The Charlotte News

Monday, March 7, 1949


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that Secretary of Defense James Forrestal would resign, effective at the end of the month, to be succeeded in the post by former Assistant Secretary of War Louis Johnson.

Confidantes of the President said that Secretary of the Army Kenneth Royall would be the next to leave, within ten to twenty days. Secretary of the Air Force Stuart Symington and Secretary of the Navy John L. Sullivan would remain in their positions.

The President, meanwhile, was vacationing in Key West, Fla. The President slept until 9:30 a.m., the latest anyone could remember him sleeping.

Senator John Sparkman of Alabama and Senator Burnet Maybank of South Carolina said that if the President continued much longer his fight to effect the Senate rule change regarding filibusters, triggering the ongoing Southern filibuster, the rent control extension bill might die. Rent controls were set to expire at the end of the month and the Senators predicted that once expired, they would not be revived. As long as the Southern filibuster continued, no other business could come to the floor for debate.

Senator J. Melville Broughton of North Carolina, 60, had died the previous day in Washington from a heart condition. The former Governor, serving from 1941-45, had been in the Senate only two months. His funeral would be held in Raleigh the following day. The Senator was scheduled to make his first speech to the Senate this date as part of the Southern filibuster against the Senate rule change to make it easier to break a filibuster. The Senate recessed in his honor.

Freshman Congressman Peter Rodino of New Jersey testified before the House Labor Committee that Congressman Fred Hartley, whom Mr. Rodino replaced, had decided not to run for re-election because he knew he could not win for the fact of having been the co-sponsor of Taft-Hartley, which Mr. Rodino said most of his constituents wanted repealed. Representative Cleveland Bailey of the Committee added that the Tool Owners Union, which Mr. Hartley now headed, had been called a "Fascistic organization" by the New York State Labor Department. Three Republican Congressmen on the Committee, including Samuel McConnell of Pennsylvania, however, begged to differ with those statements.

Mr. Rodino would be chairman of the House Judiciary Committee in July, 1974 when it would vote to recommend articles of impeachment against President Nixon, leading to his resignation on August 8.

The Hoover Commission, in its tenth of fifteen reports on streamlining Government, recommended that the Commerce Department take over control of the nation's highways, planes, railroads and ships. At present, administration of transportation was spread over eight different agencies. Former President Hoover, who had been Secretary of Commerce under Presidents Harding and Coolidge, sided with the majority of the Commission on all of the recommendations, though there were active dissents.

The Federal Reserve Board eased consumer installment credit terms to enable, with dealer approval, 21 additional months for payment on such items as cars and refrigerators. The terms required rewriting of an existing contract and were not available at the inception of the contract. Down payments were also lowered from 20 percent to 15 percent.

In New York, the defense in the case of the eleven top Communists on trial for violation of the Smith Act, sought dismissal of the case because the President had referred to them as "traitors", making a fair trial impossible. The President's press conference statement arose in the context of response to statements by American Communist Party leaders William Z. Foster and Eugene Dennis, two of the defendants, reaffirming their allegiance to Moscow. Federal District Court Judge Harold Medina denied the motion.

Long-distance flier Bill Odom was reported 750 statute miles from California in his attempt at a record-breaking flight from Honolulu to New Jersey. He was on the beam, following the radio beam of KGA into San Francisco. He was being assisted by a 25 mph tailwind. In mid-January, he had been forced to land in Oakland, Calif., after battling a headwind from a thousand miles off the West Coast. Mr. Odom had established a light-plane round-the-world flight record of 73 hours and five minutes in 1947.

The seventh "Mr. X" contest begins, with the first clue being that the man was born in 1891. He must be a hurried man, and appears to have few hairs.

Unfortunately, no hint is provided as to who the previous week's "Mr. X" was, but, as we have said, it most likely was Clyde "Rabbit" McDowell, the new Charlotte Hornets baseball manager.

Enjoy it while you can, as there will only be one more such contest after this one.

On the editorial page, "J. Melville Broughton" laments the death of the former Governor and current Senator, calling him one of the great leaders of the time, making an impression in Washington in the two months since assuming his Senatorial duties. He had a heart condition and had been advised by his doctors to slow his pace. But that was not in his nature. It concludes that the state was richer for his time of service, though he died relatively young with his best years yet to come.

It does not mention that a mere five weeks earlier, he had been the attorney for wealthy farmer James Creech, seeking commutation of his death sentence to life imprisonment after Mr. Creech's conviction for the murder of his wife. The appeal to Governor Kerr Scott had failed and Mr. Creech was executed January 28.

"Case of the 'Freed' Communist" speculates on the reasons for the removal of V. M. Molotov as Foreign Minister and his replacement by Andrei Vishinsky. Observers suggested that either Mr. Molotov had been fired because of his ineffectiveness in halting the Marshall Plan and the advent of the North Atlantic Pact, or because he was going to take over from ailing Josef Stalin, or that he was ill, himself. In the latter case, Soviet foreign relations with the West would suffer, as he had been effective in dealing with the West.

