The Charlotte News

Saturday, October 30, 1954


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the President had begun a "telephone your neighbors" campaign from the White House this date, hoping to ignite a chain reaction to garner more votes for Republican Congressional candidates. The President had talked personally with ten persons selected as typical throughout the country, urging each to vote the following Tuesday and to make a similar appeal to ten other people. The President had conducted a plane tour of four key states the previous day.

The Democrats had countered with a call for a "walkathon", consisting of a series of visits to homes of voters. DNC chairman Stephen Mitchell launched that effort with a telegram to party leaders and candidates, saying that the Democrats were the party with the record and the candidates which could afford to meet the voters face to face. Mr. Mitchell had accused the President the previous day of joining in a "Red smear" of Democratic candidates by congratulating Vice-President Nixon on his campaign role, which had stressed the contention that the Administration had cleaned the Government of Communists.

Don Whitehead of the Associated Press, reporting on the upcoming midterm elections, indicates that the Southern political rebellion of 1952, which had raised Republican hopes for a strong two-party system in the South, was now just a happy memory for Republicans, that Southern voters in 11 states would, without doubt, vote for Democratic candidates for all contested Senate seats and for about 100 of the 106 Southern House seats, accounting for nearly a fourth of the 37 Senate seats and House seats to be chosen. Whereas the President had swept Virginia, Florida, Texas and Tennessee in 1952, there was no such change of party affinity in the winds for the midterm elections. The only concerns of Democrats were in Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina, where Republicans currently held six House seats, and in Florida, where there were two Republican candidates making strong bids to unseat Democratic incumbents. Associated Press correspondents in the South had reported that Republicans were in danger of losing perhaps two of the six House seats which they currently occupied. Outside of those isolated areas, Republican candidates were reported to be making only token resistance or were exerting challenges which were not considered serious. Republicans, however, were arguing that their losses in the South would be offset by gains in the Northern districts long considered safe for them. In Georgia and Louisiana, the segregation issue dominated election interests rather than fights between Republicans and Democrats, in both states people voting on state constitutional amendments designed to continue segregation of students in the public schools, despite the practice having been held unconstitutional by the Supreme Court the previous May 17. In South Carolina, the attention was focused on a dispute caused when the state Democratic executive committee had named State Senator Edgar Brown as the party's nominee to succeed the late Senator Burnet Maybank, instead of calling for an election of a nominee by primary, the committee leaders having defended the action as the only legal way to proceed, indicating that there was insufficient time after the Senator's death to hold a primary before the deadline for certification of a nominee, while the opposition argued that the committee could have found legal means to hold the primary if they had wanted to do so. Mr. Brown was being opposed by two write-in candidates, former Governor Strom Thurmond, and Marcus Stone. Governor James Byrnes had given his support to former Governor Thurmond, and reports from the state were that Mr. Thurmond had a good chance to win the election over Mr. Brown, who had supported Adlai Stevenson in 1952, while Messrs. Byrnes and Thurmond had supported General Eisenhower.

In North Carolina, the Ninth Congressional District race had a Republican challenge this date to voter registration in the district, which Republicans claimed was the most thorough challenge ever entered in the district's political history. The challenge regarded between 10,000 and 14,000 registered voters in the district, with state law requiring that registrars hold a hearing on those challenged, requiring that they show cause why their names should not be removed from the voter rolls. Democratic leaders said that the move was a last-ditch effort to win a close election between incumbent Congressman Hugh Alexander and the Republican challenger, Bill Stevens.

In Raleigh, the North Carolina Methodist Conference this date approved the Brown v. Board of Education school desegregation decision of the previous May 17, stating it to be "a true interpretation of our Christian faith and of our American democracy." The conference, representing Methodist churches of eastern North Carolina, took its stand by an almost unanimous vote after several ministers and laymen urged adoption of the resolution, without opposition being heard. It recognized that there were "real difficulties" ahead for the practical application of the decision and commended Governor William B. Umstead and other state officials for efforts to find "orderly and constructive solutions for the problems involved". The report urged support of all constructive efforts of state leaders, and resistance to attempts to incite racial prejudice. It further urged a series of seminars throughout the conference for study and discussion of their Christian responsibility in dealing with the issue. James Martin, president of the student body of Duke Divinity School, read to the conference a letter calling for the "unrestricted admittance" of black students to the school, indicating that the letter had the approval of the student body. It also called on the conference for a "mature and positive" statement on the position of the Methodist Church regarding integration.

