The Charlotte News

Monday, July 21, 1952


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the 31st quadrennial Democratic national convention in Chicago opened this date, providing a six-minute standing ovation to Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson who routinely opened the convention. The prolonged ovation occurred despite the fact that the Governor still maintained that he did not want the nomination, and that most observers were dismissing the possibility of his draft. Most of the Southern delegates, backing Senator Richard Russell of Georgia for the nomination, remained in their seats during the ovation. The Governor received another ovation at the conclusion of his short statement, indicating that the Democrats would never apologize for their 20th Century leadership and that who led the country was less important than what led it, that what counted was what the country was for and not what it was against, and that "a man doesn't save a country or civilization, but a militant party wedded to a principle can."

India Edwards, the DNC vice-chairman, said this date that she did not think a man chosen by the delegates to be the nominee could possibly refuse a draft, and, when asked whether she thought that Governor Stevenson would accept such a draft, indicated that she did. She added, however, that she had not discussed the matter with the Governor. She stated in response to questions that she was not in a position to contradict the President's prior statement that he would not accept a draft by the convention.

The platform fight was one of North versus South over civil rights, as it had been in earlier conventions. A threatened floor fight at the opening session regarding the seating of the rival delegations from Mississippi and Texas was delayed for 24 hours through rescheduling. The platform committee hoped to present its draft to the convention on Wednesday. Spokesmen at the headquarters of Senator Estes Kefauver indicated that they doubted there would be a floor fight over either the credentials or platform committee reports. The Kefauver camp showed a willingness to join with the supporters of Averell Harriman to force a quick showdown with the Southern, anti-Truman forces.

Edwin Haakinson of the Associated Press indicates that hearings were winding up on the platform demands for a civil rights plank stronger than that in 1948. Senators Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota, Herbert Lehman of New York, and William Benton of Connecticut favored not only a strongly worded civil rights plank but also a statement of precisely how the party planned to implement the plank in Congress. They favored changing the cloture rules to make it easier to end a filibuster on civil rights. Congressman William Dawson of Illinois, the only black member of the platform committee, stated that he would support the anti-filibuster plank, as it was the only way to effect change on civil rights legislation. The chairman of the platform committee, Congressman John McCormack of Massachusetts, hoped to complete the public hearings this date.

Senator Paul Douglas of Illinois stated in a speech to the convention that the Joint Chiefs had reported in 1947 that Korea had little strategic value to the U.S. and that General Eisenhower had been the Army chief of staff at that time. He was responding to the Republican criticism at their convention regarding the Administration's Korean War policy.

The North Carolina delegation elected new national committee members, headed by retiring Congressman Robert L. Doughton and Mrs. B. B. Everett. Mr. Doughton replaced in the position Raleigh News & Observer publisher Jonathan Daniels, who had not sought re-election. Mr. Daniels was elected to a position on the credentials committee. Mrs. Everett succeeded Beatrice Cobb, who had also not sought re-election. The delegation was headed by former Governor and Senator Cameron Morrison, who had declared that he would bolt almost anything except the Democratic ticket and that he would accept anything in the platform unless it were unconstitutional.

Governor James Byrnes of South Carolina was elected delegation chairman from that state and the delegation served notice that they would not support a nominee found to be unacceptable. A resolution previously adopted at the state party convention, vowing independence from any national political organization, was provided to the DNC the previous day, designed to forestall any efforts by the DNC to require a loyalty pledge to support the nominee and platform.

Joseph and Stewart Alsop report on the front page that the convention reminded of 1944, when FDR had great difficulty making up his mind on who should replace Henry Wallace as the vice-presidential running mate. In the end, the party leaders had no trouble in determining that they wanted Senator Truman, with FDR absent from the convention, and delivering a radio address to it from aboard ship on the Pacific Coast, on his way to meet General MacArthur. Now, in 1952, a parallel existed in that the word had come from Washington through different channels that the President was giving the nod for the nomination to Vice-President Alben Barkley. The Alsops believe that this Presidential endorsement, plus the active maneuvering by party leaders, would lead to the nomination going to the Vice-President. The pro-Barkley leaders among the President's advisers had convinced him to switch his allegiance from a draft of Governor Stevenson, who was deemed too reluctant to be reliable at this juncture, and also from Averell Harriman, on the basis that at least two-thirds of the convention delegates would gang up against the latter's nomination.

