The Charlotte News

Monday, January 26, 1953


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports, via Stan Carter, that allied fighter-bombers had hit Communist battlefront positions this date after U.N. troops had been defeated in an elaborately-planned "program" raid, lasting 4.5 hours, on the western front in Korea at "Spud Hill", the heaviest ground action since the beginning of the year. The raid, called "Operation Smack", had been planned since January 19, but the enemy had been ready and caught the charging U.N. infantrymen in deadly crossfire. The allied troops had tried to burn out the enemy with flamethrowers, but in many instances, they had run out of fuel. Associated Press correspondent Forrest Edwards had reported from the southern end of "T-Bone Hill" that artillery shells and napalm had also failed to dislodge the enemy. It was estimated that 95 Chinese troops had been killed in the raid, but an Eighth Army spokesman declined to report on allied casualties.

Following the raid, Fifth Air Force and Navy carrier planes from the U.S.S. Kearsarge and Oriksany knocked out 300 yards of enemy trenches, nine bunkers, and two gun positions, and destroyed 36 trucks and 44 buildings. The previous night, 14 Okinawa-based B-29s had hit a 30-acre military staff installation at Yangdok and the lateral rail line to Pyongyang.

Army chief of staff General J. Lawton Collins and U.N. supreme commander General Mark Clark arrived in Seoul this date for a meeting with retiring Eighth Army commander, General James Van Fleet. General Collins said that the retirement did not necessarily mean a change in U.N. policy in Korea. He said that he would meet the new ground commander, Lt. General Maxwell Taylor, when he arrived in Tokyo in a few days. The voice of South Korean President Syngman Rhee quavered with emotion as he pinned Korea's Gold Medal on General Van Fleet, indicating that he had built and trained the South Korean Army and had inspired the people to redouble their efforts in support of the military forces, while restoring their faith in democratic principles. General Van Fleet said that he believed the South Korean Army could be built up enough in the ensuing year to enable it to hold the entire battlefront should the U.N. command decide to stay on the present battle line.

President Eisenhower would deliver his State of the Union message before a joint session of Congress the following Monday. Congressional leaders, including Senate Majority Leader Taft and House Speaker Joseph Martin, met with the President this date for nearly two hours, but would not say precisely to what the meeting pertained.

The President was reported to have the sniffles and had canceled his remaining engagements for this date, leaving his office and retiring to his room, where he planned to spend the rest of the day working on the State of the Union. He did not have a fever. Mrs. Eisenhower had also remained indoors the previous day with a cold, but her condition had improved.

Senator Leverett Saltonstall of Massachusetts, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, announced this date to the Senate that General Motors had agreed to a cash settlement with its former president, Charles E. Wilson, instead of giving him additional stock which he would have received as a bonus for past services. The Senator called for confirmation of Mr. Wilson to become Secretary of Defense. While Mr. Wilson's confirmation appeared likely, there was doubt over two of his subordinates, Robert Stevens, to become Army Secretary, and Harold Talbott, to become Air Force Secretary. The President had not yet sent the latter two nominations to the Senate, and the two men had been reportedly advised by Senators that they should divest themselves of their industrial holdings if they expected to be confirmed. One Senator indicated that Mr. Talbott might be provided an exception for retaining his family-owned textile firm holdings, provided he agreed that if that firm ever transacted business with the Government, he would refer the matter to someone else for determination. The other two subordinates, Roger Kyes, formerly of G.M., tapped as the chief Deputy Secretary of Defense, and Robert Anderson, to become Navy Secretary, had cleared up the problems with their holdings and were expected to be confirmed.

The Atomic Energy Commission announced this date that it would test new atomic weapons in the spring at the Yucca Flats testing grounds in Nevada. Eight detonations of atomic weapons had occurred at the facility the previous spring. It also announced that it had chosen a site in the cornfields of Illinois for a 29 million dollar plant to assemble nuclear weapons, to be the first plant designed solely for processing and assembling atomic weapons. It would be operated by a private contractor not yet selected. Not more than 2,000 persons would be employed at the plant.

Ernest Vaccaro reports from Kansas City that former President Truman had been assured of contracts providing him enough money for his future needs and to permit him complete freedom to say and write what he pleased. He would write his memoirs for an unnamed New York publishing firm at a figure expected to run above $500,000, to be paid over a period of several years. The former President would also be making periodic lecture tours.

Republicans were considering making changes to the law which provided postmasterships through the Civil Service system rather than through patronage appointments, on the books for 15 years. The Republicans had not objected to the law while they were out of power but now that they were in power again, were considering the change. There were about 40,000 postmasterships of all classes, with an annual turnover rate of about 25 percent through deaths and retirements.

