The Charlotte News

Saturday, February 6, 1954


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that in Berlin at the Big Four foreign ministers conference, Secretary of State Dulles had decided to ask Soviet Foreign Minister V. M. Molotov to use his influence with the Communist Chinese in an effort to break the deadlock on starting the Korean peace conference, that the move would take place the following Monday when the question of Korea was to be brought up in the conference in connection with the Soviet proposal for a Big Five conference, to include Communist China. The U.S. intended to reject firmly any such generalized five-power conference which would recognize Communist China as a world power, but was willing to deal with Communist China on specific and limited issues. The U.S. wanted first priority to be given to the Korean settlement and then to negotiations regarding Indo-China. The U.S. position was supported by Britain and France. Mr. Dulles had invited Mr. Molotov to dinner this night.

The President advised Americans to ignore "prophets of gloom" and promised them a "big brother partner in the Federal Government", addressing for 12 minutes a cheering throng of more than 6,500 attendees at a Republican box supper the previous night. He also said, in implicit reference to his opposition to the Bricker amendment, that it was imperative to make certain that the "genius of our Constitution and our Government shall not perish, that it shall belong … to those who come after us ..."

Former President Truman said the previous night in New York, speaking before the Americans for Democratic Action, "The recession that started on the farms last spring has already spread to the city streets—and a depression would do likewise." He scoffed at the "miracles" which had been promised by the Republicans during the 1952 campaign, that he had been waiting for the miracles to happen but that there had been a slight delay in the "miracle business". He said he did not think there was any necessity for depression, and that the income tax cut proposed by the Administration was "a rich man's tax relief measure", that it was strange that the President's economic report had stated that there was no real recession while also stating that the economy was not stable enough yet to increase the minimum wage beyond 75 cents per hour. He said that the income levels of the farmer and worker were beginning to decline in relation to the share of the businessmen, corporations and landlords, that the national wealth was being distributed in reverse, from the poor to the rich. The speech was recorded and aired nationwide later in the night on CBS radio.

The joint Congressional Economic Committee received evidence that the slump in jobs and production had begun to level off and would turn into recovery in the spring, according to Representative Jesse Wolcott of Michigan, the Committee chairman. During the week, the Committee had heard from the heads of nine Government economic and statistical agencies, and according to Mr. Wolcott, their findings pointed to a seasonal increase in hiring and business activity by the early spring, followed by a possibly substantial economic revival in the fall. The Committee was split along party lines on at least two major points in the Administration's economic plan submitted to Congress, taxes and agriculture, the Democrats attacking the tax revision program on the ground that it contained too many benefits for business, presented as incentives to greater production, with some indicating that they would support instead a $100 increase in the $600 individual income tax exemption for dependents, adding to consumers' ability to purchase the results of the production the country already had.

In the Mexican state of Chiapas, a strong earthquake wrecked four small towns, killing an undetermined number of persons and spreading damage and terror over an area 50 miles in diameter. One of the towns, Tila, with a population of 1,165, was reported to be virtually destroyed. Mercy planes were reported to be flying doctors, nurses, medicines and other supplies to the area in the rugged jungle country, 70 miles northeast of Tuxtla Guitierrez, the state capital. Communications had been disrupted. Seismographs in New York, Boston, Cleveland, Pasadena and elsewhere in the U.S. had recorded a tremor during the morning in the area of Mexico.

In Vatican City, Pope Pius XII, 77, showed symptoms of slight improvement, but his state of general weakness persisted, according to his private doctor. He was being fed intravenously to maintain his strength, as he was having trouble keeping down food. He had been stricken January 25 and had not left his bed since that time, suffering a light fever and symptoms of gastritis, which remained unsolved. Around the world, millions were praying for his recovery.

In Seattle, it was reported that an unidentified Army officer died of an acute attack of polio aboard a troop transport as it made its way toward Seattle. The ship had radioed Coast Guard headquarters that the officer had at most 12 hours to live and that death was certain if he was not placed in an iron lung, prompting the Coast Guard to dispatch a PBY to carry an iron lung for the officer 350 miles at sea. The officer died, however, before the mission could take place.

