Henry A. Wallace

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The Century of the Common Man (excerpt)

"Some have spoken of the "American Century." I say that the century on which we are entering—the century which will come into being after this war—can be and must be the century of the common man.

Perhaps it will be America's opportunity to—to support the Freedom[s] and Duties by which the common man must live. Everywhere, the common man must learn to build his own industries with his own hands in practical fashion. Everywhere, the common man must learn to increase his productivity so that he and his children can eventually pay to the world community all that they have received. No nation will have the God-given right to exploit other nations. Older nations will have the privilege to help younger nations get started on the path to industrialization, but there must be neither military nor economic imperialism." [70]

Economic conditions became chaotic, and Roosevelt decided new leadership was needed. [71] In early 1942 he established the War Production Board with businessman Donald Nelson in charge as Wallace became a minor member of the War Production Board. He continued to serve as head of the BEW, which was now far less important: it was now charged with importing the raw materials such as rubber necessary for war production. [72] [73] Wallace struggled to carve out authority for the BEW, demanding that American purchases in Latin America raise the standard of living of the workers. In the process he clashed privately with Secretary of State Cordell Hull, who opposed American interference in another state's internal affairs. The national media dramatically covered Wallace's public battle with Jesse H. Jones, the Secretary of Commerce who was also in charge of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC), which paid the purchases bills BEW made. [74] Roosevelt's standard strategy for executive management was to give two different people the same role, expecting controversy would result. He wanted the agencies' heads to bring the controversy to him so he could make the decision. [75] On August 21, 1942, Roosevelt explicitly wrote to all his department heads that disagreements "should not be publicly aired, but are to be submitted to me by the appropriate heads of the conflicting agencies." Anyone going public had to resign. [76] Wallace denounced Jones for blocking funding for purchases of raw materials in Latin America needed for the war effort. Jones called on Congress and the public for help, calling Wallace a liar. According to James MacGregor Burns, Jones, a leader of Southern conservative Democrats, was "taciturn, shrewd, practical, cautious". Wallace, deeply distrusted by Democratic party leaders, was the "hero of the Lib Labs, dreamy, utopian, even mystical, yet with his own bent for management and power." On July 15, 1943, Roosevelt stripped both men of their roles in the matter. BEW was reorganized as the Office of Economic Warfare, and put under Leo Crowley. The loss of the BEW was a major blow to Wallace's prestige. He now had no agency and a weak political base on the left wing of the Democratic Party. But he still had visibility, ambition and an articulate voice, and remained a loyal Roosevelt supporter. He was not renominated for vice president but in 1945 Roosevelt fired Jones and made Wallace Secretary of Commerce. [77] [78]

On May 8, 1942, Wallace delivered what became his best-remembered speech, known for containing the phrase "the Century of the Common Man". He cast World War II as a war between a "free world" and a "slave world," and held that "peace must mean a better standard of living for the common man, not merely in the United States and England, but also in India, Russia, China, and Latin America–not merely in the United Nations, but also in Germany and Italy and Japan". Some conservatives disliked the speech, but it was translated into 20 languages and millions of copies were distributed around the world. [79]

In early 1943, Wallace was dispatched on a goodwill tour of Latin America; he made 24 stops across Central America and South America. Partly due to his ability to deliver speeches in Spanish, Wallace received a warm reception; one State Department official said, "never in Chilean history has any foreigner ever been received with such extravagance and evidently sincere enthusiasm". During his trip, several Latin American countries declared war against Germany. [80] Back home, Wallace continued to deliver speeches, saying after the Detroit race riot of 1943, "we cannot fight to crush Nazi brutality abroad and condone race riots at home". [81] Though Congress largely blocked Roosevelt's domestic agenda, Wallace continued to call for progressive programs; one newspaper wrote that "the New Deal today is Henry Wallace ... the New Deal banner in his hands is not yet furled". [82]

"The American people have always had guts and always will have." — Henry A. Wallace [83]

In mid-1944, Wallace toured the Soviet Union and China. [84] The USSR presented its American guests with a fully sanitized version of labor camps in Magadan and Kolyma, claiming that all the workers were volunteers. [85] Wallace was impressed by the camp at Magadan, describing it as a "combination Tennessee Valley Authority and Hudson's Bay Company". [86] [lower-alpha 5] He received a warm reception in the Soviet Union, but was largely unsuccessful in his efforts to negotiate with Chinese leader Chiang Kai-shek. [87]

