The Charlotte News

Tuesday, February 24, 1953


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports, via Stan Carter, that allied tank and infantry raiders, trapped and virtually surrounded by a Chinese Communist ambush, had blasted their way back to U.N. lines on the western front in Korea early this date after a five-hour fight, concluding just before dawn. The allied raiders had killed an estimated 60 enemy troops and wounded at least 40 others, more than half of the enemy force. The U.S. Eighth Army said that the fight had been the most savage of several skirmishes along the freezing battlefront this date.

The Eighth Army announced that 1,747 enemy troops had been killed, wounded or captured during the week between February 15 and 21.

In the air war, night-flying allied bombers hit enemy targets before dawn.

On the central front, a private from Pennsylvania had walked back to his tank recently one night, feeling pleased with himself after capturing two Chinese Communists single-handed and marching them back to his tank company command post. He recalled the Chinese troops creeping up on his tank, at which point he had sprung up, waving his .45 caliber automatic pistol in their faces, producing shock, causing them immediately to drop their burp guns and raise their hands in the air. He chuckled as he recounted the story, and then pulled his .45 out of its holster to show it off, only to discover that it was not loaded.

At the U.N. in New York, the General Assembly's seventh session opened this date, with peace or continued war in Korea being the major issue on the agenda. It would be the first session for the U.S. under the new Administration, with Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., heading the U.S. delegation. All members of the old delegation had resigned but had agreed to remain during the present session. It was expected that the new U.S. delegation would continue to support the Indian plan for resolving the prisoner of war impasse, the only remaining roadblock to an armistice in Korea, adopted by the Assembly the previous fall, but opposed by the Soviet bloc and by the Chinese Communists and the North Koreans.

Secretary of Interior Douglas McKay recommended, in testimony this date before the Senate Interior Committee, that Congress enact legislation promptly to provide the states clear title to the tidelands oil, but said that he was not endorsing a specific bill. He did not state any particular mileage limitation off the coast for such lands, whether 3 miles or 10.5 miles, but said that each state should have the oil wealth from under the seas to their "historic boundaries" and that the Federal Government should have that recovered beyond those boundaries.

Senator William Jenner of Indiana, chairman of the Senate Internal Security subcommittee, which was searching for Communism in the schools, said this date that the investigation was designed "to protect and safeguard academic freedom" and not to attack it, that academic freedom could only be maintained when the "Soviet conspiracy hidden in our schools and colleges is exposed to the light and the rule of Moscow over its adherents in the education world is broken". The Senator had said that remarks of Senator Taft in Chicago the prior Saturday had been "rather naïve", when he said that Congressional investigators had the right to expose Communist teachers but that he would not favor firing anyone for being a Communist unless he was first certain that Communism was being taught and had some effect on the development of the thought of the students. Senator Jenner said that his subcommittee had "overwhelming evidence" that there was a "small but dangerous" group of teachers in the public schools and colleges, operated from Moscow through the Soviet disciplinary organs in the U.S. He said that the function of Congress was to help the private schools and colleges and local government officials responsible for tax-supported institutions to wage the struggle against the "world-wide conspiratorial organization".

The State Department suspended the head of the Voice of America division, Alfred Morton, for disregarding an order forbidding use of material from Communist and fellow-traveler writers. Mr. Morton had sent a memorandum to other Voice officials expressing disagreement with the order to refrain from using such materials, as issued on February 19, following a Senate inquiry which showed that the Voice had a policy of permitting quotations from such writers as novelist Howard Fast, who had frequently been praised by the Soviets and who had refused to testify in the inquiry conducted by Senator Joseph McCarthy as to whether he was a Communist. Senator Styles Bridges called for a full investigation of a Voice request for nearly four million dollars to equip a ship for beaming broadcasts behind the Iron Curtain, questioning the technical wisdom of the project and indicating, as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, that he was opposed to it unless the Voice could demonstrate that it would work.

Dr. Robert Johnson, the president of Temple University, was named acting chief of the Government's overseas information service, which included the Voice of America. Dr. Johnson said that he would conduct a broad study for a month of the entire overseas information service and give the President a definite answer as to whether he would accept the position on a permanent basis. He said it was likely he would accept the job. He said that he would give Senator McCarthy the benefit of the doubt, and believed that he was trying to be helpful.

