Today is World Photography Day, and thus a good day to revive A View to Hugh. During the past year and a half, I needed to take a hiatus from this blog because it was close to impossible to write posts while working from home. A few days ago I returned to working inside Wilson Library (that is, not from home) where I now have regular access to the Morton collection and, in some ways even more importantly, research material to consult when writing the stories that accompany Morton’s photographs. I’m still getting settled into a new office within the building, so this will not be a long post . . . just something to say the blog is still alive.
I hope you have an opportunity to make a photograph on this annual celebration. If you post a photograph to a social media platform, remember tag it #WorldPhotographyDay. If you are not making a photograph, but would like to explore the world using your computer, you may browse the online collection of Morton’s photographs by location, including nearly 150 images from the South Pacific.
The controversy between isolationists and interventionists became an unusually rugged affair with no holds barred on either side. . . . The name-calling, mud-slinging, and smearing on both sides made the foreign policy debate a poor place for the sensitive or fainthearted. Each side welcomed almost any chance to discredit the opposition.
—Wayne S. Cole in Gerald P. Nye and American Foreign Relations
It was Armistice Day—Tuesday, 11 November 1941— and United States Senator Gerald P. Nye’s speech at the University of North Carolina, announced to the student body that day—was still a week away. Despite the frivolity of Sadie Hawkins Day events during the weekend, peace was not on the horizon. In the opening sentence of his front-page article of The Daily Tar Heel, writer Paul Komisaruk predicted the nature of the upcoming event:
National politics and policies erupt from the Memorial hall rostrum next Tuesday night as North Dakota’s Old Guard isolationist, Senator Gerald P. Nye, attacks New Deal measures before a Chapel Hill audience under the auspices of the CPU [Carolina Political Union].
On that same November 11th evening, Vichy France‘s ambassador to the United States, Gaston Henry-Haye, was the International Relations Club (IRC) speaker at Memorial Hall. Appointed by Chief of State Philippe Pétain in 1940, it was to be Henry-Haye’s “first public proclamation” since his appointment. The tone on campus had been and continued to be antagonistic. The DTH editorial column, titled “Carolina’s Free Speech Continues,” asked that
. . . students who are antagonistic to the ambassador and what he stands for, refrain from showing him anything but the strictest courtesy throughout his address and the open forum. Carolina’s tradition of freedom of expression is too old now to be violated by one night’s rudeness.
Two thousand people attended the speech. There were signs of apprehension during the day, but Henry-Haye’s primary talking point was publicizing the need for aid for the French people, a topic he discussed the previous day with President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Secretary of State Cordell Hull. When asked a confrontational question by a “loquacious” student—”everyone knows the glory of France, but how do you explain Pétain’s alliance with Hitler?”—during an open forum in Graham Memorial after his speech, the audience was “immediately aroused to loud comments and mixed approval and disapproval.” To end the “disorder,” the ambassador took to the microphone and declared, “The answer is too easy. Your comments are not true.”
The United Press account of Henry-Haye’s speech noted his call for a release of French funds frozen by the United States in order to purchase food and clothing for the French living in regions occupied by Germany who were “threatened to perish from starvation,” and for 1.5 million French prisoners. Roosevelt, for his part on that Armistice Day, spoke at Arlington Cemetery, alluding to the current war in Europe while reminding his audience of the reasons America entered into the European War in 1917. Roosevelt quoted the highly decorated World War I soldier Alvin “Sergeant” York: “The thing [people questioning America’s involvement in Word War I] forget is that liberty and freedom and democracy are so very precious that you do not fight to win them once and stop. Liberty and freedom and democracy are prizes awarded only to those peoples who fight to win them and then keep fighting eternally to hold them.”
During the fall semester of 1941, the University of North Carolina’s student-run Carolina Political Union (CPU) had thrice tried to bring Nye to campus, each thwarted by his senatorial duties negating their plans. Nye’s outspoken isolationist views aroused “constant bitter attacks by both opposing forces” in Washington D. C., leading “observers on the campus to doubt the wisdom of promoting additional ‘hatred spreading material.'”
On November 13, five days before Nye’s visit, a DTH headline noted that “Verbal Onslaughts” had been prepared for Nye by campus organizations, and that opposition to Nye was anticipated to “manifest itself vigorously.” Several professors and students were unwilling to have the campus serve as a platform for “bigotry and hatred.” Nye was seen as the “backbone of Congressional opposition to New Deal measures” and as unwilling to “disassociate himself with the ‘fascist elements of the America First committee.'” On that same day, Congress passed legislation that amended the Neutrality Act, permitting U. S. merchant ships to enter war zones.
