Henry A. Wallace was Roosevelt's vice-president during WWII. Shortly before Roosevelt's death (82 days) following a slow decline in health, the Conservative wing of the Democratic Party started an anti-Wallace Movement to nominate anyone else as vice-president for Roosevelt's third term, thus selecting the unlikely Truman as the next president of the US.
Was this movement related to Wallace being too soft on the new Communist threat? Being too close to labor? Caused by his eccentric personality or political scandals?
What about Wallace caused such a backlash against him?
To build on T.E.D's excellent answer, it is important to understand the backdrop under which Wallace was nominated for Vice-President in 1940, and not nominated in 1944.
The first thing to note, was that as late as the 1930s and 1940s, the Republican party was the "centrist" and "Establishment" (but pro-business party), while the Democrats were an unlikely mix of left AND right. That is, it included "everyone" who was not a Republican, whether urban laborer, urban liberal, progressive agrarian, or a fundamentally right-wing member of the agricultural "old South." (The Republicans represented the northeastern industrial and commercial elite, but not the agricultural elite from elsewhere).
When Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) was first nominated in 1932, he was a "plurality" (not majority) "left" Democratic candidate from New York, who was put "over the top" by John Nance Garner, a conservative Texan. (Garner decided that he wanted "second prize" for sure.) As such, it was a perfectly balanced "left-right" ticket that could run on "competence, not ideology," against the failed but centrist Republican Administration of Herbert Hoover.
Garner didn't support FDR's more progressive initiatives in the later stages of the "New Deal," notably opposing FDR's attempt to "pack" the Supreme Court with left-leaning justices, which is why FDR replaced him as a VP candidate with Henry A. Wallace, who was even further left than FDR, in 1940. Only FDR's two previous successful terms (and threat not to run for a third one) caused the Democrats to accede to this.
Wallace turned out to be exactly the ultra-leftist that most Democrats feared. In 1943, he expressed sympathy with rioting African-Americans, which troubled most of the United States, but particularly the South. He also visited the Soviet Union in 1944, and expressed views that made other Administration members regard him as a Stalinist "stooge."
If he had been nominated as Vice-President (and a prospective President, given FDR's decline) in 1944, it would have split the Democratic Party into right and left wings, and (probably) handed the Presidency to the Republicans. Instead, the Democrats nominated the far more pragmatic Harry S. Truman, who came from Missouri, a "border" state that was almost equally acceptable to the Western and Southern parts of the country, shoring up FDR's electoral power in those two regions. Truman held them in his own election in 1948, losing FDR's northeastern base to Dewey.
Diving a bit deeper into this, it looks like Wallace had three big strikes against him:
- He was a progressive liberal, at a time when a very large and influential part of the party (the Solid South) was very conservative. So was FDR of course, but as the holder of the White House they couldn't really attack him.
- He was a Theosophist (sort of the era's equivalent of New Age philosophy), which to them made him look both unchristian and flat out loopy.
- Only a decade earlier he had been a Republican. He probably only changed parties because of his position in the Roosevelt administration, not due to any political change of heart.
So as they saw it, the Democratic party was faced with nominating a loopy liberal Republican to be one heartbeat away from the presidency. They nearly didn't allow the guy on the ticket the first time around in 1940. He only made it on because Roosevelt threatened to decline the nomination without him (and probably because the Vice Presidency is a rather impotent position). Four years later, when it was clear Roosevelt's health was failing, there was no way they going to essentially nominate him for President.
Wallace was the last holdout from New Deal era. Over the years, both congress and the American public became disillusioned with the social progressivism of the Democratic party and their economic policies. In the 1942 elections the Democrats almost lost control of the House and many of the losers were New Dealers. The war also caused many politicians to lose interest in socialistic causes and adopt completely different priorities. Wallace was an old school socialist who became increasingly irrelevant to current situation, which was building a huge military machine capable of defeating Germany and Japan.
That being said, the most operative cause of his removal was probably not policy related at all, but more a matter of style and personality. Wallace was a firebrand with enormous public personality, but the trend in politics was towards "public servants" who quietly went with the flow and did not make waves. Wallace had personal ambition and antagonized many Washington insiders with heavy handed power moves. In particular, he started the "Warehouse War" with Jesse Jones in which he made public statements attacking Jones and promoting his competing agency. Having a sitting VP writing acrimonious epistles against other officials offended a lot of people and make them think him inappropriate for continued office.
I don't know who this John Nance Gardner character was, but FDR's first VP was a man by the name of John Nance Garner (1868-1967), a former speaker of the House of Representatives for 1 term.
Garner disagreed with many of FDR's policies while VP and broke with him over FDR's attempt to pack the Supreme Court. Garner ran against FDR for the Democratic nomination in 1940, but lost when FDR arranged to get himself nominated for an unprecedented third term.
Henry Wallace: A Divided Mind
A native of Colorado who entered Amherst with the Class of 1918, GARDNER JACKSON started what he calls his checkered career, after getting out of the Army in the First World War, as a bond salesman. Then came newspaper work in Denver, Boston, and Washington and his passionate defense of Sacco and Vanzetti. Mr. Jackson was Assistant Consumers' Counsel for the AAA (1933-1935) Washington representative for the Southern Tenant Farmers Union (1935-1936) legislative representative for John L. Lewis (1936-1940) special assistant to the Secretary and the Under Secretary of Agriculture (1941-1942) co-organizer of Food for Freedom, Inc. (1943-1944) assistant to the president and board of the National Farmers Union (1945-1947).
Less than a year after Henry A. Wallace was appointed Secretary of Agriculture one of his principal ghost writers told me he felt uncomfortable collaborating with the new Secretary. "He's unlike anyone with whom I've worked before," said this writer, who had been in the Department of Agriculture several years before Wallace took it over. "He gives me an eerie feeling that he really isn't listening when I talk with him. He may be listening with his brain, but certainly not with his guts. He doesn't seem to know how to have a belly-laugh—least of all at himself. He gives me a strong impression of considering himself a man of destiny, a person answering calls the rest of us don't hear."
These remarks of the ghost writer throw light on Wallace's decision to embark upon his present campaign. Wallace obviously is pursuing what he deems to be his destiny. If this were not so, it is reasonably certain there would have been no Third Party campaign—or New Party campaign, as he and his associates label it.
The central committee of the U.S.A. Communist Party at its October, 1947, meeting could have laid its most devious and high-powered plans for the campaign. It could have been assured of ample supplies of money with which to retain skilled artificers of screen, radio, and print. All would have availed little had the "confused liberal" not seen his destiny along a road paralleling the one charted by the Communist high command. At best a campaign without Wallace—with a less well known figure—would have been such a fizzle the newsprints would have relegated it to a few stickfuls in the back pages.
The campaign, then, is a Wallace-seeking-his-destiny campaign. It is not a Communist Party campaign, despite the closeness with which he has hewn to the Kremlin's Party line and despite the number of Party members and Party-liners manning the machinery of the campaign. Wallace turned a deaf ear to many of his friends and former associates who pleaded with him not to take the step. But their earnest arguments were deflected by the Communist and other voices, both from outside and from within himself, which impel Wallace on.
Sir Willmott Lewis, emeritus Washington correspondent of the London Times, may have given a clue to the Wallace enigma in responding to a query on the campaign. "One of my British friends," Sir Willmott remarked, "commenced to declaim on what a singular fellow Wallace is. I quickly interrupted him. "No, no!" I said. "You're wrong. The trouble is he's plural." Trying to figure out which self of Wallace's plural nature is listening to what call has long been a Washington preoccupation.
Wallace brought to the New Deal cabinet in 1933 a wide and practical agricultural experience in the rich corn-hog state of Iowa. He was steeped in the tradition of his grandfather and father, whose strong character and imaginative thinking helped so much to develop the state. He himself enhanced the family reputation by distinguished experiments in genetics—the best-known being that which resulted in a greatly improved hybrid seed corn. He also had contributed notable thinking on the social and economic problems of farming. Roosevelt had more than ample grounds for selecting Wallace on the basis of his accomplishments alone.
Wallace became a hero and symbol for liberals when they were working in the government with him, when they were projecting their ideas into and through him—and when they were shielding his reputation from the tarnishing effects of his various sorties into the occult typified by the Roerich affair and his fascination with numerology and Navajo Indian medicine men. Only a handful of Wallace's former associates are with him in his present crusade. A majority of the others—though they are as deeply disturbed at the incredible mishandling of American foreign policy by the Truman administration as Wallace—have lost confidence in him.
Their loss of confidence is not based on fear of risking their jobs and salaries if they should go with Wallace—a charge he made publicly when asked why so few of his former colleagues are in his camp. This callous accusation reveals either a complete lack of feeling for past relationships, or the exaltation of martyrdom, which persuades him that every former friend who now opposes him is animated by base motives. I believe it is a combination of both.
The first considerable talk I had with Wallace concerned the fight a number of us in the Agricultural Adjustment Administration were making to keep the price of milk to the consumer within reason while increasing the income of the dairy farmer. The milk industry—National Dairy Products, Inc., its big processing and distributing members and affiliates in the major cities, and leaders of the milk marketing associations supplying those cities—bitterly resisted our efforts to hold margins down. Early in the fall of 1934 the leaders of the industry held a secret meeting in Philadelphia to perfect plans designed to eliminate from the AAA some of us active in the tussle, and to force Wallace out of the secretaryship if he wouldn't go along.
The plan was to supplant Wallace with Chester C. Davis, who was then Administrator and who had perceptibly cooled towards our program. Through a lawyer representing one of the big processors, I learned details of the meeting. I wrote Wallace a personal note apprising him of the designs being laid to get his scalp and the scalps of certain of his lieutenants. The next day he asked me to come to his office. I was at the time Assistant Consumers' Counsel and had violated strict administrative procedure by addressing a note personally to him. He sat silent gazing into the distance while I unfolded my warning.
When I finished he roused himself from his reverie and said, "I don't understand you—you and your friend Justice Brandeis. When you see something you think is wrong, you want to do something about it right away. You want to act quickly. I'm not like that. I'd rather sit under a tree and let the cycle of time help heal the situation." As he said this he made a circular motion with his right arm. Then he ended the conversation by adding, "I know in Rex [Tugwell] and Chester [Davis] I've got two ill-matched horses in harness together. I may have to let one of them go when we get a bit further down the road. I can't tell now which it will be." Not a word from him evaluating the views of Tugwell and Davis—only a casual observation that he might have to make a political choice between them.
Approximately six months later he had made his decision. A number of us, including Jerome Frank, the AAA General Counsel and an intimate of Tugwell's, were given peremptory dismissal notes by Administrator Davis. Davis did not dare dismiss Tugwell because of the latter's intimacy with Roosevelt. Tugwell was, however, transferred from the Department to head the newly established Resettlement Administration. A legal opinion by Frank supporting enforcement of more equitable distribution of benefit payments to sharecroppers in the cotton South was the pretext Davis used in addition to the milk controversy. Most of us couldn't believe that Wallace had sanctioned the action. Only two days before, he had upheld us in a long-drawn-out struggle with the Administrator over a basic principle: namely, that in all marketing agreements and codes entered into during the economic emergency, with the antitrust laws in abeyance, the government should have the right to examine the books and records of the industry involved.
Late in the day of our dismissal Wallace sent word that he would see two of the people on the dismissal list. Jerome Frank and a member of his legal staff, Alger Hiss, were delegated for the interview. Wallace haltingly greeted them (and, through them, others on the list) as "the best fighters in a good cause" he had ever worked with. But he said that he had to fire them. Frank asked him why he hadn't talked it over with us beforehand as his friends and assistants instead of letting Davis wield the axe—we might not have agreed with his reasoning, but we would at least have seen how he arrived at the judgment. He replied that he just couldn't face us.
