Election 1944: Pre-convention news

The Pittsburgh Press (March 28, 1944)


Trial balloon election held in Oklahoma

GOP tries to win Democratic district

Muskogee, Oklahoma (UP) –
Voters in Oklahoma’s traditionally Democratic 2nd district today chose between a Republican and Democratic Congressman in a hotly-contested special election that may prove a trial balloon for both parties.

The race for the House seat vacated by Democrat Jack Nichols was climaxed last night with speeches by Senator Alben W. Barkley, Democratic Majority Leader, on behalf of his party’s candidate, W. G. Stigler, and Senator E. H. Moore (R-OK), who spoke for the GOP nominee, E. O. Clark.

Cooperation stressed

Mr. Barkley, who spoke here and at Okmulgee yesterday, called for the election of a Congressman “who is in sympathy with the great objectives” of the administration and said that Congress must in future months give Mr. Roosevelt “a maximum amount of cooperation.”

Mr. Moore attacked the record of the Democratic Party, repeating his charges that bureaucracy threatens the foundations of American political and business life.

Mr. Barkley criticized Republicans for attempting “to mobilize every sore toe into an army of opposition,” by capitalizing on such war inconveniences as rationing, price control and heavy taxes, and branded his party’s opponents “diehards,” “obstructionists,” and “lying partisans” who “rail out as if they were permanent inhabitants of a national wailing wall.”

Elected only one GOP

The 2nd district gave Mr. Nichols a 20,000-vote majority over Mr. Clark in the 1940 campaign, but this was pared to 385 ballots in 1942 when Mr. Clark was again the Republican candidate.

The district has elected only one GOP representative. That was in the Republican landslide of 1920 when Miss Alice M. Robertson of Muskogee defeated the incumbent by 209 votes.


Bricker lashes Senator Barkley

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (UP) –
Ohio Governor John W. Bricker was scheduled to make an address at Wichita, Kansas, today following his address at a Republican rally here last night in which he accused Senate Majority Leader Alben W. Barkley of “taking orders from the New Deal on Capitol Hill.”

Governor Bricker, candidate for the Republican nomination for the Presidency, said Senator Barkley’s visit to Oklahoma on behalf of W. G. Stigler, Democratic candidate in today’s special election, was “an example of the inconsistencies in which New Dealers engage to retain power.”

Governor Bricker spoke here on behalf of his own candidacy for the presidential nomination, but took advantage of Senator Barkley’s appearance at Muskogee to snipe at the Senate leader and at the same time boost the GOP special election candidate.


New York elects convention delegates

New York (UP) –
New York State voters will elect 90 delegates to Republican and Democratic national conventions today, with neither party expected to experience opposition difficulties.

Principle interest in the presidential primary centers around the interparty American Labor Party committee election. Right-wing and left-wing opponents have wrangled bitterly and have drawn Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia into the factional dispute in the role of unsuccessful peacemaker.

New Deal leaders admitted that results of the ALP voting would have a definite effect on the fourth-term changes of President Roosevelt.


An ‘ambition-bitten aspirant’ –
‘Willkie Rides Again’ article tries to put Wisconsin ‘hep’

La Follette publication attempts to discourages Progressives’ support
By Daniel M. Kidney, Scripps-Howard staff writer

Washington –
“Wendell Willkie Rides Again” is the title of an article on the candidate’s Wisconsin tour appearing today in The Progressive, published at Madison, Wisconsin, by a company headed by Senator Robert M. La Follette (PR-WI).

The tone of the article is such as to discourage Wisconsin Progressives from following the editorial suggestion of William T. Evjue of The Capital Times of Madison to vote in the Republican primary in favor of the 1940 GOP presidential candidate.

The author of the Willkie article is L. T. Merrill, described in The Progressive as “a professor of American history and former Wisconsin and Washington newspaperman.”

Mr. Merrill writes:

American political history hardly affords any parallel spectacle of an ambition-bitten aspirant bumping around at such a hectic pace trying to reinflate his sagging pre-convention prospects.

All the more surprising are these highly organized personal forays and sorties in view of Mr. Willkie’s hardboiled air of assurance last fall when he laid down his policies at Washington with a take-it-or-leave-it air.

Cites ‘truculent’ speed

The reference is to the speech Mr. Willkie made to freshmen Republican Congressmen which man who attended called “truculent.” The Progressive article continues:

All the subsequent traveling showmanship tends to belie a sense of genuine assurance on his part that he has the nomination in the bag or that millions of those he left holding the bag last time are as willing to hold it again.

