The Charlotte News

Tuesday, August 2, 1949


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the Senate postponed hearings from the following day until Monday regarding the President's proposed 1.45 billion dollar military aid program. Senator Tom Connally wanted first to meet with members of the Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees after hearing in private from Secretary of State Acheson and Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson regarding the program. Some Senators were reported to be objecting to the wide latitude afforded by the bill to the President to provide aid to any nation in the world in more than stop-gap amounts. Senator Connally stated that the effort was to meet Senators' objections before the beginning of hearings.

Meanwhile, Averell Harriman, the roving Ambassador for ERP, urged the House Foreign Affairs Committee to approve the program "to protect the growing generation from war." He said that any delay in sending aid would give rise to doubts among Western allies regarding the willingness to back NATO, just ratified by the United States.

The House voted to increase veterans' benefits by 112 million dollars during its first year, passed without opposition or debate. It now went to the Senate. It provided for full compensation rather than 75 percent to World War I veterans with service-related disabilities, would liberalize the compensation schedule for veterans with tuberculosis, increase disability and death compensation rates and rates for service-connected disability, and give compensation to dependents of veterans with at least a 50 percent service-connected disability, whereas the present law afforded benefits only to dependents of veterans with at least a 60 percent disability.

In Charlotte, the former employee of the 68-year old woman who had been killed in her home in the Myers Park neighborhood the previous morning, confessed to the shotgun homicide. He was a 23-year old Army veteran. He said that he had gone to the home to retrieve personal belongings after having been terminated from his job there as a butler and encountered his replacement who initially sought to bar his access. He then was able to sneak into the residence where he confronted the woman about getting his belongings. He said that she ordered him to leave, grabbed a shotgun from an adjoining room and pointed it at him, at which point, apprehensive of imminent firing of the gun, he sought to wrestle it from her and in the struggle, it had fired, striking her in the left shoulder. He then heard the replacement butler leave the house, whereupon he followed and, after another confrontation during which the butler approached him, bludgeoned the butler with a pipe he found on the premises and cut his neck on either side with a razor blade which he had in his pocket.

He said that he had gone to the residence to retrieve his Army discharge papers, his clothes, and, according to the police chief, though not in his signed statement, a picture book from Paris, France, containing images of nude and semi-nude white women.

The police, however, asserted that the man's motive for the entry and killing was robbery—actually, on the facts, burglary—, that he had admitted taking $11 from the woman's pocketbook after she had been killed by the shotgun blast.

Fingerprints at the residence on a lamp and on the shotgun were traced to the defendant the previous night. The defendant was then arrested at his apartment while packing to leave during the morning of this date, 24 hours after the murder. He jumped from a second-story window in an effort to elude capture. A tip on his whereabouts had been provided by the man's wife.

He had been convicted of draft evasion in 1944, and subsequently sent to the brig for being AWOL and for assault on a non-commissioned officer. The previous morning, the dead woman's husband had gone to swear out a warrant for the defendant's arrest on a charge of larceny for allegedly stealing $40 and some personal items when he left his job.

The text of his confession is provided, presumably prepared by detectives from his oral statements.

The defendant, a black man, would subsequently be convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to death. Within four months, on December 9, he would be executed in the State's gas chamber at Central Prison in Raleigh.

Whether any effort was made to present a case for imperfect self-defense, supported by his confession, possibly to reduce the charge to second degree murder or manslaughter, we shall have to wait and see. A potential problem with such a defense was that the woman, according to a detective, had a slight wound on one hand, suggestive of having been trying to ward off the shotgun blast—also suggestive that the defendant, perhaps, had complete control of the weapon at the time of its firing, if so, in all likelihood negating the defense. More forensic evidence will be needed for the assessment to be made, bearing in mind that the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did not exercise either legal self-defense or an imperfect self-defense—at least under current North Carolina law, though earlier law appears to have differed, requiring the defendant to prove the defense by a preponderance of the evidence, that is more likely than not that the scenario constituting self-defense took place. The felony-murder rule will also complicate the defense scenario by the degree of malice necessary for first degree murder being implied from the fact of a murder, not just a homicide, taking place during the commission of a felony, assuming the prosecution can prove that the defendant in this instance entered the premises with specific intent to commit at least petty larceny, thus constituting a felony burglary.

Whether his confession was completely spontaneous and voluntary, without any coercion by promise or suggestion of lenience, we shall also have to wait and see.