Nye had been to UNC once before on March 17, 1937, also as a guest of the CPU. His talk was titled, “Preparedness for Peace.” The Daily Tar Heel characterized Nye as a “progressive Republican.” He was an advocate for American neutrality in the burgeoning European War, “to guide us and to make it less easy to be drawn into other people’s wars as has been the case in the past.” Among his points, Nye referred to an amendment then under consideration that “says that when the question of participation in a foreign war arises in this country, the question shall be decided by the people in a duly qualified referendum.” Nye was referring to an amendment to the Neutrality Act of 1935, which evolved during hearings of the Special Committee on Investigation of the Munitions Industry” which he chaired and became known as the “Nye Committee.” President Roosevelt led an effort to amend the act, passing The Neutrality Act of 1939 in November that repealed the previous law. Roosevelt and others continued to chip away at the act for the next two years.
Nye’s November 1941 trip to Chapel Hill was one of many he undertook throughout the country sponsored by the America First Committee, a movement to counter the efforts to repeal the Neutrality Act. The America First Committee formed during September 1940, growing out of a student group formed at Yale University. It formally announced its existence on September 4, comprised mostly of midwestern business and political leaders, with headquarters in Chicago. Its financial support came mostly from the conservative wing of noninterventionists. America First Committee’s tenets were:
keep America out of foreign wars;
preserve and extend democracy at home;
keep American naval convoys and merchant ships on the western side of the Atlantic Ocean;
build a defense for American shores; and
give humanitarian aid to people in occupied countries.
Nye’s involvement The America First Committee took the form of speeches, ramping up his activity during the summer and autumn of 1941. Nye and the committee’s efforts, however, could not hold sway. On October 9, Roosevelt once again urged Congress to repeal the Neutrality Act. On October 29th, Nye delivered a major address on the Senate floor against the president’s call. Two days later the Germans torpedoed the American destroyer USS Reuben James. It was the first loss of an American military ship. As a result, on November 13 the United States House of Representatives narrowly approved, by a 212-194 vote, a revision to the Neutrality Act of 1939. That same day, The Daily Tar Heel wrote again about Nye’s upcoming visit to campus. An article in The Statesville Daily Record on November 14 also announced Nye’s appearance in Memorial Hall, in which the head of the Carolina Political Union, Ridley Whitaker, said the CPU invited Nye “because regardless of how we may feel about his views, we must recognize the fact that he definitely represents a viewpoint.”
American political milestones and European military events continued to unfold. Roosevelt signed the repeal legislation on November 17, the day before Nye’s speech in Chapel Hill. Nonetheless, as The Daily Tar Heel headline had predicted, Nye faced a jam-packed auditorium with an audience that listened to “the fiery Dakotan on tenterhooks.” After Nye concluded, attendees released “alternating waves of boos, cheers, and hisses.” The following morning, The Daily Tar Heel headlines read, “Stormy Verbal Onslaught” and “Spontaneous Outbursts Threaten Real Disorder.” During his speech, the senator “vigorously maintained that ‘propaganda of the most criminal order has been practiced and lack of frankness by American leaders and downright deception have brought the United States to the brink of war.” After his uninterrupted speech, audience members “flung questions at the rostrum in quick, violent succession.”
Just three weeks later, all the contentious debate became moot. The America First Committee held its last meeting in Pittsburgh on 7 December 1941—as Japan simultaneously bombed Pearl Harbor.
For more on Senator Gerald P. Nye, see Wayne S. Cole’s Senator Gerald P. Nye and American Foreign Relations, published by the University of Minnesota Press in 1962.
On September 23, 1942—the first day of classes at UNC—when students picked up their copies of The Daily Tar Heel they would see the headline “Wartime Carolina Opens Doors on 149th Year.” As they scanned down the page they would also read another headline: “Morton, Yackety Yack Head, Leaves Post for US Army.” In the spring elections, students had voted Morton to be the editor of their yearbook; now Morton was “the first case of a student entering the army forces to hit Carolina publications.” Last year’s Veterans Day post took a brief look at that DTH article, his draft registration card, and information about his enlistment on October 5.
