The Charlotte News

Thursday, July 24, 1952


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports, via Jack Bell, that the Democratic convention in Chicago, with nominating speeches of the presidential candidates taking place this date, appeared edging toward the nomination of Governor Adlai Stevenson of Illinois, for whom a groundswell of support was forming, though he was not formally a candidate. Senator Estes Kefauver of Tennessee and Averell Harriman, who were declared candidates, had not, however, given up their belief that each would win the nomination. Senator Kefauver indicated that he had picked up more than 60 additional delegates during the previous 36 hours.

Meanwhile, Louisiana, South Carolina and Virginia had refused to sign the loyalty pledge passed by the convention, which required that each state's delegation sign a vow to take whatever steps were required to ensure that the names of the presidential and vice-presidential nominees of the party would appear on their state's ballot except in the case where state laws or party rules prevented them from doing so. The failure to sign the pledge meant that the delegations could not participate in the convention. House Speaker Sam Rayburn, permanent chairman of the convention, had indicated that he would allow the three states to participate in the convention, and that if any delegate contested their eligibility, he would rule on the question at that time. Senator Allen Ellender of the Louisiana delegation indicated that they would seek a ruling from the chair at the time of the first roll call vote, during the nominations, as to their status, when their turn came to be recognized. It thus remained unclear as to whether there would be a division in the convention over the loyalty oath. Senator Russell Long of Louisiana had exited a caucus of the state delegation quite angry, indicating that the delegation apparently wanted to nominate General Eisenhower.

Senator Richard Russell's name would be placed in nomination first, by Senator Walter George of Georgia, that state being first in alphabetical order among the candidates' states.

The actual voting on the nominees would not begin before the night session. Assuming the continued participation of the three states which had not signed the loyalty pledge, it would take 615 votes to acquire the nomination. Without their participation, it would take 584. DNC chairman Frank McKinney had indicated that the three states not signing the loyalty pledge would not be recognized in the roll call, but Speaker Rayburn had overruled that position.

There was still no word as to which candidate the President would support, but two close associates of the President had indicated that he preferred Governor Stevenson. One of the President's associates told a reporter that he thought that the President's support of the Governor could provide enough impetus to the draft movement to give the Governor the nomination on the first ballot this night. There was still no firm word from the Governor as to his position on accepting a draft by the convention.

The convention had provided a tremendous ovation for Vice-President Alben Barkley the previous night, and friends stated that his name would not be entered in nomination, after he had withdrawn from the race after meeting with labor leaders and finding that they would not provide him support because of his age of 74 and their consequent belief that he could not win in the fall.

Edwin Haakinson of the Associated Press tells of the platform adopted by the convention by voice vote the prior night having pledged prosperity, peace and progress, and avoided previous party feuds over the civil rights plank. Speaker Rayburn quickly asserted that the platform had been approved by voice vote, despite some shouts of "no" coming from the delegates. The delegates from Georgia and Mississippi had asked to be recorded as voting no. Aiding in the unity effort among the Southern delegates were Senator John Sparkman of Alabama, to become the vice-presidential nominee, and Philip Perlman, who had recently resigned as Solicitor General.

Tom Fesperman of The News reports that the North Carolina delegation had caucused for two hours during the morning, but there had been no informal polling of the delegation to determine how it would vote on the first roll call. Chairman of the delegation, former Governor and Senator Cameron Morrison of Charlotte, indicated that there was still strong sentiment for Senator Russell among the delegation. Governor Kerr Scott, who was supporting Governor Stevenson for the nomination, had apparently not sought to influence other members of the delegation in an effort to get them to switch their allegiance. At least one member of the delegation predicted that Governor Stevenson would not become a candidate, and he predicted that Senator Russell would take the nomination on the third or fourth ballot were he to receive as many as 300 votes on the first ballot. That same delegate indicated that most of the members of the delegation had generally endorsed the platform, while having reservations regarding the labor and civil rights planks, but being able to live with them.

The South Carolina delegation had voted the previous night not to participate further in the convention because of the loyalty pledge and one delegate, a former State Senator and states' rights advocate, had indicated he was leaving town and returning to South Carolina as he felt he was not welcome at the convention. Governor James Byrnes, chairman of the delegation, however, had asked the delegates to assemble on the convention floor this date and there had been a morning caucus of the delegation. Despite South Carolina newspaper headlines that the delegation had "walked out" of the convention, Senator Burnet Maybank stated that he was not walking out and that they would have to throw him out.