In Springfield, Mo., a fire destroyed a four-room frame house early this day, killing seven children and the mother of four of them. The cause of the fire had not been determined.

In Saigon, a smallpox epidemic had resulted in at least 50 deaths, prompting authorities to press for vaccination of the population, resulting in mobile teams going through the poor sections of the city to administer the vaccine.

In Haw River, N.C., former Governor Kerr Scott was expected to announce during the afternoon that he would seek to run against appointed interim Senator Alton Lennon in the spring Democratic primary—which the former Governor would win.

In Pasadena, Calif., it was determined that the separate maintenance suit against James Roosevelt bought by his wife, alleging that he committed adultery with 12 women, would not go to trial for six to eight months, after the judge declared a recess in a pre-trial hearing when one lawyer sought to question Mr. Roosevelt about one of the women, ruling that such questions would be proper only when his wife's suit for $3,500 in monthly support actually came to trial.

In New York, an 11-year old boy who had regarded himself as an orphan since infancy learned that he had inherited 6.8 million dollars from his great-grandfather, that his mother had been the victim of one of the most sensational slayings in New York history, and that his father was not dead as he had been led to believe but rather had been imprisoned for the crime occurring in 1943. The father had eventually confessed to the crime and was convicted of second-degree murder, would not be eligible for parole until 1967. His father was a café society figure, Wayne Lonergan, and the boy's name had been changed in 1947 to avoid having his father's notorious name as junior. The boy in the meantime had been living quietly with his maternal grandmother in Manhattan. The death of his great-grandmother in Palm Beach on January 25 and the subsequent filing of her will, leaving him $5,000, had caused the boy's grandmother to begin to reveal to him the sordid past. His great-grandfather, a New York brewer, Max Bernheimer, had stipulated that upon the death of his widow, his estate would revert to a lineal descendant, which was the boy.

In Miami Beach, three mink stoles and an undetermined amount of jewelry were stolen from the home of Mrs. R. J. Reynolds, divorced wife of the tobacco heir, who was reported to be at her home in New York at the time, a housekeeper discovering that a door had been forced open. Did they steal any cigarettes? It was all filthy lucre, anyway.

On the editorial page, "Primary Highway Needs Are Urgent" indicates that Governor William B. Umstead's emphasis on a better primary highway system for the state was not misplaced, that something had to be done which would be bold and dramatic. The Governor had put forward at his recent press conference two alternatives, a bond issue or an increase in the gasoline tax by a penny, the latter producing an estimated 11 million dollars per year in additional revenue on top of the 35 million already available for the primary road system.

It observes that the 46 million might be enough to do the job on a pay-as-you-go basis, would certainly provide enough to make substantial improvements to the roads; but it hopes that the Governor would not put aside the idea of another bond issue on the matter, perhaps another 100 million dollars to supplement the 200 million dollar bond issue for secondary roads authorized in 1949. The ha'penny or penny gas tax would then be able to retire the bond.

It indicates that every time the state had invested extra money in its road system, it had paid off in rich dividends, increasing trade and tourism, and that with it evident that dual-lane, limited access highways were being constructed for the greater safety and comfort of motorists, the extra tax would not be begrudged by the public. It hopes that the Governor would exert stronger leadership in the 1955 General Assembly than he had in the 1953 Assembly, as he would run into strong opposition from the gasoline and trucking industries, as had former Governor Kerr Scott in 1949.

"A Postscript to the Monmouth Hoax" discusses the charges brought during the prior fall by Senator McCarthy regarding supposed espionage at Fort Monmouth's radar facility, having produced sensational headlines in newspapers and serious concern on the part of the public, only to have the entire matter debunked by reporters from the Washington Post and the New York Times, who found nothing at Fort Monmouth in the way of subversive activity, and ultimately labeled the Senator's charges as false and sensational, only serving to undermine morale at the facility. The Times had editorialized that ultimately the reader had to be the judge of such matters, as the newspaper had a responsibility to inform the public and could not choose not to report certain allegations simply because, as in the case of Senator McCarthy, the person's claims had been usually proved exaggerated or false.