Despite this denial of normal human amenities between friends and co-workers—not to mention a sacrifice of principles for political expediency—many of us continued to back Wallace. We had put too much of ourselves into him to let go of him. We rejoiced in his nomination and election to the Vice Presidency. We did whatever we could to uphold his hand as chairman of the Board of Economic Warfare in the fundamental controversy with the head of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, Jesse Jones, over procurement and stockpiling policies on critical war materials. The leader of the BEW's side of that explosive fight was not Wallace. It was Milo Perkins, executive director of the BEW, whose vision and courage carried Wallace into actions he himself would not have taken.
Dismissed by Roosevelt from the BEW post along with Jones at the climax of that battle, Wallace took on more than ever, in the eyes of many liberals, the aspect of a crusading Galahad. But the machine politicians of the Democratic Party, who gagged when Roosevelt forced Wallace down their throats as Vice-Presidential candidate in the 1940 convention, had by this time determined he was a political liability. With the approach of the 1944 convention it was clear they had persuaded the President of this also.
Nor were the machine politicians the only ones wanting to dump Wallace. It is ironic to recall that a couple of months before the convention C. B. Baldwin, Wallace's present campaign manager, was ready to throw Wallace overboard. Baldwin was then the executive vice-chairman of the National Citizens Political Action Committee. Clark Foreman, Wallace's present campaign treasurer, and others active at top levels of the NCPAC had come to the same conclusion. So had Sidney Hillman and some of his CIO-PAC assistants. Baldwin participated in a conference at the White House with Roosevelt to try to come to agreement on a substitute. Only because CIO President Philip Murray went to bat for Wallace with a crackdown on Hillman, Baldwin, and the others was a serious division of forces behind Wallace averted. Because of Murray's action the demonstration that night at the Chicago 1944 convention came within a hair of nominating Wallace instead of Truman. It was prevented from doing so only by Convention Chairman Samuel D. Jackson's abrupt adjournment of the session.
I talked a number of times with Wallace during that convention. It was there, I believe, that he felt for the first time his developing power as a spellbinder. His speech to the convention was the best political speech he had ever made. He was no longer the diffident, inarticulate geneticist torn between his search for the truths of the natural sciences and his search for personal security in supernaturalism. He was well on the way to becoming a rabble-rouser drinking in the response of the crowd and learning how to elicit that response to satisfy his thirst—a complete metamorphosis of his outward self.
The next significant stage in Wallace's evolution into his present crusade was his acceptance of the consolation prize Roosevelt offered him, the Secretaryship of Commerce. When rumbles began in the Senate against his confirmation, particularly if the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (renamed the Federal Loan Agency) remained in his domain as Secretary, he let it be known in high moral terms, friend and foe, that he would not take the job unless it included the RFC. That multi-billion dollar agency, first established by Herbert Hoover in a vain attempt to prevent the debacle of the speculative-banking economy during the last years of his Administration, was in Wallace's mind a potential instrument of major social amelioration and change. In the end, confronted with an adamant Senate, he accepted confirmation to the Commerce post stripped of control over the RFC. He had once again made a moral declaration and abandoned it in the pinch.
Wallace's endorsement of the unbelievable Johannes Steel, radio commentator, for Congress in 1946, plus his praise of Vito Marcantonio as having "the best voting record in the House," caused some of us finally to stop giving Wallace the benefit of the doubt. Steel entered the primaries in the 19th District, New York City, against the Democratic incumbent, Arthur G. Mein, whose voting record, from a liberal point of view, was well above average.
Nothing that happened after he took Steel to his bosom surprised us. His letter to President Truman on the Baruch atomic energy program for the United Nations and his Madison Square Garden speech in September, 1946, might have been anticipated. It was almost inevitable that his atomic energy letter would distort the facts, and that, when confronted by Mr. Baruch and his associates with demonstrable errors, he would agree to revise what he had said and then never do so. And it is significant that he omitted some sentences adverse to Soviet policies and tactics in his Madison Square Garden speech when the booing grew.
Even before the Steel endorsement, there had been a clear tipoff on Wallace's changing frame of mind. In a speech before the Congress of American Soviet Friendship at Madison Square Garden on November 8, 1942, while he was still Vice-President, he voiced his loss of faith in "political or bill-of-rights democracy." He agreed with those in the United States who believe that we have overemphasized that type of democracy. "Carried to its extreme form," he declared, "it leads to rugged individualism, exploitation, impractical emphasis on states' rights and even to anarchy." Then he added, "Russia, perceiving some of the abuses of excessive political democracy, has placed strong emphasis on economic democracy. This, carried to an extreme, demands that all power be centered in one man and his bureaucratic helpers. Somewhere there is a practical balance between economic and political democracy."
Despite the qualifications with which he sought to surround this abnegation of faith in "political or bill-of-rights" democracy, it can fairly be interpreted as an announcement by him that in our present stage of evolution the peoples of the world cannot be trusted to carry on their struggle as free men for a better life—that at least a moderate application of the methods and procedures of authoritarianism or dictatorship is required for their own good. The key to his whole New Party campaign is to be found here.
In many of his campaign speeches he has tried to deny this. One of these speeches—at Evansville, Indiana, April 6, a month after the Czech crisis—reworded his state of mind with special clarity. "Though I detest the whole idea of dictatorships," he declared, "there is a great difference between the fascist dictatorship, which tries to perpetuate itself for its own profit, power, and glory, and the dictatorship in the Soviet Union which has as its goal an economy of abundance for all its people and the eventual dissolution of the dictatorship. The fascist dictatorship must expand its working area. It must seek new sources of raw materials, new markets for its goods, and new people to exploit. This necessity is not inherent in the dictatorship in Russia. The Russians have no necessity to expand their borders, nor will they for many decades to come, except as external threats and pressures compel them to seek military security."
In that rationalization he closed his eyes to the facts of Russian imperialism. Of more significance, he turned his back on the sameness of the methods and processes of dictatorships—the brutal destruction of individuals, singly and en masse. He rejected the findings of the best minds of the ages, from Plato to John Dewey, that the means to an end inexorably shape the end, and he slammed the door against those who believe that bloody dictatorship is more evil when clothed in moral protestations than when it asserts itself as naked might.
A number of liberal Senators, both Democratic and Republican, after trying to get behind the veil of Wallace's destiny-yearning while he was presiding over the Senate, reached substantially this opinion about him: that he had made up his mind that governmental collectivism is inevitable throughout the world, including this country and the Western Hemisphere that the Soviet brand of this "wave of the future" is preferable to other brands and that he himself is specially designated to ride that wave and channel its course when it rolls across our land. Their opinion is supported, it seems to me, by steadily mounting evidence.
For some of us who worked with him in years past, the most shocking experience comes in comparing the positions he is taking in this campaign (including those set forth in his campaign book, Towards World Peace) with the positions he took in action while in government. A typical example is his fervent and self-righteous outcry, on every campaign occasion, over discrimination against the Negroes and over exploitation of the lowly and downtrodden as exemplified by the sharecroppers. But his record as Secretary of Agriculture on that score was bad enough to invite the present opposition of Walter White, Secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and of other Negro leaders.
He didn't really start to redress the gross administration inequities under the AAA Act suffered by the sharecroppers in the South until many months after he had dismissed our group. And that purge was in part because we tried to do something about that distressing situation. Nor did his elevation to the Vice-Presidency seem to encourage him to take a more forthright stand on this issue which is now part of his stock in trade. He literally ran away—physically, down the Senate Office Building corridors—according to members of a delegation who waited three hours for him beyond their appointment time to tell him why they felt that a Negro sharecropper from Virginia, Odell Waller, had been unjustly sentenced to execution for murder. Wallace, as members of the delegation describe the incident, slipped out of his inner office door just as the delegation was leaving the outer office. One of the delegation, Mary McLeod Bethune, noted Negro woman leader, gave chase calling, "Mr. Wallace, this is a great tragedy. We must talk to you." To which the Vice-President, according to members of the delegation, replied over his shoulder, "There's nothing I can do," as he disappeared around the corner. Harassed by the widespread publication of this episode in the Negro press, Wallace has said it didn't happen. But, despite their joint efforts in a personal interview, he and his manager have been unable to persuade Mrs. Bethune to give them a letter denying the occurrence. Nor have any other members of the delegation been found to deny it.
Even more recently—during his Secretaryship of Commerce—Wallace's attitudes and actions on this problem of discrimination aroused the outspoken hostility of Negro organizations and their leaders. He insisted that segregation policies in the National Airport restaurant, under his jurisdiction, could not be changed because it is located across the District of Columbia line in Virginia and is operated by a private concessionaire who sets the policies. Secretary of War Stimson, confronted with the same circumstances as to location and operation, by concession, of the cafeterias in the War Department's Pentagon Building, found no difficulty in establishing a non-segregation policy.
The deep resentment of non-Communist Negroes towards Wallace is shown in the following paragraph from an editorial in the February, 1948, issue of the Crisis, monthly publication of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People: --
"Under his secretaryship, the Department of Commerce was more than ordinarily ridden with humiliating separation of workers because of color, and limitation of promotion for the same reason.
While in the latter months of 1947, just before the announcement of his candidacy, Mr. Wallace was railing against segregation and refusing to speak to separated audiences, for five or six years prior to that time he had dodged speaking before conventions of the NAACP, the organization which has had 'no segregation' as its war cry since it was formed. While turning aside NAACP invitations, Mr. Wallace found time to speak several times at Tuskegee, an institution where white and colored guest speakers are sent to separate guest houses."
Admittedly this is a difficult issue but Wallace's glorification of his running mate, Democratic Senator Glen H. Taylor of Idaho, for inviting rough handling and arrest by the Birmingham police, when the Senator tried in May to enter a Negro entrance to an auditorium there, is in contrast with his own performance. Wallace's inadequacy on this issue is not likely to be wiped out by the between the lines confession in his California speaking tour, in May, that he hadn't done all he should have done on the problem when he was in government.
A similarly sharp reversal of position is found in his stand on the Equal Rights Amendment advocated by the Woman's Party. For several years prior to his New Party campaign he championed that proposal. I was with him on an inspection of the White Motor Company war plant in Cleveland in the winter of 1943 when he experienced a reaction from the women workers which greatly impressed him and threw him more strongly on the Equal Rights Amendment side.
He was addressing several thousand workers in the plant yard, a large proportion of them women. With gestures from the truck serving as his rostrum, he was describing the outpouring of improved kitchen and household appliances which would come after the war from many of the factories then turning out war materials. He was picturing a new life of leisure for the housewife. "So," he declared, "when you go back into your homes . " At that point the women hissed and booed resoundingly. His arm was upraised in gesture when this happened. He kept it there for an instant or two as he shifted his face away from the microphone to look with a stunned expression at the crowd. Then he added, "If you want to," at which the women clapped and cheered. "That means something!" he said with feeling as we rode back in a taxi to the hotel. It was not surprising to note him among the Woman's Party supporters soon after that.
But in his May 8 campaign speech at the Commodore Hotel, New York City, to the founding conference of the New York State Women for Wallace, he again about-faced. After analyzing the economic and legal disabilities of women, and proposing remedial legislation, he declared, "I oppose the so-called Equal Rights Amendment which would destroy all existing legislation for the protection of women."