Mr. Willkie’s current foray into Wisconsin follows a previous lure tour last November that apparently did not have all the desired effects, though it was carefully organized.

Mr. Merrill concludes that Mr. Willkie is winning more “newspaper decisions than anything else.”

Only one wants him

He writes:

Mr. Willkie’s checkup agent, who came into Wisconsin after he had left last fall, must have discovered that flattered or dazzled Wisconsin editors have given him a better “break” than any other GOP presidential aspirant – although this would not be the first time Wisconsin editors have climbed on the wrong horse and ridden off somewhere without great results in pulling their readers.

Despite the whooping and booming of which Mr. Willkie has been the beneficiary in some Wisconsin dailies, what are the results? A Gallup poll published Feb. 23 indicates only one of five Wisconsin Republicans wanted Mr. Willkie as their standard-bearer again.


Stokes: Willkie on labor

By Thomas L. Stokes

Milwaukee, Wisconsin –
Wendell L. Willkie does not have the highly critical attitude toward labor now prevalent among some elements in his own party and in the Southern wing of the Democratic Party.

This attitude expresses itself in exaggeration about strikes, in minimizing labor’s contribution to the war, and in demands for enactment of a law by Congress to prevent strikes in wartime.

Mr. Willkie deplores these tendencies and counsels moderation in approaching the problem.

This was the spirit, a spirit of tolerance, in which he presented a program for labor last night at Milwaukee that is designed to attract to his side elements of labor that are becoming dissatisfied with the Roosevelt administration. He believes large groups of labor was included in that independent vote, still undecided, which he says the Republican Party must have to win, and to which he is making a studied appeal in his campaign for delegates in the April 4 primary election here.

He said:

You’d think from public statements that all labor is doing is striking. Its contribution in this war has been magnificent. One of the most magnificent stories that will come out of this war will be labor’s record of production.

Basic in appraisal of the labor problem, he holds, is recognition first that only in recent years has labor established its rights, and only recently has engaged in political activity to protect those rights.

Mistakes are natural

He said:

It has had less experience than other elements of society. It was natural that it should make mistakes, that its leaders should make mistakes. That must be expected.

For that reason, tolerance is needed, he explains.

He does not condone strikes in wartime. No one, he said, has been more condemnatory of strikes in wartime than he. Some of these have been wildcat strikes; some he attributed to a vacillating policy of the government.

Likewise, he is highly critical of some labor leaders. He condemns labor racketeering, but emphasized that this has been less than sometimes represented, and has not affected the great mass of union members.

He believes that labor, itself, must set its house in o5rder and must recognize its responsibilities, rather than seeking to accomplish this by issuing public statements and by having Congress pass laws.

For that he recommended a threefold program:

  • Labor must remove from its leadership arrogant and corrupt leaders.

  • Labor must develop more of a sense of responsibility in its economic and social relations.

  • Labor must democratize itself, must give more power to individual union members, more participation for them in its activities and in the formulation of its policies.

Capable young men in ranks

In connection with the necessity of removing corrupt and arrogant leaders, Mr. Willkie said there are many capably young men in the ranks of labor who are qualified for national leadership, and these men should be recognized and given an opportunity for leadership.

As for government, he held that labor should not have to deal with a multitude of boards and commissions as now, and, to this end, he said much could be done by having real labor representation in the Cabinet, in the Secretary of Labor. The Secretary, he said, should recognize labor’s interest in international affairs as well as domestic affairs, in tax programs, welfare and the like. It should be developed into a real broad-gauge office.

Mr. Willkie deplored very much all the talk that this country faces some “inevitable, irresponsible conflict” between capital and labor. He doesn’t see any such inevitable, irrepressible conflict.

He gave his prescription for solving labor troubles.

He said:

You solve them by creating an atmosphere in which there is no occasion for them, and by a policy of government that is fair, firm and non-discriminatory.

The Pittsburgh Press (March 29, 1944)



Poker game

By Florence Fisher Parry

Thomas L. Stokes is writing some very pungent political commentary. His column the other day on Wendell Willkie’s minor league itinerary seems to me to be one of the most pungent pieces of reporting of recent date. For the presidential campaign is upon us, a campaign that promises to be the most dramatic this country has ever known.

Mr. Willkie has devoted the last four years almost exclusively in preparation for this campaign. He has traveled and talked, talked and traveled, and he has written the biggest-selling book since Gone With the Wind. Never has a man met with greater opposition outside and within his own party. There are those leaders among Republicans who would rather have the party lose than have Mr. Willkie win. They hate Mr. Roosevelt, but they hate Mr. Willkie more.

