The Charlotte News
Friday, August 12, 1938
Site Ed. Note: Regarding a memory still extant in 1938 of the 1833 meteor shower referenced in "The Falling Stars", see the note accompanying "Post-War Brides", February 23, 1939, anent the Federal Writers' Project slave narrative of Sarah Gudger, age 121 at the time of recounting. The span of one lifetime which saw every President from James Madison to Franklin Roosevelt; and she said the stars were more vivid in her youth before the coming of the industrial age, even in so relatively bucolic surrounds as Asheville, North Carolina.
...And then there was the Civil War, but the prophecy was not fulfilled by this Armageddon. Booth made sure of it.
And those who cannot understand continue to strive for Armageddon still to this day, hoping ever hoping for the fulfillment of the prophecy, not understanding simply that the fulfillment is within the reach of anyone at any time who desires to take the time simply to understand that prophecy. How do we know or have authority upon which to make such an assertion, one might ask. Fair question.
As we think Winston Churchill said: Throw the peace sign up anyway: it will do you no harm.
Its melody haunts our memory: The nightingale told his tale of paradise where roses grew...unter der linden...
The other editorials of the day are here.
Jimmy Roosevelt's revelations in Collier's Magazine seem to show up the obvious inferences of Alva Johnston's "Jimmy's Got It" as being largely guesswork--and the same sort of eager-to-believe-the-worst guess work which figured in "The Sixty Families."
An average annual income over five years of $34,595.60 is enough to establish him as an "economic royalist." But it is a very different thing from the $250,000 to $2,000,000 which Mr. Johnston estimated, or reported unidentified sources as estimating. It is no more in fact than plenty of other insurance sellers regularly make. Probably neither Jimmy nor anybody else would have been able to make it so quickly if he had had to start from scratch. But nobody could reasonably expect him to refuse the entree afforded by his belonging to the Roosevelt family. People undoubtedly gave him business because his father was President, but, as he himself says, such would have been the case in any calling he went into, unless he went into it anonymously--obviously an impossibility.
What does seem somehow dubious, however, is Jimmy's unsolicited admission that, when he became secretary to his father, he transferred to his wife a part of his holdings in the insurance firm of Roosevelt and Sargent in order to scale down his income taxes. The move seems to have been perfectly legal. But, ah, masters, do you not recall that back in the Spring of 1937 there was a great hue and cry out of the New Deal about various rich individuals who had used perfectly legal devices to scale down their income taxes--that they were publicly pilloried by Mr. Roosevelt and his chief henchmen as unethical fellows who deserved nothing of their country but whips and scorpions?
Character by Dickens
The old solemn run-around about Mussolini's sending of Italian troops to Spain has begun all over again. For the last ten days observers have been reporting that new detachments were again pouring into the country despite the Signor's "agreement" with Neville Chamberlain for "withdrawal." And the reports seem reasonable enough. The Signor made it amply clear from the first that his "agreement" with Chamberlain was based on the expectation of Franco's immediate victory. And that victory has failed to come off. The Loyalists have indeed got the insurgent chieftain into an extremely precarious position during the last ten days. And it is plain that unless he can break through and get a free hand for the taking of Valencia within the next month, there is no chance of his achieving a decisive victory until next year. And such a delay may very well mean the end of his chances to ever win a decisive victory. The French grow more and more impatient with him, and it begins to look as though the American ban on shipment of arms to the Loyalists will be lifted this Fall. And if the Loyalists can secure the arms for which they have the gold to pay, conquering them is likely to be impossible. For Franco has little Spanish following, as is shown by the fact that he has had to take to conscripting 18-year-old boys. Thus he plainly and imperatively needs to have large new reinforcements from Italy and Germany if he is to make sure of winning for himself and his masters.
But Mr. Chamberlain first says that he has no reason to believe the reports, and then solemnly goes through the hocus-pocus of asking Mussolini if they are true, quite as though he expected to be dealt with honestly.
The non-intervention business long ago proved to the world that Mussolini's word was worthless. But it is also tending more and more to prove that Mr. Chamberlain is the very image of Pecksniff himself.