The piece points out that one of the friendly witnesses presented by Senator McCarthy on the Monmouth matter had been convicted for making a false statement in an earlier proceeding and sentenced to four months in jail, though not based on that person's testimony regarding Fort Monmouth. Those who had followed the news carefully had concluded that the entire matter was "another hoax in the McCarthy tradition". But it shares the concerns of the Times regarding the contribution by the press to that hoax by giving it widespread publicity, and observes that journalists had a duty to report the news even when it might prove ultimately incorrect, leaving it to the public to discern beyond the headlines and then evaluate on their own the credibility of a given story.

"Distortion and Neglected Aspect" regards a letter to the editor this date which quoted Senator John W. Bricker as saying that "the Senate consented to ratification of a treaty, [the NATO Status of Forces Treaty], in conflict with the Constitution", which allowed G.I.'s to be tried in the courts of a foreign country for criminal offenses alleged as committed in that country, prompting Senator Bricker to state further that neither a Communist judge nor one violently anti-American could be entrusted to give an American boy a fair trial.

It finds it necessary to respond because the claim was false and unreasonable by the Senator, that if, as he advocated, American soldiers were provided the same immunity from prosecution for crimes committed in foreign countries which diplomats enjoyed, then foreign troops on U.S. soil would be entitled to the same immunity, completely unacceptable.

A piece from the Asheville Citizen, titled "Quote", tells of the News, the Greensboro Daily News and other newspapers having debunked the traditional ascription to Thomas Jefferson of the quote, "That country is governed best which is governed least." The quote was finally attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson, though, it comments, his friend and neighbor, Henry David Thoreau, had said almost the same thing, albeit without attribution for the quote, in his essay, "On the Duty of Civil Disobedience", published in 1840, wherein at its inception was his statement: "I heartily accept the motto, 'That government is best which governs least.'"

It finds that Mr. Emerson, in his Journals, published in 1855, at page 528 of Volume VIII, had said something close to the quote about the beaten path to the door of the man making a better mousetrap, a quote attributed to Elbert Hubbard. In the American Mercury in 1935, Newman Levy, in an article titled "The Right To Be Let Alone", had said: "If a man builds a better mousetrap than his neighbor, the world will not only beat a path to his door, it will make newsreels of him and his wife in beach pajamas, it will discuss his diet and his health, it will publish heart-throb stories of his love life." It finds the latter quote timely.

Drew Pearson comments on James Roosevelt, son of the late President, whose recent marital troubles exposed in the press, especially his wife's claims that he had extramarital relations with 12 different women, was not only threatening his own political career but that of his brother in New York, Franklin Roosevelt, Jr., who wanted to run for governor.

James Roosevelt had all of the charm of his father and women were naturally attracted to him. The trouble first became evident during his 1950 gubernatorial campaign in California, when his second wife, Romelle Schneider, started causing problems by threatening to reveal a letter which he had signed at her behest in 1945, admitting that he had extramarital relations with nine women, a letter which he said that he signed only to placate his wife's suspicions, not founded in reality, to save his marriage and to spare his ill father additional pain in February, 1945. She had threatened in 1950 to publish the letter unless he did three things, take her abroad, transfer one of his insurance business partners, whom she detested, to the East Coast, and deed to her half of his insurance business. He did all three things and so she relented, played the good sport during the campaign, except when she had a bad reaction to Senate candidate and Congresswoman Helen Gahagan Douglas, then staying home.

Mr. Pearson indicates that such a marital dispute would have no place in his column normally but for the fact of its impact on the political careers of the two Roosevelt brothers, especially Franklin. He indicates that James could win his Congressional race in which he was currently running in California, as the district had just been gerrymandered by the Republican Legislature to include as many Democratic votes as possible so that the Republicans could carry other districts more easily. But if he stayed in the race, he would probably ruin the chances of Franklin to become governor of New York, and that was the last thing he wanted to do, thus would probably wind up dropping out.

James Roosevelt would be elected to Congress in 1954 and would serve for five full terms and be elected in 1964 to a sixth term before resigning to accept appointment by President Johnson to a U.N. post, elected to his fifth term in 1962 just one day before the death of his mother.