Meanwhile, Mr. Willkie is pinning his faith and his hope upon the rank and file, the off-the-beaten track, small-town common man.

There is something pathetic to me in Mr. Willkie’s faith that the little man – the little un-unionized, unbossed, unregimented, unsubsidized, unbought American man can help him get to be President! This little man, for the moment, happens to be living in Wisconsin. Mr. Willkie is working very hard in Wisconsin. He is hoping that he wins a vote of confidence there. It will serve as an example to other states and set the pace for independent, uninfluenced moves all along the line.

Moreover, a Willkie victory in Wisconsin, a Midwest state, where Mr. Willkie is supposed to be the weakest, would do much to slap down the isolationist opposition within his own party.

Lantern slides

The best way, it seems to me, for us to choose a candidate for President would be to picture him sitting alone in a little private room face to face with Joseph Stalin in a poker game. What man have we upon whom we could rely to keep up his end in such a game? Let us toy with a few lantern slides.

The first, let us say, is a picture of Stalin and Roosevelt sitting over the game. Place your bets, ladies and gentlemen, upon the outcome of this game. Who do you think would win? Mr. Roosevelt or Mr. Stalin?

Now let us seat Mr. Dewey at the table with Mr. Stalin. How long do you think he would last? He would play a slick game. His plays would be quick and dazzling for he is an adept showman, and could be counted upon to employ an adroit technique. Mr. Kibitzer, how long do you think you would be seated at that table?

Now let us take Mr. Stassen at the table. Mr. Stassen is a realist. He would know what he was up against. He would see in his opponent not a politician nor yet a statesman, but a sharp business competitor. He would play that kind of game. But for how long would he play it, dear reader? Watch the clock.

Supposing we put Gen. MacArthur at the table. His success would depend very largely upon what kind of game his opponent would elect to play. If military strategy were to be employed, the game might last through the night. If, on the other hand, power politics ruled, Gen. MacArthur would be in bed by midnight.

Pull up a chair

Now it is Mr. Willkie’s turn at the table. Better pull up a chair, Mr. Kibitzer. When good fellows get together, they’re apt to take their time. Mr. Stalin’s smile is enigmatic but expensive. Mr. Willkie’s is as sunny as that of a child.

As the game progresses, however, we may look for a slight change in the mien of Stalin. Mr. Stalin knows men like nobody’s business. He has coped with them all from Tōjō to Franklin, from Adolf to sunny Winston.

But in his lexicon, one word has been left out. He should have learned it. It would have served him in this game.

The word is “Hoosier.” Indiana Hoosier. In this game he may learn the meaning of that word.

“Hoosier” is that plus element in a Yankee. It is that added “R” in American. It is that quality that can outsmart, that can out-smile, that can out-believe, and so can outlast, any antagonism. It combines naïveté with complicity; distrust with abounding faith. It is unlickable for the simple reason that it never knows when it’s licked.

Yes, that might be a pretty good game to watch. A game played by two kinds of men – deep-dyed men, shrewd as sin, smart as Satan, deep as the deepest well, and both possessed of vision dazzling as the sun.

Tartar and Hoosier! A good game to watch.


Communications union endorses Roosevelt

Kansas City, Missouri (UP) –
The American Communications Association today became the first Congress of Industrial Organizations international union to go on record as favoring a fourth term for President Roosevelt.

Joseph P. Selly, president of the ACA, said he believed the national CIO organization and Philip Murray, its president, would take similar action within two or three months.


New Deal wins special vote in Oklahoma

Democratic candidate has lead of 3,642

Muskogee, Oklahoma (UP) –
Democrat William G. Stigler, running under New Deal colors, won the special election in Oklahoma’s traditionally-Democratic 2nd Congressional district yesterday by a margin that approaches 4,000 voters, incomplete and unofficial returns disclosed today.

With returns from all but 12 of the district’s 331 precincts tabulated, the vote stood:

Stigler (D) 21,806
Clark (R) 18,164

Only returns from isolated rural districts remained to be reported.

Mr. Stigler’s plurality of 3,642 is being compared with the 380-vote margin by which Democrat Jack Nichols, who later resigned, won the seat in 1942. Clark was also his opponent.

Mr. Stigler’s election gave the Democrats a seven-to-one margin in House members from Oklahoma. Rep. Ross Rizley, of the 8th district, is the only Republican.

A temporary gain

It also strengthened, but only temporarily, the margin of Democratic Party strength in the House. It gave the Democrats 217 seats against 210 for the Republicans and four for minor parties, with four vacancies. But today Rep. Domengeaux (D-LA) resigned to enter the Army, again raising the number of vacancies to five and reducing the number of Democratic seats to 216.