In Beaver Falls, Pa., the partially naked body of a 16-year old high school girl, missing from her home since heading to school the prior Monday, had been found this date buried under leaves and dirt, about 300 yards from her home. The police chief said that she had definitely been raped, after which she was stabbed in the neck and chest, with a knife having a five-inch blade found near the body. She was a high school sophomore. The town was about 100 miles from the town where a six-year old girl's body had been found the previous day at the entrance to a cemetery about two miles from her home, the victim, according to police, of a "sex maniac" while the child was out Thursday evening participating in Halloween activities with other children. There was no indication by police as to whether there was any connection between the two cases.

Near Charlotte, Davidson College welcomed over 8,000 alumni and friends this date to the 29th football homecoming celebration, climaxed by the Davidson versus West Virginia Tech game during the afternoon, with an informal dance scheduled this night. Senator Sam Ervin was the guest speaker at the morning alumni convocation at Davidson.

On the editorial page, "A Denial of Equal Representation" presents a cartoon which demonstrates the unequal representation which Mecklenburg County had in the State General Assembly. In the State Senate, the number of Senators for each county was supposed to be determined according to population but was not because the Legislature was dominated by rural representatives, some of whom would lose seats if the state were redistricted according to the State Constitution, required every ten years based on the decennial census.

It again urges defeat of the proposed amendment to the State Constitution which would deny equal representation by establishing that each of the 100 counties would have no more than one Senator, thereby perpetuating minority rule in the state, reminds that the amendment was opposed by Governor Umstead. It also urges persuading the General Assembly to correct the present injustice with redistricting according to population, at the beginning of the next biennial session in January.

"Don't Say We Didn't Warn You…" regards Halloween the following day, when every spook and specter imaginable would be roaming the countryside, recommends letting oneself be haunted in the hope that the spell would wear off at sunrise on Monday.

Through the centuries, Halloween had "chilled the gizzards of superstitious bumpkins from the Scottish highlands to the Mississippi delta as a night of infernal orgy." Actually it was the eve of All Saints Day, a 1,200-year old church festival commemorating all Christian saints and martyrs. Druid paganism and medieval suspicions had infiltrated Halloween with such notions as witches' revels, black cats and evil spirits.

According to Gaelic legend, all souls in Purgatory were released for 48 hours on Halloween. Ancient Welshmen believed that a Halloween wind blowing over the feet of corpses brought sighs to the house of those who would die within the year. In Irish superstition, if one heard footsteps behind on Halloween, the person should not turn around as it was the dead following, and meeting their glance would cause the person to perish. The elderly of Wales said that if one went to the crossroads at Halloween and listened to the wind, one could learn the most important things which would befall the listener during the ensuing year. Scottish highlanders encouraged taking a three-legged stool and sitting on it at a crossroads while the church bells were striking 12 times on Halloween, at which point would be proclaimed the names of church parishioners who would die within the coming year, and that if one's friends were so proclaimed, they could be saved by taking articles of clothing and throwing them away one by one as each name was called.

Bonfires could be built to keep away ghosts and goblins, but one had to stay with the fire all night. Eating cabbage broth or an apple worked to discontinue the spells of even the most persistent witches. To be lucky the year round, a rabbit's foot from a white rabbit shot in a graveyard at midnight on Halloween was essential.

In Brittany, pebbles with chalk marks on them were dropped in the smoldering ashes of a Halloween bonfire and left overnight, with townspeople then looking the next day to see if the pebbles had been moved or changed and if so, the person who had marked the moved pebble was doomed to die within the year.

It concludes that there was only one joker in the various Halloween gimmicks, that according to tradition, there had to be accompanying each attempt to disrupt a spell an appeal to the Devil in words too diabolical to repeat. It thus reiterates that one should simply let the spellcasting occur.

"It's No Use" tells of James Farley being one of the shrewdest political leaders of all time and remaining sharp, having said that nothing which happened in the last week or ten days of a campaign, short of a flagrant and repulsive action by one of the candidates, altered the outcome of an election.

It says it was passing on this opinion to the 10th Congressional District politicians who, according to rumor, were considering shoveling out some dirt in the closing hours of the campaign.

A piece from the Asheville Citizen, titled "Precious", indicates that in Sudbury, England, Reuters had reported that 60 married couples had refused to leave their mother-in-law for homes of their own in a new housing project, determining that it was easier for them to have housekeeping and cooking with the mother-in-law present.

It suggests that Reuters had missed the point, that the young couples were continuing to live with the mother-in-law because she provided the babysitting.

