Election 1944: Letters from readers (post-convention)

The Pittsburgh Press (August 3, 1944)

He bewails cry of ‘Communist’ in campaign

To the editor: It is evident that the public press – and that includes the Pittsburgh Press – would have us believe that all union organizations are Communistic and all members of unions are Communists, when it is just the opposite. The real Communists are the capitalists and their satellites, the public press. And anyone who knows the history of labor and labor unions and their controversies within capital can contentiously and consistently subscribe to this statement.

The coming presidential campaign is not going to be a campaign of virtue; it is going to be a campaign of diabolical distortion of facts and truth and the unions and the laborer are going to be the goats. The merits of the accomplishments of the present incumbent of the white House will be submerged by the waves of Communistic propaganda and other capricious inuendos by the Republican press and Republican spellbinders.

There is another point to remember – that regardless of a recent Gallup Poll, the relatives and friends of the soldier boys and girls over there are not going to further jeopardize the lives of their loved ones by exchanging the man who knows for the man who doesn’t know.

735 N Highland Ave., Pittsburgh, PA

Convention reviewed in baseball teams

To the editor: With the defeat of Mr. Wallace, eliminating the phrase, “Don’t change horses in the middle of the stream,” we are now being told, “Don’t remove a winning pitcher” – Mr. Roosevelt. That winning pitcher allowed his teammate and “dear friend,” Mr. Wallace, to get to third, where by prearrangement with the base umpires – Kelly, Hague and Flynn – he was run into a double play and failed to score.

That winning pitcher allowed another teammate, Director Byrnes, to go to bat and then ordered him to the showers when Homeplate Umpire Sidney Hillman objected to his home-run record.

That winning pitcher never even named in the lineup of players his “Dear Alben!” And that winning pitcher dictated all the plays at the game of the Democratic convention, without even being in the pitcher’s box or on the field, while all the home-runners were left sitting on the bench. Is that the kind of winning pitcher to whim the spectators will accord top honors in the National League?


President still a civilian, he points out

To the editor: In the letter which the President addressed to Chairman Hannegan of the Democratic National Committee, the sentence reading as follows: “After many years of public service, therefore, my personal thoughts have turned to the day when I could return to civil life,” seems to illustrate a political conviction rooted in the belief that people who do not think have the most votes.

This sentence is part and parcel of the “Commander in Chief cult,” which the President is sedulously attempting to build up, and he evidently hopes there will be a sufficient number of people to fall for it.

It should be obvious to anyone reading that sentence not more than twice that the President cannot “return to civil life” for the simple reason that he has never been out of it. He has never served at any time in any branch of the armed forces of this nation and he is not now so serving. He is a civilian and has always been such. He can retire to private life but no to civil life.

It seems obvious that he has misused this term in the hope that most people will not notice the misuse and will be confused into thinking he has all along been a member of the armed forces; and this fits in, of course, with the “Commander in Chief” theory which he is attempting to insinuate into the mind of the American people.


The Pittsburgh Press (August 8, 1944)

Dewey looks better than his pictures

To the editor: I never liked the pictures of Mr. Dewey in the newspapers. But when I saw him in person, I changed my mind and think he is a very nice-looking gentleman. But when he attacked our President in his Pittsburgh address, stating that there were eight years of depression and 10 million men out of work – this is where the malicious propaganda comes in.

I would suggest that Mr. Dewey should think twice before he broadcasts his next speech; that perhaps some of his radio listeners would take issue with him.

1446 Severn St., Pittsburgh, PA

Does Henry understand that ‘doubletalk’?

To the editor: In a recent My Day, Mrs. Roosevelt devoted most of the column to praise of Henry Wallace and referred particularly to his achievement in mastering two foreign languages in his four years as Vice President. Mrs. Roosevelt neglected, however, to mention Mr. Wallace’s failure, after 12 years in Washington, to grasp even a fair understanding of the language of double talk, the tongue so recently used in awarding him the vice-presidential double-cross.


