The Charlotte News

Monday, April 26, 1954


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that that in the Senate Investigations subcommittee hearings on the dispute between Senator McCarthy and the Army, Secretary of the Army Robert Stevens had agreed this date that he once had suggested that Senator McCarthy suspend his probe for Communists at Fort Monmouth in New Jersey and allow the Army to handle the matter in the meantime, but denied that he was afraid of the Senator. The statements came during cross-examination by the subcommittee's special counsel for the investigation, Ray Jenkins, in the third day of hearings on the dispute. A little earlier, the Secretary had testified that the Senator's "publicity tactics" at Fort Monmouth had caused "a great deal of misinformation and excitement", but conceded that the Senator's investigation had sped up some suspensions of personnel for disloyalty. The Secretary denied to Mr. Jenkins that he had gone to New York the prior November to make peace with the Senator because of fear of him, after telling newsmen in Washington that there was no "current espionage" at Fort Monmouth, but rather had done so because it was consistent with the policy of cooperation with Congress, and was not designed to get the Senator to call off the probe. He said that he wanted the Army to take over the investigation to get the matter out of the headlines and that if the Army failed to make satisfactory progress reports, then the job would again be turned over to the Investigations subcommittee, that he had never indicated to the Senator that he should "cease and desist". He said that he did not equate such a suspension of the subcommittee's investigation with a stoppage of it.

At Geneva, the top diplomats of 19 nations met this date to discuss the finalization of the peace in Korea and the war in Indo-China. The role of Communist China in the conference remained a source of controversy, but was bypassed until later in the conference. Not since 1939, on the eve of World War II, had such a high-level diplomatic conference been held in the building which had once served as the home of the old League of Nations. The meeting this date was largely ceremonial, as the various diplomatic leaders arrived in Geneva.

The President declared before the United States Chamber of Commerce in Washington this date that it was a time of "great decisions" in world affairs, with the outcome of the war in Indo-China carrying "the greatest significance" for the U.S. He described that war as "the cork in the bottle", the loss of which would impact the fate of hundreds of millions of people in the surrounding areas of Asia, possibly impacting the newly formed, democratic government of Japan, as the affected area was one with which Japan had to trade. He indicated hope that the Geneva conference would find peaceful solutions to those problems and that all peoples would see the futility of depending on war and the threat of war as means of settling their difficulties. Secretary of Defense Charles E. Wilson also addressed the body, indicating that events in Europe and Asia might force a new look at U.S. military plans, policies and spending.

From Hanoi, it was reported that the French fortress at Dien Bien Phu was reeling under violent bombardment by the Vietminh this date, but the French reported that the rebels had still not launched their third massive assault designed to engulf the fortress. The French Union defenders had been driven into a cluster of fortifications less than one and a quarter miles across, were in an "extremely serious but not desperate" position, according to the French communiqué, and this date's report was that the situation remained unchanged. Morale among the French troops was said to be "sky high" as they braced for bloody close-quarters combat against the all-out assault anticipated to coincide with the start of the Geneva conference. The Vietminh were about 600 yards from the command headquarters of the fortress in its northwest corner. French planes flew through mist and rain to drop more ammunition, food and medical supplies by parachute to the defenders, who presently held only a third of the area they had controlled at the start of the fight on March 13. The fortress had been under siege for more than five months, supplied entirely by air.

In Paris, the French Government sought fresh aid from its principal allies to stave off defeat at the fortress, but the best it could do was to obtain tentative consideration by the U.S. of sending forces to the war should the Southeast Asia alliance, similar to NATO, be formed. A French source in Geneva said that the U.S. had rejected a French request that U.S. Air Force planes and pilots be sent to the war, but that Secretary of State Dulles had indicated to French Foreign Minister Georges Bidault that the U.S. position would be different should the Western Big Three succeed in the formation of the defense organization—to become SEATO in September. France and Britain had agreed to study the possibility of such a pact. The French source stated that the U.S. believed that the commitment of U.S. pilots to the war would be an act of belligerency forbidden by the Constitution without the prior approval of Congress. The British were also reported, in an emergency Cabinet meeting the previous day, to have rejected a suggestion of sending British troops to the war, but had determined that they might send more troops and planes to neighboring Malaya and perhaps stage British naval maneuvers off the Indo-China coast as a show of force to bolster French morale. It was reported that the French Cabinet was debating whether, with no foreign aid imminent, to commission Brig. General Christian de Castries, commander of the French defenders of Dien Bien Phu, to seek the terms of surrender from the Vietminh with "full honors of war".