Ten union labor leaders continued to assert that Vice-President Barkley was too old, at 74, to become the party's nominee. AFL President William Green, also 74, stated in a televised interview that the Vice-President had always been a friend of labor, the statement being taken as something of a blessing for his candidacy. Other AFL leaders who were younger, however, along with CIO leaders, insisted that they would not provide support to the Vice-President.

In Tehachapi, California, a violent earthquake, the strongest in Southern California in fifty years, struck the community before dawn this date, leveling buildings, killing at least eleven persons and leaving a mounting toll of injuries and damage in its wake. Observers on the scene believed that as rescue workers sorted through the rubble in the town, the death toll might climb higher. Five of the dead belonged to one family, a mother and her four young children, ranging in age from 5 to 13. Another of the dead was a 13-year old girl. Each of the town's 15 major buildings had suffered some damage. Military police were flown in from Edwards Air Force Base, 40 miles away, to assist the Sheriff's deputies in maintaining order. At least ten persons were hospitalized in Mojave, 20 miles distant from Tehachapi. A motel and store at Grapevine were reported wrecked, with two persons injured. Bakersfield had also been hard hit, with a refinery on fire and the business district littered with rubble and broken glass. Dozens of people were treated for bruises at Kern County General Hospital. The quake was felt throughout much of California, from San Francisco to the Mexican border, breaking water mains, causing electric power outages, blocking highways and rail lines, and shattering windows. Because the earthquake's epicenter was in a thinly populated area, the death toll was kept to a minimum.

Other prior disastrous California earthquakes are listed, including the 1906 San Francisco quake, which resulted in 700 deaths and an estimated 400 million dollars in property damage, most of the death and damage occurring in the resulting fire, a 1925 Santa Barbara quake, which caused eleven deaths and ten million dollars in damage, a quake in the Long Beach-Compton area of Los Angeles in 1933, resulting in more than 100 deaths and 40 million dollars in damage, and a quake in El Centro and the Imperial Valley in 1940, resulting in nine deaths and six million dollars in damage.

In Buenos Aires, Eva Peron, gravely ill wife of Argentine dictator Juan Peron, was reported holding her own early this date after rallying slightly during the weekend in her battle against terminal cancer. The previous day, thousands of organized workers, under the leadership of the General Confederation of Labor, stood in the rain in the Central Plaza de la Republica in Buenos Aires for a nationwide mass, praying for the recovery of the dictatrix. (Just because the devil's wife is a little nicer to the peasants than was the devil, himself, does not mean that she was, therefore, an angel. Indeed, she was the grand distraction which kept the peasants in mollified subjection for the most part. Or don't you get that?)

On page 4-B, sports editor Bob Quincy began the first of a series of three columns on former Boston Red Sox slugger Ted Williams, who was presently in training at Cherry Point Marine Air Base as a jet pilot.

On the editorial page, "European Bases Key to Air War" tells of there being one school of foreign policy in the country which emphasized air power and diminished the vital importance of Europe to the country's defense. Former President Herbert Hoover was a leading exponent of that theory, indicating that the "first national purpose of this republic must be the defense of this final Gibraltar of freedom—that is the Western Hemisphere." Senator Taft, General MacArthur, other military men and many right-wing Republicans generally agreed with that view. It was also held by some who did not accept the Old Guard Republican mentality, but were nevertheless attracted to the idea of a powerful, home-based Air Force.

It suggests that the importance of Western Europe hit home when the outmoded concept of Eastern and Western hemispheres was abandoned in favor of a global viewpoint. This viewpoint regarded the "principal hemisphere" as the 90 percent of the ice-free land area of the world, including 94 percent of the people and 98 percent of the industry. The other hemisphere consisted of Antarctica, Oceania, the southern part of South America and a lot of water. Two maps associated with the piece illustrate the point. The U.S. was on the periphery of the principal hemisphere, while France and the other countries of Western Europe were in its middle. It was this hemisphere to which the Communists were paying attention and so its center was of immense strategic importance, particularly to the Air Force.