Rowland Evans, Jr., reports that the President had told leaders of the steel industry and the Steelworkers Union to their faces this date, in a ten-minute talk, that they had to end the 53-day old steel strike at once, and he directed them to the Cabinet room of the White House to work out their differences. The ensuing meeting lasted an hour and 40 minutes and Benjamin Fairless, president of U.S. Steel, and Philip Murray, head of the Steelworkers, both indicated that they would return later in the afternoon after each discussed matters with their own people. Neither indicated what had been discussed or provided any positive sign of an imminent resolution.

On the editorial page, "The Formula Has Worked Before" tells of the Democratic Party platform, passed adroitly by voice vote the previous night, following the tried-and-true formula which had brought the Democrats victory in the previous five presidential elections. It was positive and constructive, looked to the future instead of the past, offered hope instead of recriminations, emphasized accomplishments and glossed over failures. In the process, it offered something to virtually every segment of the political coalition which had originally been formed by FDR and had been held together by the President, including labor, farmers, racial minorities, immigrant groups, the elderly, idealists and other groups.

It finds, however, that any party platform could be interpreted the way those responsible for implementing it ultimately wanted to interpret it. The Democrats had been unable to carry out their promises of major new domestic legislation since the end of World War II, and, barring a landslide victory by the Democrats in November, the party would continue to be unable to carry out those promises in the ensuing four years. Even so, while the platform dropped its 1948 promises of compulsory health insurance and the Brannan Agricultural Plan, it vowed to continue the New Deal and Fair Deal programs, and expand on both the philosophy and techniques of the social revolution. It concludes that whether the American people would accept it again, however, remained to be seen.

"End to Steel Strike Is Imperative" tells of the President having again resorted to the dubious method of personal intervention in an effort to settle the steel strike, with top union and industrial leaders meeting at the White House this date in response to the President's invitation, with the implied threat backing up the meeting that he might seize part of the industry under the Selective Service Act if the strike were not resolved.

It indicates that both the industry and the union were feeling pressure to end the strike, and both sides were undoubtedly aware of the growing threat to national defense posed by the absence of steel production at the major companies. In refusing to use Taft-Hartley's 80-day injunctive provision to end the strike, the President had taken on great responsibility. It suggests that the impatience of the steelworkers with the continuing strike might lead them to vote for a reasonable proposal by industry. The procedure of seizure under the Selective Service Act was cumbersome, as the seizure had to be undertaken in individual plants and only for those companies which had defense contracts with the Government.

It urges that whatever course was followed, early action was imperative, as Secretary of Defense Robert Lovett had warned that the strike would soon limit U.S. firepower in Korea. It believes that the President's concern regarding election-year politics in refusing to resort to Taft-Hartley was "a small and selfish thing".

Once again, it fails to point out the President's good reasoning in this regard, that the union had already delayed the strike by 99 days from the start of the year when the old contract expired, by the point of the President's April 8 seizure of the industry, eventually, on June 2, held unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, absent Congressional authority for the seizure. Moreover, the Wage Stabilization Board had already reviewed the matter and issued its recommendations, and the President believed therefore that it would only be redundant for him to appoint a commission to review the matter again and make recommendations during the 80-day cooling off period afforded by an injunction. In addition, it was unclear that the workers would abide an 80-day injunction of the strike at this late juncture.

"No Emperor Now—Just a Thug" tells of Carolinas Klan Imperial Wizard Thomas L. Hamilton having stated at a Klan rally in South Carolina several weeks earlier that he was not guilty of conspiracy in the numerous floggings in and around Columbus County, N.C., during the prior year and a half, until proven so, and that any person who took the stand and lied about him in that regard would not be forgotten by him or by the Klan members. During the week, Mr. Hamilton had pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault charges in connection with the flogging of a woman in January, 1951 for having given the order to the Klansmen who carried it out to flog the woman's husband and one other intended victim.