Before leaving for the South Pacific, Morton was primarily stationed at Camp Davis near Wilmington. The Army assigned Morton to the antiaircraft artillery school photography lab. Morton’s photography managed to find its way into a new publication: The AAA Barrage, the camp’s newspaper. Most photographers did not receive credit for images that appeared in The AAA Barrage. At most, the paper identified the military unit in a credit line. Here’s one example of a possible unaccredited Morton photograph:
Those of you who have been to the Hugh Morton retrospective exhibition might recognize the photograph above, where the person depicted is not identified. Actually it is not the exact same image, but it’s a variant. In the course of putting together this blog post I found this photograph in The AAA Barrage. Here’s how we printed a very similar negative for the exhibition: The good news is that even if the published image was by another photographer standing next to Morton, we now know the soldier’s name: Vic Costello, former All America football player at Auburn.
Morton’s spectacular photograph during a nighttime firing of an anti-aircraft gun, however, merited acknowledgment. One of Morton’s assignments at Camp Davis was to cover a night training exercise of the First Composite British Antiaircraft battery. A unit of about 400 British troops toured American army bases, the first (and longest) being at Camp Davis. They arrived in mid July 1943. An article in The AAA Barrage noted that the purpose of their trip was “not so much to display British equipment with which the American Army is familiar, as to demonstrate the methods adopted in the British Army of training, of drill and of tactical employment.” One of Morton’s photographs appeared with credit in the caption in the August 7, 1943 edition of The AAA Barrage.
At this time of danger each American must ask himself each day not what he can get from his country but what he can give to his country, and must ask himself each night: “Have I given enough?”
—William C. Bullitt, 7 January 1941
Eleven months to the day before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor—William C. Bullitt took to the UNC Memorial Hall rostrum. The audience filled the auditorium to capacity. Fronted by an NBC banner and flanked by two NBC microphones, National Broadcasting Company aired his speech across the nation. Soon thereafter, it traversed the world by shortwave.
William Christian Bullit Jr. isn’t a household name in households today, but it was during his time. Some readers may recognize the surname from the Brinkhous-Bullitt Building on the UNC medical campus, built in 1973 and named in 1983, in part, for James B. Bullitt, who became chair of pathology in 1913. William C. and James B. were cousins, and during his visit the former stayed at the latter’s home in Chapel Hill.
William Bullitt’s biography is much too long and complex for this blog, so please see the bibliography at the end if you want to learn more. Bullitt is the subject of three biographies held by Davis Library. Biographer Michael Cassella-Blackburn called him, “perhaps the most charming, thoughtful, and devious person in the interwar and early postwar years of Soviet–American relations.”
A member of Yale’s class of 1912, Bullit’s classmates voted him their “most brilliant.” He also won two of the student’s most valued social awards—a Phi Beta Kappa key and a membership on the Yale Daily News editorial board. He was also “tapped” for a membership in the secret society Scroll and Key. He was a member of the Mince Pie Club, a forum for wit and satire, along with his close college friend Cole Porter. (Some sources say they co-founded the club, but there was a Hasting Eating and Mince Pie Club in the 1890s, so others can resolve that distinction.) As a student Bullitt also overextended himself so widely that he suffered from exhaustion and had to delay his senior year to recuperate before graduating in 1913.
Bored and tormented while studying law at Harvard in 1914, Bullitt sailed to Europe in June with his mother after the passing of his father in March. They chose to visit Russia and were in Moscow when Serbian Gavrilo Princip assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir presumptive of the Austria–Hungary, and Ferdinand’s wife in Sarajevo. As the events leading to the Great War unfolded, the Bullitts left Moscow and Europe—but not until September, witnessing the early rumblings and preparations of World War I in Warsaw, Berlin, Paris, and London. Those weeks in Europe significantly set the tone for the remainder of his life.
Returning to his hometown of Philadelphia, Bullitt soon obtained a newspaper job at The Public Ledger as a police beat reporter. Bullitt also submitted articles on the war, and their high quality gave rise to a stellar journalistic career—so much so that President Woodrow Wilson solicited his advice on several occasions. In December 1917 Bullitt became assistant secretary of state. In 1919 he was a member of Wilson’s peace conference delegation and the president sent Bullitt to Russia as a special emissary to develop a peace plan with Vladimir Lenin.