The President would leave Thursday afternoon for a long weekend of golf at Augusta, Ga., and would return to Washington on Sunday. The President had played golf for seven hours the previous day at the Burning Tree Club, the third time he had played the course in nearby Maryland since becoming President. Press secretary James Hagerty announced that he would hold his second press conference at 12:15 the following day. Will that come after or before four hours of golf?

The Federal Reserve had announced on Friday a reduction to 50 percent from 75 percent the amount of the required down payment to purchase securities or sell them short on margin, the margin increase having been put into effect in January, 1951 as part of a general credit control program, now being eased. The result this date was increased trading, with stocks gaining as much as one dollar to three dollars per share, with losses rarely registered. Trading was so heavy that the tickertape fell three minutes behind in reporting transactions during the first half hour of trading. Large blocks of stock were frequently traded.

In Hannover, Germany, Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt, 77, had died at his home this date after prolonged illness. He had been regarded as Germany's best military leader and had directed the German offensive against the American lines in the Battle of the Bulge during December, 1944 and the following January. He had also directed the envelopment of Poland's main army in 1939 and the Dunkerque offensive in France in May, 1940. He had been held in custody for four years on suspicion of war crimes by the Allies after the war, but was never brought to trial, and was finally released in Hamburg in May, 1949. He had been a member of one of Germany's leading Prussian families and was never considered wholly reliable by the Nazis, who nevertheless respected his military abilities.

In Raleigh, Governor William B. Umstead this date, in his written budget message, delayed because of his prior health problems, urged the General Assembly to approve bond issues totaling 87 million dollars, but left the question of increasing taxes up to the Legislature. He urged that schoolteachers be provided more than the 10 percent raise recommended by the Advisory Budget Commission, and also recommended other increases above those recommended by the Commission, including larger operating budgets for the mental institutions, funds to hire school attendance officers and for a driver training program in the high schools, increased funds for vocational education and for operation of state ports and a survey of inland ports and waterways, for agricultural and forestry research, and for additional collectors and auditors for the Department of Revenue. The Budget Commission had recommended a record State budget for the ensuing two years, totaling more than 637 million dollars.

Meanwhile, in the Assembly, the Senate Education Committee this date discussed legislation to provide driver training classes in the state's high schools but deferred action on the bill. The Committee heard testimony that an appropriation of $680,000 would allow the employment of 100 driving teachers at $6,800 each. Some driver training classes were already being operated with local support. Insurance commissioner Waldo Cheek told the Committee that if accidents among young drivers could be substantially reduced, then automobile insurance rates could be lowered for those age groups. Some of the Senators objected that a State-supported program could take away the initiative of local groups to sponsor driver training classes. The Committee decided to name a subcommittee to work with a House subcommittee regarding the school consolidation issue, consolidating small high schools, with less than 60 attending students, with larger ones without their consent.

In Charlotte, a man who had been convicted of public drunkenness 35 times or more and had appealed a lower court's 90-day sentence in a property damage case, was asked by a Superior Court judge whether, if he gave him a suspended sentence, he would be drunk 30 minutes afterward by way of celebration, to which the defendant answered that he would not. The judge then asked him whether he would like to play "double or nothing", that he would not have to serve his 90-day sentence provided he stayed sober, but if he were arrested again, he would be sentenced to 12 months. The defendant agreed to play the game, though the judge predicted he would lose.

In the meantime...

On the editorial page, "Clearing the Air on Secret Agreements" indicates that the Republican position on "secret agreements" had been somewhat confusing. At the Republican convention the prior July, the GOP platform had declared that the Government, under Republican leadership, would "repudiate all commitments contained in secret understandings, such as those of Yalta, which aid Communist enslavements." During the campaign, there was denunciation by Republicans of the agreements made at Tehran in November, 1943, at Yalta in February, 1945, and at Potsdam in July, 1945. In his State of the Union message earlier in the month, the President had urged Congress to pass a resolution making it clear that the Government recognized no commitments contained in secret understandings of the past which permitted enslavement of peoples. He said that he did not want the Congress to repudiate any entire pact but only to demonstrate that Americans had never agreed to enslavement of any peoples.