Election of 1944

After the abolition of the BEW, speculation began as to whether Roosevelt would drop Wallace from the ticket in the 1944 election. [88] Gallup polling published in March 1944 showed that Wallace was clearly the most popular choice for vice president among Democrats, and many journalists predicted that he would win renomination. [89] As Roosevelt was in declining health, party leaders expected that the party's vice-presidential nominee would eventually succeed Roosevelt, [90] and Wallace's many enemies within the Democratic Party organized to ensure his removal. [91] Much of the opposition to Wallace stemmed from his open denunciation of racial segregation in the South, [90] but others were concerned by Wallace's unorthodox religious views and pro-Soviet statements. [92] Shortly before the 1944 Democratic National Convention, party leaders such as Robert E. Hannegan and Edwin W. Pauley convinced Roosevelt to sign a document expressing support for either Associate Justice William O. Douglas or Senator Harry S. Truman for the vice-presidential nomination. Nonetheless, Wallace got Roosevelt to send a public letter to the convention chairman in which he wrote, "I personally would vote for [Wallace's] renomination if I were a delegate to the convention". [93]

With Roosevelt not committed to keeping or dropping Wallace, the vice-presidential balloting turned into a battle between those who favored Wallace and those who favored Truman. [94] Wallace did not have an effective organization to support his candidacy, though allies like Calvin Benham Baldwin, Claude Pepper, and Joseph F. Guffey pressed for him. Truman, meanwhile, was reluctant to put forward his own candidacy, but Hannegan [lower-alpha 6] and Roosevelt convinced him to run. [96] At the convention, Wallace galvanized supporters with a well-received speech in which he lauded Roosevelt and argued that "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". [97] After Roosevelt delivered his acceptance speech, the crowd began chanting for the nomination of Wallace, but Samuel D. Jackson adjourned the convention for the day before Wallace supporters could call for the beginning of vice presidential balloting. [98] Party leaders worked furiously to line up support for Truman overnight, but Wallace received 429 1/2 votes (589 were needed for nomination) on the first ballot for vice president and Truman 319 1/2, with the rest going to various favorite son candidates. On the second ballot, many delegates who had voted for favorite sons shifted into Truman's camp, giving him the nomination. [99]

On January 20, 1945, Wallace swore in Truman as his vice-presidential successor. [100]

Secretary of Commerce (1945–1946)

Secretary of Commerce Henry Wallace HenryAgardWallace.jpg
Secretary of Commerce Henry Wallace

Wallace believed that Democratic party leaders had unfairly stolen the vice-presidential nomination from him, but he supported Roosevelt in the 1944 presidential election. Hoping to mend ties with Wallace, Roosevelt offered him any position in the Cabinet other than secretary of state, and Wallace asked to replace Jones as secretary of commerce. [101] In that position, Wallace expected to play a key role in the economy's postwar transition. [102] In January 1945, with the end of Wallace's vice presidency, Roosevelt nominated Wallace for secretary of commerce. [103] The nomination prompted an intense debate, as many senators objected to his support for liberal policies designed to boost wages and employment. [104] Conservatives failed to block the nomination, but Senator Walter F. George led passage of a measure removing the Reconstruction Finance Corporation from the Commerce Department. [105] After Roosevelt signed George's bill, Wallace was confirmed by a vote of 56 to 32 on March 1, 1945. [106]

Roosevelt died on April 12, 1945, and was succeeded by Truman. [107] Truman quickly replaced most other senior Roosevelt appointees, [lower-alpha 7] but retained Wallace, who remained very popular with liberal Democrats. [109] The discontent of liberal leaders strengthened Wallace's position in the Cabinet; Truman privately stated that the two most important members of his "political team" were Wallace and Eleanor Roosevelt. [110] As secretary of commerce, Wallace advocated a "middle course" between the planned economy of the Soviet Union and the laissez-faire economics that had dominated the United States before the Great Depression. With his congressional allies, he led passage of the Employment Act of 1946. Conservatives blocked the inclusion of a measure providing for full employment, but the act established the Council of Economic Advisers and the Joint Economic Committee to study economic matters. [111] Wallace's proposal to establish international control over nuclear weapons was not adopted, but he did help pass the Atomic Energy Act of 1946, which established the United States Atomic Energy Commission to oversee domestic development of nuclear power. [112]