In Vienna, Austria, orchestra conductor Wilhelm Furtwaengler, 67, was reported to have the flu during Europe's flu epidemic, but had improved this date.

In Italy, a two-engined Italian DC-3 passenger airliner making its last flight from Sardinia to Rome crashed in flames this date in the mountains east of Cagliari, killing all 15 passengers and four crew members aboard.

Near Hong Kong, a six-hour fire swept through a ramshackle refugee village this date in Kowloon, leaving more than 2,000 Chinese homeless and 400 squatters' huts destroyed.

In New York, the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis was holding a special meeting this night at which it was expected to be reported that progress had been made in developing a safe vaccine for polio. The Foundation gave no advance hint of how close the research had come to establishing a safe, tested vaccine.

In Chicago, a man turned in to police a woman's artificial leg found in a Southwest Side vacant lot.

In Bucaramanga, Colombia, a fighting bull had gone on a rampage on Saturday and was corralled only after wrecking two coffins in a funeral parlor, breaking up an outdoor political meeting, causing bruises to 15 persons, and indirectly causing serious wounds to six persons, hit by bullets intended to stop the bull.

Only sound, cogent argument can stop the raging bull.

On the editorial page, "Just One More Picture, Please" indicates that the results of the Charlotte survey which provided free chest X-rays to the population had found only 600 out of 30,000 X-rays taken which suggested some form of disease or abnormality, with follow-up letters having been sent to those people, asking them to return for a second, larger X-ray. The small initial X-rays could not positively determine whether the anomaly was actually any indication of a disease, and so the second X-ray was necessary. It urges those who received the letters therefore to obtain the second X-ray so that it might be determined whether they had tuberculosis, easy to treat in its initial stages but difficult later on.

"The Main Problem" indicates that the Southern Senators who now proposed the Constitutional amendment to outlaw the poll tax as a requirement for voting in Federal elections might be commended for initiating that action which was long overdue. But it would prove largely inconsequential, as most Southern states and other states which had the poll tax had outlawed it. The real goal, it suggests, should be to provide equal economic opportunities for blacks.

"N.C.'s Fast-Growing Industries" indicates that many North Carolina leaders had long recognized the need for diversification in the state's industries. The State News Bureau had listed several new industries which had originated in the state during 1952, including an electric meter plant, a cigarette plant and leaf processing factory, a silverware plant, three zipper plants, two electronic plants and one each for cabinets, synthetic resins and steam boilers. Five companies had located new administrative headquarters in the state during 1952 and three companies had completed or announced plans for multi-million dollar research plants. Four electric companies continued tremendous expansion, and mica production boomed. According to The State magazine, public utility building and new and expanded plants established or planned for the state represented a total investment of about 200 million dollars.

All of that growth had meant more employment, approximately 21,500 new jobs. It suggests that the state was not just "going forward", the slogan for the immediately prior Governor Kerr Scott, but was "hurtling toward a top position as a state of diverse industry."

"A Final Word on Interregnums" indicates that there had been some disagreement on the status of the Presidency during the 32 minutes between the official end of President Truman's term of office, at noon on January 20, and the delivery of the oath of office to President Eisenhower at 12:32 p.m. The Associated Press had suggested that there was no President during that 32-minute interval, while Speaker of the House Joe Martin was said by one commentator to have been the President during the interim, and the Washington Post had said that it was President Eisenhower. One reporter had suggested that President Truman remained in office until the new President was sworn in.

It indicates that the oath was incidental under the Constitution, only prescribing that the President could not "enter on the execution" of his office until the oath was administered. Since the Constitution also provided that the term of office of a President was for four years, President Truman's term had to end at noon on January 20, meaning, in its opinion, President Eisenhower immediately became President, even if forbidden for that 32 minute interval from entering on the execution of the office. It provides historical examples of Presidents who did not take the oath of office on the same day of the inauguration, or in the case of Vice-President John Tyler, on the same day of the death of President William Henry Harrison, but only two days later. It thus concludes that the Presidency was a continuing office and that after noon of January 20 following the election, the new President could go to work.