In several of his speeches he has played upon the evil of the Franco dictatorship in Spain and what he says is this country's encouragement of it through trade and diplomatic relations. During the Spanish civil War, as I came to know well while trying to help Loyalist Ambassador de los Rios, Wallace was the least responsive of the cabinet members who were approached to exercise influence on specific problems in behalf of the Loyalist government, such as arranging the servicing of that government's funds in New York City and the campaign to have the arms embargo lifted. His attitude was in sharp contrast to that of Secretary Morgenthau and Secretary Ickes. Wallace apparently did not then see Franco as the menace he now considers him.
These and numerous other about-faces might be discounted as the ordinary inconsistencies of an ambitious politician. It might be said that when, for example, he bemoaned in one of his Middle West campaign speeches the difficulty of getting the U.S. Agricultural Extension Service to give attention to the needs of the small farmers, he was merely having a to-be-expected politician's blackout of memory regarding his own responsibility for the condition out of which he now seeks to make political capital. In the framework of political exigencies, according to this mode of interpretation, he should not now be held to account for having failed to make a single significant move, as Secretary of Agriculture, to put into effect his early promise that he would divorce the tax-supported Extension Service from actual control, in several major agricultural states, by the American Farm Bureau Federation, a private farm organization representing in those states the big, corporate, absentee-ownership type of farming, the so-called master farmers. Wallace flies back and forth across the country, however, as no ordinary politician but as a candidate fired solely by deep humanitarianism and the desire to spread ideas designed to bring about universal peace and prosperity.
The techniques of his mass meetings at Madison Square Garden and elsewhere are designed to play on people's emotions and cloud their judgment—the single spotlight in the darkened auditorium focused on the lone speaker (the holy leader) surrounded by a battery of microphones on a platform in the center of the vast assemblage rising tier on tier on all sides of it the organized chants through a loud-speaker system proclaiming the urgency of the need and the self-sacrificing courage of the savior eager to lead humanity to salvation the spotlight ceremony of lighting the path of the savior when he threads his way among the multitude to and from the platform amid the exulting cheers of his followers. These techniques are a far cry from the old torchlight parades and other traditional methods employed by Theodore Roosevelt in his 1912 Bull Moose effort to reach the White House and by Senior Bob La Follette in his 1924 campaign. They are borrowed from the Sportpalast in Berlin and the Red Square in Moscow and a modern technology applied to make the individual sink his identity in the herd.
Wallace's speeches, furnished to him primarily by Lew Frank, Jr., a Peace Mobilizer till Hitler moved against Russia the taut-larynxed manner in which Wallace utters them in his new incarnation as Messiah and the increasing anxiety of hordes of his listeners combine to make his audience completely overlook Wallace's reckless distortion and frequent errors.
A typical example was his accusation of Laurence A. Steinhardt, U.S. Ambassador to Czechoslovakia of having instigated a rightist plot against the Benes-Masaryk regime which, Wallace asserted was one of the chief factors causing the Communist coup and Masaryk's death there. Faced with Steinhardt's denial and citation of the fact that he was absent from Czechoslovakia at the time, Wallace refused to retract his palpably false charge and retreated into the weak contention that Steinhardt's earlier expression of hope that Czechoslovakia would reconsider and participate in the Marshall Plan (the ERP) was a deliberate incitation of the rightist revolt against Benes and Masaryk.
Illuminating the anguish-beclouded state of mind of Wallace's followers is the Gallup poll of April, which showed that 47 per cent of those who professed an intention at that time to vote for Wallace were still supporting the ERP though he had long since denounced it as a scheme of Wall Street.
Wallace has been taking in large sums of money on his speaking trips. The New York Post on June 4 carried a report from a correspondent who had covered Wallace's Western trip, estimating that in collections and admissions to his meetings Wallace had brought into his campaign coffers about $390,000. This was a 25-day trip starting with a Madison Square Garden meeting where he collected $100,000. In addition to these sources of funds Wallace's campaign has had large contributions ranging from $1000 to $5000 from wealthy individuals typified by Mrs. Elinor Gimble. Howard Norton in the Baltimore Sun of May 12 reported a contribution of $10,000 to the campaign from the Greek-American Committee for Wallace a pledge of $25,000 from the Armenian-American Committee and one of $10,000 from Local 65 of the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union CIO. I estimate that between $3,000,000 and $4,000,000 will be spent in the Wallace crusade.
No newspaper reporter dealing with the Wallace campaign whom I was able to find in checking the facts for this article gainsays the validity of a considerable portion of Wallace's attack upon the Truman administration's foreign policy is Wallace's only significant appeal for support. Many of these reporters agree with him on his opposition to Universal Military Training. Many of them agree with him on his opposition to reimposition of Selective Service. A sizable proportion of them sympathize with his opposition so-called Truman Doctrine in Greece. And not one of them dissents from his shouting to high heaven about the Truman administration's sidestepping the United Nations. But not one of them is for him. They conversationally blast the rough stuff pulled on Baldwin and some of the other Wallace contingent at Evansville, Indiana, the denial of hotel rooms to Wallace and his group because of the Negro singer, Paul Robeson, at Indianapolis, dismissal of Wallace supporters at Evansville College and elsewhere, and all similarly stupid conduct of superpatriots.
But by the same token, they condemn the provocative exaggeration of Wallace's attacks, his avoidance of direct answers to their questions, and the framed-up stunts by people running his campaign. A little-known example of the latter was the meeting for him of Johns Hopkins University students. The PCA had rented Levering Hall on the campus for a noon meeting for Wallace. That morning posters appeared on trees on the campus proclaiming that the university authorities had withdrawn use of Levering Hall and that the meeting would accordingly be held in an adjoining street. A sound truck blared the same announcement as it cruised along the streets around the campus. The announcement was untrue but it created the type of martyrdom atmosphere Wallace and his promoters desire. In his speech Wallace said he expected to be denied facilities in the West but had not expected it in the East. He thus personally furthered the untruth.
Newspapermen naturally resent Wallace's charge, repeated over and over, that the newspapers print nothing but slander concerning him and his campaign. Almost daily he slurs the conscientious attempts of a majority of them to report the facts accurately and interpret them with sober reflection. Some of those with whom I talked think Wallace has become so habituated to belaboring devils that he now believes they actually exist.
Over one aspect of his present manifestations there is sharp difference of opinion among reporters assigned to his campaign. That is his insistent assertion that he knows only one or two Communists in this country and doesn't know how to identify the American brand of non-card-displaying Communists in general. Some say this is palpably a pose on his part. They point out that he got a thorough education in the functioning of the Communist mind during his trip to Europe in the fall of 1947. They contend that he simply wants to keep his eyes closed to the nature of the people in large part manning the machinery of his New Party.
Others believe he is so enveloped in what they think now amounts almost to a paranoic fog that he really doesn't recognize Communists or Party-liners when he encounters them. Reporters entertaining this opinion credit him with an unstudied reaction when he said, some weeks after the appointment had been made, that he didn't know former CIO General Counsel Lee Pressman had been selected as secretary of the New Party platform committee. His astonishment on that occasion was, according to this view, merely another piece of evidence proving Wallace has put himself so completely in the hands of others that he doesn't know from day to day what his party decisions and maneuvers are.
As this is written (June), estimates of the vote Wallace is likely to get range from three to ten million. James A. Farley sets the figure at five million. Wallace himself, in confidential discussions with his associates, expresses his hope to get at least four million—thus to equal Senior Bob La Follette's 1924 total. In these discussions he bluntly proclaims his wish that the Republicans take over the White House.
He expects and intends to make his greatest inroads in the Democratic fold. He was really not "playing make-believe" when he said in March that Senator Robert A. Taft was his favorite candidate. He convinced himself that the Democratic Party is in literal fact under Truman a "war party." He really believes that the President is surrounded by advisers and cabinet members who are collaborating with certain industrialists and financiers in a cold-blooded program of war materiel production for the sake of maintaining the lush profit level of the war years. He has come to the astounding conclusion that when the Republicans, take over the White House they will be less eager to maintain lush profit levels and will consequently not be a "war party." The implication of his stand is that the Republicans will be able speedily to ease strain between the Soviet Union and the United States and achieve peace. He hopes for a large Wallace vote partly to help ensure a Republican victory and partly to give him and his following leverage with the victors.
Wallace's following includes no significant organization support other than the PCA, the Communist and the Communist-led CIO unions. The Townsendites, for whose votes he has made a special play, failed at a recent convention in Washington, D.C. to adopt a resolution endorsing him. The bulk of his following is composed of tens of thousands of men and women whose consciences have been outraged by the postwar materialistic fixation in the United States. He is a symbol for these multitudes whose fears for their sons and daughters are deep and justified in a bitterly divided atomic (and bacterial warfare) world.
True, conditions are rotten-ripe for his use—with the tragic bungling of the Palestine problem and the appalling fiasco of the Soviet-United States exchange of notes in May as his made-to-order examples—and Wallace is trading on them in words and methods calculated to exacerbate the very conditions he professes to want to remedy. Many of these independent voters are so distressed at the performance of the Truman administration, especially in foreign policy, that they are even willing to swallow maneuvers of the New Party which are quite likely to displace liberal members of Congress with reactionary conservatives.
Wallace is apt to get his largest vote among the women, among church people—particularly in rural towns, "the river Baptists," as old-time politicians call them—and among college and university students. He himself thinks he will draw most heavily in the highly industrialized areas, but there are signs he is overoptimistic about this. The polls—typified by that of the Boston Globe for Massachusetts—show that Wallace's probable vote has slumped from the 11 per cent he was credited with after he announced his candidacy.
Whether or not the slump is recovered, it is certain he will receive enough of a vote to serve as a portent that Wallace has introduced—into this country for the first time the European type of politics. He is not sanguine about a continuation of his New Party after the election. Despite the way in which his Communist-disciplined audiences have regularly emptied their pockets for him and the way in which his wealthy backers have drawn large checks for the cause, he sees little prospect of money after November to keep the New Party going. Moreover, he is sufficiently versed in the realities of political parties to recognize that patronage is essential to hold them together. What is more likely is the development of a genuine third party movement out of the political wreckage Wallace is doing so much to create—a movement broadly based in the labor unions and not just in the Communist-led unions a movement such as is envisioned in a resolution adopted at its spring meeting by the board of the United Automobile Workers under the guidance of Walter Reuther.
So, as many of the former associates and friends of Wallace sadly watch him immolate himself in the present crusade, they at least have the consolation of knowing that he is unwittingly preparing the ground for a political growth more in keeping with the bill-of-rights concept of democracy than the one he is so bitterly trying to nourish.
Why didn't Henry A. Wallace become President in 1945? - History
In 1944, Henry A. Wallace, Vice President of the United States, was, next to President Franklin Roosevelt, the most popular New Deal Democrat the number-one promoter of FDR's New Deal programs and was poised to become the post-war President to carry on FDR's anti-colonial world economic development vision. Wallace had, by Summer of that year, toured South America, China, the Soviet Union, and elsewhere, representing FDR, as part of the preparations for the intended post-war program for full-scale, U.S.-led worldwide economic growth.
Wallace had written book-length documentsapproved by FDRon post-war development perspectives, both for the domestic economy and internationally. His books, such as Our Job in the Pacific (1944), the Soviet Asian Development (1944), and many others, explained that there must be nation-building, not empire. "The Century of the Common Man," is what his international New Deal perspective came to be popularly termed, after a speech by Wallace in June 1943.
Thus it was that, especially in early 1944at the time it was clear that Hitler would be defeated militarilyWallace became the focal point of a massive political assault by those opposed to FDR's outlook namely, by a rabid right-wing Anglo-American Synarchist International opposition. They put puppet Harry S Truman into office. Their intent was not only to destroy Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal legacy, and its revival of Alexander Hamilton's American System of economics, but to try to take over the United States with a corporate-fascist policy run by what Eisenhower later called the "military-industrial complex"and which led to almost a half-century of Cold War confrontation.