In December 1923 Bullitt married Louise Bryant. It was his second marriage, her third. If you have seen the movie Reds (1981) then you may have recognized her name, for her second husband had been journalist John Reed—the couple portrayed by Diane Keaton and Warren Beatty—who wrote on the Russian Revolution as an insider and died in Russia in 1920. During Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s presidency Bullitt became the first United States ambassador to the Soviet Union in 1933, and ambassador to France in 1936.
In late July 1940 FDR asked Bullitt to deliver a foreign policy speech in Philadelphia on August 18th, knowing Bullitt would speak on the growing threat of the European war to the United States. This would afford FDR a chance to asses the national mood.
The Bullitt quote from his call-to-action speech in Chapel Hill that begins this blog post sounds like a harbinger of John F. Kennedy’s inauguration speech twenty years later. In fact, it’s a refinement from Bullit’s Philadelphia address:
When are we going to say to them [the U. S. government] that we don’t want to hear any longer about what we can get from our country, but we do want to hear what we can give to our country?
FDR and Undersecretary of State Sumner Welles vetted Bulliitt’s Philadelphia address, and had two million copies printed for distribution. Essentially he said, “America is in danger.” The isolationist United States Senate pilloried Bullitt. The New York Times applauded. The movement to war soon escalated.
Germany, Italy, and Japan signed the Tripartite Pact on 27 September 1940—just one week after UNC freshman Hugh Morton and fellow students walked onto campus to begin their school year, and only eight days before Roosevelt defeated Wendell Willkie in the presidential election that kept him in the White House for his third term. After the election, Bullitt wrote his version of the customary pro forma, post-election letter of resignation on November 7th, to which Roosevelt replied, “Resignation not accepted.”
Sometime during the fall semester, the UNC students’ International Relations Club, led by president Manfred Rogers, invited Bullitt to speak in Chapel Hill at Memorial Hall. Originally scheduled for December 10th, the December 3rd issue of The Daily Tar Heel announced that Bullitt needed to postpone until January 7th because “of pressing duties in Washington and a physician’s order that he remain inactive for three weeks.”
Behind the scenes, however, other events offer a truer picture. Roosevelt either deliberately or accidentally placed Bullitt in a situation where he decided he had no choice but to announce his resignation as ambassador on November 13th. As Bullitt biographers Brownwel and Billings deduced, “Roosevelt chose to be devious.” Bullitt had come to learn indirectly that FDR was going to appoint Admiral William D. Leahy to the post. Bullitt called the president on November 9th: “I thought you said this afternoon that I was to remain as ambassador to France and go off on holiday until December 15. It’s [the Leahy situation] all over town now and puts me in a fine spot.” FDR replied, “Bill, believe it or not, I forgot all about it. It’s entirely my fault.” On December 28th Bullitt sent a note to Roosevelt asking that his resignation be accepted. On January 7, the day Bulitt spoke at UNC, FDR wrote, “Your letter of resignation as ambassador to France is before me. It is with great reluctance that I accept it.”
As biographer’s Brownell and Billings wrote, “Once Bullitt was cut loose from the government, he spoke out loudly and often, starting at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.”
On Saturday, January 4th, 1941 in the DTH‘s first issue following winter break, one of three top-of-the-page headlines announced, “IRC Makes Extensive Plans For Bullitt Address Tuesday.” In the accompanying article, the IRC disclosed that many prominent North Carolinians would attend, including North Carolina Governor Clyde Hoey; Ambassador to Mexico Josephus Daniels; Henri Haye, French Ambassador to the United States; Jonathan Daniels, editor of The News and Observer, Governor-elect J. M. Broughton; Julian Price, president of Jefferson Standard Life Insurance; [UNC Professor] Archibald Henderson, head of the William Allen White Committee for the Southeast [i.e., southeast chapter of the Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies]; and South Carolina Governor Burnet R. Maybank. Rogers reported that “a majority of 750 invitations mailed to city mayors and chamber of commerce officials over the state had been accepted.” Rogers anticipated a capacity crowd and urged students to arrive early to get good seats, and he expressed their good fortune because Bullitt had selected UNC from among 250 requests from other schools and organizations. A $1.25-a-plate banquet at the Carolina Inn at 7:00 p.m. would precede Bullit’s speech with faculty and a select group of students receiving special invitations. Other students who wanted to attend could contact Rogers. The women’s dormitories house mothers even granted a curfew extension until 11:00 “so that coeds could hear the speech” scheduled to begin at 9:30 (pushed to 10:00 two days later). Rogers said Bullitt’s speech would be so important that photographers from magazines Life and Time and the Associated Press, “together with state photographers, had made plans to take pictures.” (I reviewed issues of Life and Time published shortly after the speech and uncovered no coverage, written or photographic.)