The Evening Star (August 10, 1944)

A soldier wants to know why he cannot vote

To the editor: Being a noncommissioned officer in the Army I am at this time faced with a rather bitter situation.

You see I am an American citizen and a true native of the District of Columbia, as are my mother and father. You fully understand that, although Americans in every way, we are denied the privilege of voting.

A Washingtonian, as I see it, is as much an American as anyone from any other state. I get, through subscription, the daily and Sunday Star. I find every edition telling of heroic deeds of Washington servicemen. Your rotogravure section of The Sunday Star bears weekly a large photograph of some Washingtonian who has proven himself an American and has earned distinguishing medals and merits. Also, I read of those men who have lost their lives for their country. No, you cannot deny that a Washingtonian is an American citizen in every respect. Yet for some silly reasoning no resident of the District is permitted to vote.

When I mention the strange situation, I refer to the cards which have been passed to the servicemen so they may request their ballots. It is necessary that these be signed by a commissioned officer, warrant officer, or noncommissioned officer not below the grade of sergeant. Being a sergeant, I’ve been requested by most of my boys to sign their cards, but I really don’t see how I could. As I personally am denied the voting privilege, how could I be expected to back up other men’s balloting?

My case is a simple one compared to the commissioned officers from Washington. They are expected to assist all enlisted men in their voting and yet have nothing at all to say themselves.

Since my induction in 1941, I have seen service in Northern Canada, North Africa, and am now in Italy where I have been since last September 9. Three years I’ve been in the service and I’ve gone through some mighty hard experiences. This I do not resent, but am actually proud to do this service for my country.

I do resent, however, the fact that I’m exempt from a voice in the Government. In closing I’d like to ask you this one question: If we Washingtonians now serving in the armed forces, or those at home, are capable, of fighting, or running the war front at home, why are we not as capable of casting a vote as any other American?


Smith proposal rejected

To the editor: According to Gerald Smith, the Negro fights for America only to be rewarded with a patch of land in another country where all his kind may be herded together “to solve the Negro problem honestly and realistically.”

But did it ever occur to Mr. Smith that Africa is as foreign to the Negroes of America as it is to him?

The homeland of the American Negro can be only America.

I consider Mr. Smith’s proposal an admission on his part that the American Negro has progressed to the point that equality no longer can be denied. So, the only alternative is to get rid of him.


The Evening Star (August 11, 1944)

Wants ‘facts’ about Mr. Hillman and his political activities

To the editor: I have been much interested – I may even say entertained – by Columnist Mellett’s efforts at gilding the New Deal lilies. In the practice of his art, he has developed quite a passion for the facts – provided they are favorable. Some of his facts are duds, and some have been exploded.

There was the sad case of Henry Wallace and the little pigs. Eyewitness correspondents of The Star have challenged Mr. Mellett’s version. More could be said on this subject, but we will let it pass.

Then our columnist was greatly concerned that we should get the right slant on Mr. Hillman, the young Lithuanian immigrant who made good as an American and who is characterized by gentlemanly qualities, good manners and wearing the best of clothes. In his plea for factuality, however, Mr. Mellett got off to a bad start by referring to himself as being also an “immigrant,” albeit a few generations removed, the first of his family having come over during the Revolutionary War. (He should carry a poetic license if he expects to get by with that use of the word.)

In giving us his facts, he neglects to satisfy a normal curiosity as to how a Lithuanian came by the name of Hillman. But he does say: “I can’t claim any credit for being an American. Sidney Hillman can. It was his own idea, not the idea of a great-great-grandparent.” In this bit of gilding is there not a specious implication? Most of our “Americans by choice” very obviously came here for their own good rather than from altruistic motives. Does this give their citizenship any superior virtue? If the implication is sound, perhaps our founding fathers made a mistake in limiting the presidency to native-born citizens who couldn’t help being Americans. However, they did not place this limitation on would-be president-makers.