It is vital to understand how and why Henry Wallace, a man most Americans today don't even know existed, was politically destroyed in the immediate post-war period (1944-46), making way for the Truman Administration, which proceeded to toady to the British Empire. Put in terms of one single, dramatic instance: Wallace would never have dropped the bomb on Japan.
Wallace's own performance in office was never an issue. He was a "natural" in terms of qualifications and dedication. His "crime" was, he did FDR's bidding. From 1933 to 1940 as Agriculture Secretary (a follow-on to his father's 1921-24 years in the same office), and then as Vice President, 1940 to 1944, Henry Wallace was well known to have worked tirelessly and creatively for the FDR policies. This is the point. The background and merits or demerits of Henry Agard Wallace as a person, were not the offending issue for those opposed to FDR's post-war plans. In their view, FDR's plans had to be stopped, so Wallace had to go.
As the effort to restore FDR's tradition to the Democratic Party today, takes center stage, the history of what happened to Wallace is essential knowledge for the American patriot.
From that perspective, we here give a brief review of the character of the domestic and international New Deal, and how Wallace carried out FDR's plans and secondly, we look at the 1944 political machinations, and the events of the July 1944 Democratic Party nominating convention period which dumped Wallace as Vice President, and began the downslide of the Democratic Party. Then followed the effort to drive Wallace out of government altogether.
Wallace Served FDR's New Deal
To underscore why Wallace was ousted in 1944, and what was the character of those forces intervening in the United States to prevent a post-war FDR development perspective from prevailing, it is useful to review the commitment and record of Henry A. Wallace in carrying out FDR's efforts.
First, what was FDR's concept of the New Deal? In brief, it refers to Roosevelt's steering a course out of the worldwide 1930s Depression, through modern application of the founding principles of the United States and specifically, the general welfare: that government must take responsibility to create a situation for all citizens and the nation as a whole, to participate in the creation and benefits of economic growth and security.
We look at three aspects of Wallace's involvement in FDR's domestic New Dealagriculture, natural resources, and full employment and then at his involvement in Roosevelt's international development perspective.
Agriculture. In 1932, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt nominated Henry Wallace, then age 45, for Agriculture Secretary, he was not picking some unknown "out of the blue." Wallace, born and resident in Iowa, was the editor of The Wallace Farmer, the most influential agricultural journal in the Midwest. Henry Wallace himself was editor of the weekly starting in 1921, when his father, also named Henry Wallace, left Iowa to go to Washington, D.C. to serve as Agriculture Secretary in the Harding Adminstration. His father continued in the two subsequent AdministrationsCoolidge and Hooverdying in office in 1924. Even before him, Agriculture Secretary Jim Wilson, from Iowa, served Presidents McKinley and others from 1897-1913, and was the designee for the job by his influential friend, another Henry Wallacethe grandfather of FDR's third Vice President.
The Wallace family were prominent institution-builders, based in the Midwest, including, for example, expanding Iowa State University backing George Washington Carver, an Iowa State graduate and professor, for Tuskegee Institute and many other programs. Trained in plant science, Henry A. Wallace founded the Hi-Bred Corn Co. in 1921, which went on to become Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc., the largest seedcorn company in the world. The Des Moines Register included Henry A. Wallace in its list of 100 Most Influential Scientists of the Century, released Dec. 31, 1999.
Thus, Wallace had the grounding to excel in the New Deal environment in Washington. He had the experience from growing up in three generations of politically active farmers, leaders and economic policymakers, gaining an understanding that you had to fight against political and financial obstacles preventing prosperity. Wallace wrote frequently about what he was trying to do in office, to rescue and build up the economy. In 1934, he published a book titled New Frontiers, in which he said he was trying "to condense into broad material objectives the philosophy of the New Deal."
The immediate problems in the 1930s in the farm sector were low commodity prices, little credit, debt, and farm foreclosures. Addressing the crisis, Wallace, during his service from 1933 to 1940, revamped the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) entirely, both farm programs and credit agencies, according to FDR's mandate to raise prices and stop foreclosures. In addition, FDR's Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA) called for creating county-committees, made up of farmers who elected their own officers and made determinations on crop choices. Wallace promoted the involvement of black farmers on these committees, thus incurring the wrath of manybut obviously fulfilling the desires of FDR.
Wallace administered a vast set of operations, and managed billions of dollars of loans. He used the credit agencies of government to by-pass the Federal Reserve. He was involved directly in both new USDA agencies, and collaborating agencies, including the Farm Credit Administration (FCA), Rural Electrification Administration (REA), Soil Conservation Service (SCS), and Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), which ran the Ever-Normal Granary and the Farm Security Agency (FSA). Through these, Wallace loaned over $6 billion, made 11.5 million separate commodity-credit loans, 1.2 million rural-rehabilitation loans, 20,184 tenant farmer purchase loansall geared to keeping the farmer in business.
The FCA stopped farm foreclosures and bailed out farmers by loaning four times as much money to farmers in the first seven months of the new program, as in all the previous year, and also lowering interest rates. Between 1932 and 1936, farmers' prices went up 66% while farm debt went down $1 billion, by shifting creditors from private banks and insurance companies to Federal agencies.
Of special note is the implementation of FDR's "parity" commodity pricing mechanism, to give farmers an income on a par with other industrial sectors of the economy, and on a par with their expenses of farm production. The Wallace family had fought for this for two generations. It became law with the passage of the McNary-Haugen Act on May 12, 1933.
But by Wallace's own description, the Ever-Normal Granary was the "action of which I was most proud as Secretary of Agriculture." This component was added to the AAA in 1938, and called for maintaining reserves of designated vital food commodities, and carryover stocks from year to year, for national security. Wallace said he got the idea from studying Confucius, and it proved a boon when it came time for the nation to begin stockpiling for the war effort in the early 1940s. It also had a great influence on what became the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.
Natural Resources. Wallace saw to the passage and implementation of many new laws concerning the resource base of the nation. One of them makes the general pointthe passage in April 1935, of the Soil Conservation Act. Congress accepted the prevention of soil erosion as a national responsibility, and mandated that, with state approval, soil conservation districts would be created cross-country, managed by local farmer-directors, and making decisions on how to provide for the care of the water and land resource base in their area. Federal money would then be forthcoming for approved projects, and implemented in a first-ever, local-Federal partnership.
FDR mandated Wallace to work with the states to see to the earliest possible implementation of these new districts, which Wallace accomplished in less than two years. Well before the law, Wallace, in a 1933 speech, "The Coming of the New Deal," looked forward to this very kind of program, as part of the time when people would think of "this whole country as a good farmer thinks of his farm."
Full Employment. Not confined to agriculture as such, Wallace worked in tandem with the 1930s large-scale infrastructure programs in land, water, and for agriculture, industry, transportation, etc. such as the great dam-building programs on the Columbia, Colorado, and Tennessee river systems, and also the many Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) programs doing reforestation, building small dams, parks, and similar rural projects.
The problem in the 1930s was the massive unemployment and declining economic activity, which the many New Deal initiatives turned around.
Wallace saw the goal of full employmentin industry, construction, and servicesas the companion to wise agriculture and natural resources programs, utilizing scientific R&D. Besides being involved in administering programs, he wrote and lectured extensively on the economic principles involved.
In 1936, when FDR was in an all-out battle against reactionaries, to move the New Deal forward, Wallace wrote Whose Constitution? An Inquiry Into the General Welfare. Here he gave one of the most extensive historical discussions of the practical application and battles around the Preamble to the Constitution, and explained how "General Welfare Today" applied to liberty, soil, population, foreign trade, machinery, and corporations. He denounced the outlook of Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations, as the "claw and fang" doctrine which destroys economic activity, does not enhance it.
Wallace wrote: "The Preamble of the New Constitution began with words never before used officially in America: 'We the people of the United States.' The new government was to be a national union of people, and not a union of sovereign and independent States. It was a profound new basis for government." Wallace said "only young men who knew precisely what they wanted would have spent a long, hot Summer in Philadelphia wrestling with such abstract ideas." Like FDR, he defended the first Treasury Secretary, Alexander Hamilton. He discussed the arguments given by Hamilton, "rather a convincing Speaker," citing Madison and others for the need of a strong national government.
"Both the Communist and Fascist approaches from a spiritual point of view seem to me to have many of the same difficulties as Capitalism. All three are largely the product of the British economics of the early ninetenth century and the post-Darwinian biology with their emphasis on an abstract 'economic man' and an animalistic biological man, dominated by purely mechanical responses."
Wallace ends Whose Constitution? by saying that the general welfare can be served: "This will undoubtedly be possible if a spirit of common sense prevailsand if we use our Constitution as Hamilton anticipated it should be used. "
During Wallace's 13-year association with the Roosevelt Administration, the question of full employment came most sharply into focus in service of FDR's view of what should happen after the war. In 1945, Wallace shows us what drove his thinking all alonghow to rebuild a nation and a world economy. It was then that he wrote his last book-length piece, 60 Million Jobs, a term used synonymously with the peacetime requirements of full employmentboth domestic and foreign post-waras New Deal "TVA" policy concepts to win the peace.
Wallace challenged people to think through the penalties of limited employment. In a section called the "High Cost of Failure" he showed that in the 1930s, the United States lost 88 million man-years of production at a cost of $350 billion. He said this would be enough to build 70 million homes at $5,000 eachthree times more than needed. It would more than double the capital stock of all private corporations in the United States or, it would build 350 TVA-style River Valley Authority programs or, it was more than the Federal debt on V-J Day.
Wallacewho liked statistics and "figuring"believed that the United States only survived the economic breakdown in the 1930s, because the bold, courageous action of the Roosevelt New Deal restored the people's confidence in themselves and their faith in their free institutions.
In his 1945 book, he discussed the component parts of the U.S. economy that added up to 60 million jobs, and their interdependence, explaining what full employment means to the businessman, the worker, the farmer, and the veteran.
Wallace indicated that from the birth of our nation, we have "followed the line af action so wisely laid down by Alexander Hamilton," in which an ounce of government stimulation or participation would result in a pound of private initiative and enterprise. Wallace recommended that people read Hamilton's Report on Manufactures, from 1791, as proof that "our democratic government has the definite reponsibility of stimulating our free-enterprise system, not just on behalf of the General Welfare, but also to keep free enterprise continuously a going concern . such bold strokes as the Homestead Act and the subsidizing of the railroads, through both land grants and cash payments, that we built to the limit of our geographic frontiers."
International New Deal. During his Agriculture Department years, and then as Vice President during the war years, Wallace adhered to the same "New Deal" principles for foreign policy, as for domestic programs. For example, he wrote on the concept of the general welfare for all peoples and nations in 1945, noting that, "The Bretton Woods Monetary and Financial Conference, in 1944, devised plans for two international organizations, a Stabilization Fund and an Investment Bank" to outlaw exchange-rate warfare. "Again, an ounce of pooled governmental activity, on a world basis, would create a pound and more of private activity in an undeveloped area."
Roosevelt sent Wallace on international tours. Even before being sworn in as Vice President, Wallace asked for, and received, Roosevelt's approval for a trip to Mexico. Taking advantage of the downtime between being elected Vice President in November 1940, and the January 1941 swearing-in, Wallace drove in his own car to Mexico, so he could stop and visit out-of-the-way places to see the people and nation close-up.
In 1943, Wallace toured seven other Ibero-American nations, representing FDR. Speaking Spanish and wanting to see how the common people, farmers especially, lived, Wallace was warmly welcomed thoughout his tour.
