Grace Carlson Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index  |   ETOL Main Page

Grace Carlson

Crime in High Places

(17 August 1946)

From The Militant, Vol. 10 No. 33, 17 August 1946, p. 8.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Andrew J. May of Kentucky, Chairman of the House Military Affairs Committee, is providing considerable free entertainment for the citizens these days. His desperate efforts to avoid being connected with the Garsson arms-production combine are funnier than somewhat! Because witness after witness has told the Mead War Investigating Committee that Representative May was up to his neck in the graft, by which the Garsson firm grew from a borrowed letterhead to a company with $78,000,000 in war contracts.

But through all this. May denied that he had any but the most honorable, “business-like” relations with the Garssons. Then, the comedy went into high gear when the N.Y. Daily News published a picture of May and Garsson’s pretty, brunette daughter – with her arms around the Congressman’s neck! At this stage, Representative May had a very convenient heart “attack” and could not be reached for comment.

But I know one group of citizens who are getting more than the average amount of enjoyment out of Congressman May’s embarrassment – the girls who were sent to prison during the war as violators of the “May Act.”

Introduced by the now thoroughly discredited Chairman of the House Military Affairs Committee, the May Act was designed to protect the “morals” of the soldiers. The law prohibited prostitution near Army camps. But the May Act violators whom I met in the Federal Penitentiary for Women at Alderson, West Virginia, were not professional prostitutes. (I should say for the benefit of the new readers of The Militant that I was one of the 18 defendants in the Minneapolis Labor Case who served prison terms in 1944 because of opposition to imperialist war.)

At Alderson I met scores of young girls – 14, 15 and 16 years of age – who had been rounded up by the FBI and thrown into prison as criminal violators of the May Act. But their “crime” lay only in being poor!

The big majority of the May Act violators who were sent to prison came from the South – from the poverty-stricken mill towns of North Carolina and Tennessee and from the miserable sharecroppers’ farms of these regions. Many of them could not read or write; some had never even had a day of schooling. Although child labor has supposedly been abolished in the United States, I talked to dozens of girls and women who had gone to work in cotton mills when they were 10 and 11 years old.

There may be some who would look upon these girls as criminals for trying to get a little fun and excitement and perhaps a few cheap luxuries. I am not one of them. There may be some righteous souls who would raise their hands against the young May Act violators, but the crooked, grafting Congressman from Kentucky should not have thrown the first stone.

Grace Carlson Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers’ Index  |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 18 June 2021