The charge that Mr. Hillman is a Communist and that his CIO Committee for Political Action is dominated by Communists Mr. Mellett brands as “ridiculous,” and he adds: “The truth is that Hillman has no use for Communism.” In support he gives 13 quotations from the Daily Worker, ranging from August 10, 1940, to February 22, 1941 – from three and a half to four years ago – showing strong Communist opposition to Hillman’s course during that period. One wonders why he did not Include a recent quotation with this ancient history. Can it be that a recent quotation was not obtainable because Mr. Hillman’s recent and present course is in line with the Communist party line? Let us have the facts.

The really important question is not whether Hillman is a Communist, but whether he is playing the Communist game. His support of Congressman Marcantonio is revealing. An editorial in The Star of August 4 makes some pertinent observations in pointing out that Mr. Marcantonio has been following the Communist party line and has been and still is being applauded by the Daily Worker, and that in the recent primary election he was the candidate of that paper and of the American Labor party, “which is deeply tinged with Communism,” and, “more importantly,” that he was also the candidate of the committee headed by Mr. Hillman.

The Star’s commendable policy of giving space to various points of view in public affairs probably accounts for the presence of Mr. Mellett’s column in its pages. But is his factual batting average high enough to rate for him a place on a big-league team that prides itself on its fairness, truth, accuracy and all that sort of thing?


The Pittsburgh Press (August 12, 1944)

Plenty of women grateful for rights

To the editor: Maybe I’m wrong, but after reading Miss Booker’s letter in The Press of Aug. 8, I am of the conclusion that she is confused as to the morals of women who spend their time in barrooms, women’s rights and what our laws and traditions mean to an American.

I am a wife and mother, and according to the notions set down in her letter, just because I maybe would get the far-fetched idea that I was not classed on as high a level as a man, I’d hurry to the nearest bar and drown my sorrows by getting disgustingly drunk and leave my children to shift for themselves. For this disgraceful action on my part, I’d be entirely responsible myself. If my morale was so low that I’d do these things, a few laws and traditions would not help me.

Miss Booker also suggests we do away with our so-called old-fashioned laws and traditions after the war. Might I ask, and justly, what are we fighting for if not to preserve those ideals which have held up for so many hundreds of years for those who care enough to follow them?

If the records of the women of this country are checked, it will be found that the greatest majority of women and mothers put their families first and even above themselves. There are good and bad in everything, and these poor, hapless women, as they are called, could help themselves so much by not trying to tear down and destroy the very laws that have been the salvation of the female sex.

When we have to start rewriting the Constitution to give more rights to the few women who would probably abuse those privileges when they got them, then it’s time to quit fighting as, after all, why have the fathers of these selfsame children gone from their homes? To protect them and their rights, male or female, for the future!

There are plenty of rights for women who care to look around and see them. When a woman changes her name, she knows what she is doing and does it willingly. Would Miss Booker prefer the man to take the woman’s name after marriage? The laws of God and man are supposed to govern marriages, but there have to be a lot of sacrifices and privations for a mother and father both. People going into an arrangement of marriage do not stop to consider just what rights the Constitution gives them toward running a family. It’s a good thing Martha Washington and Abe Lincoln’s wife didn’t neglect their families, or where would we be now?

Oh, no, there are plenty of us women who are grateful for the many rights and privileges we have that no other women on earth even hope to have. So, before people get too hysterical over the poor, misguided souls who are drowning their sorrows in barrooms, just give a thought to the millions of women who are trying to set a standard and keep it high enough so we can hold our heads up and face the world unashamed.