But on the prior Friday, the President had asked Congress to join him in renouncing the Soviets for subjecting free peoples to enslavement, in violation of the formerly secret sections of agreements such as that made at Yalta, refraining from any criticism of the pact itself. That represented a change in policy, from condemning Democrats for making secret agreements to condemning Russia for breaking them. The Republicans had used one line to win the election and were now changing position to reflect more accurately reality.

It indicates that the new policy made sense and that the President was to be commended for turning aside the demands of some Republicans and pinning the responsibility for enslavement of the satellite countries on the Russians, where it belonged, and not on Democrats. The new policy would not cause the Soviets to leave the satellite countries, but would also not arouse false hope among those countries' inhabitants that they were about to be liberated, while stressing the many breaches by the Soviets of wartime understandings and stressing the desire and hope of the American people that the captive peoples would be liberated. It would also, it suggests, clear the air of pre-election demagogy and enable Democratic Congressmen to join their Republican colleagues in that new policy. It thus finds that it should be approved.

"A Sorry Display" indicates that the one-man Senate conducted by State Senator H. Pou Bailey of Lake County the prior Saturday, in passing, alone, three local bills, had only compounded the problem of the Legislature in having to deal with local legislation, which was typically passed with only perfunctory review on Saturdays. The State Constitution provided for a quorum of a majority in each house before business of the people could be conducted. It recommends that the legislators either abolish Saturday sessions and the "farcical, undemocratic antics that attend them", or conduct Saturday sessions according to the State Constitution, with a quorum present.

"The Motorists' Best Security" indicates that Massachusetts was the only state with compulsory automobile liability insurance, and that 41 states required uninsured motorists involved in accidents to deposit security sufficient to cover possible damage claims, while North Carolina and five other states required neither. As a result of the latter system, those injured by uninsured or impoverished drivers in those six states were often burdened with hospital bills and mortgages in order to pay for the injuries sustained in accidents.

It indicates that the General Assembly was presently considering a bill to adopt the security program, which would be an improvement on the current system as it would encourage drivers to take out insurance, but would not solve the larger problem. It quotes from Governor Thomas Dewey, who was seeking to replace the security system in New York with compulsory insurance, indicating that it would ensure to the victims of a motor vehicle accident recovery against a negligent motorist. It recommends compulsory insurance as the best system.

"Discrimination in Its Finest Sense" indicates that the Phi Delta Theta fraternity at Williams College in Massachusetts had surrendered its charter to the national organization recently, and that until the ensuing biennial convention of the fraternity, would be banned from its parent organization, for the reason that the chapter had admitted a Jew as a pledge.

Most national fraternities had restrictive covenants barring from membership anyone other than white Christians, and what had occurred with the Phi Delta fraternity at Williams was not an isolated incident. Many times in recent years, fraternity members had pledged a Jew, a black or an Oriental, breaking down old barriers for sincere reasons rather than publicity. The president of the Phi Delta chapter at Williams had said that they had written the national fraternity that they were not fighting their policy, but that as a group of men at Williams, they wanted to take in a member who was clearly eligible by every tenet of the fraternity except "the one which is contradictory to the principles our country has established", that they chose men for the fraternity on the basis of individual merit, hoped that the national fraternity would recognize that it was for the betterment of the fraternity as a whole in the eyes of the people of the country.

It commends the brothers of the chapter for their stand in selecting and judging a man for what he really was.

A piece from the Richmond News-Leader, titled "That Clammy Hand of Fear", tells of a playwriting contest sponsored by the Samuel French organization in New York having a rule which reserved the organization's right to declare ineligible any author who became "publicly involved in a scholastic, literary, political or moral controversy". The piece thinks it ought narrow the field of competition, as any playwright who was not so involved would almost certainly be "a dull clod and a writer of wooden plays". For if a college student wrote a letter to the campus newspaper defending academic freedom, he would be so engaged.

It finds that the sponsors were entitled to set any rules they wished but that the prohibition on controversial activity appeared as commentary on the fear which had crept into almost every part of contemporary life. It suggests that the theater was the last place it would expect such fear to be manifested. "If our playwrights get to be soggy, spineless hulks, we'll be in bad shape sure enough."

We might note that the only danger in turning out several of the Republican, spineless Senators who recently voted to "acquit" the "President" on the two articles of impeachment, for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, is that one or more of them might fancy changing careers to playwriting, or at least try their hand at turning out sophomoric, soporific movie or tv scripts, of which we already have quite enough.