At Fort Bragg, N.C., thousands of paratroopers dropped from the skies over the military reservation in war games training of the Army and Air Force for atomic defense. About a third of the 9,000 82nd Airborne Division paratroops, some carrying Geiger counters and small chemical filmstrips to detect atomic radiation, were dropped by 11:00 a.m. A few of the paratroopers had been injured, but none had been hospitalized and there were no fatalities reported. Army chief of staff, General Matthew Ridgway, observed the games, along with NATO observers and several members of Congress. It began about a half hour after the Air Force simulated the drop of an atomic bomb, producing a flash and mushrooming smoke developed by a high explosive charge, set off to provide realism.

In Boston, the New England Governors' Textile Committee urged that consideration be given to amending the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act to provide for a minimum wage higher than the current 75 cents per hour, prevailing in the textile industry. The Act authorized the Secretary of Labor to set a minimum wage based on the prevailing wage in the industry, for workers of companies fulfilling Government contracts. The Committee also approved of the actions of Labor Secretary Robert Mitchell for resisting the efforts of Southern textile interests to obtain sectional wage differentials under the Public Contracts Act.

In Bonn, West Germany, the daughter of Chancellor Konrad Adenauer was married the previous day to a 32-year old German architect in a small ceremony near Rhoendorf, where the Chancellor had his private residence. A Roman Catholic ceremony would be held for the couple on May 11 in the Bonn Cathedral. The wed daughter had served as official hostess for her widowed father, whose wife had died in 1945.

In Gallatin, Tenn., a 70-year old farmer had killed himself with a rifle after shooting to death his 18-year old granddaughter after rebuking her for having boyfriends. The sheriff reported that the man's son had said that he had old-fashioned ways and could not see why his granddaughter wanted to go out with boys, as did other girls.

In Trier, Germany, for nine years tenants of an apartment building complained that the chimney had not been drawing smoke, but a chimney sweep had solved the riddle, removing a bust of Adolf Hitler which had been hidden in the chimney by a scared resident at the end of the war.

In San Francisco, about 30 revelers at the Bachelors' Ball the prior Saturday night had continued their celebration until shortly before noon on Sunday, to the chagrin of the Palace Hotel management, as a church meeting was transpiring in an adjoining room. The bachelors and their guests were dancing to a jazz band, drinking milk punch and shooting off firecrackers. Hotel management began to encourage the revelers to go home at 10:00 a.m., but one of them had said that they had lost an hour because of the change to daylight savings time and they were going to make it up.

Not on the front page either this date or the prior Saturday, Patricia Kennedy, sister of Senator John F. Kennedy and daughter of former Ambassador to Britain, Joseph P. Kennedy, was married in New York City at the St. Thomas More Church to actor Peter Lawford the prior Saturday. Mr. Lawford, at the end of the ceremony, forgot to kiss the bride. The marriage would become more significant, beyond the realm of the social register, in the years ahead.

In Gastonia, N.C., a man wrote to the Gaston County draft board that he was "suffering from romantic fever" and his wife was pregnant, seeking excuse from the draft.

In Charlotte, issuance of bicycle license plates began this date at a school, and police said that at least 300 students would have the tags by mid-afternoon. The City Council had recently ordered bike registration, in an effort to help police identify ownership of bicycles which were stolen, thereby reducing the thefts. The registration drive would continue at other schools during the remainder of the week.

In White Plains, N.Y., actress Rita Hayworth arrived this date to fight charges that she had neglected her two daughters, as her former husband and father of one of the girls, Prince Ali Khan, had flown to New York from the West Coast a few hours later to find out what he could about the case. Ms. Hayworth and her current husband, singer Dick Haymes, arrived in White Plains from Washington, where they had first learned of the charges brought by the Westchester County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, after the couple had been vacationing in Florida and had left the children with a governess. The Prince had no comment to the press. The other child had been fathered by another former husband, actor and director Orson Welles.