Sunday’s DTH also had a front-page article on the upcoming speech. Rogers stated “that recent reports from Washington” indicated that Bullitt’s talk would compliment FDR’s now-famous “Arsenal of Democracy” fireside chat on national security of December 29th. On the morning of Bullitt’s visit, however, DTH readers learned the topic of the speech would be “America and the War.” Bullitt was “expected to sound out specific administrative aims instead of delivering a Roosevelt-supplementary address” because the night before the president delivered his “Annual Message” to the United States Congress—known today as FDR’s “Four Freedoms” speech. The IRC moved the starting time to 10:00 so that NBC “could air the entire speech,” and dignitaries would now begin their remarks at 9:30. Ironically, state radio stations would not carry the address, but Raleigh’s WPTF would broadcast a transcription later in the evening. Daily Tar Heel Staff Photographer Jack Mitchell got the news assignment, which took him to the airport to capture Bullitt’s arrival with the UNC welcoming committee—and two front-page photographs for the next day’s DTH. Morton, it seems, covered Bullitt’s visit as Photography Editor for Yackety Yack, the UNC student yearbook. Four surviving Morton negatives document the dinner and the speech, one of each event appear in the IRC yearbook section. The DTH reported that Bullitt met with students in the Institute of Government building at 5:30, but no surviving photographs of that event have surfaced in the Morton collection.
What effect did Bullitt’s speech have on UNC students? Here are two perspectives you might want to pursue if this question interests you. The first can be found in the DTH on the Sunday previous to Bullit’s speech. The DTH editorial board, writing under the initials “S. R.” (likely Simons Roof) espoused non-intervention in an editorial titled, “The Shift Toward War”:
As the new year and new quarter begins at Carolina, war threatens to disrupt our scholastic life. Around us begins the great chorus of parrot-tongues — the men who derive their catch-words from such people as William Allen White. . . . But there is another campaign we might make. We might deny that a group of pro-war politicians have the democratic right to say you and I must torture and murder—and be tortured and murdered—in a war where we run the risk of losing everything America has gained. . . You and I are being subjected to the most dangerous war propaganda ever conceived. . . .
The second viewpoint is that of DTH Associate Editor Bill Snider, writing two days after Bullitt’s speech, under the “Light on the Hill” column:
In less than half an hour and in exciting, poetic words Mr. Bullitt began where any ordinary citizen must begin and traced the situation through to its logical conclusion. There was nothing to obstruct, nothing to confuse. Everywhere the statement was cryptic, dynamic, thought-provoking. . . . There had been nothing very startling in all the vibrant words. . . With clarity and imagination they helped explain the rapidly consolidating vanguard of American public opinion. Most importantly, however, though these words advanced the procession little, they bluntly told America where she stands now, and at this moment this is certainly what America wants to know more than anything else. For these qualities, then, William C. Bullitt’s address in Chapel Hill at the dawn of 1941 should be remembered.
On this Veterans Day, let’s look at two pieces of Hugh Morton’s early military career: registration and enlistment through records from the National Archives located through a genealogical website. Morton registered for the draft in Wilmington, N. C. at local board No. 2 on February 16, 1942:
Morton’s “Enlistment Date” in the United States Army is October 5, 1942. That information is captured in a database record without a digitized file card as above. According to the database, Morton’s “Enlistment City” was Washington, and “Enlistment State” was District of Columbia. Though technically in his senior year at UNC, he listed his civil occupation as a photographer.
“Morton, Yackety Yack Head, Leaves Post for US Army” read a front-page Daily Tar Heel headline on September 23, 1942—the first issue for the school year. The article notes that “Morton’s inability to return to the University is the first case of a student entering the army forces to hit Carolina publications.” News of his decision had arrived on campus a few days before students started arriving for the new school year. The article also noted that “Morton’s last batch of photographs, taken of the football team several weeks ago, arrived from Wilmington at the University News Bureau several days ago.”