World War II ended in September 1945 with the Surrender of Japan, and relations with the USSR became a central matter of foreign policy. Various issues, including the fate of European and Asian postwar governments and the administration of the United Nations, had already begun to strain the wartime alliance between the Soviet Union and the United States. [113] Critics of the USSR objected to the oppressive satellite states it had established in Eastern Europe and Soviet involvement in the Greek Civil War and the Chinese Civil War. In February 1946, George F. Kennan laid out the doctrine of containment, which called for the United States to resist the spread of Communism. [114] Wallace feared that confrontational policies toward the Soviet Union would eventually lead to war, and urged Truman to "allay any reasonable Russian grounds for fear, suspicion, and distrust". [115] Historian Tony Judt wrote in Postwar that Wallace's "distaste for American involvement with Britain and Europe was widely shared across the political spectrum". [116]

Though Wallace was dissatisfied with Truman's increasingly confrontational policies toward the Soviet Union, he remained an integral part of Truman's Cabinet during the first half of 1946. [117] He broke with administration policies in September 1946 when he delivered a speech in which he stated that "we should recognize that we have no more business in the political affairs of Eastern Europe than Russia has in the political affairs of Latin America, Western Europe and the United States". Wallace's speech was booed by the pro-Soviet crowd he delivered it to and even more strongly criticized by Truman administration officials and leading Republicans like Robert A. Taft and Arthur Vandenberg. [118] Truman stated that Wallace's speech did not represent administration policy but merely Wallace's personal views, and on September 20 he demanded and received Wallace's resignation. [119]

1948 presidential election

Shortly after leaving office, Wallace became the editor of The New Republic , a progressive magazine. [120] He also helped establish the Progressive Citizens of America (PCA), a progressive political organization that called for good relations with the Soviet Union and moere liberal programs at home. Though not a member of the PCA, Wallace was widely regarded as the organization's leader and was criticized for the PCA's acceptance of Communist members. In response to the creation of the PCA, anti-Communist liberals established a rival group, Americans for Democratic Action (ADA), which explicitly rejected any association with Communism. [121] Wallace strongly criticized the president in early 1947 after Truman promulgated the Truman Doctrine to oppose Communist threats to Greece and Turkey. Wallace also opposed Truman's Executive Order 9835, which began a purge of government workers affiliated Communist groups deemed to be subversive. [122] He initially favored the Marshall Plan, but later opposed it because he believed the program should have been administered through the United Nations. [123] Wallace and the PCA were scrutinized by the FBI and the House Un-American Activities Committee, both of which sought to uncover evidence of Communist influence. [124]

Many in the PCA favored the establishment of a third party, but other longtime Wallace allies warned him against leaving the Democratic Party. [125] On December 29, 1947, Wallace launched a third party campaign, declaring, "we have assembled a Gideon's Army, small in number, powerful in conviction ... We face the future unfettered, unfettered by any principal but the general welfare". [126] He was backed by many Hollywood and Broadway celebrities, and intellectuals. Among his prominent supporters were Rexford Tugwell, Congressmen Vito Marcantonio and Leo Isacson, musicians Paul Robeson and Pete Seeger, and future presidential nominee George McGovern. [127] Calvin Baldwin became Wallace's campaign manager and took charge of fundraising and ensuring that Wallace appeared on as many state ballots as possible. [128] Wallace's first choice for running mate, Claude Pepper, refused to leave the Democratic Party, but Democratic Senator Glen H. Taylor of Idaho agreed to serve as Wallace's running mate. [129] Wallace accepted the endorsement of the American Communist Party, stating, "I'm not following their line. If they want to follow my line, I say God bless 'em". [130] Truman responded to Wallace's left-wing challenge by pressing for liberal domestic policies, while pro-ADA liberals like Hubert Humphrey, Robert F. Wagner, and James Roosevelt linked Wallace to the Soviet Union and the Communist Party. [131] Many Americans came to see Wallace as a fellow traveler to Communists, a view that was reinforced by Wallace's refusal to condemn the 1948 Czechoslovak coup d'état. [132] In early 1948, the CIO and the AFL both rejected Wallace, with the AFL denouncing him as a "front, spokesman, and apologist for the Communist Party". [133] With Wallace's foreign policy views overshadowing his domestic policy views, many liberals who had previously favored his candidacy returned to the Democratic fold. [134]