In his book "The Century of the Common Man" in June 1943, Wallace gave an overview of world economic development, making specific reference to many parts of the world, and what could be done under FDR's New Deal outlook, and how it fit with national precedents.
"This United Nations' Charter has in it an international bill of rights and certain economic guarantees of international peace. These must and will be made more specific. There must be an international bank and an international TVA, based on projects which are self-liquidating at low rates of interest. In this connection, I would like to refer to a conversation with Molotov. Thinking of the unemployment and misery which might so easily follow this war, I spoke of the need for productive public works programs which would stir the imagination of all the peoples of the world, and suggested as a starter a combined highway and airway from southern South American across the United States, Canada, and Alaska, into Siberia and on to Europe with feeder highways and airways from China, India and Middle East. Molotov's first reaction was, 'No one nation can do it by itself.' Then he said, 'You and I will live to see the day.'
"The new democracy by definition abhors imperialism. But by definition also, it is internationally minded and supremely interested in raising the productivity, and therefore the standard of living, of all the peoples of the world. First comes transportation and this is followed by improved agriculture, industrialization, and rural elecrification. As Molotov so clearly indicated, this brave, free world of the future can not be created by the United States and Russia alone.
"Undoubtedly China will have a strong influence on the world which will come out of the war and in exerting this influence it is quite possible that the principles of Sun Yat Sen will prove to be as significant as those of any other modern statesman."
In May 1944, right before the fateful Democratic convention, Wallace was sent to China and Soviet Asia, where he saw firsthand what he called the massive opportunity for TVA-style development programs that the United States could help provide the technology for.
FDR Picks Wallace for Vice President
In 1940, Roosevelt himself selected Wallace for his Vice Presidential running mate, and frequently cited his reasons as being respect for his judgment and ability. Historian Richard J. Walton described it this way, in his 1976 book, Henry Wallace, Harry Truman, and the Cold War:
"Henry Wallace was the pre-eminent figure of the early 1940's, after only President Roosevelt himself. He was universally regarded as Roosevelt's heir to the New Deal wing of the Democratic Party. He was Vice President during most of World War II he served at FDR's insistence over the protests of the party bosses, and had, for a time, more direct executive responsibility than any Vice President before or since. FDR chose him as Vice President after he had been for eight eventful years as Secretary of Agriculture, by general agreement the most effective in American history. As Bruce Catton, who worked under Wallace at the Department of Agriculture, suggested, 'he may well have been the most efficent Cabinet member in the Roosevelt administration. He was a first-rate administrator, as a director of men and in handling a large government department.' "
On July 15, 1940, FDR told Secretary of Labor Francis Perkins, "I have decided on Wallace," according to the book American Dreamer. FDR praised Wallace as a man who "thinks right" and "has the general ideas we have." Clearly, the President knew that the nation was headed for war, and that he needed someone he could trust to carry out his approach.
The opposition was significant: There were 17 contenders for Vice President in 1940, and there was much opposition to Roosevelt running for an unprecedented third term but there was more opposition to Wallace. The President finally had to give an ultimatum that it was Wallace as Vice President, or Roosevelt himself wouldn't run. It was a tough sell.
Roosevelt told Postmaster General and Democratic Chairman James Farleywho wanted Jesse Jones, the head of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, as Vice Presidentthat "Henry Wallace is the best man to nominate in this emergency." The President said, "I like him. He's the kind of fellow I want around. He's honest. He thinks right. He's a digger." When Farley responded with the stock line, that many people considered Wallace a mystic, Roosevelt snapped, "He's not a mystic. He's a philosopher. He's got ideas. He thinks right. He'll help the people think."
At the 1940 Democratic Party nominating convention, every mention of Wallace's name was greeted with boos and hisses. Harry Hopkins, Roosevelt's top aide-de-camp, said that the Conservative (Southern) Democrats found in Wallace a means to vent their rage. Roosevelt told Hopkins, "they will go for Wallace or I won't run and you can jolly well tell them so."
Roosevelt became so disgusted with the proceedings that he gave Sam Rosenman a letter declining the nomination for President. "In defiant prose, Roosevelt proposed to tell the Democratic Party it had always failed when it thought 'in terms of dollars instead of in terms of human values.' " "I cannot face both directions at the same time."
In the end, the threat letter by President Roosevelt wasn't needed. It was Eleanor Roosevelt's speech at the convention, in support of Wallace, that saved the day. FDR said, "Wallace's practical idealism will be of great service to me individually and to the nation as a whole."
American Dreamer, which provides the above account, gives a survey of the media descriptions of the new candidate: "Newspaper reporters struggled to introduce the peculiar new vice presidential candidate to their readers. He was, virtually every reporter agreed, 'shy' or 'reticent' or even 'extremely shy.' They said, 'He doesn't like parties he doesn't enjoy the rough and tumble of political compaigning he doesn't drink, smoke, or chew. He relaxes by learning something new.' "
Many reporters observed that Wallace was a " 'deeply religious' man. They were almost unanimous in praising his energy and intellect. Norman Cousins, the young editor of the Saturday Review, rode with Wallace on a train back to Des Moines after the convention and came away in awe. 'Wallace seems to have read every book I could think of.' "
Wartime Service for FDR
Wallace became a very active and highly visible Vice President. In July 1941, Roosevelt appointed him as chairman of the Economic Defense Board (EDB), a policy and advisory agency dealing with international economic issues. The appointmenthistoric, in that it was the first time that a Vice President was given an administrative taskcame just as Roosevelt announced he was going to build, per year, 50,000 lend-lease planes for America's allies.
Within six months of taking office, Wallace had become the strongest Vice President in U.S. history, having been appointed by Roosevelt to head up powerful organizations such as the Board of Economic Warfare (BEW), the Supply Priorities and Allocations Board (SPAB), the Office of Production Management (OPM), the National Defense Advisory Committee (NDAC), and the Top Policy Group (the secret atomic bomb committee). These positions gave Wallace wide-ranging powers to prepare the country for the emergency ahead, and he exercised those powers with energy and organizational expertise.
On Oct. 9, 1941, he arranged a meeting with Vannevar Bush, head of the Office of Scientific Research and Development, and Roosevelt. With only Roosevelt, Bush, and Wallace present, Bush conveyed that the British scientific committee known as MAUD and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences had concluded that it was feasible to build an atomic bomb. Soon after that, Roosevelt appointed Wallacebecause of his scientific experienceSecretary of War Stimson, Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshall, and Bush to the Top Policy Group (TOP), a small secret committee to advise him on atomic policy, which would report to Roosevelt alone.
On Dec. 7, 1941, when Pearl Harbor was hit, Wallace was with Roosevelt into the early morning hours. Later, James Reston of the New York Times described their relationship: "Henry Wallace is now the Administration's head man on Capitol Hill, its defense chief, economic boss and No. One post-war planner."
As the war proceeded, Roosevelt's attentions were more and more taken up with the complications of the international strategic alliances and demands. The U.S. economic mobilization was succeeding in producing huge output gains. But domestically, as well as internationally, there were tense factions and allegiances among allies.
One expression of this was the breach RFC head and Commerce Secretary Jesse Jones, and Wallace. Roosevelt changed some lines of responsibility between them. Eventually, on the night that Roosevelt was inaugurated in 1945, his first act was to write a letter dismissing Jones from office.
But one pattern stands out. As Roosevelt increasingly spent all his time as commander-in-chief, Wallace came even more to be the spokesman for the New Deal, and what this would mean following the war.
On May 8, 1942, just six months after the United States entered the war, Wallace delivered his most famous wartime speech, cleared by Roosevelt. It was originally entitled "The Price of Free World Victory," but soon known as "The Century of the Common Man." This was one of the most widely known of all the wartime addresses, and it served as an elaboration of FDR's "Four Freedoms" Inaugural address of Jan. 6, 1941. It was a direct attack at Time, Life, and Fortune magazine editor Henry Luce's article, "The American Century," about prospects for a post-war American Empire which, like a latter-day Britain, would dominate the world and remake it in the American image (see box).
There are many recorded accounts of the esteem and acceptance for Wallace's service to FDR. In the 1973 book Price of Vision, by John Blum, there are several reports.
On Oct. 17, 1943, Wallace was invited to have lunch with Mrs. Roosevelt. She spoke frankly. She said her children were against a fourth term for the President, and that newspaper surveys indicated that if the war with Germany was over before the election (1944), the President probably wouldn't win. She told Wallace, to his surprise, that if he were nominated, he could win. The difficulty would be to get him nominated. But she said "that, of course, she and the President would be for Wallace as the logical one to carry out the policies of the President."
On Nov. 8, 1943, Sidney Hillman, former vice president of the CIO and the most active and influential labor leader in Democratic politics, had a 40-minute meeting with the President. He told Roosevelt that labor was losing confidence in the Administration, and especially in the men who were immediately around the President. He said that the only member of the President's team in whom labor had complete confidence was Henry Wallace.
The March 5, 1944 edition of the Washington Post had an article by George Gallup, titled, "Wallace Given Wide Re-nomination Lead in Survey of Democrats," which showed that Wallace was prefered by 46% of the Democratic voters for Vice President. The next closest candidate, Cordell Hull, had 22%.
Countdown to the 1944 Convention
The operation to thwart Roosevelt's post-war New Deal vision and destroy Wallace came to a head in 1944, when the power-brokers representing the Synarchist corporate-financial interests, started circling Roosevelt's New Deal political machine like vultures. They operated through direct Democratic Party channels, outright undercover agents, media outlets, and probably J. Edgar Hoover at the FBI, among other networks. They realized that Wallace was a heartbeat away from becoming President.
By the Spring of 1944, especially after D-Day, the powerful Anglo-American networks who had pulled together for the war effort, realized that Hitler would be defeated, and that the key issue before them now was the shape of the post-war world. Having come in contact with FDR's anti-colonialist outlook, they were determined to destroy itand that meant ensuring that Wallace was not renominated as Vice President.
The Democratic Party nominating convention in 1944 was July 19-23 in Chicago, at which the fateful outcome was orchestrated to install Harry Truman, not Henry Wallace, as running-mate for FDR's fourth term. This occurred ten months before Hitler's surrender, and at a time when Roosevelt was in failing health. The matter of post-war policy was uppermost. The outrageous events of the convention come into perspective, as one views some of the earlier maneuvers by networks activated against the New Deal.
Despite official reports to the contrary, it was widely known that President Roosevelt was in very poor health. Those who hated FDR's commitment to the general welfare were quite alarmed, since, at this point, if FDR died, Wallace would become President.
In May 1944, the President sent Wallace to Russia and China, on a 46-day tour, to confer with Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek on military proposals, and to estimate China's capacity for feeding its 600 million people after the war. While Wallace was out of the country, the anti-New Deal networks went into high gear. In particular, the party bosses went to work on the President, playing upon his worsening health, to find a new running-mate and get rid of Wallace.
This pressure campaign was abetted by the fact that Eleanor Roosevelt was also out of the country on tour in May and June. FDR was very sick and weak, and with his two closest spokesmen for post-war New Deal policies away, the President was hounded by conservatives who wanted Wallace out. Although FDR was telling people that he wanted to keep the same old team, he was wavering.
A grouping of key party bossesnone of whom had been New Dealersknew Roosevelt was a dying man, but didn't have the power get him to step aside as President yet they were going to do anything short of assassination to prevent Wallace from being in a position to become President and continue FDR's policies. The core group included Robert Hannegan, the new chairman of the Democratic Party Edwin W. Pauley Ed Flynn Ed Kelly Frank Walker and Edwin "Pa" Watson. They lobbied the President day and night to get another Vice President. Roosevelt, in his typical wily political way, had several other VP contenders thinking they had his favor. But, that was Roosevelt's shrewd style.