On the editorial page, "Loan Sharks Must Be Curbed" indicates that the legal rate of interest in North Carolina was 6 percent, but that many loan shark lenders in the state were obtaining between 275 and 536 percent return on their loans calculated on a per annum basis, whereas in South Carolina the rate ran as high as 955 percent. The reason was that legislators from each state, as well as in ten other states, had not provided for laws to regulate small loans, to protect the poor and ignorant. It provides an example of someone who signed up for a loan of $10 to be repaid in eight weekly installments, winding up paying $14.64 after interest and costs on the loan. The small-loan fee amounted to $2.50 of that final figure, which, plus interest, assured the lender of at least a 275 percent annualized return.

A Duke University professor and a Raleigh News & Observer reporter had been digging into the loan shark problem, as had the former State commissioner of banks, Gurney Hood, and the former State insurance commissioner, Waldo Cheek of Charlotte, finding that the insurance premiums on small loans sometimes ran almost as high as the loan principal. Mr. Hood had told the 1951 General Assembly that insurance premiums collected by one finance company during 1950 amounted to 90 percent of its loans, while another in Raleigh had 69 percent of its loans that year based on insurance premiums. But the commissioner of insurance had no authority to regulate the rates on small-loan accident and health insurance. Mr. Cheek had issued a set of regulations when he had been insurance commissioner, applicable to loan sharks, but they had not done much good because he only had a five-person enforcement staff, and many times, borrowers did not know their rights or the legal procedures by which to initiate action.

It indicates that the states which had done away with the abuses in the small loan system had forbidden the collection of insurance and sundry other fees by the lenders, realizing that 6 percent interest was unrealistically low in the small loan business, permitting a monthly interest charge of between two and three percent as the only charge which such lenders could seek.

It urges that the 1955 General Assembly undertake to revise the small loan laws and it looks forward to the candidates for the Assembly from Mecklenburg County speaking on that issue.

"Dulles Starts Talks with Hands Tied" indicates that with the start this date of the Geneva peace conference, with Korea and Indo-China as the two main items on the agenda, the outcome of the conference might determine whether there would be peace or war. The unification of Korea as a free and democratic nation and the ending of the war in Indo-China on terms allowing for genuine independence and security for all of Southeast Asia were the stated objectives of Secretary Dulles, as well as of the delegations from Britain and France. But obtaining those objectives appeared further away at the opening of the conference than it had been in February when the foreign ministers of the Big Four, including Russia, met in Berlin and agreed to the Geneva talks.

Several new barriers had, in the meantime, arisen, the first of which having been that the Vietminh, well supplied by the Chinese Communists, appeared on the verge of a military victory at the French fortress at Dien Bien Phu, certain to have adverse psychological effects for the West throughout Southeast Asia and impacting the negotiations at Geneva. In addition, Soviet Foreign Minister V. M. Molotov had insisted that the Chinese Communists be treated as one of the negotiating powers at the conference table, despite a specific agreement at Berlin that while Communist China would be allowed to participate, it would not be given equal status to the nations who had actually participated in the fighting in Korea and Indo-China.

Moreover, the recent hydrogen bomb tests in the Pacific by the U.S. had given its enemies new grounds for propaganda contending that Americans were warmongers, while in the U.S., public opinion, as reflected in Congress and elsewhere, appeared increasingly resolute against bartering to reduce the tensions in the Far East.

The piece is especially concerned about that latter problem, for without exploring the complicated collateral issues involved in such questions as the diplomatic recognition of Communist China or its admission to the U.N., it would be difficult to conduct any negotiations toward peace, as there was no clear victor or vanquished in either Korea or Indo-China. In addition, Secretary Dulles, based on his own statements and the demands of key Republican Senators, entered the conference with his hands tied, having no freedom to negotiate with regard to Communist China, approaching the talks as if he represented the victor, when there was no vanquished. It thus concludes that it was not being pessimistic but rather realistic to doubt that anything would be accomplished at Geneva.