It indicates that it was 4,984 miles from Chicago to Moscow, whereas it was only 1,541 miles from Paris to Moscow, providing similar discrepancies in distances to Istanbul and to Calcutta from each of those two origins. The difference of more than 6,000 miles on a round trip flight meant that in the event of a third world war, the Air Force would need resort to the extra-long-range bombers to accomplish the mission, if forced to fly from the U.S. Those bombers, therefore, could carry less payload and could be accompanied by fewer fighters and support. It meant that more of the expensive military equipment being produced by the country would be destroyed, with less damage to the enemy. It suggests that a "Europe first" policy made sense to ensure the availability of the bases in Western Europe, without which, the Air Force would be at a tremendous strategic disadvantage.

"Take Your Choice" tells of the pundits for weeks having avoided predicting who would capture the Democratic nomination for the presidency, whereas now, with the convention starting, they were beginning to crawl out onto a limb, though making varied predictions. The previous night on his radio show, Drew Pearson predicted that the nominee would be Senator Kefauver. Columnist David Lawrence predicted that after several ballots, the convention would draft Governor Stevenson. The Alsops were predicting that the nod would go to Vice-President Barkley, after receiving the endorsement of the President.

It concludes that it was a free-for-all and that anything could happen.

"The State Loses a Leader" tells of the death at age 55 by heart attack of Dr. Clyde Erwin, superintendent of State Public Instruction. When he had come to the office in 1934, the state was still in the midst of the Depression and mere preservation of the school system was a formidable task. Nevertheless, a bold new plan had been put forward to ensure progress, such that every child in all of the 100 counties of the state could attain an equal minimum educational standard. Dr. Erwin was in charge of guiding and directing that program. He had been as much a diplomat as he had been an educator, waging calmly the battles every two years with the Advisory Budget Commission and the General Assembly. He had also led a crusade to educate adults to the need for a better educational system for their children.

He had not been a revolutionary but instead often appeared deliberately to avoid entanglement in major policy controversies. Yet, during his tenure, the school year had been lengthened from 8 to 9 months and the duration of the educational career from 11 to 12 years. The budget had increased from 19 million dollars in 1934 to 103 million in 1952. The state meanwhile expanded its school bus transportation system until it was the largest in the nation, had provided rental textbooks and established a school lunch program.

It concludes that Dr. Erwin had been a faithful public servant and that his untimely death the prior Saturday had been a heavy loss to the state.

"History 'Neath a Carolina Moon" tells of visitors to the state having come to realize that North Carolina had some top-notch theater and good tourist attractions in its four outdoor historical dramas. Recently, the editors of Business Week had presented an illustrated piece on those dramas, which included "Thunderland", at Asheville, "Horn in the West", at Boone, "Unto These Hills", at Cherokee, and "The Lost Colony", at Manteo. Ticket sales for the four productions were expected to reach 500,000 in 1952, meaning an income of a million dollars, most of which would be reinvested in the productions, scholarships, or used to repay local citizens who had put up the cash for the original presentations.

The four productions had a lot to do with causing the state to have a 350-million dollar tourist trade, the third largest industry in the state. They were also a way of preserving and teaching the state's history, while enabling capable local actors to have an outlet for their talents.

"When one takes in one of these dramas 'neath a Carolina moon, he gets his history easily (and pretty straight) along with some darned good theater." It finds it a wonderful way to spend an evening.

Seventeen years from this date, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, having become the first men to land on that Carolina moon the previous date, would take off in the lunar landing craft and re-dock with the Apollo 11 spacecraft, which had been piloted, in the meantime, by Michael Collins. (We saw it 'neath the Georgia moon, and still have the $20 topographically-accurate moon globe which used to glow in the dark, purchased from Rich's on the date of the landing. Bet you haven't got one...)

