The Charlotte News

Monday, June 13, 1938


Site Ed. Note: We include the following piece from the editorial page of this date, proving perhaps that anything may become prognosticate via statistical probabilities. The point was made nonetheless that Economic Problem No. 1 was threatening the welfare of the whole country in the 1930's. And, perhaps, to varying degrees, the country has become more Southern in the past 60 years--as some of the upper South anyway has become far more Mid-western in the past 20, as the South as a whole has slowly become more homogenous with the rest of the country. Indeed, even Southern accents are less frequently heard and less pronounced today than a mere forty years ago.

Within the states listed below, incidentally, much has changed, with the exception of Utah, which still leads the nation in fertility with 21.2 births per thousand population in 2004 as against only 5.7 deaths. The nation as a whole showed a reduced birth rate since 1935, 15.9 down to 14, while the death rate also, predictably, dipped from 10.9 to 8.5. In Arizona the birth to death ratios were 16.3 to 7.8; Alabama, 13.1 to 10.3; Georgia 15.7 to 7.6; Kentucky, 13.1 to 10.1; Mississippi, 14.7 to 10; New Mexico, 14.9 to 7.7; North Carolina, 14 to 8.7; South Carolina, 13.5 to 9.2; and West Virginia, 11.5 to 11.7. That of Maryland was 13.4 to 8.1. (Texas, not listed among the top ten for 1935, today leads the South in birth rate, registering second nationally, at 17.1 with a death rate of only 7.3; by comparison, the ratio for the nation's most populous and diverse state, California, is 15.2 to 6.7.) So it would appear that we are fast becoming something somewhere between California, Texas and Utah, mainly California and Texas, a kind of Longhorn Bear Salty Mormon, perhaps--a Californitexut.

Whatever the case may be as to rates of birth, death, and transient population shifts, it is plain that we are not in Mississippi anymore.

We'll All Be Southern

By Gerald W. Johnson--Baltimore Evening Sun

One of the most lugubrious lines ever turned out by that not infrequently funereal poet, Ogden Nash, is

"We'll all be Kansas, by and by."

The occasion of Mr. Nash's appalling prophecy was that never-to-be-forgotten day when the Senate learned that some enemy of the human race had put in the hands of one of the Senate's leaders a copy of "Lady Chatterly's Lover" and, as Nash recorded, smut was smitten by Smoot of Ut.

The hurricane then unleashed has, however, passed by: and we are not much more Kansas than we were before Senator Smoot's virginal mind suffered its tarnishment. The progress of events, however, leads irresistibly to the conclusion that the trouble with the poet was not that he was so sad, but that he wasn't sad enough; for a new possibility arises that some will regard as even more hideous than Nash's suggestion. This is the possibility that we'll all be Mississippi by and by.


This is based, too, not on the activities of any politician, but on the implacable record of the vital statistics bureaus. In the year 1935--the last for which the figures are available--the birth rate in Mississippi was 24.1 per 1,000 inhabitants. That for Maryland was 16.3. That for the United States as a whole was 15.9. More than that, the death rate for the same year in the whole country was 10.9, for Maryland was 13.7 and for Mississippi was 10.6. The only state that can beat it coming and going is Smoot's Utah, with a birth rate of 24.7 and a death rate of 9.8 in the year 1935. But Utah has only 500,000 people, whereas Mississippi has 2,000,000; so Mississippians are multiplying four times as fast as Uts--well, whatever you call citizens of Utah.

Here are the birth rates for those states that go above 20 per 1,000, aligned with the death rates for the same states.


Birth Rate

Death Rate
















New Mexico.........



North Carolina.....



South Carolina.....






West Virginia.......




Leave out Arizona, New Mexico and Utah and the remaining seven states show an average birth rate of almost exactly 22.2, against the national average of 16.9 and a death rate under 10.5 against the national average of 10.9. This would seem to indicate that Southerners are being born just 31 per cent faster, and dying off just a little more slowly than the average run of Americans. Naturally, this must not be taken literally, for these are what statisticians call "raw data," which must be treated mathematically to obtain precision. But it is unlikely that treatment would alter the basic fact that the Southern element in the American population is increasing relatively to the rest since immigration has been shut off.