The whole matter is quite academic, as had there been an attack of some sort on the country or other emergent event during that interim half hour, obviously the oath of office would have been quickly and immediately administered so that the new President could proceed to execute his powers. It does underscore, however, why President Johnson was insistent upon taking the oath of office prior to leaving the ground in Dallas on the day of President Kennedy's assassination, especially with matters not understood at the time as to whether the assassination might be the work of a foreign government presaging an attack, it only having been 13 months since the Cuban missile crisis had brought the nation to the brink of world war, with it being known that there was plenty of residual anger within the Kremlin regarding the perception that the Russians had backed down during that crisis, internal dissension which would lead to the ouster of Nikita Khrushchev as Premier on October 14, 1964, exactly two years after the first U-2 reconnaissance photos had been taken of the nearly operational mid-range missile installations in Cuba. Those very silly people who posit some other, sinister reason behind President Johnson's actions in that regard remain just that, silly, ignorant people who do not understand how things work.

A piece from the New Yorker, titled "Harry Truman", indicates that the former President, in his last State of the Union message to Congress, had presented an excellent essay on fear, which ranked alongside Judge Learned Hand's recent pronouncement—which had been presented in The News on December 17. The President had been much reviled during his time in office, but had faced a very difficult task in trying to guide the country through a cold war, more difficult than during a hot one, for the country was not united with national spirit as during a hot war. The result, at times, had been bumbling and corruption within the Administration, but, in the opinion of the piece, the President had done "remarkably well", and at moments had been great. His two top decisions, to drop the atomic bomb in August, 1945 to end the war with Japan, and the intervention of the U.N. in Korea, had been burdensome decisions which were carried out with "enormous guts" and a good sense of history.

It suggests that in his petty moments, the President had faltered, but had overcome those moments with a sense of sincerity, a cheerful belief in the facts of democratic life, and with fortitude. He had been, it suggests, a victim of circumstance in not being able to turn back the tide of political corruption, as it doubts anyone could have done so at the end of 20 years of one-party rule during a cold war.

"We may have had bigger Presidents and we may have had wiser ones, but we've had none more doughty and few with so tough an assignment. We send Harry Truman our thanks and wish him Godspeed in Independence."

The Congressional Quarterly looks at the areas of the Taft-Hartley law which the new Congress would examine closely in terms of amendments. George Meany, the new AFL President, had announced that the AFL was dropping its demands for outright repeal and would cooperate in the amendment process. Senator Taft favored revision and Senator Alexander Smith of New Jersey, who would chair the Labor and Public Welfare Committee, had urged several changes. In the House, Representative Samuel McConnell of Pennsylvania, the chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, had indicated also that he favored changes. Likewise, President Eisenhower favored revision and the new Secretary of Labor, Martin Durkin, had announced that he would call hearings at which all views would be considered.

Labor leaders wanted the injunction provision relaxed, but many in management wanted it tightened, and were likely to find support for that position in the new Congress. President Eisenhower and Senator Smith favored strengthening of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service to prevent strikes before they occurred, thus obviating the need to resort to injunctions.

Senators Taft and Smith agreed on elimination of the prohibition against voting in a union election by strikers who had been replaced on the job. The President also appeared to support elimination of "union busting" features of the Act.

Another possible amendment was the elimination of the requirement that the non-Communist oath be taken by union leaders in order to partake of collective bargaining through the NLRB, a move recommended by both the Senate Internal Security Committee and HUAC, as they had found that the requirement of the oath actually worked to the advantage of Communists, who could take the oath and then join the party with impunity. But Senators Taft and Smith had urged extension of the oath to include company officials, and President Eisenhower had supported that same change.

It was also possible that there would be clarification of the relations between the NLRB and its general counsel, as under present law, the general counsel alone decided whether charges of unfair labor practices would be taken up by the Board. Labor leaders wanted that role changed, but were waiting to see how Senators Taft and Smith intended to clarify the relations.

It goes on to provide other possible changes to the Act.

Drew Pearson indicates that Senator Lyndon Johnson of Texas the previous year had suppressed evidence of crime and corruption on the waterfronts of New York and New Jersey, recently exposed by Governor Dewey's Crime Commission in New York. Senator Johnson had fired the two investigators who brought him the evidence about the waterfront, evidence that Jersey City's "reform" Mayor, John Kenny, had met with racketeer waterfront boss Anthony Strollo in the New York hotel room of singer Phil Regan; but Senator Johnson had sat on the evidence. (Mr. Strollo would be reported as missing in April, 1962 and was never found, thought to have been the victim of an underworld slaying over a power struggle—probably something to do with some bad stromboli, or maybe even cannoli, of which he partook. One must be careful of where one eats.) It was reported that four of the Senator's Democratic friends had been seeking the support of Mayor Kenny to obtain the support of the New Jersey delegates at the Democratic convention in Chicago the prior July, a claim which Senator Johnson denied. The Senator, in response to a question as to why he suppressed the report, said that waterfront crime had been outside the jurisdiction of his subcommittee and that he knew the State Crime Commission was going to investigate the matter. He also said that he had fired the two investigators because the subcommittee had run out of funds. He did not, however, consult with other Senators on his subcommittee to see if they concurred in the suppression but rather acted on his own.