But really, we do not need to waste the money in sending men to Mars, when we have already explored that planet with unmanned missions. Better to spend the money here on the manifold problems which remain than to invest in what amounts to little more than a toy for the playtime of politicians, mainly Republican. And no one, save the hopelessly stupid contingent who fall over themselves at every statement uttered by His Royal Highness, Bumbly Trumply, is going to be inspired by the notion of sending a man to Mars by 2030, any more than they were by the suggestion of President George H. W. Bush, circa 1990, that the nation would send men to Mars by 2010. Newsflash: That never happened. Nor will we send men to Mars by 2030 or 2040 or 2050, unless the country is finally taken over by the idiotic mentality which put the present "President" in the White House. In that event, we probably won't last that long anyway. So why waste the money? You can't live there, stupid.

The manned space program was Cold War-stimulated, ultimately geared toward a peaceful solution while expanding defense capabilities vis-à-vis the Soviet Union and keeping pace with its expansion of the Cold War into space, and, fortunately, is a relic of that past, as much as was the Model T or biplane in May, 1961, when Alan Shepard became the first American to enter space.

On the other hand, perhaps if the entire contingent of remaining Trumply-Dumply supporters would be willing to volunteer as human guinea pigs for a 25-year stay on Mars...

Drew Pearson, in Chicago, indicates that if the colleagues of Senator Estes Kefauver had been told a year earlier that he would emerge from the pre-convention campaign with the most delegates coming into the Democratic convention, they would have snorted in disbelief, and that some were still snorting. Senator Kefauver had been in the Congress for only 12 years, whereas his colleague from Tennessee, Kenneth McKellar, had been in Congress for 35 years. Senator McKellar cursed Senator Kefauver in the Senate corridors every time they passed one another. Other Senators were jealous of Senator Kefauver's early success. Mr. Pearson indicates that those Senators did not realize that the American people were fed up with the old way of doing things, as shown by the nomination of General Eisenhower and "by the sudden elevation of a political unknown, Nixon of California, to the No. 2 spot on the Republican ticket."

They perhaps also did not appreciate the fact that Senator Kefauver had a magnificent voting record, had shown more courage in facing racial problems than any other Southern Senator, and had the vision to realize the danger of permitting an criminal underworld to erode the foundation of the country. He had also endured an intense political campaign in which he had made no mistakes. These facts constituted the chief reason why General Eisenhower was nominated by the Republicans. The Republicans had known from the polling data that Senator Kefauver could beat Senator Taft throughout most of the country, whereas General Eisenhower was shown to be beating any of the Democrats. In many respects, the novices who had obtained the votes for Senator Kefauver across the country were similar to the novices who had supported General Eisenhower in the same areas.

Though Senator Kefauver had been advised to stick to talking about crime, he had talked about other things. He had voted for the controversial anti-lynching bill and to abolish the poll tax, though he had not voted for cloture on the debate regarding a compulsory FEPC. He had voted against Taft-Hartley at a time when it took courage to do so, unlike Senator Richard Russell, who had voted to override the President's veto in 1947, but now indicated that Taft-Hartley should be abolished. Senator Kefauver had also campaigned against the monopoly of war contracts by a few big companies and had led an investigation to aid small business in that respect. He had circulated a petition in the House, while a Congressman, to get the Taft-Wagner housing bill out of the Rules Committee, and had helped to get the bill passed. He had been a leader in backing the President on foreign affairs and defense. And also while a member of the House, he had written a book, The 20th Century Congress, diagnosing the current legislative system.

He had chaired the Senate organized crime probe in 1950-51, into big city influence operations, taking twelve months of backbreaking work. Even the Republicans, who ultimately benefited from the probe, had been against it. The results of the probe had caused certain politicos in New York, Kansas City, Chicago, Boston, and Los Angeles not to want Senator Kefauver to become President.

Marquis Childs, in Chicago, discusses the increasing costs of political campaigns and political conventions, with the pre-convention campaign of Senator Taft probably having been the most expensive campaign of its type in U.S. political history, and with the spending by General Eisenhower's supporters probably not far behind. In the latter days of the campaign, a lot of money was poured into full-page newspaper advertisements all over the country.

