Election 1944: Post-convention editorials


Editorial: Better Senators

“Cotton Ed” Smith’s defeat in the South Carolina Democratic primary and J. W. Fulbright’s lead in the four-way primary contest in Arkansas should raise the level of the U.S. Senate.

Mr. Smith represented the worst in the Senate, and thanks to his 36 years of seniority, the “Dean’s” power for evil had full rein. Governor Johnston, though taking the same white supremacy line as Mr. Smith, is better in most respects. Mr. Fulbright, as a freshman member of the House of Representatives, made history with his international organization resolution. We hope this brilliant ex-president of the University of Arkansas will win the senatorial runoff primary if one is necessary.

As usual in state contests in a presidential campaign year, politicians and dopesters are trying to read national significance into these primary results. The voters apparently were fed up with two old officeholders and wanted a change – Senator Hattie Caraway of Arkansas, who was given her late husband’s office 12 years ago, ran a poor last in the field of four.

Using age and change as the test, these primaries might indicate a popular drift, but since the pro-Roosevelt Johnston beat the anti-Roosevelt Smith in South Carolina and FDR was not the issue in Arkansas, there doesn’t seem to be any clear evidence of a national trend.

The Pittsburgh Press (July 28, 1944)


Editorial: The CIO issue

In this year’s political campaign, the big news – and the issue – very probably will be the CIO and its Political Action Committee, alias National Citizens’ Political Action Committee.

The idea and the technique of this pressure bloc is not altogether new, but the scope and vigor of its program is unique, to say the least.

It poses one of the toughest problems Republican campaign leaders face. It also poses a problem for the Democrats who cling to the fancy that their party is still the party of their fathers – which it isn’t.

The Democratic Party has become the vehicle of a smart, zealous and capable coalition which has chosen to take over the country, or a large part if it, not by mere boring from within, but by direct seizure of the controls – a sort of putsch.

Like any other high-powered pressure organization, it is the purpose of this group to grasp the controls, and to hold them exclusively, so it may get what it wants for itself – and for nobody else.

The top leader is Sidney Hillman, whose record shows him to be a man whose favorite means of achieving his goals is to force his way by a demonstration of strength. At the recent Democratic National Convention, he didn’t ask, or recommend. He demanded. He assumed the attitude of an all highest from whom all biddings must flow.

“Politics,” says the PAC’s primer, “is the science of how who gets what, when and why.”

The PAC’s announced aim is to bring about the reelection of President Roosevelt.

But that is only the means to the ultimate aim – complete domination of the government at Washington. That means complete domination of law of taxes, of the courts, of the economy.

It may or may not mean a positive dictatorship. That word has been abused and its implications oversimplified.

But the Hillmans and the others who are bossing this movement are not the type who willingly and gracefully give and take. They make concessions, or drop their demands, only when they are compelled to. If they achieve the power they seek, who will compel them?

They are already well on the road to their goal. It is no small beginning – the organization of this PAC.

It is a powerful movement, backed by expert organization work an overflowing treasury, and plenty more where that came from; by brains and willing workers – a pressure group such as this country never before has seen in a presidential campaign.

The Pittsburgh Press (July 29, 1944)


Editorial: Nepotism in high places

Putting one’s kinfolk on the public payroll is a common practice among politicians.

It has been indulged since the Roman Empire and probably will go on until Doomsday.

Oh, it goes on in private business, too. And likewise rankles the other payrollers, especially if the favored son or brother or uncle happens to be averse to work and gets special breaks over the heads of the common slaves.

But the politicians seem to have an extra weakness for the practice. Every so often a political adversary or the newspapers will list the nepotic beneficiaries and their benefactors – and it creates a great one-day sensation. But the practice keeps going.

Some of the politicians do it to get their poor relatives off their back, some to keep peace in the family and some just because they can’t resist looking out for their kinfolk. Occasionally, of course, there is real merit in those appointments.

Senator Truman, the vice-presidential nominee, explains that his wife is on the Congressional payroll at $4,500 a year because “she is my chief adviser,” who also takes care of his personal mail and helps him with his speeches. It can be said in rebuttal, of course, that she needn’t be on the payroll to do all those things.

In any case, nepotism is one of those phenomena of political life which never fail to stir up interest but don’t amount to much, either.

The public seems to regard it as a sort of snide practice. For this reason, the politicians generally agree it is not smart politics – but even the smartest fall for it.


Editorial: ‘Dangerous’ documents

Congress has a law which says that books which contain political opinion must not be mailed to our fighting men overseas.