The election was considered a clear-cut test of New Deal sentiment in Oklahoma and was watched closely by political leaders as a possible barometer for the presidential election in November.

National talent called in

The personalities of Mr. Stigler and Mr. Clark, neighbors in Stigler, Oklahoma, were all but submerged by the array of political talent that participated in the campaign.

Senator Alben W. Barkley, Senate Majority Leader, climaxed the campaign for Mr. Stigler while Mr. Clark’s drive was led by Senator E. H. Moore Jr. (R-OK), with the help of Senator W. Lee O’Daniel (D-TX) who urged the voters to “kick out” the New Deal, and the indirect aid of Governor John W. Bricker of Ohio who was also stumping Oklahoma on behalf of how own candidacy for the GOP presidential nomination.


Left-wingers win in New York vote

New York (UP) –
Left-wing elements, which won control of the American Labor Party in yesterday’s New York State primary elections, moved today to restore harmony in the party’s split ranks.

Immediately after the right wing conceded defeat last night, Sidney Hillman, left-wing leader, made a plea for unity in the party which holds the balance of political power in the state.

Left-wing forces claimed more than 600 of the 750 places on the state committee, governing body of the party.

Called Communist victory

Alex Rose and Dr. George S. Counts, right-wing leaders, in conceding defeat on the basis of incomplete returns, issued a joint statement saying:

The Browder-Hillman coalition won the primaries. The Communists who controlled Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens have now extended their control to the whole party. From now on, the American Labor Party will be controlled by Earl Browder [head of the Communist Party USA] no matter who will be put up as its fronts.

We have no regrets. We fought a good fight for great principles.

Dewey and Roosevelt

Voting in Republican and Democratic primaries was light. The Republicans elected 85 district delegates, and alternates to their national presidential nominating convention; the Democrats 86.

Of the Republican delegates, a majority was said to favor Governor Thomas E. Dewey as a presidential candidate.

On the Democratic side, most delegates favored President Roosevelt for a fourth term.


Dewey urges fight against antisemitism

New York (UP) –
Governor Thomas E. Dewey yesterday warned that the American people must combat “antisemitism within,” if the Nazis and what they represent are to be defeated.

The Governor, here to cast his ballot in the state primary elections, made his statement to the American Federation of Polish Jews as he accepted a copy of its book describing Nazi atrocities against the Jews of Poland.

Mr. Dewey said:

We as a people are spending the blood of our soldiers and our substance in the fight against these beasts, but we must do more. We must strengthen ourselves against antisemitism within and we must extend to the victims abroad every kind of help, both spiritual and physical.


Dewey reiterates charge

New York (UP) –
Governor Thomas E. Dewey, replying to a charge by Secretary of State Cordell Hull that he was “100% wrong” in accusing the administration of inducing the British to censor news for the U.S. contended today that “the record speaks for itself.”

The New York Governor said yesterday:

American correspondents’ stories, especially diplomatic stories, have been repeatedly withheld.

Mr. Dewey, here to vote in the state primary election, declined to discuss further Mr. Hull’s assertion made in Washington Monday, and declared that, “I am not going to get into a public debate with Mr. Hull.


Tobin backs 4th term

Indianapolis, Indiana (UP) –
Daniel J. Tobin, president of the Teamsters Union (AFL) today endorsed President Roosevelt for a fourth term. Mr. Tobin said:

No other Democrat can be elected and even with President Roosevelt running, it will be difficult for many of those on the same ticket to be reelected.


Stokes: Quiet campaign

By Thomas L. Stokes

Milwaukee, Wisconsin –
If the mood of the people here is any guide, political campaigning in this critical war year is likely to be subdued and restrained.

This is an observation from watching Wendell L. Willkie’s campaign here for convention delegates to be elected in the April primary.

He has spoken to dozens of audiences. His hearers have been attentive rather than noisy and exuberant.

Wisconsin people are not, by and large, of emotional caliber. But there seems to be a deeper seriousness in their attitude. There is little hurrah and excitement, even though Mr. Willkie is not holding himself in. He discarded, after his first two formal speeches, the use of prepared manuscripts, and is speaking extemporaneously, and, in his best, he has power to lift an audience.

He never was better nor more effective in his platform manner in the opinion of this writer who followed him throughout his 1940 campaign.

But the blanket of war seems to have dropped down to muffle the usual sound and fury of political campaigns.