William S. Paley, chairman of the board of CBS, has an address reprinted, given at the Poor Richard Club of Philadelphia—presumably not dedicated to the Vice-President, though, in a sense, maybe—in which he recaps the 1952 presidential campaign, finding it to have been one which had probably captured the attention of more citizens than any in a long time, a status for which he gives television a great deal of credit. Television, he says, had brought the campaign right into the home, more so than had radio, which had been limited to transmitting the voice of the candidates. Television viewers could see the cast of each candidate's character and personality. About 40 percent, or 18.5 million, of families in the United States were able to see the candidates during the campaign. The viewers were able to make up their own minds without having the matter filtered through a third person, whether a reporter, a commentator or an editorial writer.

Television had been able to sustain interest in the campaign at a higher level throughout the process, resulting in record registration and turnout of over 63 million voters. He indicates that he did not mean to suggest that television was solely responsible for the turnout, but believed it was a contributing factor of great weight.

In four months of campaigning, General Eisenhower had traveled nearly 50,000 miles and delivered 228 separate speeches, an average of 19 per week, while Governor Stevenson had traveled 32,000 miles and delivered 203 speeches, an average of 16 per week, causing both candidates to weary long before the end of the campaign. He proposes, to avoid a repetition of that scenario, that the two major parties hold their national conventions starting around September 1, thus, allowing about three weeks for the nominating process of each convention, leaving 6 to 7 weeks for the general campaign, which, with the effective use of television and other media, plus some travel, would enable the candidates, in his judgment, to have a deep impact on the electorate.

He posits that such a shortened campaign would reduce the physical and mental strain upon the candidates by eliminating a large portion of the travel and speaking while permitting the public to share in the benefits of the shorter campaign, reducing the stress of partisan bickering on the society. It would also have a salutary effect on the administrative process of the Government, which largely came to a halt during the campaign, impacting both domestic and foreign policy. During such prolonged campaigns, foreign nations were left in a period of limbo until the election was held. Many foreign countries, unfamiliar with the traditional American election campaign, looked on the political emotionalism of the country as a sign of disunity. A shortened campaign would also lower campaign costs and expenditures.

He adds that it was not until 1856 that the two major party conventions were scheduled with regularity in June, coming as it had in an age before airplanes and broadcasting. In the modern age, he counsels, a period of four months of campaigning was obsolete.

Drew Pearson indicates that the jailed Communists were continuing to make trouble from behind bars, with the exception of Alger Hiss, who was an "excellent prisoner", all according to the Federal Prisons director, James Bennett, in his statement to a Senate Judiciary subcommittee in executive session recently. He said that the Communists had become neurotic and had to go to the hospital when there was nothing seriously wrong with them, and that some of the other prisoners picked on them, stealing their shoes or messing up their work. Mr. Hiss had never asked for any special favors or privileges and was serving his "hard time" at Lewisburg Penitentiary, rather than being assigned, as he normally would have been, as a teacher at the hospital, not available because of his notorious status.

Mr. Bennett indicated that Yvonne Madsen, who had been found guilty of the murder of her Army husband the prior year, was paranoid and neurotic, though the court had found her sane at the time of the crime. He was seeking to have her committed to a mental hospital.

Harvey Bailey, a notorious kidnapper of the 1930s, had become a model prisoner after 10 years at Alcatraz. Mr. Bennett said that Mr. Bailey had put a wire cord around the warden's neck while imprisoned in Kansas, causing the warden to have to escort him out the front gate, and after he had escaped, he had become involved in another kidnapping, resulting in his return to prison, where he established an excellent record at Alcatraz. Mr. Bennett had transferred him to Leavenworth for the previous six or eight years and he was doing well in the service of his life sentence.

The President had made some frank remarks to Governor Stevenson at their recent luncheon about tidelands oil, saying that he knew nothing about the subject except that which he had picked up by accident six years earlier, when visiting in Fort Worth in 1947, being shown a document which had convinced him that the tideland oil reserves belonged to to the states rather than the Federal Government. The document was signed by the Texas Legislature and addressed to Congress at the time Texas was seeking admission to the union. The Texas Legislature was offering to turn over to the Federal Government all of the public lands in the territory provided Congress would assume the state's 10 million dollar debt. The Government had refused the deal, allowing Texas to retain its public lands, including the tidelands, leading the President to believe that it belonged to Texas. He told Governor Stevenson that it was a simple matter of keeping one's word. Mr. Pearson notes that General Eisenhower had been shown the document by Amon Carter, leading citizen of Texas.