In attempting to enforce this law, the War Department has issued a prohibition against such “dangerous” works as Catherine Drinker Bowen’s biography of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Charles A. Beard’s The Republic and the Atlantic Monthly and Harper’s.

The War Department is doubtless acting in strict accordance with the law. But if it keeps on along this line, as it is presumed to do, it has its work cut out.

Potential political controversy can be found beneath the covers of many an innocent-looking book.

Here, for example, are a few bits of perilous propaganda that come immediately to mind. We pass them along to the War Department with best wishes:

  • The Collected Works of Horatio Alger Jr. – These, of course, are out-and-out glorification of free enterprise, a strong Republican selling point in 1944.

  • The Novels of Charles Dickens – Full of substantial wage scales, long hours with no overtime, and other examples of exploitation; many of these books attack capitalists as powerfully as anything Henry Wallace ever wrote.

  • Robinson Crusoe – Unblushing argument for isolationism.

  • Browning’s “Rabbi ben Ezra” – With its invitation to “Grow old along with me,” and its statement that “Youth shows but half,” this poem is clearly a pro-Roosevelt rebuttal to charges of an aging administration.

  • “Jack and the Beanstalk” – A subtle allegory about the triumph of a smaller and younger adversary over a big, tough opponent, strictly pro-Dewey (David and Goliath will have to go too, of course). And that song, “Fe-fi-fo-fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman,” is fiercely anti-British.

  • “Mother Goose” – These verses are particularly insidious, and must be thoroughly purged. “Old Mother Hubbard” plays up the food shortage; “Little Tommy Tucker,” who sang for his supper and fared so badly, is a thinly veiled prediction that a similar fate awaits Tommy Dewey, one-time baritone; “A Dillar, a Dollar” and “Little Boy Blue” emphasize absenteeism, are definitely anti-labor.

This list must be carried on and on if our servicemen are to be isolated completely from all printed political opinion. The only alternative is to change or repeal the law and treat the soldiers as if they were mature, thinking humans who did not lose all power of independent judgment when they put on a uniform.

The Afro-American (July 29, 1944)

Editorial: The postcard Democratic plank

That’s all, brother


The Democratic National Convention in Chicago last week adopted a postcard plank of 41 words on the race question. This is it, and for the sake of comparison, beside it are printed the Democratic plank of 1940 and the plank adopted by the Republicans:

1944 Democratic plank – Roosevelt-Truman (41 words):

We believe that racial and religious minorities have the right to live, develop and vote equally with all citizens and share the rights that are guaranteed by our Constitution. Congress should exert its full constitutional powers to protect those rights.

1940 Democratic plank – Roosevelt-Wallace (103 words):


Our Negro citizens have participated actively in the economic and social advances launched by this administration, including fair labor standards, social security benefits, health protection, work relief projects, decent housing, aid to education, and the rehabilitation of low-income farm families.

We have aided more than half a million Negro youths in vocational training, education and employment.

We shall continue to strive for complete legislative safeguards against discrimination in government service and benefits, and in the national defense forces.

We pledge to uphold due process and the equal protection of the laws for every citizen, regardless of race, creed or color.

1944 Republican plank – Dewey-Bricker (108 words):

Racial and Religious Intolerance

We unreservedly condemn the injection into American life of appeals to racial or religious prejudice.

We pledge an immediate Congressional inquiry to ascertain the extent to which mistreatment, segregation and discrimination against Negroes who are in our armed forces are impairing morale and efficiency, and the adoption of corrective legislation.

We pledge the establishment by federal legislation of a permanent Fair Employment Practice Commission.

Anti-Poll Tax

The payment of any poll tax should not be a condition of voting in federal elections and we favor immediate submission of a Constitutional amendment for its abolition.


We favor legislation against lynching and pledge our sincere efforts in behalf of its early enactment.

At first glance, it is evident that the 1944 Democratic plank is less than half as long as the other two.

In addition to its brevity, it is so general that it does not use the word Negro or colored. The party states its belief in equal rights and a vote for minorities as expressed in the Constitution, and adds that Congress should see that these rights are protected.

In 1940, the Democrats were far more specific in promising colored people (they used the word Negro then) legislation against discrimination in government service and in the Armed Forces. At that time, they also promised enforcement of all laws without regard to race, creed, or color.

By contrast, the 1944 Republican Convention plank, adopted in the same Chicago Stadium just a few weeks previously, not only condemned race and religious prejudice, but pledged (1) an investigation into mistreatment and segregation of colored people in the Armed Forced and legislation to remedy it; (2) a permanent Fair Employment Practice Commission; (3) a constitutional amendment to abolish poll taxes, and (4) a federal anti-lynching law.