Servicemen not interested

You can see why when you look over the audiences. They are mostly middle-aged and old people who have other things on their minds now – those boys far off fighting somewhere.

Incidentally, the audiences are devoid of men in the service, those at home on furlough – and you see them in the streets – prefer apparently the more delectable pleasures of home, the girl on the sofa, or across the table at the cocktail bar.

The war hangs over everything.

All this leads one to wonder whether, in these times, there will be much sympathy for a type of political campaigning in which some Republican leaders of the old school seem ready to indulge themselves, a type of campaigning that Mr. Willkie has denounced.

This is the exploiting of the necessary sacrifices on the home front, what Mr. Willkie called “seeking to build strength on the people’s transitory wartime complaints and discontents,” and appealing to groups of nationals of other countries here who may be discomfited by some phase of foreign policy affecting their homeland, such as the Irish and the Poles.

Invitation to defeat

Mr. Willkie struck at such tactics as unworthy of the Republican Party. They will invite defeat, he said, and if the party resorts to them, it deserves defeat.

National Republican Chairman Harrison Spangler has predicted that nationality groups in this country would desert the Democratic Party in large numbers because of administration policies affecting smaller nations, and National Committeeman Werner W. Schroeder of Illinois has stressed taxes, rationing, and wartime regimentation.

Typical excerpts of Mr. Schroeder’s speech follow:

America today is bound in the chains of taxes and bureaucracy. The tax collector is the most grasping partner in every business; the greediest eater at every table; the most expensive child in every household.

With him, as the unbidden guest of every American, is his blood brother, that son of the New Deal, the bureaucrat. He is with you at every meal, telling you what coffee, sugar, bacon, canned goods and other foods you can and cannot consume.

He prescribes the shows you buy and the cut of your suit. He limits your tires and gasoline, while Lend-Leasing it to all the world–

The Pittsburgh Press (March 30, 1944)


In Washington –
Soldier vote may go into law unsigned

Bill may not get President’s signature

Washington (UP) –
Indications mounted today that President Roosevelt will let the soldier vote bill become a law without his signature.

The President has until midnight tomorrow to act. He has three choices – he may sign it, veto it, or let it become a law without his signature.

Expectations that he will take the last course were strengthened by the fact that Congress intends to hold an unusual Saturday session this week.

The decision to meet Saturday, instead of starting the Easter recess this afternoon as planned, was made by Senate Democratic Leader Alben W. Barkley of Kentucky. He told reporters he did not know which course the President would take.

Senator Barkley declared:

I have not discussed his action with him at all. We will stay in session only to keep open all three courses of possible action.

Political observers believed that if the President decides to let the bill become law without his signature, the decision would be based on his desire to do everything possible to facilitate soldier voting despite his dissatisfaction with the bill’s limitations on use of a simplified federal ballot.


Editorial: Insidious stuff

All those who have been holding up a moistened finger to the wind profess to detect a determined slump in Democratic prestige for the coming election.

There is evidence to support the view that the fourth-term candidacy will have a harder row to hoe than the third-term candidacy.


Some Republicans seem anxious to make out the best possible case against themselves and their party.

There are numerous examples, but one of the best was the recent speech of Werner W. Schroder, Republican National Committeeman from Illinois. Mr. Schroeder was the man picked by Col. McCormick, the great Chicago rabble-rouser, for national chairman, but Wendell Willkie upset that plan.

In a radio broadcast, Mr. Schroeder attacked the OPA, the burden of his speech being that rationing is being forced on us by New Deal bureaucrats who propose to imprison the whole country in a straitjacket so they may better impose their political “whims” on the people.

Mr. Schroeder, speaking of the bureaucrat, said:

He is with you at every meal telling you what coffee, sugar, bacon and canned goods you can consume. He prescribes the shows you buy and the cut of your suit. He limits your tires and gasoline, while Lend-Leasing it to all the world.

If that’s the kind of insidious stuff the Republicans plan to use, they’ll succeed only in making the most bureaucratic bureaucrat look like a statesman by comparison.


Willkie flays backroom boys

Superior, Wisconsin (UP) –
Wendell L. Willkie was scheduled to end his two-week pre-primary tour of Wisconsin here today after blasting the “backroom boys” of the Republican Party who threatened to make the New Deal the “lesser of two evils” facing the nation in the November election.

Mr. Willkie told an Eau Clair, Wisconsin, audience last night that certain factions of the GOP “think you can be elected by telling one group one thing and another group something else.”