Mr. Hamilton had said, according to several Klansmen who testified, "You better give him a good whipping, or you will have to do it again." His minions had gone to the woman's home at night, broken down the door, and, finding that her husband had fled, struck the woman in the head, knocking her out, after which she had entered the yard and tried to run away, whereupon two men hit her in the head again and tied a plow line around her legs, took off her slip, gagged her mouth and dragged her to a waiting car. Then, after threatening to stick her in the trunk, they suddenly released her, at which point she crawled underneath her house and remained there until the Klansmen left to find the other intended victim. The members had also testified that Mr. Hamilton had poured forth diatribes of hate at their meetings. Mr. Hamilton's attorney had indicated no desire to cross-examine any of the State's witnesses.

"And thus the empire of lawlessness and hatred that the South Carolinian had hoped to build came crashing down around him, leaving him the miserable object of scorn and derision of his own ex-followers."

It points out that when Federal, state and local officers had begun to arrest Klan members in February, 1952, Columbus County had more than 1,500 dues-paying members, and at least 13 persons had been flogged by night riders. The trials in Whiteville and Wilmington, in which numerous Klansmen had been convicted, had broken the back of the Klan in the state. Presently, more than 100 persons had been indicted for other flogging incidents and were awaiting trial.

It concludes that none of the many bright chapters in the history of the state had shown any brighter than this "courageous and successful drive to smash for all time one of the most evil organizations ever to be spawned in this blessed nation—a drive that netted the big fish as well as the fingerlings."

"The Silent Treatment" tells of Senator Blair Moody of Michigan, a long-time Washington journalist before his appointment to the interim Senate seat following the death of Senator Arthur Vandenberg, having been named chairman of the committee to investigate Government suppression of information, finding that assignment to be quite appropriate. It suggests that the committee should start by looking at the visa division of the State Department, as it decided which foreigners could visit the United States.

Some of the restrictions had been recently put on the process by the McCarran immigration bill, but because of the secrecy surrounding the visa division, it was often impossible to determine whether exclusion was based upon law or merely whim.

It cites the example of reporter Neil Stanford of the Christian Science Monitor, who had recently sought to determine why Alberto Moravia, the Italian novelist, had been denied a visitor's visa. Mr. Stanford said that he had been met with only frightened silence from a number of officials of the visa division when he phoned them and merely sought to have an understanding of the law governing issuance of visas, discovering that they were under orders not to talk to the press.

Under the law, anyone who was or had been a member of the Communist or Fascist parties, or any of their front organizations, was automatically excluded, though subject to exception by the Attorney General in individual cases. Such exceptions had been made for West Berlin's Mayor Ernest Reuter a year or two earlier and for the British writer, Graham Greene, both of whom had been members of the Communist Party, the former several years earlier and the latter having joined merely as a prank.

Mr. Moravia denied having ever had any association with the Communist Party. The piece asserts that in fairness to him, the State Department should state the reason for denying him the visa and give him the opportunity to reply. It hopes that Senator Moody might force the issue.

Drew Pearson, in Chicago, tells the inside story of Governor Stevenson's trail toward the Democratic nomination, indicating that he had remained in the background because he did not want to be the hand-picked stooge of the big city bosses or to be the President's man, believing that President Truman was a political albatross. Two months earlier, in a series of conferences with a White House adviser, he had set forth five basic conditions under which he would consider running, that he would have the right to name his own campaign manager and his own chairman of the DNC, that the platform would be cleared with him before presentation to the convention, that the President would agree to campaign only whenever and wherever the Governor wanted him to do so, and would agree to clear all speeches during the campaign with the Governor before their delivery. He also wanted to have the power to approve his own vice-presidential running mate. Furthermore, he did not want the White House emissary to consult with Jacob Arvey on any of those matters. Those conditions had caused the President to become angry, perceiving the Governor's attitude as a personal affront, particularly with reference to the idea that the President would have to clear his speeches with a candidate, something he adamantly refused to do. He also said that he would speak where he wanted to speak and when he wanted to do so. Because of the President's reaction, the Governor had refused to commit himself further regarding acceptance of the nomination. The President, in consequence, had placed him in the same doghouse into which he had placed Senator Kefauver.

But the Governor's welcoming speech to the Democratic convention had brought his candidacy to life, after he received an eight-minute standing ovation from the delegates on Monday. Mr. Pearson thinks it would be interesting to see whether the President and his cronies would gang up on the Governor as they had on Senator Kefauver.

