The Charlotte News

Thursday, January 5, 1939


Site Ed. Note: "Rescue in Georgia" presents yet another example of the lessening but still present grim reality, a reality which would yet persist into the 1960's, awakening with fervor after Brown v. Board of Education in 1954-55 rejected Plessy v. Ferguson's never-realized 1896 "separate but equal" doctrine and mandated desegregation of public schools "with all deliberate speed". In this particular case, however, law enforcement, to its credit, acted with celerity and responsibility and prevented what in truth law enforcement anywhere could have prevented were they not complicit with the worst forces in their respective communities. But with men, devout segregationists, in a long tradition of such men, like Gene Talmadge in Georgia and Bilbo in Mississippi, being the elected, though in Talmadge's case, sitting out four years as governor between 1937 and 1941 in favor in this period of the nominally New Deal progressive, "Litttle Ed" Rivers, in actuality nearly equally recalcitrant to Federal authority, the times make the incident recounted below the more remarkable.

We include also the below editorial appearing this date by Hugh Johnson:

Concerning Lo And K. Marx

By Hugh S. Johnson

OKMULGEE, Okla.--Down here in my boyhood home of Okmulgee, in what in those days used to be the Creek Nation of the Indian Territory, I see by the papers that there is some objection to improvement in laws and regulations governing the holding of real property by the Southwest Indians. The change is to make clearer the right of groups of Indians to hold property in common. The objection is that it would "encourage Communism."

Boy, that's a hot one. So far as land and water is concerned, the Indian tribes always held property in common. But it was about as different from Mr. Stalin's Communism as is pure democracy. There wasn't any regimentation of opinion, speech or action among the Indian tribes. They were the greatest of individualists.

The constant policy of this Government has been to break the system up, to allot land to individuals and make citizens of the United States out of Indians, who were formally citizens of their own nations and bound to the United States only by the obligation of treaties.


This process has led to pathetic results. I saw part of it here in the Creek Nation. About the time it started, oil was discovered all under the place. This enriched some Indians whose allotments happened to be lucky numbers, but they didn't know how to handle private property. There are very few rich Creeks now. A famous case is that of Katie Fixico, who was one of the lucky ones. She built a fine house and lived under it. There were usually from 20 to 50 relatives hanging around it. Mostly, they were relatives only in the sense that they were Creeks. The old idea of common use of property died hard.

The new order also required Indians to get rid of surplus wives, selecting one and letting the rest go to live on their own "allotments" of land. It was my brother's job to enforce this. He wasn't successful with one old buck. He had four wives who refused to be liquidated. This irritated Washington. They sent out a beaming bureaucrat to argue the old man into getting rid of three of his wives. To every urging that he explain to his rejects the beauties of citizenship and get rid of them, he answered with a single word, "how?" over and over again.

In exasperation the official finally almost screamed, "Explain them, tell them." The old man slowly shook his head and said "You tell 'em." It isn't easy to change the immemorial tribal customs.


Yet the Indians were as jealous as anybody of private ownership of personal belongings. In the Pershing Mexican expedition we had a platoon of Apache trailers, all the old men. Trailing is a vanishing art. I spent some time with them. Their letters home were all written by their commanding officer.

Here is a verbatim copy of a letter from one old bronze savage to his squaw in New Mexico. "I hear you lend my buggy to Cochise. You don't lend nothing. I hear you cry all the time. You stop that crying." It was signed "Chicken," for such was actually his name. Indians are fiercely possessive of their own trappings. There was no such thing as Mexican Communism among them.

Reversing a Justice

Justice Heriott Clarkson, in his letter to Mr. Harkey about Mecklenburg's home for fallen women, reminds us of Calvin Coolidge and the preacher. You remember the story, of course; how Calvin came home from church and Mrs. Coolidge asked him what the preacher had preached about. "Sin," said the laconic little man. "And what did he have to say about it?" Mrs. Coolidge persisted. "He was agin it," said Calvin.

Justice Clarkson is against carrying out the Grand Jury's recommendation to abandon the Mecklenburg Industrial Home. "I believe that its establishment was in accordance with the highest idealism of our Christian religion. There can be no excess in charity."

The sentiments are to be endorsed, per curiam, but the practical aspects of the case are, that the Industrial Home now averages only twelve or fifteen occupants and that the cost of maintaining such an institution is all out of proportion. Women committed for a term may be taken care of otherwise, and Justice Clarkson did not mean to imply, we are sure, that there is anything peculiarly Christian about paying more for charity and social services than one needs to pay.

Site Ed. Note: You will note that in the short piece below are referenced two future Speakers.

The House At Work

We see by that stimulating journal, the Congressional Record for January 3, that the Senate was occupied the first day of the new session entirely with formalities, such as the swearing in of new Senators and the receiving of resolutions in honor of the names of departed fellow members of the club. But the House, with its accustomed simplicity and directness, got right down to business, thus:

Mr. WOODRUFF of Michigan: Mr. Speaker, I have a substitute resolution including the minority employees of the House. Mr. Speaker, I offer a resolution that the minority employees of the House be elected at this time.

Mr. RAYBURN: Mr. Speaker, a parliamentary inquiry. Would it not be proper for the gentleman from Michigan to offer a resolution with respect to minority Members (sic) as an amendment to the resolution of the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. McCormack)?