While the Democratic Convention substituted general and almost meaningless phrases on the color question, it was quite definite and specific on other matters.

For example, it favored (1) the opening of Palestine to unrestricted Jewish immigration and citizenship; (2) legislation guaranteeing women equal pay for equal work with men; (3) self-government for Alaska, Puerto Rico and Hawaii; (4) a vote for the citizens of the District of Columbia; (5) use of an international armed force to prevent future wars, and (6) a constitutional amendment on equal rights for women.

Why, then, was the Democratic Convention so definite and sure on those six issues mentioned above and so mealy-mouthed on the issues affecting the progress and welfare of colored people? Why did it say something in 1940 and little or nothing in 1944?

The answer is: the South. The Southern delegates who stand for segregation and white supremacy, came to the convention united upon the program of eliminating the “colored” plank altogether.

They did not succeed entirely but they did “cut and carve” the plank until it bears no relationship to the party’s stronger stand of 1940.

All told, the 1944 Democratic Convention plank is not only disappointing to colored Democrats, it is unsatisfactory to colored people.

Certain it is that the great Democratic Party which bid openly for the colored vote in 1940 has withdrawn the glad hand in just four years.

Editorial: Roosevelt and Truman

Unable to prevent the renomination of President Roosevelt, the South ganged up on Vice President Wallace Friday night in Chicago so that the 1944 ticket is Roosevelt and Truman.

In the interest of party harmony, Mr. Roosevelt, who cast Garner aside in 1940, fed Wallace to the wolves in 1944.

To the credit of the liberal Mr. Wallace, it can be said that he went down fighting.

His dramatic challenge, “The future belongs to those who go down the line unswervingly for the liberal principles of both political democracy and economic democracy regardless of race, color or religion. In a political, educational and economic sense, there must be no inferior races. The poll tax must go. Equal educational opportunities must come. The future must bring equal wages for equal work regardless of sex or race,” electrified the convention and stunned the white-supremacy Southern delegates.

The answer of the South, led by Maryland, Delaware, Alabama and South Carolina, was to switch their votes from their favorite sons to Truman. In this, they had the help of machine bosses of Chicago, New York and Jersey City who opposed Wallace for his tie-up with the CIO labor unions.

Altogether the South had a couple of field days in Chicago last week. So far as the convention itself was concerned, the New Deal was held in check. The South had one foot in the saddle.

The Pittsburgh Press (July 30, 1944)


Editorial: How the CIO plans to get out the vote

The CIO Political Action Committee is likely to become the biggest issue in the presidential election.

To some, it is a subversive movement organized by a smart coalition of Communists, labor bosses, intellectuals and leftists in general to gain control of the government and make the state supreme under their dictatorship.

To others, it is a crusade to educate voters to preserve democracy – that’s what the CIO leaders call it.

Without debating what it is, let’s at least look at how it proposes to operate – what makes it tick. For it is a real, concrete movement, smartly led and financed with millions of dollars. And if it is to be a force in American politics, we ought to understand it – and if it is to be kept from becoming the dominating force, then we first have to learn how it operates.

For that reason, The Press today starts publication of a series of five stories telling just what the PAC is, what it proposes to do and how it proposes to do it. The stories are based on publications and statements of its leaders and on the textbooks which it is sending out by hundreds of thousands to train its followers in the details of political organization.

Its basic principle is simple – first get ‘em registered, and then get out the vote. Its textbooks center around that theme.

“A big vote is always a good vote,” says the PAC. So, it proceeds on the job of getting out a big vote of its own people. Obviously the only practical policy of its opponents is to get out a big vote of their own people. In which case we may have a big vote of all the people.

If that happens, then the PAC will have accomplished a worthy purpose, regardless of how you view it.

“Unless you are registered you are as useless as a soldier without a gun,” says the PAC political textbook.

Its immediate job is to work through 14 regional officers and thousands upon thousands of shop stewards and local committees and union headquarters to get its vote registered.

To do this, the PAC proposes a registration committee in each plant; complete file cards for each union member; checking of these cards against registration lists; contact with each non-registered worker and his family to get them registered; assistance in making registration convenient or in helping workers to overcome election red tape, and a huge whoop-it-up campaign to make registration popular through posters, leaflets, buttons, etc.

To accomplish these objectives, political textbooks have been issued by the PAC and by various CIO unions.

“The secret of political success today lies largely in doorbell ringing,” says the Guide to Political Action.

“Talk to friends,” it urges, especially pointing out how shop stewards and members of grievance committees are in a favorable position.

