The Charlotte News

Friday, June 17, 1949


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that in New York, in the perjury trial of Alger Hiss, defense motions at the close of the Government's case to dismiss the two counts and to direct a verdict of acquittal were denied. The latter was premised on lack of sufficient evidence to sustain the charges. The former was based on a claim of a defective indictment. Defense counsel said that Mr. Hiss would testify in his own behalf. The two perjury counts stemmed from Mr. Hiss's denial before the Grand Jury that he had ever met Whittaker Chambers after late 1936, after which, in the early months of 1937, Mr. Chambers claimed to have received the secret State Department documents from Mr. Hiss, and Mr. Hiss's denial that he ever provided any such douments to Mr. Chambers.

The last witness called by the Government was Benjamin H. Firsheim, who had transcribed Whittaker Chambers's testimony before HUAC on August 25, 1948, and said that he had mistranscribed part of that testimony. Mr. Chambers had claimed that he had not stated that the Hiss home in Washington, when he went to see him in late 1938, supposedly tearfully begging Mr. Hiss to leave the Communist Party with him, was located on "Dent Place" rather than on "Balt Place", as Mr. Chambers said he in fact had stated. Mr. Firsheim said that at the time he was unclear on what Mr. Chambers had said and conferred with a Committee staff member before transcribing it as "Dent". The significance of the error was that a prior witness before HUAC, Duncan Lee, lived on Dent Place, where Elizabeth Bentley claimed to have received from Mr. Lee valuable information which she transmitted to the Soviets. It also would suggest, if he had said Dent, that Mr. Chambers did not in fact know where Mr. Hiss lived in late 1938. (Incidentally, there is no "Balt" presently in the District. Perhaps, the reporter mistranscribed it. Dent Place does run nearly into Wisconsin Avenue, "beyond" which Mr. Chambers had claimed in his August 7 HUAC testimony, 18 days before the claimed mistranscription, that Mr. Hiss lived in late 1938. Perhaps this Eleusinian mystery, the matter of the Bent Balt Dent, will be resolved in the defense case.)

It was not clear whether Mr. Firsheim was the "surprise" witness promised by the prosecution to end its case, or whether it had been Henry Julian Wadleigh the previous day, testifying that he had taken State Department documents while employed there and provided them to Mr. Chambers. Mr. Wadleigh had testified that it was possible that he gave to Mr. Chambers the "pumpkin papers"—the microfilmed documents which Mr. Chambers revealed to HUAC investigator Robert Stripling on his Maryland farm in December after they had been stored in a dumbwaiter of the Brooklyn home of Mr. Chambers's nephew for a decade and which Mr. Chambers claimed came from Mr. Hiss—, but Mr. Wadleigh did not think so.

In the trial in Washington of Judith Coplon, accused of espionage by taking Justice Department documents in the course of her employment there and intending to pass them to a Soviet agent, Valentine Gubitchev, a former employee of the U.N. Secretariat, Ms. Coplon testified that she had always been loyal to the country and that she wanted to live out her life in the U.S. She had denied the previous day that she had ever been a Communist or ever given Government secrets to Mr. Gubitchev, arrested with her on March 4.

ERP administrator Paul Hoffman was reported by Senator Willis Robertson of Virginia to have won his battle with the Senate not to make large cuts in ERP appropriations for the coming year. Any cut to be made, Senators said, would be small.

The Senate Armed Services Committee examined the House-approved bill to raise military pay at a total cost of 300 million dollars per year. Senator Harry F. Byrd of Virginia expressed concern that Army and Navy officers were retiring at an early age and drawing pay for life while able to earn high salaries in the private sector. He objected that provisions to tighten retirement benefits to keep personnel in service longer had been rejected while approving the pay hikes.

In Milwaukee, a 19-year old young man said that the younger sister of his wife was shot during a struggle for a revolver, that he had not murdered her, as charged. He was accused of shooting the 16-year old to death five weeks before he eloped with the older sister. The body of the victim was pulled from the Milwaukee River three days after the elopement.