There would be—but it would only be a temporary accomplishment, leaving for subsequent Administrations the thorny issue of Vietnam, in one view of history, leading to the toppling of both the Johnson and Nixon Administrations, although subject, in each case, to other valid viewpoints as to why, precisely, President Johnson chose not to run for the Democratic nomination in 1968 and why President Nixon had to resign in August, 1974, ostensibly and immediately the result of the attempted cover-up of the Watergate scandal by use of the FBI to head off a CIA investigation for the fact that the Watergate break-in and the Cubans involved in it would lead back to the "Bay of Pigs thing", but also complicated by a declining economy with rampant inflation and a gasoline availability crisis, as well as the conclusion of U.S. involvement in the war having, essentially, released public and Congressional opinion after January, 1973 to focus on the domestic crisis created by Nixon Administration policies, framed around his "secret plan", claimed during the 1968 campaign, to end the war, the "secret plan", ultimately, being inclusive of the break-in to the DNC headquarters at the Watergate in June, 1972, flowing directly from the President's approval in mid-1970 of the Huston Plan, extended from the initial covert infiltration of the anti-war movement by Administration operatives to burglaries resulting from the release of the Pentagon papers regarding the history of U.S. involvement in Vietnam since the time of the Truman Administration. One could, therefore, create a whole college course just on the Geneva peace conference of 1954, and its impact on subsequent history, especially that of the United States.

"The Split on Trade in the GOP" finds that the Eisenhower foreign policy was being patterned, in many respects, on what the Democrats had done rather than what Republicans had said during the campaign of 1952 they would do, a trend resented by many Republicans, helping to explain the rift between the two wings of that party.

A good illustration was provided by the differences on trade policy, argued between Foreign Operations administrator Harold Stassen and members of the Foreign Relations Committee during the month. A majority of the Republicans in Congress had voted against reciprocal trade agreements almost every time they had come up for renewal, but the Eisenhower Administration wanted an extension of the agreements and, as explained by Mr. Stassen to the Committee, was seeking to expand East-West trade to increase the wages of the workers in the free nations so that they could have greater consumer power, increase investment of the free world in the less developed areas and expand trade in peaceful goods with the Soviet sphere in exchange for products which were needed. Several Senators had objected to increased trade with the Soviets, even though it involved non-strategic items such as tractors and butter, as it was believed by many that keeping the standard of living low in Russia would stimulate revolt by the Russians. Mr. Stassen had responded that any such revolt would be put down ruthlessly and that increasing the standard of living would decrease the likelihood of another world war. Mr. Stassen sought flexibility in trade policy to permit its adjustment to the rapidly changing world situation.

The Administration apparently believed that the possession of the hydrogen bomb by both the U.S. and the Soviet Union had reduced the likelihood of imminent total war, and that trade in non-strategic materials would narrow the divide between East and West, would profit the West economically while strengthening it for the long cold war ahead.

It finds the reasoning sound, but that, as with other areas of foreign policy, the Administration's biggest obstacle to be members of its own party in Congress.

Drew Pearson indicates that Secretary of State Dulles, shortly before departing for the Geneva peace conference, had called on the ambassadors of Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, the Philippines and South Korea to provide a briefing regarding his hopes and aspirations for the conference. All had been sworn to secrecy, but Mr. Pearson provides the highlights of the talk, that Communist China would not be recognized, that the U.S. would walk out of the conference rather than desert its smaller allies, that there would be complete freedom in Indo-China, a view on which the French were gradually agreeing, and that under no circumstances would the U.S. tolerate Indo-China falling under Communist control. The Secretary, however, had ducked the question of whether U.S. troops would be sent to that war.

The conference, primarily amicable, had contrasted with a conference with the same envoys approximately two weeks earlier, which had led to the Secretary's rushed trip to Paris and London to placate the British and French allies, and seek their commitment to cooperate in "united action" in Indo-China and the Far East generally. Mr. Pearson indicates that the series of events illustrated the haphazard nature of the policy of the U.S. regarding Indo-China, as exampled by the fact that the Vice-President had said in a speech ten days earlier that the country would send troops if necessary should the French withdraw, with the Secretary of State then indicating that the U.S. probably would not do so.