Kobuta Homes, Monaca

The Evening Star (August 14, 1944)

Columnist’s views of speeches of President Roosevelt criticized

To the editor: Your columnist, David Lawrence, seems to be having as much trouble in finding a way not to support Gov. Dewey as Wendell Willkie. He is much alarmed over the possibility of some of his speeches in the 1940 campaign, assuring the fathers and mothers that he and his able Secretary of State were traveling the road to peace and that their sons were not going to be sent to fight in any foreign war. And Mr. Lawrence also is afraid that some of these isolationists are going to misquote and misrepresent what the President said, but isn’t too careful in quoting the President himself. If his quotation of the President’s Boston speech in October, 1940, is correct, his fears are well founded.

Why do Mr. Lawrence and others in his predicament stress the words "unless attacked”? What difference does it make whether the pledges to keep the Nation out of war were qualified with these words? Which they were not in the Boston speech. Certainly it was implied that nothing would be done to provoke an attack and everyone knows this was not done. The isolationists and all other real Americans are not criticizing the President because we happen to be in this war. Their criticism is that he did not frankly state the facts. He was not on any road to peace and knew he was not and also knew he was playing politics with the war to be elected for a third term.

One familiar with the articles of Mr. Lawrence after the war started in Europe readily can understand the sympathy he has for the President in this respect because he peddled about as much subtle deception on how to keep out of war by making war as anyone.


‘Bought’ vote not so sure

To the editor: Apropos Frank Kent’s article on “the bought vote” and a pair of communications from Government employe readers commenting thereupon, it may not be amiss to suggest that Mr. Kent was and is rather more discouraged than he should have been. The fact is that there are thousands of employes of the Federal Government who, having lived in close communion with the New Dealers for 11 long years, have become the most zealous of all Republicans. They cannot speak publicly; indeed, many of them speak privately with great caution. Yet their most earnest prayers and hopes are centered upon Mr. Dewey and Mr. Bricker. Their convictions are the product of, first, knowledge of what has gone on in the Government during the New Deal administration; second, recollection of more competent administrations preceding the New Deal; third, intense patriotic feeling and loyalty to the Nation; and, fourth, sincere concern for the future of the country. Mr. Kent and his readers should appreciate, of course, that these are the people whose abilities are such that their livings could be had within or without Government employment. That thousands of them will vote for Mr. Dewey and Mr. Bricker there is no slightest doubt.


The Pittsburgh Press (August 16, 1944)

‘Nagging’ the President wrong, reader says

To the editor: Recently you published a rather strong editorial chiding the Hearst newspapers for publishing matter that, in your view, gave aid and comfort to the enemies of our country.

But you need to guard your own pen a little, too. You are pecking at and nagging the President of the United States a little too much yourself in these times of dreadful war. The President has made mistakes, as he admits himself, being an honest man. But I am certain that the editor of The Pittsburgh Press would rather live here under Mr. Roosevelt with all his mistakes than in any other country in the world.

It is good natural ethics as well as good Christian ethics to put the most charitable construction on our neighbor’s words and actions. But if we reverse this policy as relating to the President of the United States in these war times, we are at least running the risk of giving comfort to Adolf Hitler. He is no lover of Mr. Roosevelt.

Rd 1, Freeport, PA

Democrats and well-paid executives criticized

To the editor: I have just been reading where the Democratic Party claims to be the friend of the working man of the U.S.A. has a few more friends like the Democratic Party he will be working for his board.

I wonder who passed the Smith-Connally bill or tried to put through the notorious Austin-Wadsworth bill or the Brewster-Bailey bill, and then, not getting the Austin-Wadsworth bill through, had Mr. McNutt issue the ruling freezing every man to his job. Also freezing wages for the working man and at the same time letting food prices get out of control.

If the Democratic Party is the friend of the laboring class, we only hope they never get mad at the working man. I wonder if they think as Barnum stated years ago that the American public likes to be bunked.

I wonder why they did not freeze the wages of the high salaried executive. The July 17 Treasury release of part of the list of high-salaried employees shows that Mr. Eugene Grace for the year of 1942 received $537,724. Just imagine the sacrifices Mr. Grace had to make to make ends meet or where the rent money was coming from. Also Mr. Thomas Watson did not fare so well – he had to make ends meet on a mere $425,549. What terrible sacrifices these men made is beyond me.