Robert Hannegan, who was from Missouri and was instrumental in getting Truman elected to the U.S. Senate, traveled 12,000 miles from January through June 1944, telling Democrats not to vote for Wallace. He sent messages to Roosevelt that Truman was well favored.
California oilman and chief Democratic moneybags Ed W. Pauley, the treasurer of the Party, for the entire previous year had toured the country telling Democrats not to support Wallace for Vice President. He pushed South Carolinian Jimmy Byrnes for the job.
Alabama Democrat "Pa" Watson, the President's Appointments Secretary, controlled access to the Oval Office. He collaborated in arranging for a steady stream of visitors who complained to the President about Wallace Pauley persuaded Watson to keep out Wallace supporters, but give easy access to state chairmen, convention delegates, and national committeeman and non-politicians such as Walter Lippmann, who were against Wallace.
Bronx, New York boss Ed Flynn, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and Chicago Mayor Ed Kelly, who had the power to deliver two crucial states, New York and Illinois, were both against Wallace. Another party leader backing them was Postmaster General Frank Walker.
The Direct British Role
Besides this echelon of party bosses, the networks in operation against Wallace included British intelligence and J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI Director. An entry in Wallace's diary for Dec. 19, 1944 notes, "Hoover specializes in building up a file against the various public figures. Hoover is apparently on his way toward becoming a kind of an American Himmler."
As early as 1943, British Ambassador Lord Halifax, a raving pro-Hitler operative, who had been responsible for directing the Munich policy of appeasement, had assigned personnel to watch Wallace, as a prime assignment.
One recorded incident of direct British espionage against the Vice President, concerning his Asian New Deal initiatives, is described in Anthony Cave Brown's book, "C": The Secret Life of Sir Steward Graham Menzies, Spymaster to Winston Churchill. An adaptation of this episode appears in one of the murder-mystery novels later written by Elliot Roosevelt, FDR's son.
"Then there were the British," Cave Brown wrote, "alarmed by a pamphlet Wallace had written, Our Job In The Pacific, expressing in summary form many of his standard post-war goals. Among these were international control of airways, economic aid for Asian industrial development, the demilitarization of Japan, and self-determination for people living in colonial areas, including India. "
Before the pamphlet went into print, however, a British secret service agent had obtained a manuscript copy and sent it to his superiors. The agent, Ronald Dahl, attended a social gathering at the house of Texas newspaper publisher Charles Marsh, at which Wallace had left Marsh an unpublished transcript. Dahl read it he immediately contacted a British Embassy courier, who picked up the transcript, copied it, and brought it back before the party was over.
From Washington, the photocopy was routed through the British secret service operations in New York to Britain's wartime spymaster Sir Stewart Graham Menziescode name, "C." Menzies took it to Winston Churchill. The documents calling for liberation of colonial peoples in Asia, "stirred Winston to cataclysms of wrath," according to one observer. Soon British agents were busily gathering information on, and launching "commie" smear campaigns and digging up dirt against Wallace.
"Lord Halifax, Britain's ambassador to the United States, personally protested Wallace's 'regrettable' statements to Secretary of State Cordell Hull. Sir William Stephenson went even further. 'I came to regard Wallace as a menace and I took action to ensure that the White House was aware the the British government would view with concern Wallace's appearance on the ticket at the 1944 presidential elections,' he later commented.
"The British secret service agent Ronald Dahl later told Wallace the British government feared that Roosevelt might offer the State Department to Wallace and weighed in strongly against it. Aside from the State Department position, Dahl said, the British government did not care what job he was given.
"Wallace also learned through his friend Frank McDougall that the British were suggesting Wallace be appointed head of the Food and Agriculture Committee of the United Nations, thereby removing him from politics for several years."
Wallace Tries To Counter the Opposition
Thus, the stage was set to dump Wallace. But, Wallace had no intention of standing aside and letting the New Deal die.
On July 10, 1944, Wallace returned from his Soviet-Asian trip. He spoke with his strongest backers and realized that things were not going well around the White House, and that he had been ganged up on. Wallace's assistant, Harold Young, with information based on polls and data from Sidney Hillman's powerful CIO-PAC, told him a recent Gallup Poll indicated that Wallace was now favored by 65% of the Democrats, and that labor was solidly behind Wallace and predicted Wallace would win on the first ballot. However, pressure from the White House and party bosses placed Wallace's prospects at the July 19th convention in very serious jeopardy.
On the evening of July 10, 1944, Wallace met with the President, and told him about the favorable polls and labor support. The President seemed surprised to hear it. Wallace found out that the President was being lobbied hard to choose another running mate, and that the press was saying Wallace was too leftist or too idealistic, even too honest and not a political player.
Roosevelt, however, told Wallace he was his first choice for Vice President. He even sent a letter to the Convention Chairman Sam Jackson, that said, "I have been associated with Henry Wallace during his past four years as Vice President, for eight years earlier while he was Secretary of Agriculture, and well before that. I like him and I respect him and he is my personal friend. For these reasons I would vote for his renomination if I were a delegate to the convention. At the same time, I do not want to appear in anyway as dictating to the convention. " If Wallace didn't win renomination, FDR promised his friend a Cabinet post.
Wallace told Roosevelt repeatedly that he would stand aside if the President wanted another person to be his running mate. But Roosevelt repeatedly told Wallace that he wanted "the same old team." The President also encouraged almost all comers to seek the office, which led some individuals to feel they had Roosevelt's blessing, when, in fact, they didn't. However, Wallace also realized that the President was facing very strong preassure to go with Truman for Vice President, something Truman pretended he didn't know anything about. Truman was telling everybody that Roosevelt was committed to nominating Jimmy Byrnes.
All the considerations which FDR took into account in deciding how to deal with the party factions who were determined to defeat Wallace, are beyond the scope of this article. What appears clear is that FDR did not think that he was about to die, three months into his fourth term, and that he therefore expected to be in control of the party, and his Cabinet, for some time to come. When he finally acceded to the party bosses' insistence that alternatives to Wallace as Vice President be put forwardWilliam O. Douglas or Harry Trumanthe door was open for the convention fight, which, despite Wallace winning the plurality on the first ballot, Truman would win.
Wallace Remained a Target
On Nov. 7, FDR was re-elected for a fourth term. On Jan. 20, 1945, he and Truman were sworn into office. That night, instead of going to the inaugural reception, Roosevelt went back to the White House and wrote Secretary of Commerce Jesse Jones a letter, asking for his resignation, because he was giving the post to Henry Wallace. Later Roosevelt suggested that "Jesse knew a lot about money, but didn't understand the general welfare."
But the "Wallace issue" continued full force. A fight was orchestrated over his nomination as Secretary of Commerce. After he did get Senate approval, a slander campaign was launched to force him out of office at the earliest time. He refused to stand down.
When he started in March 1945 at the Commerce Department, he immediately set to work on its reorganization, in order to provide for programs that would foster post-war full employment. The Wallace papers at the University of Iowa have memoranda on the involvement of Sen. Lister Hill (D-Ala.)major backer of the TVA, Hill-Burton Act, and so on, in this planning for post-war development. There was a draft law for the "industrialization of the South," but it was never even introduced. These concerted efforts were thwarted at every turn.
Again, the fact that Wallace remained an issue of contention is best seen in terms of the larger fateful events of this time period, and not of his particularities.
On April 12, 1945, President Roosevelt died of cerebral hemorrhage in Warm Springs, Georgia. Harry Truman became President. On May 7, Germany surrendered. Now ensued an intensification of moves by the utopians/Synarchists to detonate an act of horror to terrorize all post-war thinking.
On July 16, 1945 the first atomic bomb, produced at Los Alamos Laboratories, was detonated at Alomogordo, New Mexico. On Aug. 6, the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan on Aug. 9, on Nagasaki. On Sept. 2, Japanwhich had agreed to cease warfare much earlier, made its formal surrender.
Within a year, Wallace himself was out of office at the Commerce Department, never again to hold government position.
After Roosevelt's death, Wallace had been highly critical of Truman's policies, saying they were anti-FDR and were provoking the Russians into what became the Cold War. Things like cutting the Lend-Lease program to Russia the next day after Germany surrendered providing billions of dollars in reconstruction loans to Britain, but none to Russia providing military funding to Greece and building a ring of military air bases around Russia, all were provoking the Russians with an Anglo-American confrontation policy, Wallace said.
Wallace, like some others in the Truman Administration, thought the United States should share its information about nuclear power with everyone: that if it were promoted and shared for peaceful means, there would be no threat posed to Russia but in contrast, the right-wing military policy of confrontation would drive Russia into a frenzy and they would build their own bomb. They did.
Wallace agreed with the top nuclear scientists like Oppenheimer, that any country with good scientists could develop nuclear power, so why act like it's a big secret? Wallace wanted the U.S. nuclear program under the control of civilian agencies, and completely out of the hands of the military. The military worried him.
American Dreamer gives these specifics:
"On October 15, 1945, Wallace presented his memo to Truman saying . 'apparently the purpose of Britain was to promote an irreparable break between us and Russia. Britain's game in international affairs has always been intrigue, but we must not play her game.' "
Wallace thought the atomic bomb problem involved three interconnnected problems. "First, as long as the United States makes atomic bombs she will be looked upon as the world's outstanding aggressor nation," Wallace wrote. And "Steps should be taken immediately to place atomic weaponry under international control" with the aim of destroying "all weapons of offensive warfare. An atomic bomb race between nations means the end of humanity.
"Second, the United States should recognize and promote the unlimited civilian benefits offered by atomic energy. The civilian application of atomic power must not be held back by the military,"
"Third, the control of U.S. atomic energy should rest with a civilian atomic power commission, its director appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate."
But the Churchill-Truman policy of confrontation was advancing. On March 5, 1946, Churchill came to Fulton, Missouri, at Westminster College, for the famous "Iron Curtain" speech. He was introduced by President Truman. Churchill called for a "fraternal association of the English-speaking peoples" to stand up against the Soviet Uniona Cold War. He said, "From Stettin in the Baltic, to Trieste in the Adriatic, an Iron Curtain has decended across the continent." Only British and American military strength could meet the threat.
Truman sat behind him applauding.
Wallace heard of the speech in Washington, D.C., at a dinner party hosted by Dean Acheson, at which the Australian Ambassador to the United States, Dick Casey, and his wife praised Churchill's call. Wallace wrote later in his diary, "I promptly interjected that the United States was not going to enter into any military alliance with England against Russia that it was not a primary objective of the United States to save the British Empire."
In September 1946, a speech by Wallace at Madison Square Garden, in New York City, became the occasion for a direct London denunciation of him, and public demand for his removal from office. On Sept. 12, 1946, in an address titled, "The Way to Peace," Wallace said, "He who trusts in the atom bomb will perish by the atom bombor something worse. But to make Britain the key to our foreign policy would be . the height of folly. We must not let British balance of power manipulations determine whether and when the United States gets into war.
"Make no mistake about itthe British imperialistic policy in the Near East alone, combined with Russian retaliation, would lead the United States straight to war.
". It is essential that we look abroad through our own eyes and not through the eyes of either the British Foreign Office or a pro-British or anti-Russian press. The tougher we get, the tougher they get.