Mr. WOODRUFF of Michigan: I may say to the gentleman the gentleman from Michigan offered it as an amendment.

The SPEAKER: The gentleman offered it as an amendment?

Mr. WOODRUFF of Michigan: The gentleman from Michigan offered it as an amendment, Mr. Speaker, when he first proposed it.

After which whirlwind beginning, the boys proceeded to get busy with introducing legislation to save the nation, as:

By Mr. Sheppard: A bill (HR 11) to provide for and promote the general welfare of the United States by supplying to the people a more liberal distribution and increase of purchasing power, enabling certain aged citizens to retire from gainful employment, improving and stabilizing gainful employment for other citizens, stimulating agricultural and industrial production in general business and alleviating unemployment, the hazards and insecurity of old age... [It is, as you have guessed, an old age pension bill.]

Rescue in Georgia

After Mississippi, Georgia is the state with the worst lynching record in the country. But even in Georgia there are signs of change, among the most heartening of which is the rescue of the Negro at Royston yesterday.

The two sheriffs in the case definitely had a problem on their hands. Several hundred possemen, armed to the teeth, had surrounded them and their prisoner and were demanding possession of him. If they had given him up, they would have had better excuse than most Georgia sheriffs have had in tamely yielding their prisoners. But instead they connived with state troopers to get the man away by a ruse, and after a wild chase, placed him safely into Atlanta.

The fact that several carloads of the possemen did chase the police cars is proof, certainly, that there is plenty of lynching sentiment left among the people of Georgia. But also the fact that the police officers behaved as they did is pretty good proof that the better sort of Georgians are increasingly disinclined to approve of or condone the crime. For it is a general rule that police officers are a pretty accurate barometer of sentiment among the people at the head of the community.

No Indecision Here

Any of the indecision that may characterize the domestic portion of the President's message to Congress yesterday is conspicuous by its absence from Governor Hoey's address to the Legislature. Here, messires, is an administrator who knows not only what he wants, but knows what he doesn't want. In no case is it anything that the State can't easily pay for.

If the Legislature takes the Governor's recommendations, it will insert another grade in the public school system, gradually, so as not to cost too much in the beginning; slightly increase the pay of teachers with more than eight years' experience; install collegiate courses in law, pharmacy and medicine for Negroes; issue $5,000,000 more in bonds to bring the highways up to date, and put 50 more patrollers to policing them; continue to advertise North Carolina and make ourselves as attractive to outside capital, from a taxation standpoint, as may be possible.

If the Legislature abides by the negative or altogether missing references in the Governor's program, it will not finally dispose of the absentee ballot; tamper with the sales tax; undertake a dispensation of more Social Security; bring the State's labor laws into line with those of the Federal Government; or above all put to the people a constitutional amendment against highway diversion, which might later jeopardize the credit of the State.

These, positive and negative, together with incidental references to legal procedures and an abiding faith in the virtue of thrift, economy and work, comprised the Governor's program. He is standing pat, patient and serene, looking forward to the due dates of indebtedness that he may meet it.

The Two Presidents

The duties of a President of the United States divide themselves into two distinct phases. If he were King of America, let us say, this distinction would be best illustrated by the apparel hanging in some White House closet. And if Franklin D. Roosevelt were to don a hybrid uniform symbolizing his rank as Commander-in-Chief of the army and navy, undoubtedly the investiture would heighten the respect and the admiration in which he is held at home and abroad as the President of the United States, a first-rate power in the world.

As the head and front of a nation among other nations, Commander Roosevelt is superlative. He has been so in the crises of the last year and he has always been so. His message to Congress yesterday, insofar as it related to foreign affairs, was superlative. Best of all, it represented the preponderant opinion of his countrymen, containing the high idealism of Woodrow Wilson without disregarding the rugged realism of Borah and Hiram Johnson. So much for the President in uniform.

But when he appears in everyday sack suit, symbolizing in mufti his rank as head of the Democratic Party and chief of all the practising politicians, the President loses splendor, at least. He becomes an ordinary mortal whose administration has been characterized by tremendous aims blithely undertaken--and by ineptitude at accomplishing them. Without ever actually getting the economy of the country to hitting on a majority of its cylinders again, some of the results of six years of the various New Deals have been the creation of a sprawling Federal establishment, the accumulation of a terrific Federal debt, the imposition of outrageous Federal taxes, the apotheosis of the Federal politician, the enervation of the initiative of the people and the crystallization of a vast uncertainty as to what's to happen next and next. Against these must be credited several essential reforms, most of them expensive, a sincere purpose to do good in a large way and a determination to preserve personal liberties intact.

From that part of the President's message yesterday which dealt with domestic affairs, two conclusions may be deduced. Either is supportable--(1) that he himself is a victim of the general uncertainty and proposes, without publicly wringing has hands, that Congress try awhile and see what it can do; (2) that he has decided to face himself on the assumption (a) that thereby he will add to the country's amicability, or (b) that the forces he has set in motion have become powerful enough to do without him.

In either or in any case, it is a load, verily, that Congress has had dumped in its lap, with only one admonition--not to reduce the cost of Federal government. In that the President remains in character, whether uniformed or in citizen's clothes.


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