“Make a list of neighbors and friends” and then talk to them to see that they are registered. These neighborhood lists are to form the foundation for block and precinct political clubs.

Each precinct is to have a committee and a captain. The PAC textbook says:

A good captain is eager to help solve the problem of his neighbors… Such captains build precinct organizations which become centers of social as well as political activity in the neighborhood. By such work, the precinct captain and his assistants are able to mobilize the people of their neighborhood when a political campaign is launched.

“Whenever possible, the precinct captains should be neighbors,” it is emphasized, and the particular value of women as neighborhood organizers is pointed out.

All of which is very practical, irrefutable and effective politics.

If the CIO and its left-wing associates are to be kept from taking over the government, then the same sort of grassroots organizing will be required to defeat them.

For it isn’t true that a big vote is always a good vote – not when it is a big vote only of those who organized and carried through the essentials of getting one particular group of voters to the polls.

The Pittsburgh Press (July 31, 1944)


Editorial: Greetings, Mr. Dewey

Western Pennsylvania has long been a political progressive region.

The voters here were the first to turn against the highhanded methods of the Republican Old Guard. They were among the first in Pennsylvania to vote against Prohibition candidates and they led the parade to the New Deal when it first took office.

Throughout recent years, voters of this region have shown an increasing discrimination and independent in marking their ballots. More and more, they have demanded that their candidates for public office “show them something.”

This quite accurately could be called the region of the political pendulum.

Today, Western Pennsylvania welcomes, for the first time since his renomination, the Republican candidate for President, Governor Thomas E. Dewey of New York.

In choosing Pittsburgh for his first campaign appearance, Mr. Dewey, we think, picked a strategically sound place to begin. If he can convince local labor, business, agricultural and other leaders of his earnestness and abilities, he will have made an important start on his campaign for the White House.

Whether or not the Republican nominee can carry Allegheny and other Western counties in the November election will depend, to a great extent, on the campaign developments yet to come.

In any case, Pittsburgh is glad to see Mr. Dewey, Mrs. Dewey and the Governor’s political and official associates. Regardless of politics, the people here will hope that the New York Governor will find it possible to pay another visit to the city later in the campaign, when he is ready for addresses on the major issues of the election.

The Pittsburgh Press (August 1, 1944)


Editorial: Dewey hit bigotry

Soon or late, every presidential candidate runs into the issue of racial and religious bigotry. Most of them try to duck it. A few, of better stuff, hit it head on. Governor Thomas E. Dewey is that kind. He thinks intolerance is too high a price to pay for votes.

When Rep. Ham Fish (R-NY) was quoted as attacking the Jews for their alleged partisan support of FDR and the New Deal, Mr. Dewey lashed out with this:

Two years ago, I publicly opposed the nomination and election of Congressman Fish. The statements attributed to him confirm my judgment expressed at that time. Anyone who injects a racial or religious issue into a political campaign is guilty of a disgraceful, un-American act. I have always fought that kind of thing all my life and always will, regardless of partisan considerations. I have never accepted support of any such individual and I never shall.

Every race and religion has its bigots. So do both political parties. Therefore, it is important that parties and candidates come clean on this issue. The Republican platform says: “We unreservedly condemn the injection into American life of appeals to racial or religious prejudice.” Candidate Dewey has shown where he stands.

Unfortunately, the Democratic enemies of intolerance were unable to write a similar plank into their platform. Whether it was left out of the draft the President sent to the Democratic Convention, we do not know. But, now that Mr. Dewey and the Republicans have led the way, Candidate Roosevelt should have enough courage to follow.

The Pittsburgh Press (August 2, 1944)


Editorial: The Republican danger

One specific and practical result which most observers saw in Governor Thomas E. Dewey’s visit here this week was the substantial unity among Republicans.

Everybody knows the Republicans are not all of a mind on the issues of the day, on campaign methods, on governmental administration or on any other subject.

Some of them are as far apart as the poles as far apart, for instance, as the CIO Political Action Committee and the Southern “bourbons” in the Democratic Party.

Nobody expects them to get together on any given question, and it probably would be an unhealthy thing if they did. But it is a wholesome situation when they can, for the nonce, shelve some of their personal grudges, pet schemes, ambitions and philosophies in the interest of a greater objective.

In this year’s elections, there are only two choices for President – Mr. Roosevelt or Mr. Dewey.

You’ve got to take one or the other. That’s our American system. And when you take Mr. Roosevelt, you take him with all his faults and peculiarities, whatever may be your opinion of any one of them. You take the whole.

It is the same with Mr. Dewey. Lots of people who may vote for the Republican nominee may disagree with many of the things he has done, will do or may stand for. But they will have to weigh him, his policies and record of the present Washington administration, as a whole.