"I believe that we can get cooperation once Russia understands that our primary objective is neither saving the British Empire nor purchasing oil in the near East with the lives of American soldiers. We cannot let national oil rivalries force us into a war. "
The next day, a political and diplomatic storm erupted. Truman, who had previewed the speech and approved it on Sept. 11, lied and told the press that Wallace never showed him the speech. Secretary of State Byrnes and the press went ballistic, and on Sept. 20, Truman asked for Wallace's resignation and got it. Truman promptly appointed Averell Harriman in Wallace's place.
For the next two decades, Wallace continued to battle for national policy direction as he saw it. That is a story for another telling.
Bishop, Jim, FDR's Last Year, April 1944-April 1945 (New York: William Morrow, 1974)
Blum, John Morton, ed., The Price of Vision: The Diary of Henry A. Wallace, 1942-1946 (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1973)
Culver, John C., and Hyde, John, American Dreamer (New York: W.W. Norton, 2000)
Fleming, Thomas, The New Dealers' War: Franklin D. Roosevelt and The War Within World War II (New York: Basic Books, 2001)
Kingdon, Frank, An Uncommon Man: Henry Wallace and Sixty Million Jobs (New York: The Readers Press, Inc., 1945)
Walton, Richard J., Henry Wallace, Harry Truman, and the Cold War (New York: The Viking Press, 1976)
New Frontiers (New York: Reynal & Hitchcock, 1934)
Our Job in the Pacific (New York, San Francisco, Honolulu: American Council, Institute of Pacific Relations, 1944)
Sixty Million Jobs (New York: Labor Book Club, Inc., by arrangement with Reynal & Hitchcock and Simon and Schuster, 1945)
Soviet Asia Mission (New York: Reynal & Steiger, 1946)
The American Choice: Foreign and Domestic Policy for America Now (New York: Reynal & Hitchcock, 1940)
The Century of the Common Man (New York: Reynal & Hitchcock, 1943)
The Price of Free World Victory (New York: L.B. Fischer, May, 1942)
Whose Constitution: An Inquiry Into the General Welfare (New York: Reynal & Hitchcock, 1936)
A New Product for Farmers
His grandfather “Uncle Henry” Wallace founded the weekly publication Wallaces’ Farmer. Henry A. served as editor of this publication from 1921 to 1933. As editor of Wallaces’ Farmer, Henry A. helped establish the state corn yield contest, annual corn husking contest and Master Farmer Awards as well as made Wallaces’ Farmer the most influential farm journal in the nation.
After he took over as the editor of Wallaces’ Farmer, Wallace tirelessly wrote about the virtues of using hybrid seed. At the time most farmers didn’t understand what Wallace was telling them. Wallace did not invent the hybrid seed corn. He never claimed to. But he saw the commercial possibilities for the seed corn and set out to prove it.
There was no place for farmers to buy hybrid seed. In 1926 Wallace came up with a plan to make the product available to farmers. He formed a company called Hi-Bred Corn Company, later to be called Pioneer Hi-Bred Corn Company in 1935. It became the world’s first and largest hybrid seed company. Wallace’s research was one of the most important plant genetic contributions from 1920 to 1940.
In 1933 only one percent of all farmland in Iowa was planted with hybrid seed. By 1943 almost a hundred percent of the farmland was planted with hybrid seed. Bushels per acre increased in that same period from 24.1 to 31.
Understanding the Mechanics of Fate: How History Was Almost Different and How Democratic Politics in 1944 Set in Place Our Doom: Part One
That significant decision and single individual was written about to greater specificity by journalist George Beres last year: “It was 70 years ago this year the United States took a major turn toward political conservatism instead of the liberal direction President Franklin Roosevelt had followed the previous 12 years. The momentous change– [the] greatest shift in our nation’s political history– came at the Democratic Party nominating convention of 1944. It occurred even though FDR, architect of lasting welfare reforms during the Great Depression, was a shoo-in to be elected to an unprecedented fourth term that fall.
The difference came in the identity of his heir apparent …..”
President Franklin D. Roosevelt is often lauded as one of our greatest Presidents, and it is a status deserved. However, perhaps the biggest mistake ever made was Roosevelt’s lobbying of Missouri Senator Harry S. Truman to be his running mate in 1944. At the time Henry Wallace was the sitting Vice President of the United States, but it was not for any significant disapproval on FDR’s part that Wallace wasn’t to continue in this role. Sadly, it was for reasons of petty politics that Wallace was on his way out with Truman on his way in.*
Peace Abroad, Equality At Home
Wallace was as liberal a politician as any we’ve ever elected to high office, certainly to the Executive Branch. In foreign affairs he was aggressive about diplomacy, whereas he was repulsed by a vision of a war machine that senior officials James Forrestal and Averell Harriman were ratcheting up. Soon to be implemented as the Truman Doctrine, this war machine, as Peter Drier of Truthout.org put it in an article about Wallace, “aimed to contain communism through military intervention if necessary. Wallace refused to support the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe, considering it an instrument of the cold war. He preferred a multilateral aid program that would be administered through the United Nations.”
Vice President Wallace had also been on good footing with the Soviets, and, as the post-war era approached, was committed to working with them. In short, “Wallace opposed the cold war”. He wasn’t alone. Roosevelt too had been working diplomatically with the Soviets on issues involving territories. Détente, defined as “the easing of hostility or strained relations, especially between countries” was Roosevelt’s official strategy.
Drier continues, “For Wallace the outcome of the war had to be more than a restoration of the status quo. He wished to see the ideals of New Deal liberalism continuing at home and spreading throughout a world in which colonialism had been abolished and where labor would be represented by unions. “Most of all,” write [biographers John] Culver and [John] Hyde “He wanted to end the deadly cycle of economic warfare followed by military combat followed by isolationism and more economic warfare and more conflict.”
That deadly cycle didn’t exclude opposition to the movement for a Jewish homeland. Henry Wallace believed that if Israel were recognized as an official state, it would result in immediate war and long-term instability in the Middle East.**
In spite of widespread public support for Wallace’s ideas on foreign policy, he “roused the ire of the more conservative Democrats, of business leaders and conservatives, not to mention Winston Churchill, who was strongly committed to preserving Britain’s colonial empire.”
Drier also touched on Wallace’s domestic politics. In addition to his opposition of racial segregation, “he was a strong advocate of labor unions, national health insurance, public works jobs and women’s equality. He would have been, without question, the most radical president in American history. He would have served out the remaining three years of FDR’s fourth term and certainly would have sought to be elected on his own in 1948.”
Shakedown at the Democratic Convention
It’s been said that delegates decide who become their party’s nominees, and although no one ever held a gun to a delegate’s head over who they should cast their ballot for, the nominating process for the Vice Presidency was unusual at the Democratic convention of .
Wikipedia states: “As the Convention began, Wallace had more than half the votes necessary to secure his re-nomination. By contrast, the Gallup poll said that 2% of those surveyed wanted then-Senator Truman to become the Vice President. To overcome this initial deficit, the leaders of the Democratic Party worked to influence the Convention delegates, such that Truman received the nomination.”
“How the nomination went to Harry S. Truman, who did not actively seek it, is, in the words of his biographer Robert H. Ferrell, “one of the great political stories of our century”. The fundamental issue was that Roosevelt’s health was seriously declining, and everyone who saw Roosevelt, including the leaders of the Democratic Party, realized it. If he died during his next term, the Vice President would become President, making the vice presidential nomination very important.”
The party leadership at the Democratic Convention that year comprised of a conservative, pro-business faction of Democrats. The liberal, pro union Wallace was anathema to them, and they had no tolerance for him. They made this plenty clear to the President, and this resulted in Roosevelt going from supporting Wallace, to going neutral on Wallace, and then finally, turning on Wallace. “Ferrell calls this process “a veritable conspiracy.”
The anti-Wallace forces consisted of Democratic National Committee Chairman, Robert E. Hannegan, Democratic National Committee treasurer, Edwin W. Pauley, Democratic party secretary George E. Allen, Postmaster General Frank C. Walker, New York political boss Edward J. Flynn, and Chicago mayor Edward J. Kelly. Roosevelt himself, though privately now endorsing the anti-Wallace movement, wrote a message that was addressed to the delegates, which read that if he were a delegate, he’d vote for Wallace. The reason for this tepid endorsement was that he did not want to offend Wallace and his supporters.
“According to Truman biographer David McCullough … in his book Truman: “Hannegan, Flynn, Kelly, and the others had been working through the night, talking to delegates and applying ‘a good deal of pressure’ to help them see the sense in selecting Harry Truman. No one knows how many deals were cut, how many ambassadorships or postmaster jobs were promised, but reportedly, by the time morning came, Postmaster General Frank Walker had telephoned every chairman of every delegation.” As Ferrell concludes, “Truman was … nominated in 1944 by the boss system.”
The Man Responsible For FDR’s Choice
Above all others, it was Robert E. Hannegan, the DNC Chairman appointed by Roosevelt, who made Truman’s nomination possible. A Missouri politician and power broker who helped save Harry Truman’s political career following the tax fraud conviction of Truman’s ally, Tom Pendergast, Robert Hannegan was Truman’s political lifeline well before 1944. When Truman was running for reelection to the US Senate in 1940, Hannegan saved him again on election day with the considerable influence he wielded in St. Louis and in Catholic neighborhoods.
Robert E. Hannegan with fellow Missourian Senator Truman
Truman returned the favor while Hannegan was serving as the Commissioner of Internal Revenue. Roosevelt had offered Senator Truman the DNC Chairmanship Truman declined, and suggested to the President that he name Hannegan instead.***
As head of the DNC, “Hannegan was responsible for brokering the deal that made Truman Roosevelt’s running mate … Wallace nearly won the nomination, but Hannegan worked feverishly to secure Truman’s nomination.” “Hannegan later joked he wanted his tombstone inscribed with the words “Here lies the man who stopped Henry Wallace from becoming President of the United States.”****
Nov. 10, 1944 – The day after the general election:
President Roosevelt, Vice President-Elect Truman, Vice President Wallace
FDR Fiddles Over His Mortality
Roosevelt knew full well that he was unlikely to live out his fourth term in office, but he was cavalier of this fact, telling his new Vice President at lunch one day, almost in passing, “Don’t fly off too far, Harry. You never know when you’ll have to take this job.” And yet, the great Roosevelt was dismissive about shaping a future with his guaranteed successor. Truman was the last do-nothing Vice President, a tradition which had changed little to none since the administration of George Washington.***** Truman’s Vice Presidency was one of perfect exclusion from governance, consisting of little else than presiding over the Senate and playing cards with his colleagues. That was about it. He was not the recipient of any crucial, government information in so much as a phone call or a conversation from the Roosevelt administration.
Vice President Truman and President Roosevelt
When the Presidency was thrust upon him on April 12, 1945, Truman was completely in the dark. That darkness would reflect on the future in the form of Truman’s approval for atomic bombs dropped, a cold war instituted, the creation of the military-industrial complex (including the CIA), a war in Korea (which set the precedent for unauthorized wars), US imperialism and western colonialism across the globe, and last but not least, the sovereignty of Israel.
Having served as the 33rd President of the United States, Harry S. Truman left the White House on January 20th, 1953 with an approval rating of 34 percent.
* Source is an often told telephone conversation involving the Democratic Party leaders, Truman, and Roosevelt, that was set up to manipulate a resistant Senator Truman into accepting his candidacy for the Vice Presidential nomination.
** Every cabinet member and senior war commander in the Roosevelt administration also shared Wallace’s views on Israel. This uniformity would carry over into the Truman administration, in spite of Truman firing every member of FDR’s cabinet within the first year of his presidency.