Wallace embarked on a nationwide speaking tour to support his candidacy, encountering resistance in both the North and South. [135] He openly defied the Jim Crow regime in the South, refusing to speak before segregated audiences. [136] Time magazine, which opposed Wallace's candidacy, described him as "ostentatiously" riding through the towns and cities of the segregated South "with his Negro secretary beside him". [137] A barrage of eggs and tomatoes were hurled at Wallace and struck him and his campaign members during the tour. State authorities in Virginia sidestepped enforcing their own segregation laws by declaring Wallace's campaign gatherings private parties. [138] The Pittsburgh Press began publishing the names of known Wallace supporters. Scores of Wallace supporters in colleges and high schools lost their positions. [139]

With strong financial support from Anita McCormick Blaine, Wallace exceeded fundraising goals, and appeared on the ballot of every state except for Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Illinois. [140] The campaign distributed 25 million copies of 140 fliers and pamphlets. Nevertheless, Gallup polls showed support for Wallace falling from 7% in December 1947 to 5% in June 1948. He was endorsed by only two newspapers: the Communist Daily Worker in New York and The Gazette and Daily in York, Pennsylvania. Some in the press began to speculate that Wallace would drop out of the race. [141]

Wallace's supporters held a national convention in Philadelphia in July, formally establishing a new Progressive Party. [142] [lower-alpha 8] The party platform addressed a wide array of issues, and included support for the desegregation of public schools, gender equality, a national health insurance program, free trade, and public ownership of large banks, railroads, and power utilities. [144] [lower-alpha 9] Another part of the platform stated, "responsibility for ending the tragic prospect of war is a joint responsibility of the Soviet Union and the United States". [146] During the convention, Wallace faced questioning regarding letters he had written to guru Nicholas Roerich; his refusal to comment on the letters was widely criticized. [147] Wallace was further damaged days after the convention when Whittaker Chambers and Elizabeth Bentley testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee that several government officials associated with Wallace (including Alger Hiss and John Abt) were Communist infiltrators. [148] Meanwhile, many Southern Democrats, outraged by the Democratic Party's pro-civil rights plank, bolted the party and nominated Strom Thurmond for president. With the Democrats badly divided, Republicans were confident that Republican nominee Thomas Dewey would win the election. [149] Wallace himself predicted that Truman would be "the worst defeated candidate in history". [150]

Though polls consistently showed him losing the race, Truman ran an effective campaign against Dewey and the conservative 80th United States Congress. He ultimately defeated Dewey in both the popular and electoral vote. [151] Wallace won just 2.38 percent of the nationwide popular vote, and failed to carry any state. His best performance was in New York, where he won eight percent of the vote. Just one of the party's congressional candidates, incumbent Congressman Vito Marcantonio, won election. [152] Though Wallace and Thurmond probably took many voters from Truman, their presence in the race may have boosted the president's overall appeal by casting him as the candidate of the center-left. [153] In response to the election results, Wallace stated, "Unless this bi-partisan foreign policy of high prices and war is promptly reversed, I predict that the Progressive Party will rapidly grow into the dominant party. ... To save the peace of the world the Progressive Party is more needed than ever before". [152]

Historians Edward Schapsmeier and Frederick Schapsmeier argue: [154]

The Progressive party stood for one thing and Wallace another. Actually the party organization was controlled from the outset by those representing the radical left and not liberalism per se. This made it extremely easy for Communists and fellow travelers to infiltrate into important positions within the party machinery. Once this happened, party stands began to resemble a party line. Campaign literature, speech materials, and campaign slogans sounded strangely like echoes of what Moscow wanted to hear. As if wearing moral blinkers, Wallace increasingly became an imperceptive ideologue. Words were uttered by Wallace that did not sound like him, and his performance took on a strange Jekyll and Hyde quality—one moment he was a peace protagonist and the next a propaganda parrot for the Kremlin.