Stumping the state in support of 24 delegates pledged to him in Tuesday’s primary, Mr. Willkie demanded that the Republican Party and its leaders “take an affirmative stand on the issues of the house because when confronted by the lesser of these two evils, the people will continue to vote for the New Deal” rather than an undecided GOP.

He said:

The Republican Party is entitled to leadership. I would be ashamed to lead a party made up of Gerald Smiths, a party with no guts, whose leaders don’t want to be men when men are dying for us.

Earlier, Mr. Willkie told audiences at Chippewa Falls and Menomonie that “the very men who hate the administration so much that they cannot see its good points are actually proving to be its best friends.”

He said:

These men and these forces, such as The Chicago Tribune and the Hearst papers, hate the administration so much that they advocate always-negative policies which prevent the people from removing the New Deal from leadership.


Stokes: Third party

By Thomas L. Stokes

Madison, Wisconsin –
Typical of the times, the La Follette Progressive Party which dominated this state so completely a few years back is suffering now – at least temporarily – the usual fate of third parties when everybody has a job and there is no economic discontent.

Coming to its 10th anniversary which it celebrates in May, the party is weak and torn by factional strife.

Beyond its lack of a major economic issue, on which it flourished in the depression years and some time afterward, the party now is sharply divided on issues growing from the war. One faction clings to the isolationist tradition handed down by the elder La Follette to his two sons, Robert M. Jr., and Philip; the other is breaking away toward a program of international cooperation. The schism nurtures some bitterness.

The party reached its heyday, when Phil sat in the governor’s chair here a few years back. It controlled the legislature and had an effective machine down through state officers. Bob, then a Senator as now, had a close working alliance with the New Deal that supplied patronage and prestige.

Phil now with MacArthur

Today it has only 13 out of 100 members of the Assembly and six out of the 33 members of the Senate. Two of its leading members in the legislature switched to the Republican Party two years ago, and more are expected to join the exodus this year. Phil is on Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s staff in the Pacific. Bob is no longer so cozy with the administration.

What is happening to the Progressive Party has occurred in other third party and independent political movements in what was formerly known as “the radical frontier,” including Minnesota with its once-powerful Farmer-Labor Party and North Dakota with its Non-Partisan League.

The twin personalities, Phil and his older brother Bob, have held the Progressive Party together in a dual leadership. Phil tried a few years ago to branch out with a national Progressive Party, but it failed. He was defeated for governor and went into law practice.

In the tense days of debate before Pearl Harbor, he spoke all over the country under the auspices of America First, trying to stem the surge toward war. Then he went into the Army. He had served overseas in World War I.

Keeping hands off primary

The Progressive Party is keeping hands off officially in the presidential primary which culminates in next Tuesday’s election of convention delegates.

Very likely the Progressives will split their votes among the four candidates: Wendell Willkie, Governor Thomas E. Dewey, Gen. MacArthur and LtCdr. Harold E. Stassen. Some may vote for the Roosevelt slate of delegates in the Democratic primary.

What about the Progressive Party in the November election, and what about its future?

One thing is certain! There will be no formal alliance with the Democrats behind President Roosevelt as in the past. One authority told me that more Progressives would vote Republican than Democratic this fall. Bob La Follette is not up for reelection this year.

The Progressive Party may be in only a temporary slump. It is not wise, one is warned, to count it out.

Furthermore, it is pointed out that in the post-war period there are likely to be pressing economic issues which the party can capitalize to draw a clear line between itself and Democrats and Republicans. The Democratic Party is a third part in this state, and perhaps will continue to be.

Message to Congress by President Roosevelt on a Bill to Facilitate Voting by Members of the Armed Forces
March 31, 1944


To the Congress:

I am permitting S. 1285, entitled “An Act to facilitate voting, in time of war, by members of the land and naval forces, members of the merchant marine, and others, absent from the place of their residence, and to amend the Act of September 16, 1942, and for other purposes,” to become law without my signature.

The bill is, in my judgment, wholly inadequate to assure to servicemen and women as far as is practically feasible the same opportunity which they would have to vote if they were at home.

Because of the confusing provisions of the bill and because of the difficulty of knowing just what will be the practical effect of the bill in operation, it is impossible for me to determine whether in fact more servicemen and women will be able to vote under the new measure than under existing law. That determination will largely depend upon the extent to which the states cooperate to make the measure as effective as its provisions permit. In view of this situation, I have resolved the doubt in favor of the action taken by the Congress, and am permitting the bill to become law without my approval.