Drew Pearson indicates that his piece was not supposed to be published until after the election on Tuesday, but feels duty-bound to report that he had obtained a confidential list of 21 Texas millionaires, most of whom were oilmen, who had contributed heavily to the Citizens for Eisenhower movement during the closing days of the campaign, raising $56,500 to be spent in key states where the Congressional and gubernatorial races were close. The oilmen were seeking to increase the oil depletion allowance from its present 27.5 percent, trying to repeal a Congressional amendment providing that the allowance should never exceed 50 percent of net income, that is the amount after all itemized deductions for business expenses, etc. The oilmen had indicated to a Cabinet committee set up by the President that if they did not receive tax relief, they would demand an increase of the depletion allowance.

He proceeds to list the 21 Texas millionaires, their companies, and the amounts contributed, which varied between $2,500 and $3,000 each for individuals, and $5,000 for couples. He notes that the New York Journal of Commerce had recently stated that the oil industry was the only one which scored a perfect batting average in Congress, that every bill it sought had been passed. In addition, without an act of Congress, the oil companies might receive an executive order permitting them to drill on U.S. wildlife refuges as well as obtaining the vast oil reserves of Alaska, through the generosity of Secretary of the Interior Douglas McKay.

Gerald Johnson, former North Carolina journalist, indicates that being a real Democrat was something very different from being someone only registered as a Democrat, the difference having to do with temperament, education, circumstances, and the grace of God. He suggests that there were some persons, some of whom were quite worthy, who could never be Democrats and should not try. There were areas, especially in the South, in which there were social or economic considerations urging such people to vote Democratic, even if unhappy because they did not believe in the party, inevitably casting an aura of fraud about it, to the embarrassment of real Democrats.

Some Americans, especially the young, reached the cynical conclusion that there was really only one party in the country, that differences between the two parties were only factional disputes. Russians believed the same thing. In both instances, however, he suggests, it was an unrealistic view of American politics, as there were, in fact, three major parties, Democrats, Republicans and "Gimmees", the latter being a group with no ticket but who voted for one or the other of the parties with indifference as long as they received their handout. That latter person was often endowed with enormous cunning, sometimes rising to high posts within the Government, while still being a "blackguard who would sell his grandmother's tombstone in order to grab an office." Such people had no principles and so were not entitled to serious consideration in assessing basic differences between the Democrats and Republicans.

When something had to be done, the people invariably turned to the Democrats, no accident, as it was the Democrats, by the very nature of their party, who always did something, even if sometimes foolish, and in times of desperation, it was always better to do something than to do nothing. But when whatever danger had arisen had been averted by the necessary action, it frequently happened that the public would then turn back to the Republicans. Sometimes there was no formal change, but the Democrats essentially became Republicans, as under former Presidents Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan, between 1853 and 1861.

The basic difference between the parties, he suggests, was not a matter of issues but rather of attitudes or principles. What was radical at some earlier time often became conservative later on, then reactionary after that. The same liberty values associated with states' rights proclaimed by Patrick Henry in 1789 were considered radical at that time, while by 1850, John Calhoun, defending them, was considered a conservative, and by the early 1950's, Governor Allan Shivers of Texas, defending the tidelands oil "steal", was considered a reactionary. On any major issue, both parties had been on all sides at one time or another, though not necessarily implying a real inconsistency as long as the parties maintained their fundamental attitudes while changing on the issues.

The fundamental attitude of the Democrats in any crisis was that the country had much to gain, while Republicans conveyed the attitude of having much to lose. Historically, both parties had been correct, as what lay ahead in such situations usually involved something to gain, but which was guarded by some other negative force, representing that which could be lost. Fighting that latter battle often depressed the exuberance of the Democrats while reducing the pessimism of Republicans for the gains made. Late in life, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams began to think pretty much alike.

He suggests that since President Washington, there had been only five Presidents who had been unquestionably great, Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt. All, except President Lincoln, had been both registered and real Democrats, and it could be argued plausibly that President Lincoln was also a real Democrat. But it did not follow that 80 percent of all top statesmen had been Democrats. The Federalist-Whig-Republican opposition had included such men as Alexander Hamilton, Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, William Seward, Hamilton Fish, and others, down to Elihu Root, Robert Lafollette, the elder, and Arthur Vandenberg. The reason was that when the Democrats developed a first-rate person, they usually elected that person President or attempted to do so, while the Republicans carefully kept such persons away from the White House. For if a strong leader were elected as President, he would inevitably lead, which is what the Democrats hoped to do and the Republicans feared.