So, there isn’t any point in professional Republican politicians bickering among themselves over leadership, local policies, patronage or any other matter. Either they are for Mr. Dewey or they are against him. In either case, nothing else, for purposes of the election campaign, can count for very much.

Mr. Dewey, by his conduct immediately after the Republican Convention, and by his conferences here Monday, seems to have instilled the idea concretely among Republican organization workers. For the moment, he has broken the moorings of petty factionalism – at least on the surface.

This will help the party and, more important, it will help the voters see the issues of the campaign in a clearer light – uncluttered by internal quarrels and scuffles.

Mr. Dewey also impressed the Republicans and others who saw him with the idea that it is he who is the candidate. He displayed a willingness to hear all sides, to listen to all arguments, but at the same time made it eminently clear that it is he who will weld the decisive policy, he who will assume the responsibility.

The clearer that picture becomes, the better it will be for Mr. Dewey – and for the Republican ticket.

For there are conspicuous affiliates of the Republican Party whose philosophies are retrogressive, whose influence, if given free rein, is a liability. The less the evidence that these back numbers can speak for the nominee and his ticket, the more confidence the candidate and his running mates will receive and earn from the public.

No candidate for major office can be responsible for the conduct of all of his support. But he can minimize the significance of that support if he demonstrates, as Mr. Dewey seems to be doing, that he can stand on his own feet – that he can lead, and not be led.

The Pittsburgh Press (August 3, 1944)


Editorial: How can they do it?

Republican voters in the 29th New York Congressional district, we suppose, know their own minds.

And they have a free right to nominate whomsoever they may choose to represent them in Congress.

But for the life of us we can’t comprehend how, with any feeling of pride or conscience, they can keep on sending Ham Fish to Washington.

However, Mr. Fish’s margin of victory was the smallest in his career. So there is still hope for the voters of that district.

The Pittsburgh Press (August 4, 1944)


Editorial: On the right track

We’ll have more to say about the St. Louis conference of Republican governors, under the leadership of presidential candidate Thomas E. Dewey, when we see the complete result of their deliberations. Meanwhile, it seems to us, the six reports they made yesterday were a good start in their effort to define clear “areas of responsibility” between the states and the federal government.

Criticism of the trend toward federal centralization which has been so marked in the last 11 years will be most effective, we think, if it emphasizes the truth that concentration of power in Washington leads inevitably to confusion, duplication of effort, waste, inefficiency, and invasion of legitimate and necessary local rights. This, as the governors are pointing out, has been happening in many fields, and nowhere more strikingly than in the matter of increasing federal ownership of land.


Editorial: By the CIO and for the CIO

Right while the CIO is starting the biggest campaign in union history to gain control of federal and state governments, one of its chief leaders has revealed how CIO officials regard public office when they hold one.

R. J. Thomas, president of the United Auto Workers, which with more than a million members is the largest CIO union, is also a member of the War Labor Board.

This is one of the most important of the agencies set up to prosecute the war – and its membership is based on that newfangled formula of equal division between representatives of labor, business and the public.

The idea, of course, is that these men of differing experience and viewpoint will be able to combine their talents and backgrounds best to serve the nation as a whole.

But Mr. Thomas does not regard his War Labor Board membership as a public service. Testifying in a New York trial, he candidly declared that he considers it a union responsibility and not a federal service.

“I am there to represent labor,” he said, and added that he thought it is his special duty “to nominate only CIO members to serve on WLB panels.”

Although paid $25 a day plus expenses for WLB service, Mr. Thomas said he didn’t regard WLB membership as “federal service or a federal job.” He is still working for the union even when Uncle Sam pays the bill.

The CIO, through its Political Action Committee, is now setting out to collect millions of dollars for political activity in the coming campaign.

“I hope we can get $25 million,” said David J. McDonald, its national finance chairman, before a meeting of 300 CIO representatives called to organize the Pennsylvania branch.

Mr. McDonald continued:

The more we spend, the better Congress we will have. The more we spend in Pennsylvania, the better state legislature we will have.

Treasurer McDonald made it plain that the organization of which he is financial head is working on the old theory that everything has its price – including Congress and legislatures.

And Mr. Thomas made it plain that as head of the biggest CIO union he operates on the theory that you’ll still working for the CIO even when you fill a public position on the public payroll.

The two theories joined together make an interesting explanation of how the CIO leadership would regard the government should it gain control of it by being the heaviest spender in a national campaign.

There is more than the Presidency involved in this vast, well-financed campaign by a single labor organization to gain control of the government.

