The Charlotte News

Friday, December 9, 1949


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that Congressman J. Parnell Thomas, former chairman of HUAC, who had changed his plea from not guilty to nolo contendere on the charge of arranging for salary kickbacks from several members of his staff, many of whom had only perfunctory duties, was sentenced to six to eighteen months in prison and a $10,000 fine. His wife then announced that she would seek election to his seat in the special election for his successor following his imminent resignation from Congress.

Former Major G. Racey Jordan, who had claimed that in 1943 he had found a note subscribed by "H.H." saying that the author had a hard time getting uranium products away from Maj. General Leslie Groves, head of the wartime Manhattan Project, and that the note was with some uranium materials being shipped to Russia, had been on friendly terms with the Russians at the Great Falls, Mont., air base where he was stationed. The Russian commander had in fact recommended his promotion from captain to major. At that time, Major Jordan made no references to Harry Hopkins or Vice-President Henry Wallace, both of whom he had recently implicated on the radio and before HUAC in provision of information during the war to Russia. Nor had he referenced the uranium shipments or radar equipment which he had subsequently claimed to have ripped from planes bound for Russia.

The Army confirmed that wartime detection and gunfire radar techniques were taught to a dozen Russian trainees at Fort Monmouth, N.J., in 1944 when the U.S. and Russia were allies in the war.

In Key West, Fla., Budget Director Frank Pace, following a meeting with the President, said that he saw no prospect of a balanced budget in 1951 without raising taxes.

In Bradford, Eng., the Labor Party had won its first by-election since devaluation of the pound, providing a sharp setback to the Conservative hopes to regain Parliament in the 1950 general election. The Conservatives had campaigned on the issue of devaluation.

In Rome, Ga., in the twelve-day old trial of the ten men accused of Federal civil rights violations in the flogging of seven black citizens the previous spring, a deputy admitted that he had once blackjacked a war veteran who protested a Klan parade and warned him to leave the Klan alone. He also said that even though Klan members seized prisoners from the jail, he made no effort to investigate or to track down Klansmen accused of other acts of intimidation. He had also participated in the building and placement of a cross outside the home of a black woman where the seven whipping victims were seized. But he claimed also that it was just coincidence that he and another deputy were in the area on the night of the whippings and that the cross happened to be at the home where the victims were seized. He claimed the Klansmen surrounded the Sheriff and another deputy and that the Klansmen had told the Sheriff, "Don't let us see you around here again."

Indeed, after seizure of the black prisoners at Hooker Hill, the Sheriff, he said, had raced back into town to raise a posse to regain custody of them, not the Klansmen who had taken them.

The deputy and the Sheriff were charged with conspiracy among the ten defendants.

Ashley Smith, state editor of The News, tells of Charlotte having its first KKK Klavern, opened the previous night according to Thomas Hamilton, Grand Dragon of the Carolinas Klans. He claimed that hundreds had signed up, from all walks of life. He said that Charlotte would form the nucleus for establishment of other Klaverns in the Carolinas. The former grocer operated from his home in Leesville, S.C.

What was the name of his store, "Korn, Kraut, and Koldkuts"?

Donald MacDonald of The News tells of Police Chief Frank Littlejohn calling the organization "fertilizer for Communism" and promised an attempt to prosecute the members in Charlotte should they seek to take the law into their own hands to establish "their so-called 'law and order'". The Chief said that "if a person is a good citizen, he doesn't have to go and hide himself from the law in a pillow case or a flour sack."

Hey, man, that's freedom to speech. We done seed on it at the radio.

In Raleigh, Monroe Medlin, convicted of first degree murder in September of the August 1 killing of Mrs. E. O. Anderson in her home in the Myers Park neighborhood, was executed at Central Prison. His appeal essentially had been abandoned by his attorneys who filed a no-issue brief with the State Supreme Court, which then, of course, affirmed the conviction after a cursory review of the record.

