The Charlotte News

Tuesday, April 12, 1949


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the President had sent the NATO treaty to the Senate for ratification, with a message urging its passage as a single but "long step" on the "road to peace". He made no reference to the issue of re-arming Western Europe. The Senate had to approve by a two-thirds majority for ratification, and that was believed to be many weeks away, after hearings before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Secretary of State Acheson advised the President that the treaty would require use of retaliatory armed force only in the case of a "major armed attack" on one of the signatory nations, but did not automatically commit the country to war.

As services took place in Hyde Park, N.Y., honoring the fourth anniversary of President Roosevelt's death, President Truman began his fifth year in office, as related by Ernest Vaccaro, convinced that the world was moving slowly but surely along the road to enduring peace, believing the goal at last to be in sight within the ensuing two years. The President thought that the turning point in this regard came from his decision to inaugurate the Truman Doctrine of military aid to Greece and Turkey. The Marshall Plan and the NATO agreement were further steps toward peace, preventing Soviet aggression.

Mr. Truman had gained eleven pounds in the four years and his physician believed that he was a "bit too fat". He walked daily and swam regularly. He had traveled nearly 125,000 miles, more than 65,000 by air, with 45,000 the previous year, 32,000 by rail, most on the campaign trail.

Ivan Allen of Atlanta, chairman of the Warm Springs Memorial Commission which had recently opened the Little White House in Warm Springs to the public, said that the Hyde Park ceremony marked the beginning of an annual recognition of President Roosevelt's death. Eleanor Roosevelt and Elliott Roosevelt were present representing the family. Drew Pearson laid the French tribute on the grave.

At the U.N., the Scandinavian countries agreed with the Soviet Union that the U.N. should not review the Hungarian treason trial and conviction of Josef Cardinal Mindszenty or the treason trials of the 15 Protestant churchmen in Bulgaria. Like the Soviets, the Scandinavian view was that the matter was internal, outside the purview of the U.N. The Scandinavians believed, however, that the proper machinery existed for dealing with the matter within the context of the treaties with Hungary and Bulgaria.

Secretary of the Army Kenneth Royall said to the Senate Armed Services Committee that the country could have saved over a billion dollars during the previous year if the Secretary of Defense had the authority to define the separate roles of the Army, Navy, and Air Force and determine policy. He found the nation's defense in worse shape than before the merger of the armed forces under the Department of Defense in mid-1947. He took issue with former President Hoover's criticism of the previous day regarding inefficiency and waste in defense planning and spending. He agreed with Mr. Hoover that the country was spending too much for the defense it was receiving.

In Nuremberg, seven more high German diplomats and Government officials were convicted as accomplices in the extermination of the Jewish population of Europe. They had drafted orders to send six million Jews from all over Europe to gas chambers and concentration camps. The convicted were Hans Heinrich Lammers, responsible for drafting most of the anti-Jewish laws and regulations, Wilhelm Keppler, Richard Walther Darre, Otto Dietrich, who organized a persistent campaign of hatred against Jews, Hans Kehri, Gustav Steengracht von Moyland, and Lt. General Gottlob Berger, chief of the SS main office. Two more had been convicted the previous night of persecution of Jews. Eleven of 21 on trial had been convicted of at least one charge. The verdict had yet another day to go before completion. One defendant, a chief clerk in the Foreign Office, was freed this date on the only charge against him. Another was acquitted of Jewish persecution but still had two counts pending.

Representative Lawrence Smith of Wisconsin proposed an amendment to reduce by 380 million dollars the ERP aid package for the ensuing 15 months, less of a reduction than his originally proposed 500 million. Administration leaders and House Speaker Sam Rayburn, however, remained confident that the aid package would pass intact and that the efforts to reduce the 5.38 billion dollar appropriation, plus 272 million in guarantees to private investors, would fail. The Senate had approved 5.58 billion the previous Friday.

Sunshine Biscuits, Inc., reported price cuts of about ten percent on a dozen lines of its cookies. G.E. cut prices on combination radio-phonographs by $15 to $90. Coal prices were also being lowered following a mild winter with less than normal demand. Heating oil had been reduced in price by .2 to .5 of a cent per gallon. But gasoline prices had risen by a half cent in a number of areas. An anti-freeze manufacturer reduced its price from $1.50 to $1 per gallon. Bendix, Inc., cut ten percent from the price of two automatic washers. Alden, Inc., fourth largest mail order house, reduced its catalogue prices by 15 percent below those of the previous year.

In Beverly Hills, the supposed kidnapping of a five-year old boy and demand for $33,000 in ransom was thought by the police chief to be a hoax perpetrated by the father to gain publicity to satisfy his gambling debts. The boy had been released unharmed after the mother said she paid the ransom. The boy had $1,000 in his hand. The police chief thought that the father, by this maneuver, could convince his gambling creditors that he could not pay them. The chief said that kidnappers would not have returned part of the ransom. He further said that the father was a known gambler with prior arrests, linked to Mickey Cohen, Harry Rothman, and Paulie Gibbons. Mr. Rothman had been murdered the previous fall in Mr. Cohen's haberdashery and Mr. Gibbons had been killed earlier, also in gangland style.