Mr. McDonald made this quite plain by his reference to Congress and the Legislature.

The Presidency is far distant from the average man and woman. But the laws under which they live, the agencies and bureaus which enforce and interpret those laws, the county and ward and precinct bosses who are in power – all these are very close to the citizen in his everyday life. They are among the direct – perhaps the most desired – objectives of the CIO-PAC.

It wants CIO members or those who are dominated by the CIO in power – not for broad and even-handed public service, but directly to serve the CIO, as Mr. Thomas so plainly testified.

This is a campaign by a single labor group to elevate itself above all other groups – to initiate government of the people by the CIO and for the CIO.

The Pittsburgh Press (August 5, 1944)


Editorial: Senator Truman resigns

One of the outstanding jobs that has been done on the home front in this war is the one accomplished by the Special Committee of the U.S. Senate to Investigating the National Defense Program.

This group, which became known as the Truman Committee, after its chairman, Senator Harry S. Truman (D-MO), has done a necessary job, a constructive job, a earnest job. Instead of waiting until the war’s end to investigate production and the general conduct of the war, this committee has been at work since early in the game.

It has nailed down fraud before it got well started. It has uncovered and aired flagrant deficiencies in production. It has been critical alike of the government, industry and labor. It has operated on the one principle that the purpose of the whole war effort was to get the job done, speedily, honestly, at reasonable coat, with efficiency and to the best interests of the fighting men overseas.

Perhaps the committee has made mistakes. In such a gigantic job, mistakes would be inevitable. But it has more than earned its salt by throwing the light of publicity on holes in the war program.

Of course, the bulk of the real work was done by the investigating staff of the committee. It was they who dug up the information and prepared the numerous reports.

But the staff could not have done a sound job unless the 10 Senators on the committee wanted a sound and impartial job done.

Those 10 Senators have worked together – six Democrats and four Republicans.

It is essential that a committee of this type keep up this job, and that the work be continued on the same impartial basis on which it has been begun.

However much he might desire to avoid political implications, it would have been inevitable that some would have crept into the picture if Senator Truman, as the Democratic candidate for Vice President, had remained as chairman.

As the Senator said in his letter of resignation:

I am of the opinion that any statement, hearing or report for which I would be responsible would be considered by many to have been motivated by political considerations.

As a candidate, Mr. Truman might find it difficult on his own part to refrain from such considerations.

The Senator said:

I do not want even the shadow of suspicion that the committee’s activities in any way are determined or influenced by political considerations.

Such suspicions immediately would destroy the usefulness of the committee. Senator Truman used good judgment in quitting.

The Afro-American (August 5, 1944)


Editorial: Republicans and Army segregation

The Republican Party enters the campaign with a decided advantage because of its pledge to investigate and take whatever legislative action is necessary to correct race discrimination in the Armed Forces.

Strong executive action, as well as legislation, is needed and is overdue since the widespread dissatisfaction with the conduct of the war is the mistreatment of colored troops.

This mistreatment includes:

  • Compulsory training in the Jim Crow South where the Army has been unable to protect its men in uniform from civilian abuse and humiliating segregation;

  • Exclusion of colored men and women from voluntary enlistment from service on the Navy’s fighting ships and with WAVES, SPARS, nurses and special services (only token enlistments have been accepted as Navy chaplains and surgeons);

  • Promotions so restricted that with nearly a million colored men in the service, commissioned officers number only a few thousand;

  • Separation of white and colored troops without legal sanction, in fact in violation of the Constitution. Even those who wish to fraternize are forbidden to do so under pain of punishment.

In the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, colored and white served together in regiments and on fighting ships. Rigid segregation appeared first in the Civil War, but even then, there was no Navy funny business and colored men fought as Marines, gunners and seamen on Union ships.

Colored servicemen today have no objection to fighting in colored units, but they do object to the prohibition which bars them from other units and bans whites from their outfits.

Some white soldiers do not wish to serve with colored. Some colored prefer not to serve with white. But why should any government prevent them from doing so if they want to and why should promotions be denied competent officers merely because they are colored?

The situation is so bad at present that white enlisted men are welcomed in mess halls and clubs from which colored commissioned officers are excluded.

Governor Dewey, the GOP candidate for President, we hope, will have a word to say about this during the campaign. Long suffering G.I.’s and their folks back home will be all ears.


Matthews: Straws in the wind

By Ralph Matthews

Although the defeat of Vice President Wallace, a known liberal, is regretted by many, there are other rays of hope which prove that the reactionaries are not having things all their own way.