Later politics

Wallace initially remained active in politics following the 1948 campaign, and he delivered the keynote address at the 1950 Progressive National Convention. In early 1949, Wallace testified before Congress in the hope of preventing the ratification of the North Atlantic Treaty, which established the NATO alliance between the United States, Canada, and several European countries. [155] He became increasingly critical of the Soviet Union after 1948, and he resigned from the Progressive Party in August 1950 due to his support for the UN intervention in the Korean War. [156] After leaving the Progressive Party, Wallace endured what biographers John Culver and John Hyde describe as a "long, slow decline into obscurity marked by a certain acceptance of his outcast status". [157]

In the early 1950s, he spent much of his time rebutting attacks by prominent public figures like General Leslie Groves, who claimed to have stopped providing Wallace with information regarding the Manhattan Project because he considered Wallace to be a security risk. In 1951, Wallace appeared before Congress to deny accusations that in 1944 he had encouraged a coalition between Chiang Kai-shek and the Chinese Communists. [158] In 1952, he published an article, "Where I Was Wrong," in which he repudiated his earlier foreign policy positions and declared the Soviet Union to be "utterly evil". [67] [159] Wallace did not endorse a candidate in the 1952 presidential election, but in the 1956 presidential election he endorsed incumbent Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower over Democratic nominee Adlai Stevenson. Wallace, who maintained a correspondence with Eisenhower, described Eisenhower as "utterly sincere" in his efforts for peace. [160] Wallace also began a correspondence with Vice President Richard Nixon, but he declined to endorse either Nixon or Democratic nominee John F. Kennedy in the 1960 presidential election. Though Wallace criticized Kennedy's farm policy during the 1960 campaign, Kennedy invited Wallace to his 1961 inauguration, the first presidential inauguration Wallace had attended since 1945. Wallace later wrote Kennedy, "at no time in our history have so many tens of millions of people been so completely enthusiastic about an inaugural address as about yours". In 1962, he delivered a speech commemorating the centennial anniversary of the establishment of the Department of Agriculture. [161] He also began a correspondence with President Lyndon B. Johnson regarding methods to alleviate rural poverty, though privately he criticized Johnson's escalation of American involvement in the Vietnam War. [162] In the 1964 election, Wallace returned to the Democratic fold, supporting Johnson over Republican nominee Barry Goldwater. [163] Due to declining health, he made his last public appearance that year; in one of his last speeches, he stated, "We lost Cuba in 1959 not only because of Castro but also because we failed to understand the needs of the farmer in the back country of Cuba from 1920 onward. ... The common man is on the march, but it is up to the uncommon men of education and insight to lead that march constructively". [164]

Business success

Wallace continued to co-own and take an interest in the company he had established, Pioneer Hi-Bred (formerly the Hi-Bred Corn Company), and he established an experimental farm at his New York estate. He focused much of his efforts on the study of chickens, and Pioneer Hi-Bred's chickens at one point produced three-quarters of all commercially sold eggs worldwide. He also wrote or co-wrote several works on agriculture, including a book on the history of corn. [165]

Illness and death

Wallace was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in 1964. He consulted numerous specialists and tried various methods of treating the disease, stating, "I look on myself as an ALS guinea-pig, willing to try almost anything". [166] He died in Danbury, Connecticut, on November 18, 1965, at the age of 77. [167] His remains were cremated and the ashes interred in Glendale Cemetery in Des Moines, Iowa. [168] Due to his successful business career and investments, he left an estate valued at tens of millions of dollars. [169]


In 1913, Wallace met Ilo Browne, the daughter of a successful businessman from Indianola, Iowa. [170] Wallace and Browne married on May 20, 1914, and had three children. [167] Henry Browne was born in 1915, Robert Browne was born in 1918, and Jean Browne was born in 1920. [171] Wallace and his family lived in Des Moines until Wallace accepted appointment as secretary of agriculture, at which point they began living in an apartment at Wardman Park in Washington, D.C. [172] In 1945, Wallace and his wife purchased a 115-acre farm near South Salem, New York known as Farvue. [173] Ilo was supportive of her husband's career and enjoyed serving as Second Lady of the United States from 1941 to 1945, though she was uncomfortable with many of Wallace's Progressive supporters during his 1948 presidential campaign. [174] Wallace and Ilo remained married until his death in 1965; she lived until 1981. In 1999, Wallace's three children sold their shares in Pioneer Hi-Bred to DuPont for well over $1 billion. [171] Wallace's grandson, Scott Wallace, won the Democratic nomination for Pennsylvania's 1st congressional district in the 2018 elections. Despite his family's legacy, he was defeated by Republican incumbent, Brian Fitzpatrick, in the general election. [175]