Theodore Roosevelt, a leader, became President only by the assassination of President William McKinley, not by the intent of the Republican Party. President Roosevelt had dragged the Republicans out of their normal attitude and driven them into "nervous prostration" by 1912. Franklin Roosevelt had restored the Democrats to their true character, invigorating the party, which was therefore able to remain in power for the ensuing 20 years.

He suggests that President Calvin Coolidge was the perfect President for the Republicans, as he went nowhere and did nothing. Appearances suggested that President Eisenhower would be the next best such President, as he was "going nowhere if he can possibly avoid it", but was not so lucky as President Coolidge, as events might prod him into making a move, which, for a Republican President, often wound up as the wrong move.

Mr. Johnson indicates that he was not arguing that the Democrats should be the only party, as all persons did not think or feel alike. But he was glad that a benignant destiny had made it possible for him to be a Democrat, as he believed that a Democrat was happier than a Republican, serene in the faith that a pot of gold was just around the corner, enabling him to contemplate even such "an appalling apparition" as Senator McCarthy without despair. The Democrat was certain that the creature was only a temporary nuisance, sure to be put down as a demagogue eventually.

"From time to time we have these fits of backward-looking and the sons of Belial, flown with insolence and wine, then wander forth, but never for very long. In due time the common sense of the common people reasserts itself, we elect another Democratic President and go seeking the next pot of gold." He finds that those who could not believe that maxim were by nature Republicans, that it was sad and he was sorry for them, but there was nothing in the world which could be done about it.

Doris Fleeson indicates that the President had a curious quality of innocence when it came to politics and displayed it repeatedly in his election eve conference with the Washington press corps, whom he had not confronted for ten weeks. The questioning had naturally centered on situations which had developed during the campaign and it was anticipated that the President would seek to use the conference as a fresh sounding board, but he had not made any useful headlines and showed little curiosity about the headlines being made by others in the Administration. His remark that voter apathy had stemmed, not from "disenchantment" with his program, but from too much satisfaction with it such that people would not take the trouble to vote, had been close to being "a real howler".

The election would not turn on unemployment or the dip in farm prices, much less than Democrats were contending, but no politician disputed that those issues had caused uneasiness among voters, responsible for the Democratic trend.

FDR had spent six hours touring New York City in a pouring rain the weekend before the 1944 presidential election, and in 1940, had taken a train and gone through crowds in industrial centers, making major speeches throughout the closing weeks of the campaign. Former President Truman had whistle-stopped almost to the last hour in the presidential campaign of 1948. The President intended to tour four cities during this last weekend of this midterm campaign.

A question had been put to the President regarding the deliberate revival of the Communist issue during the previous three weeks by Vice-President Nixon and others, answering casually that he did not know about anything like that, that he had not noticed it, that everyone knew what he stood for.

The President cut ground from the candidates who were seeking to ride his coattails, of whom there were many, by saying that he did not considered the elections as a test of the people's confidence in him and in his Administration. Many Eisenhower Republicans did not seem interested in the Congressional candidates picked by the regular Republicans, a fact of political life, and the President had not taken the lead to change or to try to influence the organization to get better candidates. At one point in discussing voter apathy, the President said that perhaps he was losing his perspective and did not get down to meet the people enough, which Ms. Fleeson regards as a mouthful.

A letter writer, who indicates that he was born and raised in Charlotte and was a registered Democrat, urges voting for Republican Representative Charles Jonas.

A letter from the chairman of the Mecklenburg Employ the Physically Handicapped Committee expresses appreciation for the support of the newspaper during the year, helping the organization to enable handicapped persons to become self-supporting taxpayers once again.

A letter writer from Albemarle indicates that farmers were tired of "stall-fed newspaper editors and pot-bellied radio announcers" telling them how to vote, that their cattle prices were down 75 percent, the hog prices by 30 percent, egg prices, 40 percent, with no sale for old hens, while the President and Secretary of Agriculture Ezra Taft Benson told them that it was all for the best. He is wondering what Secretary of Defense Charles E. "(Doggie)" Wilson would have to say on Wednesday, as the writer is expecting a Democratic victory.

A letter writer asks for more information about the background of Recorder's Court Judge J. C. Sedberry, who was running as the Democratic candidate for Congress from the district against Mr. Jonas.

A letter writer indicates that he cannot recall when there had been so many hurricanes as in 1954, wonders whether they were caused by the windfall profits which apartment and homebuilders had obtained under the Democrats.

A letter writer says that after seeing Judge Sedberry on television, a lot of people were wondering how a person went about making up their mind to vote "to send a man like this to Washington to represent this district in Congress." She does not bother to explain any further. We did not catch the tv show.

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