That even the Deep South is trying hard to lift itself from the depths is seen in the long-overdue defeat of Senator Ellison “Cotton Ed” Smith in South Carolina.

We are not certain whether his successor, Governor Olin D. Johnston, is a rip-roaring liberal, but we are certain that anybody would be an improvement on Cotton Ed. The mere fact that South Carolina has had sufficient change of heart to keep him home is a healthy sign.

Ex-Senator Smith has little to his credit in the Senate beyond his championship of white supremacy, his protection of the big cotton planters, who wax fat off of the South’s miserable sharecrop slave trade, and his dramatic gesture in walking out of the Democratic National Convention because a colored minister, the Rev. Marshall Shepard of Philadelphia, was invited to pray.

We cannot help but speculate that Cotton Ed would have welcomed even the prayers of Parson Shepard as the votes were counted Tuesday night returning him to private life.

One bright spot on the Democratic Party front was the fact that Governor Ellis Arnall of Georgia stood before the Democratic Convention in Chicago and praised Henry Wallace after he had made his speech predicting the destruction of all the things the South holds dear.

Another was the speech of Senator Claude Pepper of Florida, who declared he would be ashamed if the Democrats told the world by their actions that Wallace “was too democratic for a Democratic convention.”

Another healthy sign is the rumpus raised in Texas and other Southern states over the seating of delegations at the Democratic Convention. This is not a “revolt” in the sense that some try to pretend, but a sign that the South is stewing in its own juice of the one-party system which is too cramped for the incompatible elements to operate.

If the Roosevelt administration stays in long enough, and the anti-Roosevelt Southerners stay out long enough, they might eventually awake to the realization that two strong parties are as necessary to the South as to the rest of the country. Minorities always stand to profit when they can play one party against another. The South may yet give stillbirth to democracy.

The Pittsburgh Press (August 8, 1944)


Editorial: Only registered may vote

This November, according to all indications, a greater number of citizens than ever before will want to cast a ballot in the presidential election.

But a great many citizens, who decide near Election Day that they want to vote, may wake up to discover that it is too late to register.

In Pennsylvania, only those who are registered at least a month before the election may vote. The last day to register is Oct. 7.

Registration officials are now making special efforts to accommodate voters who are not enrolled. Both the city and county offices are open until 9:00 p.m. ET, Monday evenings. For two weeks prior to Oct. 7, they plan to stay open every night until 9:00.

If there is sufficient demand, they may even send registrars into the field to enroll voters.

But all the extra effort of registration officials will be useless unless the voters themselves are interested. They won’t enroll anyone who doesn’t show up and ask to be enrolled.

The time to register is now. Don’t wait for the deadline rush just before Oct. 7 – or, worse, forget about it until after the deadline, thus disfranchising yourself.

The Wilmington Morning Star (August 10, 1944)


Editorial: Process of elimination

Inevitably in our two-party system of government each party collects some embarrassingly bigoted groups who, though small in number, still command enough votes to make the professional politician think twice before reaching for the ax. This year, the Republicans collected Gerald L. K. Smith and the America Firsters; the Democrats, Earl Browder and the Communists.

The other day, however, Thomas E. Dewey and John W. Bricker lopped off the America Firsters from the fringe of the Republican Party. In strongest terms of denunciation and repudiation, they scorched Smith for his attempt to put Governor Bricker’s name on an America First ticket.

This repudiation is commendable and necessary. It gives notice that we have no existing political haven for racial bigotry, just as the two party platforms make it clear (though they may differ in detail) that there is no room for isolationism in either party’s post-war policy.

The repudiation certainly cost some votes. Smith claims 3,000,000. True or not, he does control a substantial number. If an America First ticket can be put in the field, it might cost the Republicans one or more states. In the Midwest, the America Firsters’ stronghold, the Republicans carried Michigan by less than 5,000, Indiana by only 25,000, and lost Illinois in 1940.

Nevertheless, the great majority of Americans will applaud this denunciation, and the candidates’ refusal to accept organized support from a group whose beliefs are associated with racial bigotry. For certainly such bigotry is repugnant to the spirit and tradition of a nation founded on the principle that all men are created equal.

So too is political bigotry. It may not be so distasteful at the moment, since the American Communists – for whom the war began with the invasion of Russia, and international collaboration with the Tehran Conference – are currently starry-eyed champions of democracy. Only the most naïve, however, can imagine that their conversion is anything more than momentary and expedient, or that it is not subject to change without notice.

The American Communists have embraced, if not the Democratic Party, at least its national ticket. They have merged with the American Labor Party and are making their presence felt in the CIO Political Action Committee. Their organizational ability – smooth, seasoned, zealous and tireless – can win votes.