He observes that the most pathetic meeting of the convention had occurred in a room of the Blackstone Hotel during a breakfast between Vice-President Barkley and eight labor leaders, a meeting called by friendly mutual agreement and attended by Walter Reuther, head of UAW, George Harrison, head of the AFL Railway Clerks, Cy Anderson of Railway Labor's Political League, and Jack Kroll, head of the CIO PAC. Mr. Barkley, attending the breakfast alone, made a long plea for support of labor, in his effort to obtain the nomination. The labor leaders listened to his recitation of his credentials as a fighter for labor interests while in the Senate. But the labor leaders knew that they were not going to support him because of his age, 74, believing he could not be elected for that reason. They did not wish to break his heart, however, and so continued to listen. Mr. Kroll indicated that the Vice-President was getting into the race at a very late date and that much of labor support had already been pledged either to Mr. Harriman or Senator Kefauver. Labor also did not care for some of the persons who had climbed onto his bandwagon, specifically Jim Farley, though they also had in mind the fact that reports had surfaced that G.M. was secretly pushing the idea that Mr. Barkley was the one Democrat who would ensure an easy Eisenhower victory. They appreciated that his labor record was good, but in the end, believed he had no chance to win for his age. Mr. Reuther indicated their admiration for the Vice-President but candidly stated that he was being used.

As the meeting broke up, they could see that Mr. Barkley's eyes had begun to fill with tears, as he understood at that point that all of his years of hard work in Congress on behalf of New Deal legislation was not going to obtain for him the presidency.

Larry Kramp of the Associated Press, writing from Springfield, Ill., tells of Governor Stevenson being a comparative newcomer to public office and regarding politics as "'the noblest career anyone can choose'". He believed that the people were tired of old-fashioned political fencing and that they did not care much about party labels, rather wanted honest, sincere and courageous performance in office.

His victory in 1948 in the gubernatorial race, his first run for political office, had made him only the fifth Democratic Governor of Illinois since the Civil War. Part of his personal appeal was that he lacked pretense, opting for plain, leisurely clothes while attending to duties in his executive office and having a frank and easy conversational manner with the average person, despite his education abroad and at Princeton, Harvard and Northwestern. When speaking, he often opened his talk by poking fun at himself, was a gifted speaker, with precise tones and a ready sense of humor. He believed in the ability of the people to keep government in their hands and stem the tendency to shift responsibility to higher levels.

He enjoyed playing golf or tennis, but found little time to do either. He worked between 14 and 16 hours per day as Governor. He had sought an increase in the state gasoline tax to provide more funds for restoring the highway system, and had stated that he would continue to seek it until he either obtained it or the people elected a new Governor. In 1951, the Legislature had approved the program.

Prior to becoming Governor, he had been a lawyer in the Agricultural Adjustment Administration under FDR, special assistant to the late Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox during the war, and had served as a U.N. delegate. He had comparatively few strong party ties and had appointed some Republicans to key state positions.

His three sons attended Eastern schools and his time with them was limited primarily to vacations. He was divorced from his wife in 1949 after 22 years of marriage, a divorce sought by his wife, which the Governor did not contest, although indicating that he was opposed to divorce.

James Marlow, in Chicago, contrasts the leadership in the House by Speaker Sam Rayburn with Vice-President Barkley's presiding over the Senate. Mr. Rayburn made few speeches, whereas the Vice-President was famous for his. The previous night, both had made speeches to the convention, Mr. Rayburn receiving nice applause but little attention, while the Vice-President had received an ovation from attentive delegates. Mr. Rayburn then took over as permanent chairman of the convention, as it was still convulsing anent the fate of Louisiana, South Carolina and Virginia after those three states had refused to take the loyalty pledge required of all delegates to participate in the convention at that point. Mr. Rayburn knew that if he accepted the challenge of other delegates to their participation, there would erupt a major floor fight.