The butler who was bludgeoned and had his neck or throat slit by the defendant, at least based on the confession, would survive and live until 1990.

In London, Miss America, Bebe Shopp, 18, started a 33-day crusade through Europe for "clean thinking and bona fide bosoms". She said that she did not wear falsies and never would, that a girl must be "her very own self". She added that falsies were honest if a woman felt that she must wear them. She wanted plenty of milk and loads of good, nourishing food. She said that she was a teetotaler and did not smoke. Her emphasis on clean thinking would focus on the two-piece bathing suit, especially the French model, which she described "as a dab here and here and a bit right down here and back there." She believed that so much emphasis on nudity was bad for the morals of men and for people generally. Her upper measurement was 37 inches.

She urged women all over the world to improve themselves mentally and physically. Her reign would expire September 10. The European tour, her last as Miss America, would end with attendance of a bull fight in Lisbon.

On the editorial page, "About-Face in Rowan" tells of Rowan County, having rejected the ABC-controlled system of liquor sales in 1947, adopting it by vote the previous Saturday.

It finds the decision to be in the best tradition of the local option and urges that the County take the advice of the Salisbury Post to become a model for ABC law enforcement.

"J.C.B. Ehringhaus" praises, in the wake of his death, the former Governor between 1933 and 1937, expressing gratitude that the recognition of him as a good Governor had come prior to his death. He had been an efficient Governor during the recovery from the Depression, responding with economy in State Government and urging successfully the passage of a sales tax to increase revenue, a tax still on the books. A deficit when he entered the office had become a surplus after four years. In addition, he attracted to the state two-thirds of the REA lines built in the nation during the period, obtained from the General Assembly an unemployment compensation law, and lowered utility rates substantially.

Governor Ehringhaus, in the early 1960's, would have a dormitory named for him on the UNC campus in Chapel Hill.

"Curtains for Atlantic's Gambling" tells of two Miami reporters finding an active slot machine business running illegally but openly at Atlantic Beach in North Carolina and then being arrested for being so nosy. Released a couple of days later, they sold their story and then the Raleigh News & Observer sent in reporters to cover the enterprise, found that with publicity, the slots had been closed down. The SBI had moved in and the citizens of Carteret County were demanding better law enforcement.

The piece concludes that it was safe to assume that for at least the ensuing few weeks, the slot machine business would be on the wane.

A piece from the Greensboro Daily News, titled "A Worthwhile Invitation", tells of the President having been invited to the Asheboro Fair in September. It suggests that he would enjoy it more than the State Fair in Raleigh, which he had attended the prior year, and suggests that Jonathan Daniels write for him a better speech than he had delivered on that occasion.

It suggests that former President Hoover be invited as the people of Randolph County appeared to be more in favor of the Hoover Commission report than the President.

Since September was a little early for barbecue, a Randolph Republican, Bill Hasty, might be inclined to prepare a chicken stew for the President, in which case, it suggests, it would be tempted to hang around Asheboro as Grant did Richmond.

A summary of a piece from the Congressional Quarterly, tells of the week in Congress. The House had passed the anti-poll tax after Southerners sought to block it. It would now go to the Senate, where it was unlikely to survive filibuster.

The Foreign Aid Appropriations bill was sent back to the Senate Appropriations Committee for further study.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee opened hearings on the President's new 1.45 billion dollar military aid proposal for Western European members of NATO, plus Korea, the Philippines, and Iran, and continuance of aid begun in 1947 to the Truman Doctrine recipient nations of Turkey and Greece.

Several Senators introduced two resolutions, one to make the U.N. eventually into a world federation and the other to explore the possibilities of a federal union among the Atlantic Pact nations.

It goes on to summarize other miscellaneous actions on the floor and in committees, including approval by the House Labor & Education Committee of the permanent Fair Employment Practices Commission bill and approval by a House Commerce subcommittee of the 35 million dollar fund for school health services, to be made available to public as well as private and parochial schools.

Drew Pearson tells of Senator Karl Mundt of South Dakota proposing to establish an information bureau which would provide businessmen, big and small, data on Government contracts, to avoid some of the special consideration obtained through lobbying by the major corporations, able to afford major lobbying efforts.