So wouldn’t it be well if the Democratic candidates followed the Republican example now and repudiated, once and for all, these other elements which are foreign to American principles and policies?

The Afro-American (August 12, 1944)


Editorial: See Wilson

See Darryl Zanuck’s $5-million motion picture Wilson, but don’t take it seriously.

It’s designed to prove that the 28th President was one of the world’s greatest men and that we are at war today because we welshed on his proposal to join a League of Nations.

None of us believe that Germany should come out of this war with all her territories. We think today that the best guarantee of future peace is a weak Germany.

The fact that Wilson couldn’t sell us a league, therefore, is not the sole cause of the present war. He has to bear the blame for leaving Germany strong enough to stage a new effort at world conquest in our generation.

The film compares Wilson with Lincoln, but the Emancipator’s theories of freedom and dignity for all included the humblest of citizens. It included colored people.

Wilson was eloquent and persuasive when he said we fought the first war to “make the world safe for democracy.” When he cried aloud for self-determination for minorities, we took him at his word. But he double-crossed colored people just as he welshed on the political bosses who made him President.

Before he was elected, he promised colored leaders a square deal. After he became President, he told them he could not appoint them to office because it would cause troubled with the South.

Senator Nye shocked the Senate in 1936 by declaring that Wilson lied about his trip to Europe and his connection with the secret treaties. Senator Glass hopped up to defend Wilson, but Nye proved his point by the diary of Wilson’s Secretary of State hauled out of its hiding place in the Library of Congress.

Colored people distrusted Wilson as strongly as the Senate. They knew the great(?) Woodrow as a Southern politician to whom it was “second nature to pay lip service to laws he has not the slightest intention of obeying, and to principles he does not an instant propose to follow.”

The Turkish Ambassador was handed his passports by President Wilson for calling attention to America’s professions of democracy and its mistreatment of colored people.

In the midst of World War I, civilization was outraged by race riots in Springfield, Waco, Memphis, and East St. Louis. A colored delegation from Maryland sought an interview with the President, who was too busy to see them.

On that occasion, the late Kelly Miller wrote his famous open letter to Mr. Wilson, titled the “Disgrace of Democracy.” He said the President was preoccupied with his fight to abolish all war abroad and was unable to prevent lynchings and race riots at home.

Dr. Miller wrote:

A doctrine that breaks down at home is not fit to be propagated abroad. You have given the rallying cry for the present world crisis… but [your] democracy for white people only is no democracy at all.

Dr. Miller described Wilson’s attitude on the race problem as one of “passive solicitude.” He said:

It seems you regard it as a regrettable social malady to be treated with cautious and calculated neglect… During your entire career you have never done anything constructive for colored people…

All the segregation in the Armed Forces we suffer in this war, all the exclusion from promotion, and from service in the Navy, and Nurse Corps, we endured in a double portion under President Wilson.

We were Jim Crowed in Southern Army camps and publicly humiliated before our allied abroad. Of course, none of that is in the film, whose only colored character is an obsequious flunkey.

Be sure to see the 20th Century-Fox film Wilson. AFRO readers will glimpse $5 million worth of propaganda, a lavish spectacle and a tragic figure – how tragic colored people know better than most Americans.

The Pittsburgh Press (August 16, 1944)


Editorial: Removing a ‘verboten’

Soldiers, who have been privileged to risk their lives but discouraged from coming into contact with ideas, soon will have the official blinders removed.

The Senate yesterday, recognizing the silliness of that part of the Soldier Vote Act under which the Army has felt compelled to put certain books and other publications on a blacklist, quickly passed an amendment. The House may be expected to go along.

Thereafter, “nothing herein shall prevent the Army and Navy” from making available to members of the Armed Forces any book, magazine, newspaper, film or broadcast “as generally presented to the public in the United States.”

As to government-financed or government-sponsored publications, films and broadcasts, no such item is required to be withheld from the troops unless, when “considered in its entirety,” it contains political propaganda “obviously” designed to affect election results or obviously calculated to create bias for or against a particular candidate.”

Those are the principal changes, and they ought to suffice to undo a situation compounded of hasty legislation and strict service interpretation.

Senator Taft, father of the offending section thus amended, cooperated with Senator Green in sponsoring the revision, but hinted darkly that the War Department’s list of banned books was “a deliberate attempt to make Congress look ridiculous.” And he added, remarkably, that the Army was “certainly unduly anxious” to get out the soldier vote in November. Both remarks ill become the Senator, whose usual calm seems to have been disturbed by an acute case of pique.