He suggests that to obtain the full picture of the policy in Indo-China, it was necessary to return to the beginning when Secretary Dulles had first attempted to warn the public about the dangers of the war there, in his speech before the Council of Foreign Relations, marking a pronounced change in U.S. foreign policy. A copy of the speech had been sent to the allied embassies only four hours in advance of it being delivered, with no comment or explanation. Subsequently, the State Department realized that the U.S. would need allies in Indo-China and so-called in the ambassadors concerned with Southeast Asia to provide them a briefing. Later, some of the ambassadors became upset because the State Department contended that they had asked to see the Secretary, when the reverse had been true. But they were mainly exercised about what the Secretary had told them, fearing that a blunt warning by the allies to the Communists in Indo-China would be the first step toward total war. They were also concerned about his proposal for a NATO-type defense organization for Southeast Asia. The French and British envoys were especially exercised and sent cables home, resulting in Premier Joseph Laniel of France warning that any such blunt talk would lead to the downfall of his Government, and from London, that such talk would lead to general elections in England. Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden suggested that the Secretary perhaps should talk things over directly in Europe with the French and British leaders. Thus, the Secretary made his hurried trip to London and Paris, achieving no success in getting a warning to the Communists or an advance pledge to form a NATO-type organization in Southeast Asia prior to the Geneva conference, but obtaining a pledge to consider the creation of such an organization should the Geneva conference fail. He had also obtained an unpublicized promise from French Foreign Minister Georges Bidault that France would not proceed with its proposed settlement for Indo-China, which would have meant the loss of part of it. The Secretary had secretly agreed to a cease-fire in Indo-China, provided the French could work it out at Geneva without yielding anything important.

The Secretary considered the Geneva conference so important that he was taking more than 80 State Department employees with him.

The British reported that a Russian MIG jet had flown over Hong Kong during the Secretary's talks with British leaders in London, perceived as a deliberate warning to remind the British how vulnerable Hong Kong was.

Republicans and Democrats had turned down the plea of Secretary Dulles that a Congressional delegation of advisers accompany him to Geneva, with Republican Party leaders in each house indicating that they could not spare anyone in the expected close votes ahead on the President's domestic legislation agenda. Democratic leaders simply turned down the invitation, as they did not want Democrats negotiating across the table from the Chinese Communists.

The U.S. military mission in Indo-China had urged the Pentagon to keep U.S. Air Force technicians there indefinitely, as French mechanics and ground crews were reportedly unable to service and maintain their fleets of American planes. Far more planes were reported to be crashing because of faulty French repairs than were being shot down by the Communist anti-aircraft artillery. Without American technicians, the volunteer American civilian pilots might quit rather than continue to take the risks.

James Marlow indicates that the American people doubtless wanted questions answered were there to be American troops sent to Indo-China to bail out the French, chief among them regarding the amount of effort the French had put into the war and how much more they might expend should the U.S. become involved, as well as what would happen if, through the U.S. aid, the Communists were crushed, whether the U.S. would have a deciding voice in the future of Indo-China or have to return it to the French.

U.S. troops sent in as a last resort would include both regulars and draftees. French draftees, by contrast, were sent in only when they volunteered, and thus a question would arise as to whether, if U.S. draftees were sent, the French would change their policy in that regard. U.S. draftees were drafted for two years, whereas French draftees served only 18 months. Every year between 250,000 and 270,000 French youths were drafted at age 21, and so the question also arose as why none, except volunteers, were sent to Indo-China.

The French Embassy in Washington had that question posed to it the previous night and the answer was that it was uneconomical to send draftees into the war, because after their training, they would only have about three months in the actual fight. The reason volunteers were sent was that it was "less uneconomical" to send those few, approximately ten percent of the total drafted.

During the three years of the Korean War, U.S. casualties amounted to 142,000, of whom 30,000 had died and 47,000 were wounded. By comparison, the seven years of fighting by the French in Indo-China had resulted in 16,900 killed, about 2,300 per year, compared to the 10,000 Americans per year in Korea, with 47,000 French wounded. But those figures for the French included only those from France, proper, with the total number of French casualties, including troops from North Africa, being 150,000, of whom 50,000 had been killed or were missing. (It might be noted that in eight years of direct U.S. troop involvement in Vietnam, between early 1965 and the Paris Peace Accords of January, 1973, the total number of Americans killed in combat was 47,500, about 5,900 per year on average, the bulk of those combat deaths having occurred from 1966 to 1970. The oft-cited total number of American deaths in Vietnam, 58,000, includes about 10,500 accidental and other non-combat deaths.)