That's a kick in the ribs. The boy gets kidnaped and the police chief brands the father a gambler with gangland ties who can actually pay his gambling debts and was simply trying to work a scam on his gambling creditors. They may come collecting now, to add insult to injury and, probably, more injury to insult. He may soon be with Mr. Rothman and Mr. Gibbons and the fishes down at the pier.

In Charlotte, an Eastern Air Lines two-engined cargo plane skidded off the runway during the afternoon while trying to land amid light rain. There appeared to be no injuries.

There would be a full eclipse of the moon this night starting at 9:30 but it was unlikely to be visible for cloud cover around Charlotte. A broadcast of the event via WPTF radio would originate from the new Morehead Planetarium in Chapel Hill. The last lunar eclipse visible throughout the Northern Hemisphere had occurred December 18, 1945. Another one, however, was scheduled for the following October 6. And on April 28, there would be a total eclipse of the sun, not visible, however, within the hemisphere. The next total solar eclipse visible in the U.S. is predicted for March 7, 1970. And it will be right on time. After that, the next one visible from a large portion of the United States will be on August 21, 2017. But that is so far away that most of us will be gone by then. You can tell your grandchildren to watch for it when they are old folks.

On the editorial page, "Trouble at Dix Hill" addresses again how inadequate Dix Hill was for treatment of alcoholics, as also addressed by a piece from the Greensboro Daily News on the page.

The State, beginning with the revelations in early 1942 by the late Tom Jimison, who voluntarily admitted himself as a mental patient to Morganton for a year in 1940-41 and then wrote afterward of the horrors of the place in a series published throughout the state, starting in The News, had made great strides in care for the mentally ill. But the news from Dix Hill, it remarks, showed that the State was far from its objective. The shortage of building materials since the war, the lack of trained psychiatrists, and the difficulty in employing trained attendants at higher wages had slowed progress.

But, it urges, the state had waited too long already and could not afford to wait any longer to replace the "dank dungeons" of "medieval horror" with modern facilities for treatment of the mentally ill.

"New Farm Program" tells of the Government having used two methods to stabilize the national farm income, curtailed production to avoid surpluses, and parity price supports to encourage production. Agriculture Secretary Charles Brannan had now introduced a third method, with separate approaches to storable produce, as cotton and tobacco, and perishables, milk and meat, for instance. Parity prices would be preserved for storable produce, but with new Federal controls on acreage and production. A new complicated formula would be introduced to determine prices of perishable produce, allowing the retail prices of produce to drop to a level in the market to benefit consumers while the Government repaid the farmer the difference between the price for which he sold the produce and the "fair price" as determined by the formula. Since the difference would come from tax revenue, the consumer's savings would, save for low income persons, be largely illusory.

The new program begged questions of how accurate records on sales and production of each farmer could be maintained and how much the program would cost the Government. The National Planning Association had endorsed the program for it providing adequate food, stimulating soil conservation, and keeping farm income high and stable enough to maintain the farm population. If it accomplished those goals, asserts the piece, it would be worth trying.

"New German Nation" reviews the events which had led to the formation of a separate West German state after initial disagreement between the three Western allies as to its form. Military occupation would soon end with civilian administrators to take over from the military to oversee restoration of West Germany to a productive state in its own right. While there remained the rift with the Russians over East Germany, the move in the West was positive in rehabilitating Germany.

A piece from the Greensboro Daily News, as stated above, urges a State hospital for alcoholics separate from Dix Hill, the State hospital for the mentally ill. Men from Greensboro who had been treated at the latter facility for 60 days as alcoholics, either voluntarily or on commitment by their families, told of terrible conditions. The piece provides the details of their related experiences.

A piece from the Shelby Daily Star, titled "Wanted To Help, Anyway", expresses understanding of the woman who, not owing State taxes, had sent in $3 to the State to "help out" anyway. She had probably read of the General Assembly grappling with funding of the Governor's education and road-building programs, whether to use the State's surplus or to send bond measures for approval to the people.

The $3 was being returned, as the State was not quite bankrupt. It expresses nevertheless a vote of thanks to the woman for her attempted largess to keep the State a "going concern".

Drew Pearson recounts the day on which FDR died, a fine spring day in Washington, suddenly interrupted by the tragic news of the sudden death of the President in Warm Springs, Georgia, from a cerebral hemorrhage. And the nation, still fighting a two-front war, mourned the loss of its leader who had presided over the Government for the previous 12 tumultuous years, first involving emergence from economic depression and then plunging into another world war.

Secretary of War Henry Stimson, who had served as Secretary of State under President Hoover, wept openly as the caisson passed bearing the coffin. Only former Vice-President and then Secretary of Commerce Henry Wallace was calm, though he might have been President at that point had it not been for the party maneuvering in Chicago at the convention the previous summer to remove him from the ticket in favor of Senator Truman. He was nevertheless magnanimous and conceded that perhaps what the country then needed was a man of the people, a man with perhaps "Lincolnesque greatness", Harry Truman.