Whatever the case would be, it concludes, the cold war would continue and the Communists would persist in their struggle to destroy capitalism and extend Communism over the world. It counsels against letting down the guard or seeking a superficial rapprochement with Russia, which it regards as potentially a grave mistake for which the entire world would pay.

"Practicing Censorship" tells of the feat of the round-the-world 94-hour flight of the B-50, refueling as it went in midair, having been enshrouded in such secrecy that the drama of it was beginning to wear off in favor of concern regarding censorship during peacetime.

Two theories for the secrecy had been advanced, that the Air Force did not want the Navy to know of the flight and beat them to the punch, and that had the flight failed, the public would not have been made aware of it. The latter, the piece suggests, was patently absurd as the story would have leaked eventually.

The flight appeared to have been merely for publicity as it proved very little. Other planes had flown long distance by refueling in midair. The plane did not carry heavy armor or bombs as it would during a bombing mission, and so its range would be limited in wartime. It was not revolutionary therefore and the peacetime secrecy surrounding it appeared unwarranted.

A summary appears of an address in Raleigh regarding education by Dr. Frank Porter Graham, president of the University of North Carolina and about to be named by Governor Kerr Scott to replace deceased Senator Broughton. He advocates the "Go Forward" program of Governor Scott, with its 50 million dollar bond issue for school buildings, better rural roads over which to transport the children to school, and better salaries for teachers. He stresses that without great public schools, there could be no great universities and colleges, and vice versa.

The state needed to be concerned not just about deficit spending but also about deficit services. The best answer to totalitarianism was to make America work better to enable greater freedom and democracy, as an example of that system at work.

The South, he says, was the "new frontier" of America, and upon the military and economic power of America depended world freedom and peace.

Drew Pearson finds that Louis Johnson was well fitted to become Secretary of Defense to replace James Forrestal. As Assistant Secretary of War from 1937-40, he had been instrumental in the country being prepared to mobilize right after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He had instituted a program of "educational orders" of munitions in 1938, test orders which enabled industry to prepare for mobilization. He did so while Secretary of War Harry Woodring was opposed to mobilization. He had also pushed airplane production for the British and French before Pearl Harbor and urged the building of the Alaskan Highway in 1938, increased electric power for war centers, and development of close economic ties with Latin America.

From Kansas, he was one of the most likable men in Washington. He had settled in West Virginia after attending law school at the University of Virginia, fought in World War I. As Assistant Secretary of War, he had been willing consistently to contest the brass, a trait which would be refreshing in his tenure as Secretary of Defense.

Stewart Alsop finds deep significance in the arrest in Prague of Dr. Zdenek Fierlinger, the Socialist leader who had been Czech Premier and was presently Vice-Premier since the coup by the Communists a year earlier. Dr. Fierlinger was a puppet of Moscow and so his arrest indicated that even the most subservient of lackeys to Moscow were in harm's way, so fearful was Moscow of the hatred for the Soviets within the satellite nations.

He provides the history of the rise and fall of Dr. Fierlinger, beginning with his time as Czech Ambassador to Moscow prior to the war, expelled at the time of the Nazi-Soviet non-aggression pact in August, 1939, at the insistence of German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop. He was part of the Czech government-in-exile during the war and then became head of the Socialist Party and Premier, providing in that capacity Czech Carpathia and the uranium mines to Russia. The Communist leader Gottwald replaced him in 1946, but he continued to remain obedient to Moscow and eventually assisted in the Socialist purge which ended in the coup of 1948. He was then made Vice-Premier for his services.

Thus, the fact that he was now in jail told of a probable coming purge of similarly situated provisionally useful but eventually expendable Moscow puppets within the Soviet satrapies.

Marquis Childs discusses the appointment of Louis Johnson to become the new Secretary of Defense replacing outgoing James Forrestal. The departure of Mr. Forrestal had been rumored for some time, as he had not been able to effect unification of the three armed forces since the merger was enacted by the Congress in mid-1947. As former Secretary of the Navy from spring, 1944, he had been suspected from the start by the Army and Air Force of favoring the Navy.

As primary exhibit for this favoritism, the other two branches pointed to the planned U.S.S. United States, a giant aircraft carrier estimated to cost between 188 and 223 million dollars, with true estimates, including the necessary destroyer escort for atomic bomb duty, ballooning the total cost to a billion dollars. Moreover, for planes large enough to carry atomic bombs to land on even a giant carrier required complete redesign, necessitating additional costs.

Mr. Johnson's time as Assistant Secretary of the Army from 1937-40 caused him also to be perceived to have a military branch bias, contrary to the desire of the services that the President name a person free of such a past. But Mr. Johnson had served as finance chairman for the President's 1948 campaign and was politically loyal. Congress would wish to know, however, whether he also had the necessary statesmanship to be effective as Secretary of Defense.

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