Thus, he was executed without an effective appeal, plainly a violation of Due Process and the Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel, a process which would never be tolerated under modern jurisprudence. As stated previously, there appeared plentiful ground for contention of error at trial, especially in the area of instructions regarding imperfect self-defense, as Mr. Medlin had contended that Mrs. Anderson had been shot in the shoulder during a mutual struggle for control of a shotgun which she had retrieved from a nearby closet when she first encountered the former employee in her bedroom. He claimed that he believed she was going to shoot him and so grabbed for the shotgun. In any event, there is always ground for contention of errors in any felony jury trial.

But he was black, the victim was a white, middle-class woman, and it was 1949.

Two other men were also executed this date, one convicted of felony murder during a robbery and the other after a conviction for first degree burglary. The Warden said that two of the men, including Mr. Medlin, admitted their guilt, but the third proclaimed his innocence to the end.

In the case of Mr. Medlin, the issue is not guilt or innocence of culpability for the killing but rather the degree of the homicide and whether it merited the death penalty.

But, if you could be sentenced to death for burglary in 1949, why not for parking violations also?

In Tokyo, a fourth grade boy told welfare officials that his goal in life was to be Emperor of Japan.

On the editorial page, "The NAM and Imports" tells of the National Association of Manufacturers applauding a speech in which they were counseled that increasing imports and consequent reduction of tariffs was the best way to stabilize the world economies, something traditionally they would have rejected for its competition to American goods.

It was not necessarily an internationalist outlook, though a departure from the organization's isolationist past. More likely it was simply a recognition of self-interest, that American manufacturers stood to lose in the long-run unless the trade balance was restored. That, according to the advice of the speaker before NAM, required continuing foreign aid, reducing exports, and increasing imports and foreign investments.

The stance, even though somewhat selfish, underscored the general acceptance of the U.S. role as world creditor and the immense responsibilities which went with it.

"The Rent Control Muddle" finds the reluctance of the City Council, after holding public hearings during the week, to reach a decision on whether to continue rent control in the city to be suggestive that the Council was being overly sensitive to public reaction. The Council, it suggests, had solved nothing by delaying their decision for perhaps another week. No one expected the Council to be infallible but did expect it to be forthright and courageous.

"The Better Way" compliments the salutary work of the Domestic Relations & Juvenile Court as revealed by Ralph Gibson of The News in his three-part series, concluded on the page the previous day. It finds that the Court had performed a valuable service for the community and was not a busy-body interfering with people's lives, as some would no doubt find it.

"Tempestuous Tallulah" tells of actress Tallulah Bankhead being possessed of the same sort of skill to insult someone while being charming as the late W. C. Fields. While in Charlotte, she had not been completely cordial, leading News reporter Emery Wister on a merry chase in trying to interview her. But he had written a generous story and appeared to hold no grudges, the lot of many newspapermen covering Ms. Bankhead. She was not selective in her disdain for the press. She was simply tired and did not wish to be bothered.

A piece from the Atlanta Journal, titled "Is Shakespeare Slipping?" is disappointed to find that drama columnist Earl Wilson had found that Shakespeare's Twelfth Night had flopped on Broadway, that the Bard's humor had been found wanting.

It was true, it suggests, that Shakespeare as a writer could not compare with the streamlined version of the craft practiced by Mr. Wilson, or the comedy of Bob Hope, Jack Benny or Milton Berle.

But Shakespeare had lasted for 350 years without being shown up as less than the benchmark for inditing the English language. And in The Winter's Tale, it finds, he had written the best one-line description of a Broadway columnist: "A snapper-up of unconsidered trifles."

Yet Bohemia has no coast.

But Twelfth Night, notwithstanding the caviling contrarians who claim its title cavalier, does have an epiphany.

Drew Pearson writes an open letter to his daughter regarding the plea of nolo contendere of Congressman J. Parnell Thomas, saying that he had attended the trial before the change of plea and felt sorry for Mr. Thomas. It had been Mr. Pearson who originally revealed the staff salary kickback scheme which led to the indictment. Mr. Thomas had highly competent counsel representing him, unlike the many witnesses before HUAC whom he deprived of counsel and bullied into submission, sending several to jail for contempt for refusing to answer questions on prior membership in the Communist Party. The Government had even submitted to a one-year delay in the trial to accommodate Mr. Thomas's health concerns.