Out on a Twig
Probably no President ever went farther out on a limb than did President Roosevelt yesterday at Barnesville. Not even Woodrow Wilson when he invaded Jim Reed's private preserve of Missouri and demanded that the stubborn folk of that country strip the old warrior of his toga.
As to the right or wrong of it, you can argue either way, according to your prejudices. Certainly, Presidents from John Adams right on down--through Jefferson, Jackson, Van Buren, and Grant, to Wilson, have presumed thus to interfere actively in local campaigns. And virtually all Presidents have interfered indirectly. But, on the other hand the employment of the vast prestige and power of the Presidency to punish Senatorial rebels obviously tends to place such a price upon independence as few men will be willing to risk paying. And the independence of Congress is a thing which ought to be preserved.
But, that aside, the thing is in its practical aspect a desperate and precarious gamble. If the President wins, it will be a famous victory, surely. But the chance is more than even that he won't win. Senator George is backed by a very powerful machine, and, for all the pressure the President can bring to bear, it seems fairly evident that the machines of Governor Rivers and Senator Russell are not going to oppose him actively, and may, in fact, secretly lend him aid and comfort. Moreover, Georgians, like Southerners in general, are a stiff-necked tribe, and resent above all things interference "from outside." And whether the President knows it or not, and though he loves to call Georgia his second home, he is, by the code of Southerners and Georgians, an incurable outsider. And if the President loses--that will genuinely be the "stunning blow" which John D. M. Hamilton claims the Idaho defeat to have been.
Getting George must be judged very important to justify such a risk.
The Falling Stars
The Perseids, which Professor Dr. C. P. Olivier, wants you to keep an eye out for tonight and tomorrow night are not the only meteor showers which may be seen in the heavens at intervals.
Meteors, as you probably know, are small bodies from outer space which wander into our orbit, strike our atmosphere, and burn, usually before they reach the earth. In size they range from almost infinite smallness to about 3,000 feet in diameter. Their burning is due to the rapidity of their passage through the air--about 27 miles a second. Meteor showers were formerly held to be the remains of burned out comets, still moving in the ancient orbit. But current theory has it that they are usually mere aggregations of wandering fragments caught up and held in the trail of a still living comet. Certainly, their appearance always coincides with the passage of a comet.
Other celebrated meteor showers besides the Perseids are the Andromedes, which appear in late November; the Lyrids of April; and the Geminids of December 10-13. The Perseids themselves were observed by the Chaldeans as early as 2700 B. C. But perhaps the most interesting lot of all these meteor showers are the Leonids, which take their name from the fact that they always coincide with the passage of the constellation, Leo Major. At various times, the showers have been particularly numerous and brilliant. And in 1833, it staged a spectacle, best visible from the Southern states and Alabama especially, so magnificent and dazzling that the Negroes and many white people thought the stars were falling and rushed about screaming and praying.
That's the ominous time you have heard of--"when the stars fell." For afterward it got mixed up in the growing quarrel over slavery as a popular sign and portent of the coming Civil War.
Child of His Time*
The revelation that Samuel Insult left an estate of only $1,000 is somewhat robbed of its effect by the additional revelation that he continued to enjoy an annual pension of $25,000 from the companies he once headed, until his death. The man got off exceedingly lightly, and, from one viewpoint, a great deal less lightly than he deserved. His violations of the law were all technical, certainly, but for such violations many other men, and some of them better men, had to serve jail terms after the crack-up that began in 1920. And, surely, in view of the record, it seems a little weird that he should have continued to draw an allowance from the companies he wrecked.
Yet, it is perhaps ultimately unjust to be too hard on the fellow. In the last analysis, he was much less a cause than an effect. His manipulations cost life savings of many hard-working, simple people, including hundreds of widows. But it is improbable that he planned it so, or even envisaged the possibility of such a result. He undoubtedly shared in the crazy optimism of the Harding-Coolidge-Hoover era, and believed with Hoover and Arthur Brisbane that there would never be any more panics but a constant pyramiding of values--which he took to be equivalent to real wealth. And the business methods he used were those which had been standard practice in the United States throughout the whole grab era from Grant's administration down.
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