On September 27th, another front-page headline: “Morton Back for Weekend; Photographs Game for DTH.” This article stated Morton “was drafted by the Daily Tar Heel to take pictures of yesterday’s game.” A “Photo by Hugh Morton” action shot from the Wake Forest vs. UNC contest, won by the Tar Heels 6-0, accompanied Sunday’s headline news story. Come Tuesday, September 29th, Morton would be off to the army as a technical sergeant in the photography division.
Hugh Morton was in the Army now.
But how soon will we free Americans forsake the healthy 1914 status for a return to the rapid mobilization of 1917?
—editorial column, The Daily Tar Heel, 15 September 1939
From the standpoint of military remembrances, we are living today within a curious historical alignment: we are amid the final year of the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, which ended in April 1865; we look back 100 years on the start of “The Great War,” which began in the last days of July 1914; and we mark 75 years since the beginning of World War II in September 1939. It is that final conflict that falls within the sphere of Hugh Morton, who 75 years ago today began his first day of classes as a freshman at the University of North Carolina.
Frosh Morton likely would have read the school year’s first issue of The Daily Tar Heel, in which the student newspaper’s editors reprinted one of its articles from 1918 about the first world war and now called for neutrality in the second. In an editorial titled, “The War: Stay Sane; Stay Out of Europe” they wrote,
. . . may the University student body of 1939—well augmented as it is this morning by a heavy influx of new blood, the Men of ’43—steep itself in the attitude of the 1914 group: a general interest in keeping America neutral and uninvolved!
The “Men of ’43,” however, included women. The Daily Tar Heel noted elsewhere that coed registrations had already surpassed 300 women, with the total anticipated to reach 500—a number dwarfed by total registrations expected to reach 3,600.
There are few photographs in the collection from these early days at Chapel Hill, either of or by Hugh Morton, because his camera was stolen soon after he arrived on campus. The group portrait above is one of the few in the collection that depict Morton during this time period. It is not related to the war, but it is interesting to note that Hugh Morton was a sharpshooter with a rifle. Perhaps this posting will lead to some additional identifications and a more precise date. The only clues we have about the above photograph stem from comments made on a post a few years ago about a photograph made around the same time on the Canadian border.
Much like developments between 1914 and 1917, American neutrality ended at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Hugh Morton enlisted in the Army in 1942, and his military service relied on his eye as sharpshooter—not as rifleman, but as a combat movie cameraman.
On this fiftieth anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, A View to Hugh would be remiss without a post about Kennedy. But what to write? JFK has been mentioned or featured several times here, including “A Spark of Greatness,” a four-part series (the link is for part one) related to the presidential and North Carolina gubernatorial race for 1960, and “Memorial for JFK, May 1964” that tells of the ceremony at Kenan Memorial Stadium on 17 May 1964 and Hugh Morton’s chairing the statewide effort to raise funds for North Carolina’s contribution to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library.
An underutilized portion of the Morton collection is the moving image holdings, which are quite extensive. A View to Hugh, however, has yet to include a post that draws on any of the footage . . . until today. The link below leads to about a minute of film (without sound) shot by Hugh Morton: P081_MI_010001 Kennedy Sanford DC Med Res
On 27 April 1961 Morton, as chairman of the Battleship USS North Carolina Commission, made this motion picture footage while visiting President John F. Kennedy at the White House Rose Garden. Morton was part of a delegation that included several North Carolinians: Hargrove “Skipper” Bowles, Jr., director of the state’s Conservation and Development Board; Governor Terry Sanford; United States Secretary of Commerce Luther H. Hodges (the state’s governor prior to Sanford) and United States senators B. Everett Jordan and Sam Ervin, Jr. The footage shows Sanford presenting Kennedy with the first “admiral” certificate in the “North Carolina Navy” as part the fundraising effort to bring the mothballed WWII-era battleship USS North Carolina from New Jersey to Wilmington, N. C. Admirals would be those who donated $100 or more to the effort.
In reality, it was a different framed item altogether. The certificate wasn’t back from the printer in time, so a framed item from the office of White House Press Secretary Pierre Salinger served as a surrogate. Oddly enough, the stand-in certificate was for Salinger’s admiralty in a Flagship Fleet. Kennedy burst into laughter when he caught the substitution.