The French, however, pointed to the number of French officers killed each year, numbering about 750, the equivalent of each year's graduating class from its officer training school at St. Cyr, the French equivalent to West Point.

The French had held Indo-China as a colony for nearly 100 years and even during the previous seven disastrous years of war had not thus far formed an Indochinese officer corps to replace the French officers. The French had also delayed training the Indochinese administratively so that they could someday take over the country should the French provide it independence, the reluctance to do so being one of the principal reasons for the disaster.

Joseph & Stewart Alsop tell of the Democrats in Congress being increasingly confident that they would be able to take over the House in the midterm elections, with Minority Whip John McCormack predicting that they would have a new majority of between 40 and 60 seats. There was also increasing talk among Democrats of capturing the Senate, a more difficult accomplishment.

The Republicans, however, maintained that the trend toward Democrats was a figment of the Democratic imagination.

The reason for the optimism among Democrats came from some polling data across the country, from Minnesota, showing Senator Hubert Humphrey, who was once thought to be in trouble, now having a comfortable lead over his opponent, from Denver, showing a drop in popularity of the President in terms of his job performance, though over 80 percent still believed he was doing a good or fair job, positive polling data by Gallup from the Midwest, showing Democrats gaining on Republicans, and a Texas poll, showing that Administration popularity had dropped 12 points since the prior August.

In addition, there were some recent local races positive for the Democrats, in Tucson, Ariz., in Santa Fe, N.M., in Massachusetts, and positive increases in voter registration for Democrats in such places as York County, Pennsylvania.

Democrats also claimed that they were turning out large numbers of people, willing to pay for seats, at Democratic rallies, with a Philadelphia rally for Representative McCormack having attracted standing room only at $25 per head, and House Minority Leader Sam Rayburn having nearly been mobbed during a rally in Virginia in a district which had voted Republican in the 1952 election.

Republicans believed those positive signs meant little or nothing, pointing to their sweep of municipal elections in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and the polls which showed continued popularity of the President, though Republicans, in moments of private candor, conceded that the President's popularity, since he would not be on the ticket, might not translate into votes in the midterm elections, and also conceded that his popularity had decreased some from its high point.

On balance, the Alsops conclude, the Democrats were gaining, and fairly heavily in some areas, but it was impossible yet to tell how decisive the trend was or how it might be impacted by the "McCarthy circus", the economic situation or the growing crisis in the Far East.

Robert C. Ruark, in Nairobi, again looks at the effect of the Mau Mau uprising on once peaceful Kenya, finding that the blunders which had been made would be comical were it not for the fact that there was such tragedy for both whites and blacks in the country. The latest such blunder was a plan to send certain Mau Mau chieftains into the Mt. Kenya bush to offer amnesty in return for surrender of Mau Mau, with the result that two of the Mau Mau leaders had simply failed to return. Failure of that plan appeared to delight a majority of the settlers, who had long criticized the soft policies and ineffectual retaliatory methods of the British Government.

There was some chance that if the native population had been allowed to pursue their desired ruthless extermination policy from the beginning, repaying one murder with 100, using wholesale torture to extract information, and killing the innocent with the guilty, they might have eradicated the nucleus of the movement before it had an opportunity to spread among the more than a million Kikiyu tribesmen and members of surrounding tribes. The British had been slow to realize the problem, and now the extreme violence had become rooted in the African consciousness to the point where Mr. Ruark concludes that it could never be completely eradicated. He suggests that from the white man's viewpoint, the "old good days of Africa" were completely gone.

The non-Mau Mau black population had become impressed by the futility of the white efforts to quell the murder and violence to the point that they were sullenly resentful of the white man's tactics and attitudes, a reaction not present just three years earlier. A great amount of the mutual love and tolerant companionship between black and white had disappeared because of the bloodshed and lack of adequate response to it. People who continued to trust their black servants and employees many times wound up being chopped to pieces, and blacks who refused to join the Mau Mau were sometimes brutally slaughtered by their own people. The details of the latest Mau Mau oaths were, he indicates, too brutal to recount.

While it was safe to conclude that eventually the killer gangs would be eliminated, the horror and evil which they would leave behind would likely never completely go away. Some compromise, which would be painful on both sides, would have to be worked out or the white man who had developed Africa would eventually have to leave it to the stewardship of savages.

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