Senator J. Howard McGrath, appointed to replace Tom Clark as Attorney General, had obtained a leg up in politics twenty years earlier when the actor Eddie Dowling returned to his native Rhode Island for a parade, in which Mr. McGrath, then a budding politician, was a participant. When FDR entered the White House in 1933, he disliked Senator Peter Gerry of Rhode Island and gave the patronage dispensation to Eddie Dowling, who passed it on to Mr. McGrath. He then ran for State attorney general and governor, winning each office. He took the job of Solicitor General when President Truman offered it, and then ran successfully for the Senate.

The Byrd-machine in Virginia stood the chance of losing the gubernatorial race, as the Byrd-backed candidate, John Battle, had drafted the bill to deprive the President of the state's electoral votes even if he won the popular vote.

Mr. Battle would ultimately win the primary.

Former isolationist Senator from North Carolina, Robert Rice Reynolds, was reported to be considering a run for the Senate seat against incumbent Frank Graham in the special election of 1950. Mr. Pearson thinks he would not have a chance—and, indeed, he would poll only ten percent of the vote, as Willis Smith, Raleigh attorney, whose race-baiting campaign would be managed by Jesse Helms, would defeat Senator Graham the following spring.

Congressional leaders had informed the President that there was no time to enact the Social Security extension measure during the current session.

The Barden bill, to allow Federal aid to education only to public schools, was hopelessly stalled in the House Labor & Education Committee and the leaders doubted they had the votes to dislodge compromise legislation already passed by the Senate.

Joseph Alsop discusses the British and American timetables for conclusion of preparation for Soviet armed attack, the British setting a target date for 1955-56 and the Americans, less optimistically, for 1952-53. But already, the ceiling placed on the 1949-50 defense budget by the President meant a year of additional lag time.

The dates were chosen, in part, as a result of study by the American and British chiefs of staff regarding Soviet capability to develop an atomic bomb. There was nothing sacrosanct about American possession of the atomic secret and the scientists had understood that since 1945. Marshal Beria, the former head of the Russian secret police, headed the Soviet atomic energy program and he had at his disposal thousands of slave laborers extracting uranium from the mines of Erzgebirge.

But the broad view for setting the dates was based on Soviet development in all fields of armament.

The Administration's program for arming Western Europe was woefully short of that necessary to withstand more than a temporary holding position against Soviet armed attack. Moreover, the State and Defense Departments appeared to be ducking their responsibilities in coordinating Western military cooperation in more than ephemeral ways. It meant that such things as provision for adequate air bases for strategic overseas aircraft would also be neglected.

Adding these problems to the flagging British economy and the disagreement regarding atomic policy served to cause, he finds, more danger than at any time since the U.S. had begun to face the the problems presented by the Soviet Union, within six months to a year after the war.

Marquis Childs finds gloom and apprehension in the labor-liberal wing of the Democratic Party regarding the nomination of Tom Clark to the Supreme Court to replace deceased Justice Frank Murphy. Yet, there would be little or no opposition to his confirmation, save perhaps on the conservative side of the aisle in the Senate.

Liberals believed that Chief Justice Fred Vinson had more to do with the nomination than any other person outside the White House. They perceived a government by cronies and that the former liberal majority of five on the Court, of which Justice Murphy had been a member, would revert to four, with Justice Clark falling under the guidance of Chief Justice Vinson, taking a narrow view of individual rights.

Justice Murphy had cast a vote 53 times in support of individual rights between 1946 and 1948. Justice Wiley Rutledge—to die the following month—was second with 52 such votes. Chief Justice Vinson and Justice Stanley Reed were at the bottom of the nine, each having voted only eight times for individual rights. Justice Harold Burton, the President's first appointment, in October, 1945, had voted ten times for the claimed right; Justice William O. Douglas, 47 times; Justice Hugo Black, 39 times; Justice Felix Frankfurter, 23 times; and Justice Robert Jackson, 14 times.

Justice Murphy was also least active in voting to deny an individual right, voting only three times to do so. Justice Rutledge again was second, with 4; Justice Douglas, 10; Justice Black, 17; Justice Frankfurter, 34; Justice Jackson, 41; Justice Burton, 47; and Justice Reed and Chief Justice Vinson, 49 each.

The new minority would likely coalesce around Justices Douglas, Black, and Rutledge, with Justice Jackson or Justice Frankfurter occasionally joining.

A number of civil rights cases would likely come before the Court in the ensuing few years and those decisions would have a major impact on the future of the society, at a time when the power of the state was encroaching on the rights of the individual.

He concludes that it would be folly to predict how an individual Justice would respond to the position on the Court, but Justice Clark's career would be watched with intense interest by those who believed in equal justice under the law.

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