In Rockport, Mo., a Presbyterian minister had been punched in the nose by a Methodist minister, following an argument regarding which preacher would perform a marriage ceremony. The Methodist minister pleaded guilty to assault and was fined $25. The Presbyterian minister said that he would sue the Methodist minister for $10,000 for his broken nose. The dispute arose because the bride was a Methodist and wanted the marriage in her church, while the groom was a Presbyterian, wanted his minister to perform the ceremony, the two agreeing to that arrangement, but to the consternation of the Methodist minister, after which the argument ensued, leading to the punch. What was in the punch is not indicated.

The Southern Baptist Convention had declined an invitation to participate in a conference on Church union, to be held in December at Princeton, N.J., saying that Church union did not supply the answers to the issues of "secularism, materialism, and sin".

In Raleigh, a Robeson County native was executed for the murder of his wife. Governor Kerr Scott had refused a request for commutation. The State Supreme Court had affirmed his conviction two weeks earlier.

In Greenville, N.C., the State Superintendent of Public Instruction said in an address at East Carolina Teachers College that he would oppose hiring Communists as teachers in public schools and at the college level, and that there should be stern discipline for students who subscribed to Communist doctrines.

Resort Air Lines of Southern Pines, N.C., having won its authorization to operate from the Civil Aeronautics Board, was planning to expand its business by purchasing several additional large-capacity airplanes.

In Asheville, N.C., flood waters began to recede, allowing families to return to their homes. No casualties had been reported from the flood of the Swannanoa and French Broad Rivers, which had risen two feet above flood stage from heavy rains throughout Western North Carolina and into Tennessee and Georgia.

In Charlotte, an informal conference in the Chamber of Commerce sought to convince an administrator of the Veterans Administration that Charlotte was the logical location for an authorized 15 million dollar neuropsychiatric hospital. The City had offered a 500-acre site for the hospital. Sites had also been offered in Greensboro, Durham, Winston-Salem, High Point, and Salisbury. A decision would be made on the locus in 30 to 45 days.

Norman is coming home from the flood. We hope that he is okay after losing his id.

On the editorial page, "Obstacle Removed" suggests that most Americans would get a lift from the news that Congress had settled its differences on the Reorganization bill and thus authorized the President to undertake the tasks recommended by the Hoover Commission. It reviews the differences in the House and Senate bills which had been ironed out in conference, the House version having exempted several agencies while the Senate had exempted none, the House having allowed either house, by majority of those voting, to veto the President's proposed reorganization while the Senate required a majority of those voting in both houses.

The final version had no exemptions and required a majority of the entire membership of either house to veto within 60 days of the proposal. Now the matter was up to the President to use his reorganization authority.

"The Golden Door?" tells of the effort to revise the displaced persons bill passed by the previous Congress, which had the effect of limiting immigration of Jews while mandating that 30 percent of the displaced persons had to have agrarian backgrounds, not consistent with the numbers and needs of the displaced persons of Europe. The Act also required the displaced person to have a job and home lined up in the U.S. before immigrating, limiting immigration to those who had influence or family connections in the country.

The House had passed a new bill which was somewhat better, but Senator Pat McCarran of Nevada, chairman of the immigration subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee, stood by the old law. Most of the subcommittee he had selected stood with him, with the exception of Senator J. Howard McGrath, DNC chairman and committed therefore to the party platform which included liberalization of the displaced persons statute.

The piece hopes that Senator McGrath could prevail in getting the subcommittee to go against its chairman. If not, then the inscription on the Statue of Liberty would be given the lie.

"Ordinance Is Needed" tells of the City Planning Board reviving the ordinance requiring a setback of 25 feet for buildings in the downtown area, with adherence required only on a voluntary basis and making provision for the City to purchase the property of owners who did not comply. The ordinance would also be applied only to certain streets. The piece views it as a sensible compromise to allow for widening of streets for parking and facilitation of traffic flow after voters had turned down the authorization for the City to build off-street parking facilities.

"Profit and Public Service" tells of Pocket Books, Inc., having sold more books in the previous decade than all best sellers had sold since 1880. Its first book in 1939 was Pearl Buck's The Good Earth. It had since published 600 titles. Its tremendous success had derived from the fact that the books sold for a quarter apiece as paperbacks. The result had been a great increase in readership of good books, not affordable to many at $3 to $4 each in hard covers. Fully 260 million such paperbacks of all publishers had been sold.

The piece thanks Pocket Books for a valuable contribution therefore to public education.