In other words, this bill might fairly be called a standing invitation to the several states to make it practicable for their citizens to vote: in this sense the Congress is placing a certain responsibility on each state for action. But it will, of course, be understood by those in the armed services, who want to vote but cannot, that the Congress itself shares the responsibility through the complexities of this bill.

The issue regarding soldiers’ voting has been confused. The issue is not whether soldiers should be allowed to vote a full ballot, including state and local offices, or a short ballot confined to federal offices. I am, and always have been, anxious to have the federal government do everything within its power compatible with military operations to get the full state ballots to the men and women in the service. I always have been, and I am now, anxious to have the states do everything within their power to get the full state ballots to the men and women in the service.

The real issue is whether after the states have done all that they are willing to do to get the full state ballots to the men and women in the service, and after the federal government has done everything within its power to get the full state ballots delivered to the men and women in the service, those who have not received their full state ballots should be given the right to cast a short, uniform federal ballot which can readily be made available to them. This right which should be assured to all men and women in the service, is largely nullified by the conditions which the provisions of this bill attach to its exercise.

In my judgment, the right of a soldier to vote the federal ballot if he does not receive in time his state ballot should not be conditioned, as it is by this bill, upon his having made a prior application for a state ballot, or upon the prior certification by the Governor of the state that the federal ballot is acceptable under state law. This bill provides a federal ballot but because of these conditions, it does not provide the right to vote.

The federal government will and should do everything it can to get the state ballots to our men and women in the service. But it is not in my judgment true, as some have contended, that the federal government can assure the use of state ballots as readily as the use of federal ballots. No matter what effort the federal government makes, in many cases it will not be possible to ensure the delivery in time of state ballots to designated individuals all over the world or their return in time to the respective states.

Some of the servicemen and women, not knowing where they will be a month hence or whether they will be alive, will not apply for their ballots. Others will not receive their state ballots in time or be able to get their ballots back to their states in time. Remember that a number of states still require a special form of application and that the postal card application forms supplied by the federal government are only treated as an application for an application for a state ballot.

The federal government can ensure, and in my judgment, it is the duty of the federal government to ensure, that every serviceman and woman who does not get his state ballot in time shall have the right to use a short and uniform federal ballot.

It is in my judgment within the authority of the Congress to use its war powers to protect the political rights of our servicemen and women to vote for federal offices as well as their civil rights with respect to their jobs and their homes. If Congress did not hesitate to protect their property rights by legislation which affected state law, there is no reason why Congress should hesitate to protect their political rights.

In 1942, Congress did exercise the war powers to provide federal war ballots and they were counted in almost every state. What was constitutional in 1942, certainly is not unconstitutional in 1944.

In allowing the bill to become law, I wish to appeal to the states, upon whom the Congress has placed the primary responsibility for enabling our service people to vote, to cooperate to make the bill as fully effective as its defective provisions will allow. The response of the Governors to my questions, and reports made to me by the War Department, indicate that many states have not yet taken action to make the bill as fully effective as it could be and that a considerable number of states do not presently contemplate taking such action.

I wish also to appeal to the Congress to take more adequate action to protect the political rights of our men and women in the service.

It is right and necessary that the states do all in their power to see that the state ballots reach the men and women in the service from their states. In particular, I appeal to them to see that their state laws allow sufficient time between the time that their absentee ballots are available for distribution and the time that they must be returned to be counted.

I also appeal to the states to see that the postal card application forms for state ballots distributed by the federal government to the troops are treated as a sufficient application for their state ballot and not merely as a request for a formal application for a state ballot.

I also appeal to the states to authorize the use of the federal ballots by all service people from their states who have not received their state ballots before an appropriate date, whether or not they have formally applied for them. no state or federal red tape should take from our young folk in the service their right to vote.

I further appeal to the Congress to amend the present bill, S. 1285, so as to authorize all servicemen and women, who have not received their state ballots by an appropriate date, whether or not they have formally applied for them, to use the federal ballot without prior express authorization by the states. If the states do not accept the federal ballot, that will be their responsibility. Under this bill, that responsibility is shared by the Congress.

Our boys on the battlefronts must not be denied an opportunity to vote simply because they are away from home. They are at the front fighting with their lives to defend our rights and our freedoms. We must assure them their rights and freedoms at home so that they will have a fair share in determining the kind of life to which they will return.

The Pittsburgh Press (March 31, 1944)


Soldier vote bill to become law

Roosevelt refuses to sign measure

Washington (UP) –
President Roosevelt notified Congress today that he would allow the soldier vote bill to become a law without his signature, although it is “wholly inadequate” to assure servicemen and women a “feasible” opportunity to vote.