What this means every man will decide according to his own prejudices and predilections; but it certainly lends force to the argument of Southern leaders that the problems of the South--or some of them, are inevitably national problems.

For example, it is not reassuring as respects the future American to remember that Southern schools are the worst in the country, that hook-worm infestation is exclusively Southern, that malarial infection is largely so, that library facilities are scantiest in the South, that pellagra--a disease arising from mal-nutrition--is Southern, that the South has the poorest people in America. The children of the South apparently are destined to take over the country and if they are ill-fed and worse trained the results will be bad for the United States as a whole.


Will this inevitable invasion carry into the North and West lynching and the Ku Klux Klan, or good manners and the capacity for gracious living? All four are characteristically Southern: but Southern vices, like Northern vices, thrive in an environment of poverty, ignorance and hopelessness, and Southern virtues are hard put to it to survive under such conditions.

The policy of economic nationalism, flowering in monstrous tariff walls, is one of the powerful factors that has kept the agricultural South in economic bondage. That policy has been far from harmless to the rest of the country, but it has been particularly ruinous in the region below the Potomac. Now we are beginning to realize that in trampling down this region we have been trampling down the national nursery. It is not a cheerful thought.

Statesman at Work

Every couple of weeks or so an index to the Congressional Record is issued. It lists alphabetically the names of Senators and Representatives, their bills introduced, their amendments offered to bills, their speeches--in sum, their participation in a highly formalized procedure of government. It is a sort of the epitome of their legislatorial interests and public character.

And as characteristic of Bob Reynolds as Bob Reynolds himself is the short and simple outline of his statesmanship from May 23 to June 3. To be sure, a primary campaign was on, and Bob was busy. But to excuse him for his pitiably small part in government doesn't change the fact that his part was pitiably small, and probably no smaller in this particular period than always. Have a look at it:

Bills and joint resolutions introduced by
Banks, Victor S., for relief
Gilmore, David J., to place on retired list of army
Norton, William E., to increase pension
Pickwick Landing Dam: to change name to McKellar Dam

The rest of the Senate may debate wages and hours, spending and lending, railroad relief and the like, but Robert--ah, Robert runs a few errands and does a few favors and calls it a legislatorial day.

The Cellophane Touch

The traditional American cotton bale is an ugly piece of merchandise, 500 lbs. of stuffing held together loosely by dirty brown jute netting. Unwieldy and bulky, a bale of American cotton looks pretty much like the rawest of raw material, which it is, yet only a little processing will convert the stuff into surgical supply, and only a little more will change it into a gossamer material that milady will be pleased to wear. In the rough, however, a bale of cotton is in the rough.

American shippers and handlers of cotton apparently have thought very little about dressing up and reducing the displacement of this cotton bulk. But that looks do make some difference, the Department of Agriculture's foreign market specialist assures us. He says that many foreign spinners prefer Brazilian, Egyptian, Indian and other foreign cotton to American cotton, staple and quality being equal, for the simple reason that it comes in a neater and more uniform package. And to overcome the sales resistance, the Department of Agriculture is considering the use of high-pressure machines which compress 500 lbs. into a handy junior bale. Attached to this bale would be a package containing samples, mechanically selected, from the sides and the inside of the bale, thus saving the classers the necessity of cutting into the bale itself and making it harder to put anything over on the buyers.

Remedy for Harlan

For nearly three weeks Leslie Smithers, a miner employed by the Harlan Central Coal Company, sat around the courtroom at London, Ky., waiting to testify in the Federal case against coal operators and peace (sic) officers for conspiracy to violate the Wagner Labor Act. It was an appalling story to which he listened from an exhaustless army of witnesses--the same tale the Senate unearthed last Summer--a story of former Sheriff Theodore Middleton banking $150,000 in four years, of 400 deputies paid by the coal operators, of systematic terrorism and murder by the deputies, and attempts by bribes and intimidation to shut up the witnesses.