Joseph & Stewart Alsop indicate that, according to an old rule, the worst not happening was not news, but in the case of the President and Senator Taft, the fact that the best scenario had occurred rather than the worst was news. Senator Taft, as Senate Majority Leader, had become a voice of "calm good sense, in a Congress which regrettably alternates between rotomontade and plain drivel."

"When the witch-hunters were heating up their branding irons, it was Taft who quietly deprecated invasions of academic freedom. When the lawmaker-strategists were talking about bombing Peking tomorrow, it was Taft who pointed out the difficulties and dangers of a China blockade. And when everyone else was still pretending that they could happily combine lower taxes, a balanced budget, an effective national defense and a creative foreign policy, the bleakly honest Taft was the first to warn that all existing taxes would quite probably have to be continued, at least until July, 1954."

Two of the Senator's strongest traits were his deep respect for facts and his intense political partisanship. When he was the leader of the opposition, he had gone to partisan extremes which had alarmed the more moderate and world-minded Republicans, but now he dealt in facts and was in large part responsible for the success of the first Republican Administration in 20 years, thus appearing as a quite different person.

A personal relationship was growing between the Senator and the President, despite having been political rivals during the campaign. The Senator was the only one of the Congressional leaders whom the President still called by his title, which appeared as a signal of respect rather than aloofness. The two men were together during the conferences of the President with Congressional leaders each Monday, and also during special consultations at least once or twice per week, and the White House, initially fearing friction, now regarded the Senator as the great Congressional mainstay. Senator Taft, in like manner, who had begun by regarding the President as a facile amateur in politics, had now warmed up to him, regarding him as "a man of good will".

Moreover, the Senator was using his enormous power in Congress to forward the Administration's program, without any hint of his old stubbornness and impatience, appearing to enjoy his new role while recognizing that Republican policy had to be formed at the White House. Whenever he sensed that the Republican policy committee in Congress was veering off on its own, he would indicate that they had better wait to find out what the President thought.

Frederick C. Othman, as noted by the editors, takes the day off to dig out an old piece and offer it up again on George Washington's birthday, February 22. He finds that the first President had grown to be 10 feet, 6 inches tall, mostly naked, embodied in white marble.

In 1832, a Boston sculptor, Horatio Greenough, was commissioned by Congress to sculpt a statue of the first President to decorate the Capitol lawn, at a cost of $5,000. Mr. Greenough went to Florence, Italy, and came back six years later with a 20-ton statue packed in an oaken box. The cost by that point was $8,311.50.

When the longshoremen had tried to hoist the statue onto a boat, the rope had broken and the statue crashed through the hull and sank in the mud, with the ship settling on top of it, prompting the U.S. Navy to send a battleship to Italy to fish it out of the muck. When the ship finally docked in New York, the railroad tunnels between there and Washington were not big enough to accommodate passage of the statue strapped to a flat car, and so the Navy had to take it to New Orleans and follow circuitous routes without tunnels from there to Washington, increasing the total cost to $26,000.

Once in Washington, the Congress appropriated another $2,000 for a base for the statue and it was scheduled to be unveiled on February 22, 1841.

Finally, amid the folderol of the celebration, the time came for unveiling, and those present were horrified to see the first President clad as a Roman Senator on the way to his bath.

Following weeks of bitter debate whether to dynamite the statue, the parliamentarian discovered an old law which made it illegal for the Government to destroy any of its works of art, and so the Congress decided to build a wooden shed for $1,600 to hide the statue on the south lawn of the Capitol.

By 1908, curiosity of the public had grown so great as to what was stored in the shed, and the shed had become so weather-beaten, that Congress appropriated another $5,000 to tear down the shed and haul the statue in the dead of night to the Smithsonian Institution, where the statue had remained in the cellar of the main building since.

Mr. Othman corrects his original piece which he had written several years earlier, that the statue was not, after all, hidden, as the Smithsonian was touchy about the subject.

Are his wooden teeth showing?

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