Mr. Pearson indicates that it was the second time Senator Johnson had suppressed important facts, the other having been during a probe of General Motors profits, showing that they had made 39 percent in profit on jet engines. He provides some of the detail of the report on the waterfront probe which had been suppressed, having to do with the underworld taking advantage of the Claremont pier operated by the Army, thought to be easy pickings by the mob. Eventually, after these Senate investigators filed their report, the Army Engineers who ran the pier learned what was going on and canceled the packing contract with the corrupt firm, the Dade Brothers, which had packed and waterproofed everything in sight whether it needed it or not, though the cancellation did not occur until five months after Senator Johnson had marked the report "file and forget".

Joseph & Stewart Alsop indicate that except for the ambassadorship to Italy, to which appointment of Clare Boothe Luce had hit a snag, the only remaining diplomatic appointment of note was that of the ambassadorship to the Soviet Union. They posit that the appointee might be more crucial than any other appointment abroad because of the necessity of having eyes and ears in Moscow to assess public opinion and because it might prove the only way to end the Korean War without expanding the area of the conflict, by direct negotiation with the Kremlin, backed by the threat of use of maximum force should it fail. The Soviet ambassador typically did not enjoy any direct contact with the Soviet Government to any extent, Ambassador George Kennan having met only perfunctorily one time with Foreign Minister Andrei Vishinsky. But these other aspects of the ambassadorship were crucial at the current time. Negotiations which led to the end of the Berlin blockade in 1948-49 had been initiated by then-Ambassador to Moscow Walter Bedell Smith, the new Undersecretary of State.

The prospect of a meeting between President Eisenhower and Joseph Stalin had not been ruled out, although Prime Minister Winston Churchill, during his recent visit, had counseled extreme caution in that regard. Even if such direct contact would prove desirable in the near future, it was good to have someone with special training and background as the diplomatic representative of the country in Moscow.

Yet, apparently, the President and his chief foreign policy advisers had not considered the appointment very seriously thus far, aside from some talk about appointment of Ralph Bunche to the position, which would be, the Alsops suggest, only a propaganda gesture. The new Administration was not in a hurry to fill the post, probably a wise decision in light of Ambassador Kennan's recent dismissal by the Soviet Government, never accepted at the Kremlin for his having been the author of U.S. containment policy vis-a-vis Communism while chief planner at the State Department. To fill the post quickly would be perceived by the Soviet rulers as weakness, especially in light of the Soviet interpretation of the letter sent to Stalin by the New York Times as having been a feeler directly inspired by new Secretary of State Dulles.

Marquis Childs indicates that other than the appointees to the top level positions in the Defense Department, the other Cabinet nominees had been confirmed without protest, including Martin Durkin as Secretary of Labor, after, initially, Senator Taft had objected to his nomination both because he had been a Democrat and because, as head of the Plumbers Union, he had voiced objection to Taft-Hartley. But when the appointment finally came up for confirmation, the Senator raised no objection. It was part of the Republican strategy to court labor away from the Democratic vote, on the belief that if you could not beat them, you should join them. That same logic was behind the appointment of Lloyd Mashburn as Undersecretary of Labor, having been State commissioner of Labor in California.

Both Mr. Durkin and Mr. Mashburn had been influential leaders in the AFL building trades unions, which had been deeply resentful of certain provisions of Taft-Hartley. As long as there was a move among labor representatives to repeal the Act and not merely to amend it, as had been the united front during the Truman Administration, no progress could be made. But Mr. Durkin had now agreed to amendments, opening the way for possible compromise.

Traditionally, the building trades unions had been supportive of the Republicans, with former carpenters union president William Hutcheson having been out of the labor mold supportive of President William McKinley at the turn of the century. The effort would be to return labor to the Republican camp, but not, obviously, in the McKinley-era form of labor relations.

The only objection to confirmation of Ezra Taft Benson as the new Secretary of Agriculture had come from Senator Milton Young of South Dakota, who had previously said he could not support Mr. Benson because he doubted that he would support farm prices. Other Republican Senators had disagreed, including Senator George Aiken of Vermont, the new chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee. They were convinced that he would do everything he could to raise farm prices, to enable courting of the farm vote, just as with the labor vote.

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