The platform was first read by Congressman John McCormack of Massachusetts, chairman of the drafting committee, who then moved that the platform be adopted. Mr. Rayburn had informed reporters that a Tennessee delegate, who was a supporter of Senator Kefauver, wanted to have suggestions of his own included in the platform, including that there would be a promise of a continuing crime investigation and that the rights of witnesses before committees would be protected. Mr. Rayburn, however, immediately called for a voice vote on the platform as soon as the reading of the platform was finished, depriving the Tennessee delegate of the opportunity to make his suggestions. Mr. Rayburn then ruled that the platform had been adopted. At that point, the Mississippi and Georgia delegations indicated that they wanted to be on record as having voted no, after which the Texas delegation also sought the attention of the chair. Rather than have all of the Southern states, one by one, seek attention of the chair, until the critical moment when either South Carolina, Virginia or Louisiana sought to be heard, Mr. Rayburn announced that the Tennessee delegate had asked to be heard and so he granted permission. After he had finished, Mr. Rayburn banged the gavel to adjourn the session for the night, ending any chance of a party split for the time being.

At that point, Mr. Rayburn's right eyelid suddenly snapped shut and then opened again as he looked at a friend on the platform, apparently giving a wink.

Joseph & Stewart Alsop, in Chicago, tell of the initial response by Governor Stevenson after hearing that a draft of him for the nomination was sweeping the convention. He was genuinely angry at his home state delegation for defying his request not to vote for him on the early ballots, so much so that members of his staff thought he might bite off his nose to spite his face by issuing a Shermanesque statement of non-acceptance. During the following day, he discussed the advisability of issuing such a statement, raising the subject with Averell Harriman's campaign manager, FDR, Jr., who responded that he should make the statement forthwith.

Meanwhile, Wilson Wyatt of Kentucky, who might become Governor Stevenson's campaign manager, was seeking out both Mr. Harriman and Vice-President Barkley to see if they would join in nominating the Governor.

The Governor was complaining that the effort to draft him was premature, before there was a deadlock at the convention, such that his nomination would earn him the enmity of others who had worked hard to achieve the nomination.

The Alsops find that these reactions showed his "curious double vision" with which he had looked forward for many weeks to the events presently occurring. On the one hand, his statements that he did not want the nomination had been sincere and honest, rooted in a mixture of his pessimistic estimate of the probable pattern of the ensuing four years, a difficult personal situation as a divorcee with three sons who would be cast into the Washington limelight, a strong-rooted loyalty to his own state and therefore dedication to running again as Governor, and an intellectual's inevitable hesitation to make final commitments.

They conclude that behind the Governor's "mask of the tortured intellectual", lay "the face of a bold and intelligent political leader, very clear in his own mind about the terms and limits of his nomination."

A letter from Los Angeles indicates that the writer and his colleagues had received some articles concerning some Charlotte boys touring around "smoggy California" in a funeral car. He apprises that the newspaper had missed four other boys, three of them having been News carriers, who were doing the same thing in a 1948 Hudson. The writer, 17, was one of those boys and he identifies the others, indicating that they had departed on their trip on June 5, had traveled across the country and were staying as guests in the house of an individual, while digging ditches for water and sewer lines, flipping burgers, bagging groceries, moving used lumber and loafing at the Cocoanut Grove, Ciro's, where they had seen Frankie Laine, attending the Olympic finals, enjoying beach weekends, Shrine Olympic shows, and visiting Randolph Scott's home, the latter supposed to call them on Monday to give them the "lowdown". He indicates that Hollywood was beautiful and that some of the homes in Beverly Hills were "out of this world". He finds the driving to be the worst encountered in his life. (You obviously never tried to drive in Mexico City—though encountering on the Malibu Highway a driver who suddenly pulls over into your lane but a few car lengths away, heading for a head-on with you at combined speeds of about 140, does beg comparison.) He says that they had "messed around" with the "funeral car boys" the previous day and they appeared to be doing better, and had also run into another boy from Charlotte the previous week.

Should you run into a short 17-year old boy named Charlie, who plays guitar, best beware. Also warn the boys driving in the funeral car likewise, as he might be drawn to their mode of transportation and seek to hitch a ride. He's an ornery cuss who will lead you to no good end.

A letter writer advocates widening of 36th Street, which connected the Plaza with North Tryon Street, as it would have a positive effect on traffic conditions in that area. But, he adds, not widening the Plaza at the same time would be like straining a gnat to swallow a camel.

A letter from four females indicates that they were teenagers who attended Tuesday night square dances at Freedom Park, and took exception to the letter writer who had complained the prior Saturday about the dances, stating that the dances were over early in the evening and provided good, clean fun for many young people. They advise that if the prior writer could not take it, he should move away from civilization.

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