Initially, the country appeared to agree and embraced the new President. But the President, while urging the Roosevelt Cabinet to remain, was already slowly falling under the influence of such men as General Harry Vaughan, his military aide, and John Maragon, a former bootlegger from Kansas, who would influence greatly the advent of the Truman Doctrine for Greece.

None of the members of FDR's Cabinet remained in the Administration four years later. But General Vaughan and Mr. Maragon were still present and influential.

At Potsdam, in mid-July, 1945, the President dressed down Josef Stalin, with whom the country at the time enjoyed reasonably good relations. President Truman immediately began telling Stalin of the schedule he intended to keep at Potsdam, causing both Prime Minister Winston Churchill, about to be defeated in the first national elections in Britain in a decade, and Secretary of State James Byrnes to pause in concern. General Vaughan applauded the President's temerity. Secretary Byrnes, seeing that the President was pleased with himself, demurred. Adulation, not criticism, appeared to be the key to getting along with the new President, no longer humble.

The Potsdam Conference had ended pretty much in failure. Prime Minister Stalin had deserved much criticism since then, but observers wondered whether, had the President not been so forthright initially, he might not have achieved greater cooperation with the Russian leader. Perhaps if FDR had lived, the country would not have become embroiled in a cold war. "Maybe not."

He concludes: "Anyway, it seems a long, long time since that quiet day in April when the body of a great warrior was borne down Constitution Avenue."

Joseph Alsop tells of the chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisers, Dr. Edwin Nourse, having advised in a statement made to the Army Department that the rearming of Western Europe be financed by the reduction of U.S. defense spending and ERP aid. Such thinking had been provided initially with approval by the President, but it also gave to the isolationists in Congress a bone.

The President had in January proposed raising taxes, primarily on corporations, to pay for the increased spending on foreign military aid. Thus, his siding with Dr. Nourse appeared as another conflict of the type which led to Henry Wallace's resignation as Secretary of Commerce in September, 1946, after the Truman approval of his Madison Square Garden speech criticizing the "get-tough" policy of Secretary of State Byrnes against Russia, and then, after Secretary Byrnes threatened to resign over the speech, finally requesting the resignation of Secretary Wallace. The President had authorized the statement by Dr. Nourse, provided he first cleared it with Secretary of the Treasury John W. Snyder, Undersecretary of State James Webb, and Budget Director Frank Pace. Mr. Snyder approved but Mr. Pace, realizing the contradiction with the budget message of the President, did not. The latter opinion, however, was bypassed.

Mr. Alsop thus finds the matter to convey general ineptitude of a familiar type from within the Administration, one conveying a sympathy for the new isolationism. Secretary Snyder had, on Army Day, also made a similar speech to that of Dr. Nourse. In the first four years, some of the men close to the President had sabotaged only his domestic policies, but now they were venturing into foreign policy.

The first sign of this change came the previous fall when, based on the advice of Secretary Snyder, Dr. Nourse, and then Budget Director James Webb, the President placed a 15 billion dollar limit on the defense budget.

Mr. Alsop finds that the change came from the intense conservatism of the men around the President and their concern about rocking the boat in the face of ignorance of the world situation. They were thus bitterly opposed to higher taxes and were willing to sacrifice the security of the country to preserve the status quo. He concludes that such an approach, as revealed in the Nourse speech, could become very dangerous.

James Marlow reflects on the first four years of the Truman Administration since the death of President Roosevelt, finds it to have been full of "climaxes, increasing tensions, prosperity, and preparation against war." After the end of the war in Europe in early May, 1945, the Potsdam Conference in mid-July, the dropping of the two atom bombs on Japan in the early days of August and the end of the Pacific war, the push from Congress was to remove all economic controls to let prices run free. The result was rampant inflation after the end of OPA in the summer of 1946.

Meanwhile, the U.N. had been founded in June, 1945 and despite high hopes at its inception, had since proved a failure, stymied by repeated exercise of the Russian veto in the Security Council, preventing formation of an international police force and reaching agreement on limiting nuclear and conventional arms, among other things.

The electorate had voted for a Republican Congress in 1946, but then becoming equally fed up with the do-nothing 80th Congress, turned out the Republicans and restored both chambers to Democratic majorities in the 1948 election, which, in a stunning upset, saw the President also achieve victory over Governor Thomas Dewey, thought to be a shoo-in as the next occupant of the White House right up until election day.

Domestically, the President had sought to follow the New Deal, adding his own wrinkles, including a civil rights program, national health insurance, and a broadening of Social Security benefits, now calling it the "Fair Deal". But thus far, he had made no progress with it, as Congress, through coalitions of Southern Democrats and Republicans, had managed to block it.

Inflation continued to be a concern, though the country was prosperous.

In foreign policy, the Soviet moves in Eastern Europe had prompted in March, 1947, articulation of the Truman Doctrine, to provide military aid to Turkey and Greece. Three months later, Secretary of State Marshall articulated the Marshall Plan, to provide for economic recovery of Western Europe.

A great deal of money had been invested in stopping Russia, all of which meant more jobs in the country, to the point where it was questionable whether the country could afford peaceful relations with Russia.

Now, there was talk anew of war. "Where we go, no one knows, not even Mr. Truman."

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