They ought to see the take-home pay of some of the defense workers in the steel industry. Then they would know why the men are dissatisfied.

We have a chance on Nov. 7 to vote some of these men out of office.


The Pittsburgh Press (August 17, 1944)

President opposed social security, he says

To the editor: The question of leadership and accomplishments are questions which should be of vital concern to every American in the forthcoming presidential election. That the Democratic verbal virtuosi are going to attempt to take entire credit for their party for any social gains that have been made during the past 12 years, of course, goes without saying. But let us see what happened to the Social Security Act.

It is generally believed by honest but ill-informed people that Mr. Roosevelt is responsible for this reform, but actually the Social Security Act was demanded by the people, as a result of the depression, and the record shows that Mr. Roosevelt attempted to postpone it. The first act, introduced by Senator Wagner, he refused to support.

In 1934, about 15 months after he took office, a committee called on the President to urge action. The Republicans denounced him for doing nothing about social security, and the campaign of 1934 was approaching. He then named a committee to study the subject and then after election he again did nothing. Then another group of men called on him and he told them, “The time is not ripe for old-age pensions yet.” What he meant by this I’ll let you figure out. Not only was there no opposition but there was a clamorous and universal demand for this.

And finally, a bill was passed in 1935 and in it was one of the most amazing fiscal monstrosities in the history of government finance. It made the rates charged the working people and their employers twice as high as they should be in order to bring in enough to pay for the benefits to the workers and, in addition, provide billions of dollars to pay the ordinary costs of government.

The fact is that the President had to be driven to this great reform. What brand of leadership was that?

1430 Barnsdale St.

CIO’s political course of action endorsed

To the editor: Seeing as you had an editorial in a recent issue of The Press on the collection of money by the CIO Political Action Committee, I readily assumed you could answer a few questions for me.

Could it be that the GOP is now facing the weapon which was instrumental in seeing that the “right” people were at the head or in control of the nation since the death of Lincoln? By the weapon, of course, I mean the money raised by soliciting from the persons who are going to benefit by it. In the Democratic Party the lower income class will benefit and in the Republican Party the opposite will take place. What difference does it make if the Democrats get theirs a dollar at a time from millions of people? Do they not have the same right to do this as the Republicans have to get theirs from corporations and men like Pew and Grundy?

In November, there will be an election and despite the editorials of newspapers like the ones in Pittsburgh, the people of America will again show that they do not wish to relinquish the gains they have amassed in the last 12 years.

25 N Emily St., Crafton

The Pittsburgh Press (August 18, 1944)

To register and vote is your duty

To the editor: When Patrick Henry said, “I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience; I know of no way of judging the future but by the past,” he gave a very great reason why all people should study history, instead of current, confusing propaganda.

In democratic countries all eligible citizens should register and vote, so there will be what Abraham Lincoln called “government of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

Democratic countries are supposed to have majority rule, but if only 50 percent register and vote, and the election is carried 60 to 40, then we do not have majority rule, but government of the people by 30 percent of the people.

Register and vote, as that is your duty in a democratic nation. Vote as you please – but be sure to vote. See that your neighbor registers and votes.

Rd 1, Ford City, PA

One man can’t be blamed for Depression

To the editor: During the last few weeks much mudslinging has been smeared over the pages of the daily newspapers. A great deal of this smear was aimed at the Republican Party and its leaders, especially Herbert Hoover. He has been blamed for the depression, bank failure and many other things which were not of his making. Those who place the blame on a certain individual or party for the calamity which swept this nation at the time are people who cannot think for themselves.

These people were not aware of the fact that despite the super-human efforts of our esteemed President Roosevelt we would still be in the midst of a depression if it were not for the war.