The larger mission at hand was planning for North Carolina’s Autumn International Trade Fair, then thought likely to be held in Charlotte in October later that year. According to Roy Parker, Jr.’s article the following day in Raleigh’s News and Observer, Kennedy “took time from a fast-paced schedule to promote the fair.” After leaving a top-level National Security Council meeting, Kennedy met briefly with the group inside his office before they stepped outside to the Rose Garden. Kennedy said a few non-committal words of endorsement for the exposition (you can listen to a brief recording from the Kennedy Library website) after Sanford invited Kennedy to attend, because Kennedy would be speaking at UNC Chapel Hill during its University Day celebration on October 12th.
It would seem the battleship commission presentation took place moments after the trade fair promotion. The News and Observer also published a photograph of that presentation, which appeared on page 38.
On January 31st, 1942 Eleanor Roosevelt visited North Carolina, primarily to attend sessions and speak at Memorial Hall on the second of a two-day, jointly sponsored Carolina Political Union–International Student Service Post-War Planning Conference held at the University of North Carolina. As Mrs. Roosevelt wrote in her syndicated column, “My Day“:
We had a delightful luncheon at Chapel Hill with President and Mrs. Frank Graham and their guests, heard Miss Harriet Elliott, Dean of the Woman’s College at Greensboro, make an excellent talk before the delegates of the 32 colleges, who had gathered at Chapel Hill under the auspices of the Carolina Political Union and the International Student Service for a two day conference. It was nice to find that both Miss Louise Morley, Conference Secretary of the I.S.S., and Miss Jane Seaver of OCD, had made real friends among so many students from various colleges, who spoke to me about them with real appreciation.
Jane Seaver and I attended one of the forum discussion groups in the afternoon. I saw an excellent civilian defense information service setup in the college library, a very good local defense council control center in the town, had tea at the Presbyterian Church parlor with a number of the delegates, dined in the college cafeteria and spoke and answered questions in the auditorium in the evening, at a meeting which Governor and Mrs. Broughton also attended.
Two uncredited photographs of Mrs. Roosevelt appeared in The Daily Tar Heel the following day, plus a photograph of a speaker from the previous day. There are eighteen negatives in the Morton collection related to Mrs. Roosevelt’s visit to UNC, including both of the images published in the DTH (which are are not currently in the online collection), so they are represented here in “A View to Hugh.” The lead photograph above is presented as published by the DTH. Here is the full view:
Below is the second Morton photograph of Mrs. Roosevelt published in the DTH, followed by the full negative:
Notice how the cropping almost entirely eliminates the woman walking behind Whitaker?
Today’s post picks up the storyline—begun on 7 December 2011 with the post, Date of Infamy—about the days on the University of North Carolina campus that followed the bombing of Pearl Harbor, as seen through the lens of then student photographer Hugh Morton.
On Sunday morning, December 7th, 1941 the major news story of the day—the outbreak of war on America—was still unfolding and unprinted. War, however, was not absent from American students’ minds. From the first day of classes in late September, currents of war wove through the pages of UNC’s student newspaper The Daily Tar Heel (DTH). In its first issue for the school year, the editors, led by Orville Campbell, wrote in their editorial column, “Today the oceans that surround us are no longer barriers, but highways of invasion. Today we have been aroused to a wartime pitch by propaganda that is as skillful as it is deadly and effective.” A week prior to the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, the International Relations Club announced that it would be conducting five Gallop intercollegiate polls on campus during the remainder of 1941 and 1942. In the announcement the DTH noted that initial findings from the first poll showed that “the nation’s undergraduates were still isolationists, but ‘no longer can they be considered as balking idealists trying to hold against the tide of events.'” By day’s end on December 7th, the tidal wave of war struck at Oahu.
One of the top headlines in the December 7th DTH announced that Louis Harris was named student coordinator for the campus morale drive, which had been in development since mid November shortly after the United States government formed the School and College Civilian Morale Service within the Office of Education that same month. By month’s end, news about its impact on UNC and the state had reached the pages of the DTH. Often characterized in DTH articles as “Harris, campus leader,” Louis Harris was a logical choice to lead the campus morale program. He was vice-chairman of the Carolina Political Union, and had represented UNC at the International Student Service’s first Summer Student Leadership Institute, held during five weeks at Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelts’ Canadian summer home in Campobello, New Brunswick. On September 24th the DTH printed in its first issue of the school year an article on Harris’ participation at the institute. Along with the article was a photograph of Eleanor Roosevelt, who spent two weeks with the attendees, asking Harris to join her for in a swim in the pool, or so said Harris in the caption.