Joseph & Stewart Alsop discusses the compromise on the Bricker amendment regarding the treaty-making power, as proposed by Senator Walter George of Georgia, which, by design, would get both the Administration and certain Democrats who had backed the Bricker amendment for political reasons but against their better judgment, off the hook.

Such was the prestige of Senator George that Senate Minority Leader Lyndon Johnson had once said: "When the old gentleman takes the floor and shakes those silver locks, the Senate of the United States sits up and takes notice."

Senator George believed that there was no imminent threat to either states' rights or individual rights of citizens, both of which he prized, posed by the treaty-making power, was a firm believer in the originalist conception of the Constitution and that the checks and balances put in place by the Founders were sound and ought be preserved.

He believed Attorney General Herbert Brownell was "a rather odd Attorney General", said that he wanted some things which the President wanted but also feared other things which the State and Justice Departments were prepared to accept. He believed his compromise was perceived as relieving the embarrassments of the Administration and some of his fellow Democrats.

In the end, he had taken the position that because the people were sovereign in the United States, causing every public office holder to be a servant of the sovereign people, and that because many were fearful and suspicious of the way the treaty-making power and the President's power to make executive agreements had recently been used, regardless of his belief that the suspicion was not well-founded, measures had to be taken to restore confidence in the people, as long as that could be done without departing from the intentions of the Founders.

Thomas McKnight of the Mooresville Tribune tells of John F. Matheson retiring from Mooresville Mills after 27 years with the company, working himself up from the dye plant to become head of the company, starting his employment right after his graduation from N.C. State. He was known by all of the employees as simply "Johnny", a nickname of both affection and esteem, remaining that way through his retirement.

The plant had grown from 800 to 3,000 employees during his time as its president, with more than 50,000 spindles and 2,000 looms, having a capacity of producing more than 35 million yards of assorted fabrics per year.

Mr. McKnight relates that two years earlier, a CIO organizer had been unable to organize the plant but nevertheless had found respect for Mr. Matheson, whom he regarded as having beaten them and that he therefore had to be "one helluva decent guy". The fact that it came from a CIO organizer, concludes Mr. McKnight, meant a lot.

A letter writer from Derita, N.C., indicates that a certain Charlotte detective had been injured in a traffic accident after an automobile had stopped ahead of his car in a no-parking zone, wonders why the detective had not received a citation for following too closely, as he had read of similar situations involving ordinary motorists where they did receive citations.

A letter writer comments on the editorial, "What Will the Council Say Now?", dealing with the Police Department's failure to enforce adequately the laws against gambling and lotteries, saying that she, also, was wondering what the Council would say, and also why the newspaper had not said more on the subject when the grand jury was investigating the police chief the prior December for allegedly taking bribes to allow illegal gambling to continue in the community. She believes that the horse was already out of the barn.

A letter writer responds to another letter writer who viewed McCarthyism in a bad light, suggests that the previous writer had never read Senator McCarthy's book, McCarthyism, and that if he had, he would realize that the Truman Administration had sold Nationalist China down the river, that former Secretary of State Acheson had said in a speech, six months prior to the invasion by North Korea of South Korea in June, 1950, that the country did not recognize Korea within its specific defense perimeter, but that then the U.S. had been forced to defend South Korea, playing "right into the Commies' hands", then getting stuck there. He says that some of the "hardheads" would not get it through their skulls that Communism meant slavery, that the "Commies will stop at nothing as long as we give to them everything they want", suggests that some people wanted to put on kid gloves and ask them to leave the country. It makes him sick.

A letter writer, as indicated in the above editorial, quotes from an address by Senator Bricker the previous October 9, delivered to the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, regarding the NATO Status of Forces Treaty, which allowed G.I.'s in the NATO countries and Japan to be subject to the jurisdiction of those countries' courts when criminal offenses were alleged against them committed on the foreign soil, finding the treaty to be contrary to the rights of citizens enjoyed under the Constitution. The writer believes that those who were opposing the amendment were thereby opposing the preservation of the individual liberties of American G.I.'s abroad.

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