Three weeks he sat there, then the court sent him home without testifying. Home he went to Harlan--to die. The new sheriff there now, one Cawood, says he was killed in a fight by one Billygoat Fee. But this Sheriff Cawood is the nephew of Theodore Middleton and himself the man against whom Smithers was to testify! And the story which eyewitnesses report is that Fee approached Smithers, taunted him with going to court to "snitch" on Sheriff Cawood, goaded him into fighting, knocked him down, and then hauled out a gun and killed him as he was attempting to rise.

More and more, it appears a crying shame that the Harlan trial should have to be concerned with anything so picayunish as conspiracy to violate the Wagner Act. What Harlan County plainly needs is three or four dozen old-fashioned hangings with coal operators and "peace" officers in the role of principals.

NRA Revived*

The form in which the wage-and-hour bill finally has emerged from conference is supposed to represent a great victory for the South. And the South gains something, surely, in the provision that after two years, when the "bedrock" wage has been advanced automatically to 30 cents an hour, boards will be appointed to classify industries and units in industries according to size, location, freight rates, prevailing wages, operating costs, taxes, etc. For the following five years these industrial boards have the authority to raise or not to raise the minimum wage to a limit of 40 cents, and the further authority to raise it for one company in an industry and not to raise it for another.

But the South, beyond any question, and the whole country, for that matter, stand to lose something incalculable in the wholesale bureaucracy such a system would inevitably entail. There is bound to be a great scrambling for favorable classifications, and to obtain them there is likely to be a great but quiet scrambling for the favor of the classifiers. Politics imbues nearly every agent of the Federal Government, as witness the Federal Communications Commission and the Bituminous Coal Commission; and besides that there is the record written under NRA of the absolute impossibility of running the business of the country by boards, and the undesirability, as well as illegality, of delegating the lawmaking power of Congress to boards and commissions and executive officers. And it is one thing to make a ruling, another to enforce it. NRA collapsed primarily because its decrees were flouted. We still remember a little cash-and-carry dry cleaner defying the mighty Department of Justice of the United States--and getting away with it.

One thing more, and then we are through with this topic for the day. Upon the largest part of underpaid and overworked employees, this legislation will have no effect whatsoever. The authority of the Federal Government is constitutionally limited to commerce of an interstate nature, and it is chiefly in the commerce of a strictly local nature that low wages, long hours and favorable working conditions prevail.

Strictly Dispassionate

Bertha Rachel Palmer, Director of Alcohol Education for the National Woman's Christian Temperance Union, read our editorial, "Model Not to Follow," and wrote us about it:

"I agree with your criticism of textbooks that exaggerate conditions, or dwell upon the 'possible' rather than 'probable' results from any habit. We like to think that modern pedagogy is doing away with the effort to scare the pupil into certain lines of conduct, but that by visual means which appeal to reason rather than emotion, scientific facts may be understood and their teachings applied to personal behavior."

And then by way of proving to us that the WCTU has abandoned its old fee-faw-fum methods, she sent us some of the little tracts she distributes to the schools. Well, let it be said at once that, generally speaking, the stuff does sound somewhat more sober then it used to sound. But we nevertheless almost immediately found the old familiar announcement that if you put a plant or a fish in a four per cent alcohol solution they presently die--used, as always, as the premise for the conclusion that to taste beer is to flirt with imminent disaster. And we find it solemnly set forth, too, that scientists have concluded that 60 per cent of all traffic fatalities are due to the Demon Rum.

And if you think those are "scientific facts," go ask any competent scientist. The plant-fish-beer and man analogy is a non sequitur of the first order. And as for traffic, police figures for the nation show that alcohol had a part in about eight per cent of the fatalities. That figure is probably much too low, but it is the only one which has any claim to being scientific. The figure of 60 per cent is simply the guess of one man, based on nothing but investigation of some 40 cases!

Framed Edition
[Return to Links-Page by Subject] [Return to Links-Page by Date] [Return to News--Framed Edition]
Links-Date -- Links-Subj.