Mysticism and Roerich controversy

Wallace associated with controversial emigre Russian Theosophist Nicholas Roerich N Roerich.jpg
Wallace associated with controversial émigré Russian Theosophist Nicholas Roerich

Wallace was raised a Calvinist but showed an interest in other religious teachings during his life. [68] He was deeply interested in religion from a young age, reading works by authors like Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ralph Waldo Trine, and William James, whose The Varieties of Religious Experience had a particularly strong impact on Wallace. [176] After his grandfather's death in 1916, he left the Presbyterian Church and became increasingly interested in mysticism. He later said, "I know I am often called a mystic, and in the years following my leaving the United Presbyterian Church I was probably a practical mystic… I'd say I was a mystic in the sense that George Washington Carver was – who believed God was in everything and therefore, if you went to God, you could find the answers". Wallace began regularly attending meetings of the pantheistic Theosophical Society, and, in 1925, he helped organize the Des Moines parish of the Liberal Catholic Church. [177] Wallace left the Liberal Catholic Church in 1930 and joined the Episcopal Church, but he continued to be interested in various mystic groups and individuals. [178]

Among those who Wallace corresponded with were author George William Russell, [179] astrologer L. Edward Johndro, and Edward Roos, who took on the persona of a Native American medicine man. [180] In the early 1930s, Wallace began corresponding with Nicholas Roerich, a prominent Russian émigré, artist, peace activist, and Theosophist. [181] With Wallace's support, Roerich was appointed to lead a federal expedition to the Gobi Desert to collect drought-resistant grasses. [182] Roerich's expedition ended in a public fiasco, and Roerich fled to India after the Internal Revenue Service launched a tax investigation. [183]

The letters that Wallace wrote to Roerich from 1933 to 1934 were eventually acquired by Republican newspaper publisher Paul Block. [184] The Republicans threatened to reveal to the public what they characterized as Wallace's bizarre religious beliefs before the November 1940 elections but were deterred when the Democrats countered by threatening to release information about Republican candidate Wendell Willkie's rumored extramarital affair with the writer Irita Van Doren. [185] The contents of the letters did become public seven years later, in the winter of 1947, when right-wing columnist Westbrook Pegler published what were purported to be extracts from them as evidence that Wallace was a "messianic fumbler", and "off-center mentally". During the 1948 campaign Pegler and other hostile reporters, including H. L. Mencken, aggressively confronted Wallace on the subject at a public meeting in Philadelphia in July. Wallace declined to comment, accusing the reporters of being Pegler's stooges. [186] Many press outlets were critical of Wallace's association with Roerich; one newspaper mockingly wrote that if Wallace became president "we shall get in tune with the Infinite, vibrate in the correct plane, outstare the Evil Eye, reform the witches, overcome all malicious spells and ascend the high road to health and happiness". [187]

Henry Wallace reportedly dabbled in Zoroastrianism and Buddhism. [188] [189] [190] [191]


During his time in the Roosevelt administration, Wallace became a controversial figure, attracting a mix of praise and criticism for various actions. [192] [68] He remains a controversial figure today. [193] [194] [195] Historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. pronounced Wallace to be both "an incorrigibly naive politician" and "the best secretary of agriculture the country has ever had". [196] Journalist Peter Beinart writes that Wallace's "naive faith in U.S.-Soviet cooperation" damaged his legacy. Historian Andrew Seal lauds Wallace for his focus on combating both economic and racial inequality. [194] Wallace's vision of the "Century of the Common Man," which denied American exceptionalism in foreign policy, continues to influence the foreign policy of individuals like Bernie Sanders. [197] In 2013, historian Thomas W. Devine wrote that "newly available Soviet sources do confirm Wallace's position that Moscow's behavior was not as relentlessly aggressive as many believed at the time". Yet Devine also writes that "enough new information has come to light to cast serious doubt both on Wallace's benign attitude toward Stalin's intentions and on his dark, conspiratorial view of the Truman administration". [198]