Speaking of bank failures, I am certain that most people do not understand the banking business. To those who are ignorant of the liquidation of the failed banks, the large sums lost convey the impression of losses to the customer. There is or was a distinction between deposits involved and deposits lost.

For instance: If 800 million dollars in deposits were involved in the 1930 bank failures, this includes three large banks which account for almost half of the total sum. At least two of these banks were reorganized and the third paid 100 cents on the dollar. A study of bank failures and subsequent liquidation since the Civil War reveals the fact that the depositors on the average recovered about 90 cents on the dollar.

We have but to study each issue during the campaign to know whether it is fact or just plain “muck-raking.”

One thing is certain: we cannot blame any one man or party for the depression and its consequences.

53 S 17th St., Pittsburgh, PA

The Evening Star (August 21, 1944)

Wants CIO-PAC studied

To the editor: There seems to be considerable confusion in the thinking of some of your correspondents and columnists concerning the CIO Political Action Committee, its head, Sidney Hillman, and Communism. A recent writer to this column accused Mr. Hillman of Communism because he seems to be in agreement with the present “party line,” although, as Lowell Mellett demonstrated, that was not the case a few years ago. Use of this criterion would make all those who now favor an all-out war effort Communists, since this seems to be the present Communist position. Likewise, it would apply the same label to the 1940 “isolationists,” since their attitude on the war at that time rather closely resembled the Communist thought of that period.

It seems to me that a more valuable procedure for all concerned would be an examination and discussion of the assumption and aims of the CIO-PAC rather than an indiscriminate application of vague political labels.


The Evening Star (August 22, 1944)

Prefers Republican nominee

To the editor: In answer to the recent letter of Marguerite Parks, I offer the following comments with regard to a Roosevelt-Willkie coalition:

Being a Texas Democrat by choice and not a New Dealer, it is rather difficult to see how this could be accomplished. True, Wendell Willkie is an exact prototype of Mr. Roosevelt and that is the probable reason that he withdrew from the presidential race. The handwriting was on the wall and Mr. Willkie knew it.

And speaking of “liberalism,” whoever heard of a Republican being liberal? Perhaps the lady meant liberal, as is practiced by the New Deal – liberal with everybody else’s money.

There is nothing, in my opinion, which would be more repulsive. The very thought is nauseating.

Why not do the right thing next November? Shelve the New Deal with all of its CIO, Sidney Hillman. Kelly machine, lame-duck bureaucratic bunglers, substitute a real red-blooded American party, and elect to office a man who believes in government “of, by and for the people.”


The Evening Star (August 23, 1944)

President’s trip to Pacific considered ‘political’

To the editor: Referring to the President’s recent trip to Honolulu and the Aleutians, as a plain citizen and a voter, I confess that I am confused as to the purposes of his visits.

Was he all the time acting as commander in chief of the armed forces? Or was he part of the time acting as candidate in chief of the Democratic party? Insofar as he commandeered a warship of the Pacific Fleet for his trip, he certainly exercised powers belonging to no one other than the commander in chief of the Navy. While he was accompanied by his daughter and others not connected with the military services, Admiral King and Gen. Marshall were left behind; hence the inference arises that such plans concerning the Pacific campaign as were discussed with Admiral Nimitz and Gen. MacArthur must have been known to Admiral King and Gen. Marshall, and it did not require a presidential trip to communicate them to those Pacific commanders.

But suppose we admit that the trip to Hawaii was necessary, and made as commander in chief; How about the trip to the Aleutians? The only evidence of the action of a commander in chief on that trip seems to have been the use of the warship to transport the presidential party.

I understand that a commander in chief does not usually, when not in the field, mess with the enlisted men. But a political candidate does Just that kind of thing; he mingles with the electorate, talks and jokes with them and endeavors to make himself popular with them, even if he makes no political speech at that time. It seems to me, therefore, that hobnobbing with the enlisted men in the Aleutians was more the action of the candidate in chief than of the commander in chief. Of course, I may be mistaken.