The fifth in the series of articles from Fortune on the Hoover Commission recommendations on reorganization of the executive branch of the Government examines Government property. After discussing the waste inherent in the present system, it conveys the Hoover Commission recommendations: to form an Office of General Services to supervise supply operations; have the Office then promulgate uniform standards and procedures, perform some buying itself, and arrange for most agencies to do their own purchasing; and have the Office's Bureau of Federal Supply not control military supply but rather seek to coordinate those supply operations with civilian supply.

Drew Pearson tells of the House Armed Services Committee, chaired by Carl Vinson of Georgia, probing not only the B-36 but also, to the consternation of Congressman James Van Zandt who had launched the probe, seeking to locate the source of the smear campaign against Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson and Air Force Secretary Stuart Symington. That would bring to light the identity of the author of the vitriolic speeches of Mr. Van Zandt, charging conflicts of interest in promoting the B-36, under contract to Consolidated Vultee, with which Mr. Johnson had ties, but a plane which had been selected by the Defense Department in early 1948, before Mr. Johnson's service had begun the previous late March. The Committee was expected to look hard at the Navy League, chief lobbyist for the Navy, which had been especially heavy-handed in criticism of Mr. Johnson, even comparing him to European dictators.

The League had also tangled in 1932 with President Hoover, charging him with "abysmal ignorance". The Navy had been ordered by the President to cut its 1933 budget and instead it was raised. When the President insisted on cutting the Navy proposal in half, the Navy League, founded by major shipping and steel manufacturing interests in the country, hurled the ignorance charge at the President. They had a vested interest in a large Navy because they supplied the raw materials to build the ships.

While there was nothing wrong with the Navy League presenting pro-Navy views to Congress, the public had a right to know who was behind the propaganda effort. In this case, it was the admirals themselves or their friends who, in many cases, profited from Navy contracts.

He notes that it was difficult to have unification of the armed forces when one branch was battling the commander.

W. T. Bost of the Greensboro Daily News tells of the Editor of the High Point Enterprise, Robert Thompson, being willing to give two to one odds that Bill Sharpe, public information officer for the State, would leave public service for being dispirited by Governor Kerr Scott's willingness to fire State employees for not having supported him in the campaign.

Machine Governors, as Clyde Hoey and Gregg Cherry, Mr. Scott's immediate predecessors, were not inclined to fire indiscriminately for only political reasons. The same had been true of Governors Cameron Morrison, Governor in the period 1921-25, and his successor, Angus McLean, who maintained those in their Administrations who had not supported them in the race for Governor. Similarly, O. Max Gardner had appointed former Governor Morrison to be Senator nine years after Mr. Morrison had beaten him in the gubernatorial race. The people's Governor, Mr. Scott, however, did fire for purely political reasons.

He concludes that Editor Thompson was not a very good sport, as he was betting on a sure thing.

Marquis Childs discusses ERP administration awareness of resentment on the part of some workers in the country over the fact that raw materials and machinery were being sent to Europe while American products were not being exported, resulting in some cases in unemployment. As unemployment was growing in the country, the resentment was growing.

ERP administrators were trying to educate unions and employers regarding the need to restore the Western European economy as a bulwark to Communist aggression. But as unemployment grew, the unemployed looked for a scapegoat and the Marshall Plan appeared the most likely candidate.

For ten years, the country had been virtually without foreign competition in the home market. During the war, imports dropped virtually to nothing. With the revival of foreign markets as a result of the Marshall Plan, there was a danger of a renewal of economic isolationism, to keep foreign goods out of American markets.

Communist opponents of the Marshall Plan were exploiting this tendency by promoting in the U.S. the idea that the Marshall Plan was stimulating competition to take away American jobs, while the European worker was being told that America wanted to maintain domination over world markets so that Europeans would be dependent on goods from America.

A stampede toward economic nationalism could undo everything which America had attempted for bringing order and peace to a chaotic world.

A letter from the chief of the Fire Department thanks the newspaper, and especially Dick Young, for supporting the local bond issue to modernize the fire alarm system, passed by the voters.

A letter writer waxes poetic on Governor Kerr Scott and the President:

Three more years of Scott,
Three more years of Truman.
If we can stand for that,
We must be superhuman.

But then after that, it is going to be:

Eight more years of Checkers,
Eight more years of Dick.
How in almighty hell
Can you help but feel
Just a little down and sick.

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.