During the Republican convention, Texas oil billionaire H. L. Hunt backed the effort of General Douglas MacArthur to capture the nomination. He regards one of the "drearier aspects" of the convention to have been the "demonstration" for General MacArthur, "which had all the fine spontaneity of the drill team of the Sons of I Will Arise lodge in Rapahoose, Alabama." One of the MacArthur demonstrators had picked the pockets of a Wisconsin delegate, and so their origin was questionable.

The spending of the Democratic candidates had not been quite so lavish, though Senator Robert Kerr of Oklahoma had a life-size replica of his birthplace cabin produced for the Democratic convention. Also, since there were five or six Democratic candidates vying for the nomination, the overall spending was probably as great as that in the Republican contest.

For the first time, some 50 to 60 million Americans were able to see the conventions via live television, and, he suggests, what they saw had to be reminding them of "the arguments in a Middle Eastern rug bazaar, carried on with the kind of distractions that would seem hardly conceivable outside a lunatic asylum."

For those reasons, he thinks that the type of conventions being held in 1952 might be the last of their kind, that a national presidential primary might be the solution. The present system appeared to give all of the advantages to the vested interests with money to spend for a particular purpose and private channels through which to distribute it to the candidate or his agent. The citizen who was prepared to take a disinterested part in politics was being penalized. Donors expected some kind of compensation for their generosity.

James Marlow, in Chicago, finds that the South had the rest of the Democratic Party in a tough spot, in that five Southern delegations had an arrangement under which they could go home if displeased with the nominee and the platform and simply sit on their hands, not participating in the fall election. The Democrats this time around could not afford to lose any of the Southern electoral votes to General Eisenhower. In 1948, when the Dixiecrats walked out of the convention, the result was a split party, with 39 Southern electoral votes going to Governor Strom Thurmond's Dixiecrat ticket. Even so, of course, the President had won the election. General Eisenhower was trying to make inroads in the South and his chances in that regard would improve if there were a split in the Democratic Party after the convention.

There was really no reason for such division on the civil rights plank of the platform, as platforms did not routinely predict or bind what the party would do in the ensuing four years. The suggestion by Senator William Benton of Connecticut to add a recommendation to the Senate to change cloture rules to make it easier to end the filibuster on civil rights would only aggravate the South and would not, in reality, accomplish anything substantial, as the Democrats could not bind the Senate to anything. The same was true of the civil rights plank, itself. Thus a floor fight over these issues would only have the tendency to split the party and make it more difficult for the Democrats to win in the fall.

One of the prominent black leaders, unnamed, who was fighting for a strong civil rights plank had indicated that he believed the plank would be strong, but perhaps not as strong as he would like. He gave a vague answer when the question was put to him whether he thought Congress the following year, or even within his lifetime, would do anything about civil rights.

A letter writer from Pittsboro finds General Eisenhower acceptable as the Republican nominee, provided he could win and preserve the two-party system in the country in the process. He indicates that he was prepared to do his part in support of the General's campaign and urges The News editorial page to do likewise.

A letter writer differs with a prior letter writer who had written that the Bible should not be taught in the schools. She urges that the schools always keep God's word before the children.

A letter writer comments on a letter written by a man who claimed that the City Council had discriminated against him on the basis of race in his earlier application in 1946 for establishing a taxi company, indicating that they had found no need for the additional two cabs which he was going to employ, but then granted a license afterward to another cab company—of which this writer was manager. He claims that the prior writer was misinformed, that his company's certificates to operate had been acquired either through having during the war certificates of war necessity for defense transportation or by purchase of existing certificates from operators who no longer wished to use them. The cab company in question had purchased these certificates, he indicates, at a premium, enabling it to increase its fleet recently by three cabs.

A letter writer from New York tells of "arrogant demagogues" "preaching sermons of reactionary suicide in the name of conservative salvation." He finds progressive thinkers being labeled Communists, a dangerous policy. "Blind loyalty, minus a sense of objective logic which is necessary to plot a course through the maze of chaos, is the greatest tragedy of this age. It may well be the prelude to the world's greatest calamity, the collapse of democracy."

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