Alex Ross of The New Yorker writes, "with the exception of Al Gore, Wallace remains the most famous almost-president in American history". [67] Journalist Jeff Greenfield writes that the 1944 Democratic National Convention was one of the most important political events of the twentieth century, since the leading contenders for the nomination might have governed in vastly different ways. [90] In The Untold History of the United States , Oliver Stone argues that, had Wallace become president in 1945, "there might have been no atomic bombings, no nuclear arms race, and no Cold War". [199] [200] By contrast, Ron Capshaw of the conservative National Review argues that a President Wallace would have practiced a policy of appeasement that would have allowed the spread of Communism into countries like Iran, Greece, and Italy. [201]

The Henry A. Wallace Beltsville Agricultural Research Center in Beltsville, Maryland, the largest agricultural research complex in the world, is named for him. Wallace founded the Wallace Genetic Foundation to support agricultural research. His son, Robert, founded the Wallace Global Fund to support sustainable development. [193] A speech Wallace delivered in 1942 inspired Aaron Copland to compose Fanfare for the Common Man . [67]


See also


  1. The Farm Security Administration succeeded the Resettlement Administration, which had been an independent agency.
  2. The Twenty-second Amendment, ratified in 1951, would later prevent presidents from running for a third term.
  3. Norman Borlaug would later credit Wallace as a key initiator of the Green Revolution. [62]
  4. The BEW was originally known as the Economic Defense Board [64]
  5. Wallace later regretted his praise of the camp at Magadan, writing in 1952 that he "had not the slightest idea when I visited Magadan that this ... was also the center for administering the labor of both criminals and those suspected of political disloyalty". [86]
  6. Hannegan later stated that he would like his tombstone to read, "here lies the man who stopped Henry Wallace from becoming President of the United States". [95]
  7. After the resignation of Harold L. Ickes in February 1946, Wallace was the lone remaining holdover from Roosevelt's Cabinet. [108]
  8. The party was influenced by, and took the same name as, defunct parties that had backed Theodore Roosevelt (in 1912) and Robert La Follette (in 1924). [143]
  9. Wallace did not dictate the party platform, and he personally opposed public ownership of banks, railroads, and utilities. [145]

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">1944 Democratic Party vice presidential candidate selection</span>

The Democratic Party's 1944 nomination for Vice President of the United States was determined at the 1944 Democratic National Convention, on July 21, 1944. U.S. Senator Harry S. Truman from Missouri was nominated to be President Franklin D. Roosevelt's running-mate in his bid to be re-elected for a fourth term.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">1948 United States presidential election in New York</span>

The 1948 United States presidential election in New York took place on November 2, 1948. All contemporary 48 states were part of the 1948 United States presidential election. Voters chose 47 electors to the Electoral College, which selected the president and vice president.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">1948 United States presidential election in New Hampshire</span> Election in New Hampshire

The 1948 United States presidential election in New Hampshire took place on November 2, 1948, as part of the 1948 United States presidential election, which was held throughout all contemporary 48 states. Voters chose four representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for president and vice president.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">1948 Progressive National Convention</span>

The 1948 Progressive National Convention was held in Philadelphia from July 23–25, 1948. The convention ratified the candidacies of former Vice President Henry A. Wallace from Iowa for president and U.S. Senator Glen H. Taylor of Idaho for vice president. The Progressive Party's platform opposed the Cold War and emphasized foreign policy.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">1948 United States presidential election in Wisconsin</span> Election in Wisconsin

The 1948 United States presidential election in Wisconsin was held on November 2, 1948 as part of the 1948 United States presidential election. State voters chose 12 electors to the Electoral College, who voted for president and vice president.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Calvin Benham Baldwin</span>

Calvin Benham Baldwin, also known as Calvin B Baldwin, C.B. Baldwin, and generally as "Beanie" Baldwin, served as assistant to US Secretary of Agriculture Henry A. Wallace and administrator of the New Deal's Farm Security Administration in the 1930s, worked for the CIO in the 1940s, and then worked with the Progressive Party from 1948 to 1955.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">1940 United States presidential election in Alabama</span> Election in Alabama

The 1940 United States presidential election in Alabama took place on November 5, 1940, as part of the 1940 United States presidential election. Alabama voters chose 11 representatives, or electors, to the Electoral College, who voted for president and vice president. In Alabama, voters voted for electors individually instead of as a slate, as in the other states.