Mr. Pearson says that he could sympathize with the need of public servants to make some extra money, but there were legal ways to do so as with speaking engagements, practiced by the late William Jennings Bryan while Secretary of State. Mr. Pearson had been on the tent crews and supplied water for the engagements as Mr. Bryan had toured small towns in the Swarthmore Chautauguas. Mr. Bryan received $250 for each speech.

But Mr. Thomas collected more than $250 each for his speaking engagements and had been in big demand as chairman of HUAC.

He concludes by telling his daughter that he was convinced that few Congressmen resorted to the type of scheme for which Mr. Thomas stood convicted. Most were honest.

Sometimes people forgot that the right of the people to govern themselves was precious, enjoyed by the few in the world, and a right for which Americans had fought since the 1700's. Congress, he asserts, was merely the medium by which the people governed themselves and he wants his grandson to have a fit government in the future, without such men as Mr. Thomas destroying its good name.

An editorial from the Manchester (England) Guardian  tells of ERP administrator Paul Hoffman being a champion of European economic union, telling the Western European nations that to form such a union would encourage the Congress to continue Marshall Plan aid through its slated end in 1952. The choice, the piece suggests, was not between "normal" trading conditions and "unification" but rather between going forward to greater freedom for European trade and sticking to present restrictions imposed by bilateral payments agreements and quotas. Mr. Hoffman had said that even if the European nations could ease their dollar shortage, they could not finance their trade to such an extent that they would not feel constrained to restrict foreign imports. Britain would suffer most from such restrictions. It counsels that the problem could only be avoided by the nations working together more effectively than the European Economic Council had thus far enabled. It recommends that a program was needed to impress not only Congress but also to provide insurance for Britain.

Joseph & Stewart Alsop reflect on the work ahead for the new Republican National Committee chairman Guy Gabrielson. His primary job was to raise money but since the defeat of John Foster Dulles by former Governor Herbert Lehman in the New York special Senate election, the money from the fat cats had dried up. The contributors no longer knew what the Republican Party stood for. Mr. Gabrielson was obliging by asking state and county chairmen across the country to state party principles, which he then intended to trot out for the fat cats. The results would be the usual, for free enterprise and against deficit spending.

Despite the effort being a charade, it would be what the fat cats would want to hear. The Republican contributors, unlike the Democratic contributors, were not well schooled in the ways of politics. So the fat cats wanted their politicians to say what they wanted to hear.

GOP Senators Irving Ives of New York, Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., of Massachusetts, and Wayne Morse of Oregon had found success by bucking the large contributors and following their own line, apart from that of the party. But the truly representative Republicans in Congress continued to be men such as Senators Kenneth Wherry of Nebraska, Homer Capehart of Indiana, and Styles Bridges of New Hampshire.

The 1950 elections, in which several conservative Republicans were up for re-election in the Senate, would be decisive on determining the direction of the party. Mr. Gabrielson would have his work cut out for him to change its direction should enough of them get beaten.

Robert C. Ruark, in Oakland, continues his look at Henry Kaiser, stressing the secrecy surrounding his new car, with which he hoped to undersell Ford and Chevrolet. The price had not yet been determined and its design was a heavily guarded secret.

It was supposed to be a lighter version of the traditional family sedan, with fuel consumption at only 35 mpg. It was stylish but without frills. Mr. Kaiser was seeking functionality above all other considerations. There would be two versions, one basic and one more luxurious.

He was working to eliminate the number of parts in an automobile, averaging 2,200. Whole sections of the car were to be made from aluminum to cut down on weight and cost.

Mr. Ruark deems it a smart answer to the competition but cost was a problem, with his primary financing coming from the RFC.

Kaiser was employing an experiment whereby the customer could return the new car after 30 days or 1,000 miles and get all of his money back. So far on the West Coast, the plan had worked well as no cars had been returned.

Mr. Ruark praises Mr. Kaiser's unorthodox style as having spurred on the competition in the area of modern production methods.

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