States was not seeking to impose democracy on Russia.

He favors being tough with Germany rather than Russia, suggesting that when FDR died, America lost its balance wheel.

A letter writer favors free access by all nations to raw materials and the ability to import and export same via a system of international currency. Standards of living would be raised, eliminating worldwide unemployment and preventing thereby destabilizing forces in the economies of the nations which only bred revolution and war.

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