<i>Choosing Truman</i> 1994 book by historian Robert Hugh Ferrell

Choosing Truman: The Democratic Convention of 1944 is a 1994 book by historian Robert Hugh Ferrell about the political convention in Chicago which nominated Franklin D. Roosevelt for his fourth election to the U.S. presidency, but jettisoned Vice President Henry A. Wallace in favor of Missouri Sen. Harry S. Truman. The choice was particularly significant because Roosevelt would die in office the following year, making Truman the 33rd president.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Harry S. Truman 1948 presidential campaign</span>

In 1948, Harry S. Truman and Alben W. Barkley were elected president and vice president of the United States, defeating Republican nominees Thomas E. Dewey and Earl Warren. Truman, a Democrat and vice president under Franklin D. Roosevelt, had ascended to the presidency upon Roosevelt's death in 1945. He announced his candidacy for election on March 8, 1948. Unchallenged by any major nominee in the Democratic primaries, he won almost all of them easily; however, many Democrats like James Roosevelt opposed his candidacy and urged former Chief of Staff of the United States Army Dwight D. Eisenhower to run instead.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Louis H. Bean</span> American economic and political analyst

Louis Hyman Bean was an American economic and political analyst who is best known for predicting Harry S. Truman's victory in the 1948 presidential election.


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Further reading

Secondary sources

  • Busch, Andrew E. "Last Gasp: Henry A. Wallace and the End of the Popular Front." (2014) 42#4: 712-717. online
  • Timmons, Bascom N. Jesse H. Jones, the man and the statesman (1951) online ch 29 on feud with Wallace.
  • Walker, J. Samuel (1976). Henry A. Wallace and American Foreign Policy. Greenwood Press. ISBN   978-0837187747. online
  • Walton, Richard J. Henry Wallace, Harry Truman, and the Cold War (1976) online
  • Witcover, Jules (2014). The American Vice Presidency: From Irrelevance to Power. Smithsonian Institution. ISBN   978-1588344724.

Bibliography: Works by Wallace


Hugo Gellert created a series of twenty silk screen prints to be used as artwork. The original prints are now in the digital collection at the Whitney Museum of American Art. [1]

Articles and essays


  • Cooperation: The Dominant Economic Idea of the Future. New York: Cooperative League (1936). OCLC   25488777. 16 p.

Book contributions

Published addresses

An address to the 28th annual meeting of the Illinois Farmers' Institute in Belleville, Illinois, on February 21, 1923. Published by the Illinois Farmers' Institute.
"Remarks by Hon. H.A. Wallace, Secretary of Agriculture, delivered in the Department of Agriculture period of the National Farm and Home Hour, broadcast by 50 associate N.B.C. radio stations, Thursday, May 10, 1934."
"Adapted in the Division of Information from an address by Henry A. Wallace, Secretary of Agriculture, before the annual meeting of the National Cooperative Milk Producers' Federation at Baltimore, Md., November 2, 1931."
Speech delivered on June 24, 1937. Published by the University of North Carolina Press.
"Adapted from an address by Henry A. Wallace, Secretary of Agriculture, before a meeting of farmers, A.A.A. committeemen, and others, at Fort Worth, Texas, September 30, 1938."
"A speech delivered May 8, 1942 articulating the goals of the war for the allies." [2]
"An address delivered May 8, 1942 to the members and guests of the Free World Association at a dinner at the Hotel Commodore in New York. Published in collaboration with the Free World Movement."
A speech delivered November 8, 1942 at the Congress of American-Soviet Friendship Mass Meeting in New York. He further expanded on the subject since his delivery of a similar speech earlier that year. [2]
An address delivered July 25, 1943 at the Mass Meeting of Labor and Civic Organizations in Detroit, Michigan.

Henry A. Wallace
33 Henry Wallace 3x4.jpg
Official portrait, c.1941–1945
33rd Vice President of the United States
In office
January 20, 1941 January 20, 1945
Political offices
Preceded by United States Secretary of Agriculture
Succeeded by
Preceded by Vice President of the United States
Succeeded by
Preceded by United States Secretary of Commerce
Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by Democratic nominee for Vice President of the United States
Succeeded by
New political party Progressive nominee for President of the United States
Succeeded by
Preceded by American Labor nominee for President of the United States

  1. Gellert, Hugo. "The Century of the Common Man: Two Speeches by Henry A. Wallace." Whitney Museum of American Art, accessed May 8, 2021. Archived from the original.
  2. 1 2 Wallace, Henry A. The Century of the Common Man. New York: International Workers Order, 1943. Full text available at Florida International University.