In a message to the House, Mr. Roosevelt also appealed to Congress “to take more adequate action to protect the political rights of our men and women in the service.” And he urged the states “to make the bill as fully effective as its defective provisions will allow.”

The bill provides for an abbreviated federal war ballot which may be used only by service personnel overseas.

Use restricted

But it further provides that these ballots may be used only if they are acceptable to the states and only if the individuals certify that they have asked for, but have not received, regular absentee ballots from their home states.

The federal ballot would allow votes only for President, Vice President, Senator and Representative.

The bill will become law at midnight tonight. To permit this, Congress had to defer its Easter vacation, which had been scheduled to start yesterday. Both Houses will hold perfunctory sessions tomorrow.

Further action doubted

If they had begun their recess before midnight tonight, the bill would have died under the “pocket veto” provisions of the Constitution.

It was considered most unlikely that Congress would take any further action on soldier vote legislation as urged by the President.

The President charged in his message that the bill could “fairly” be called nothing more than “a standing invitation to the several states to make it practicable for their citizens to vote.”

Congress, in passing the bill, placed a certain responsibility on each state for action, Mr. Roosevelt said, and those in the Armed Forces “who want to vote, but cannot” would understand that “the Congress itself shares the responsibility through the complexities of this bill.”

‘Wholly inadequate’

He said:

The bill is, in my judgment, wholly inadequate to assure to servicemen and women as far as is practically feasible the same opportunity which they would have to vote if they were at home.

Because of the confusing provisions of the bill and because of the difficulty of knowing just what will be the practical effect of the bill in operation, it is impossible for me to determine whether in fact more servicemen and women will be able to vote under the new measure than under existing law.

That determination will largely depend upon the extent to which the states cooperate to make the measure as effective as its provisions permit. In view of this situation, I have resolved the doubt in favor of the action taken by the Congress, and am permitting the bill to become law without my approval.

State aid asked

“No state or federal red tape should take from our young folk in the service their right to vote,” Mr. Roosevelt said in appealing further for individual state action to authorize the use of federal ballots.

He asked Congress to enact an amendment to the bill to authorize members of the Armed Forces who have not received their state ballots by a certain time, whether or not they have formally applied for them, to use the federal ballot without prior express authorization by the states.

‘Defending our rights’

He said:

If the states do not accept the federal ballot, that will be their responsibility. Under this bill, that responsibility is shared by the Congress.

Our boys on the battlefronts must not be denied an opportunity to vote simply because they are away from home. They are at the front fighting with their lives to defend our rights and our freedoms. We must assure them their rights and freedoms at home so that they will have a fair share in determining the kind of life to which they will return.

Prior to deciding what to do with the bill, Mr. Roosevelt canvassed governors of all the states about whether their state laws permit use of the federal ballot and if not, whether they planned to seek legislation to validate the ballots.

Seven states accept

He said in his message today that replies indicated many states have not taken action to legalize the federal ballots, and many states plan no such action.

Out of the 48 replies, only seven states said definitely they would accept the federal ballot; 18 said they would not accept it; five said they probably would not; one accepted conditionally; 14 promised to make an effort to legalize the federal ballot, and three were undecided.


Dewey assailed in union probe

Governor accused of ‘soft-pedalling’

Washington (UP) –
Governor Thomas E. Dewey of New York was accused today of “soft-pedalling” an investigation of international officers of the Hod Carriers’ Union (AFL), who were indicted here Wednesday on charges of misappropriating union funds.

The charges against Governor Dewey were made by Frederick W. Dusing of Newburgh, New York, business agent of Hod Carriers’ Local 17 which last June obtained an injunction in New York Supreme Court against the international union and its officers.

Earlier probe cited

Pointing out that Governor Herbert H. Lehman had directed the New York Attorney General to conduct an investigation in February 1942, Mr. Dusing said that when Governor Dewey assumed office, “he soft-pedalled the investigation and it now appears to have been completely killed on the eve of sensational disclosures.”

Mr. Dusing said the indictments here coupled with the New York Supreme Court’s action constituted a “tremendous blow against this vicious and powerful labor racket.”

Bonds posted

Meanwhile, Joseph V. Moreschi, President of the International Hod Carriers’, and 11 others named in Wednesday’s indictment were under $1,500-$2,000 bond here to appear for arraignment next week.

The defendants were accused of conspiring to embezzle union funds up to $500,000.

Still missing, however, was Larry Kelly, former treasurer of the Building Committee of Local 74, Washington affiliate of the union, who disappeared several months ago while a special grand jury was looking into the Hod Carriers’ affairs.