A coordinated statewide effort led to the information center’s establishment at UNC. With the outbreak of war on American soil, the December 9th DTH quoted Harris, “This agency was founded to disperse impartial, non-partisan information to all interested students and persons. This goal will be in no way changed or modified by the present crisis.” Information centers would soon spring up across the county. On January 25th, the DTH published Morton’s photograph of the information center, “still in its infancy,” and its creators assembled in the lobby of the university library (now Wilson Library). The photograph accompanied an article, headlined “Local Morale Information Center Among First in Nation,” which stated that the information center was the first in the state and had “met intensified interest from the campus.” North Carolinians wanting to learn more about a specific war-related topic need only send their request on a post card addressed to “Information Center Chapel Hill,” and in return they would receive a packet “free of charge, save mailing costs.”
Morton’s photograph (cropped above as published; click on the image to see the uncropped version) is only the second to appear in the DTH that depicted a campus scene reflecting activity related to World War II, the first having been published on January 11th—a similar version of which can bee seen in the Date of Infamy post. NOTA BENE: In the 1950s Lou Harris would become a notable and innovative public opinion pollster, whose polling data is archived at UNC’s Louis Harris Data Center. Also, Harris’ papers are in the Southern Historical Collection. For more on Lou Harris, you can watch a C-Span interview of Prof. David W. Moore, author of the book Superpollsters.
On Sunday morning, December 7th, 1941, Hugh Morton and fellow students at the University of North Carolina likely scanned the headlines on the front page of The Daily Tar Heel (DTH). Many students had been to the Carolina Youth Administration fundraiser Saturday night: a midnight showing of the film Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife. If they were reading the DTH that morning, they also would have seen the front-page article, “Round Table Talk to Treat Phases of Japanese War,” which began,
“Must We Fight Japan?” will be the topic discussed on the “University Round Table” this afternoon from 3 until 3:30 o’clock over stations WRAL, WAIR, and WBBB.
Ironically, Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor had begun at 6:00 HST (11:00 EST) that very morning, with the first bomber appearing in the Hawaiian skies at 7:55 HST.
As these events were unfolding, Hugh Morton was the DTH staff photographer. Surprisingly, there are no campus news photographs reflecting student life after December 7 in the six remaining issues of the newspaper before winter break (December 9 through 13 inclusive, and December 18). Following the holidays, the DTH resumed publication on January 6, 1942. It was not until another six issues had passed, however, on January 11 that the DTH published Morton’s first campus news photographs related to America’s entry into WWII—two images, including one very similar to the scene below of the first drill of the Carolina Volunteer Training Corp (CVTC) on snow-covered Fetzer Field.
The Alumni Review for January 1942 published a few Morton photographs, including the first photograph above, which was not previously scanned as part of the online highlights from the Morton collection. The group portrait is part of a collage entitled “University Enlists” made using seven photographs that “illustrate some of the ways in which the University is cooperating with the war-effort.” The Alumni Review caption for Morton’s uncredited photograph identifies the group as student body president Truman Hobbs, UNC President Frank Porter Graham, and Woman’s Association president Mary Caldwell “as they confer informally on the steps of South Building.” On a different page, the magazine published another Morton photograph (below) with an extended caption entitled “Graham and the War” that described the portrait as a “new picture” of Graham at his South Building office desk “in serious telephone communication with officials in Washington.” The photograph’s credit reads, “The picture was taken by Student Hugh Morton for the Institute of Government.” In future posts, I’ll highlight more of Morton’s World War II-era photographs that he made while he was a student at UNC before he enlisted in the fall of 1942. On this seventieth anniversary of America’s date of infamy, reading Janis Holder’s essay “Covering the Beat: The University in the WWII Era” would give you a good sense of what was facing Hugh Morton and his fellow classmates that fateful Sunday morning.
And what happened with the University Round Table radio program? As the discussion participants—history professors J. L. Godfrey and Georgre Mowry; retired Navy Admiral P. W. Foote; and Roger Mann, president of the International Relations Club—arrived in the studio, “news came in over the radio that Japan had attacked the United States.” They had ten minutes to come up with a topic and, at 2:55 agreed upon a new title for the program: “Why Has Japan Attack Us?” The DTH reported afterward that, “At three o’clock, the program went on the air. These gentlemen rose to the occasion, using information hardly off the news wires.”