*** After Roosevelt’s death, Truman once again returned the favor by appointing Hannegan the Postmaster General.
**** Maybe Wallace should not have spent his tenure as Vice President advocating for liberalism, realizing instead that it would lead to insidious forces within the Democratic party jeopardizing the security he had to inherit the presidency. Then again, after Roosevelt had threatened to withdraw himself from nomination in 1940 were Wallace not accepted on the ticket, Wallace probably couldn’t have imagined Roosevelt not supporting him to stay on as his running mate in .
***** Henry Wallace was the exception. Roosevelt, recognizing Wallace’s resourcefulness, gave him a robust Vice Presidency.
(1947) Henry A. Wallace, “Ten Extra Years”
Henry A. Wallace, the Vice President of the United States from 1941 to 1945 and the future candidate for the Presidency on the Progressive Party ticket in 1948, chose the National Convention of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, meeting in Tulsa, Oklahoma in December 1947 to outline his views on racial equality. The significance of the speech’s title appears in its last two paragraphs. The entire speech appears below.
I have not come here to address the convention of this great American fraternity—older than the state in which it holds its convention—in order to repeat simple truths.
I have not come here to recite facts about conditions you know fully well as I do—and which you have learned at more bitter cost.
Nor have I come to demonstrate my knowledge of the contributions the Negro people have made to building and defending this great nation.
These are themes better saved for audiences which have less grasp of the problem. I used them recently in talking to large and receptive audiences in key southern cities. I have used them, no less importantly, in many northern cities. It is vital to prick consciences in the self-righteous North.
I am her to say: Jim Crow in America has simply got to go.
But I am not here to recite the economic facts and figures which support the case. If there were no such facts, the simple immorality of segregation and discrimination is enough to condemn it. It is enough to demand our every effort to destroy it.
I have come here to state my belief that the abolition of Jim Crow has top place on the agenda of a program for national defense. I have come to say that until it is abolished the words “democracy” and “freedom” and “justice,” used so glibly to support our foreign policy, will ring hollow thorough-out the world.
I come to you as a liberal fellow American, one who served in the New Deal Administration which did more than any Administration since the time of Abraham Lincoln to improve the living conditions of the Negro people. Yet I made these points only to emphasize that whatever we white, unprejudiced democratic Americans have done, whatever the New Deal did, has been far less than enough. It has been less, far less than our principles demand.
Today we must be as stubborn in our devotion to principle as the Abolitionists of a century ago. The times demand it. The defense of our country demands it.
I am here to state my opinions as to why so many of us who have been genuinely devoted to the elimination of prejudice and its fruits, have not been fully effective in fighting for our belief. I state these opinions with the hope that they will help us find a more successful course for the period ahead.
First, let me state my impression that our greatest weakness has been a failure to take the offensive. We liberal, un prejudiced white Americans have never failed to answer please for the defense of the rights of our Negro brothers but we have not maintained a day-to-day offensive to demand complete justice.
We Must Take the Offensive
I mentioned a minute ago the necessity for pricking consciences in the North. Many of us who live outside the South have been vigorous spokesmen for change in the south. We have looked at the civil rights statutes on the books of many northern states and have assumed airs of self-righteousness. We have contrasted them with the quite opposite laws—the laws imposing segregation—which are found in the South. In using this base for self-righteousness, we have been kidding ourselves. We have taken pride in statutes, but we have not taken leadership to see that the laws have meaning. When we are willing to face facts, we know that discrimination and segregation in the North are only slightly less brutal than in the South. Yes, when we face facts we know that restrictive covenants are the most despicable examples of priority for property rights over human rights. We have taken pride in a lesser evil. But in an evil all the same.
Sometimes we have been handicapped by our own liberal philosophy. We have been too tolerant of intolerance. We have let the intolerant assume the offensive. We have permitted ourselves to be forced into defensive roles.
I think today of the utterly nauseating spectacle of hearings before the House Un-American Committee. I think of its great drive against liberals, progressives, and Communists. This drive is not made against these groups, including the Communists, because they are advocating the overthrow of the government by force and violence. It is directed against them because they have demanded that we give meaning to the words “equal opportunity for the pursuit of happiness.”
Every uttered truth produces a tremor in those who live by lies. The truth is truly dangerous. It eats up prejudices and devours hate. The House Committee has taken the offensive against truth. It is trying to silence the writers and artists and political leaders who are most adept at carrying truth to the people It is trying to intimidate into silence the professors, teachers, scientists, and ordinary citizens who like to speak the truth. It is receiving whole-hearted assistance from the craven men of the motion picture industry. It will receive similar assistance fro the “big money men” on the boards of trustees of universities and colleges. The Un-American Committee is a fortress for the defense of Jim Crow.
I can remember—sometime back—joining with others in protesting to the movie industry against the use of certain stereotype characters of Negroes and Jews and other minorities. We pointed out that these portrayals—these stereotypes—helped to perpetuate prejudices. Although this accomplished some good, it was essentially a defensive act. We have not been equally vigorous in demanding positive contributions form the motion picture industry toward the elimination of prejudice.
The movie industrialists buckled under to the Thomas-Rankin Committee because they feared for their markets. They thought the American public would condemn Hollywood for harboring progressives. They worried that the people would boycott movies, even though no evidence of subversion had been uncovered.
Let’s Talk Back to the Film-Makers
Yes, the movie magnates worry about their markets. Like many other huge industrialists they value profit above human needs. I think it is time that we talk to them in their own terms.
Let them use the full powers at their disposal in the fight for the abolition of segregation
and discrimination—or let them feel the organized resistance of millions of white and Negro Americans. Let them know that we shall not support an industry which is afraid of fundamental American principles. Let them show the same respect for freedom-loving Americans that they have shown for the defender of the Klan, John Rankin, and his compatriot, J. Parnell Thomas. If we can’t get results by appeals to principle, let us talk in language they understand—in the language of box office dollars. Other groups have found it possible to get results from these profit-made moguls. It is time for our counter-offensive. An industry truly interested in the dramatic arts, in the defense of American liberty, and in legitimate box office receipts can find no richer source of material than in the successful struggles of groups of Negro citizens and individual Negro leaders.
The fight against the House Un-American Committee and all congressmen who abuse their powers is a major battle for all Americans, white and Negro.
Many of you remember the war-time activities of Andrew J. May, a congressman from Kentucky. You remember that he used his powers as chairman of the House Military Affairs Committee for private profit. But the act of Andrew May’s which was far more despicable, the act for which he was not convicted in court nor even in the public press, came at the peak of the war. The few dollars of profiteering for which he was sentenced caused the people no irreparable harm, but his actions in stopping the distribution to troops of scientific material to combat prejudice—specifically the pamphlet “Races of Mankind”—was a crime of enormous implications.
Such abuses of power are all too frequent. Some are publicized many more go by virtually unnoticed. They are the truly subversive, un-American activities. When I speak of taking the offensive, I mean that we must pin the label of subversive where it properly belongs. We must pin it on the Rankins, Coxes, and the others who breed prejudice and defend segregation and discrimination. They are the enemies in our midst.
The New Deal Administrations were accused by the southern poll taxers of going beyond the southern doctrine of “gradualism” in helping to improve the living conditions of the negro people. By comparison with our needs at this period of history, the New Deal record looks like “gradualism” itself.
We Have Problems in Common
In reviewing our record and in charting a course for a more successful and productive future, we must recognize that the problems of the Negro people are fundamentally the problems of all workers, farmers, small businessmen, and professional people. We must recognize that the problems of the South are vital problems of the entire nation. We have known these facts. We have spoken them. But too often we have acted as though they were problems separate and apart.
It is four score and seven years ago since we were forced to act upon the fundamental premise that this nation could not survive half-slave and half free. Today we must act upon the equally fundamental premise that a strong and democratic America cannot be built while that one-third of our people who live in the south, Negroes and whites alike, remain the common victims of an oppressive economic, political, and social system. It is a system which bears a striking resemblance to the hated fascism we so recently fought a war to destroy. It, too, must be uprooted.
The problems of the Negro people lie at the very heart of the problem of the South and the problems of the South are basic to the critical problems of our entire nation.
The cancerous disease of race hate, which bears so heavily upon Negro citizens, and at the same time drags the masses of southern white citizens into the common quagmire of poverty and ignorance and political servitude, is not an isolated problem to be attacked completely apart from our other national problems. It is part of an ever more dominant philosophy of dollars above men, of property values over human values. The Jim Crow system pays handsome profits to a small number of men in positions of economic and political power. Jim Crow divides white and Negro for the profit of the few. It is a very profitable system indeed.
We have only to examine the wages paid to white and Negro workers in southern agriculture and industry to see how profitable this system is. We find, of course, that Negro workers receive many millions of dollars less pay than the same number of white men doing similar jobs. But that is only part of the profits from Jim Crow. We look further and find that southern white workers receive far lower wages than their brothers in the north. It is then that we get some measure of the tremendous fortunes which are wrung out of the hides of white workers by a system which divides Negro and white and increases the exploitation of both. America’s trade unions must be strengthened for they are trying to fight Jim Crow.
Jim Crowism puts many millions of extra dollars every year into the pockets of the owners and rulers of the south. It is “good business” for the few but it means ignorance, disenfranchisement, poverty, undernourishment, disease, terror and death for the many.
During the past decade, because of the war and other emergencies, we have pulled our punches in the fight against the money-changers and monopolists. F.D.R. waged that fight magnificently and successfully in the middle thirties, and it is a fight which must be resumed. The war-time recess in this fight is part of the reason for our failure to make headway in the fight against Jim Crow. The fight against monopoly dominance is at the very core of the fight to abolish segregation. The extended armistice in the fight against monopoly has delayed the end of colonial rule over the south. We have known that those who profit from the traffic in human misery in the South are not exclusively southerners. We have known that the big Wall Street interests dominate the southern economy. We have known that our fight for justice in the South is doomed to fail unless we carry the bigger fight. We must act on this knowledge.
As we take the offensive to lick Jim Crow, we must keep our eyes on the principal opposition—the big interests for whom Jim Crow is profitable. We must not be distracted into fights against their other victims, their tools—the prejudiced and bigoted workers and farmers and small business people who have been so warped by their economic masters that they do not respond to principled appeals. We must talk to these sad victims in language they understand. If they see a clear picture of the concentration of economic power in Wall Street if they see clearly Wall Street’s domination of Washington and if they can be made to see the high day-to-day costs they pay for a system of Jim Crow, we shall win strong allies in our fight against Jim Crow. The freedom of all workers, farmers, small businessmen, and professional people, North and South, white and Negro, rests on our fight to destroy Jim Crow.
The full democratic power of our government must be used to enlarge and protect the lives and liberties of those millions, both white and Negro, who are now the common victims of Jim Crow. The new session of Congress must take positive steps to extend to all the people of the South their constitutional right to vote, regardless of race, creed, or economic status. The whole network of devices by which the masses of common people in the South are kept from the polls must be utterly and completely destroyed. We can’t demand free elections in the Balkans and be passive about restrictions to suffrage here at home. It is time for the President to use the power and influence of his office to help win free elections for the people of the South. The Department of Justice must us its full resources to put a stop to the whole bagful of tricks by which southern registrars and other officials deny Negro citizens the vote.
The Time to Strike Is Now
The Republican Party controlling the present Congress must be reminded of its 1944 convention pledge to outlaw the poll tax barrier to free elections.
The 1948 elections must see the greatest outpouring of southern white and Negro votes in all our history. It will take immense courage to challenge Jim Crow. But the time to strike is now.
The time has come to demand actions from the bi-partisan coalition which is so concerned with freedom abroad and so oblivious to the needs for greater freedom at home. It is time for action to defend Americans at home. Such action is more essential to the maintenance of peace than the defense of American corporations abroad.
The admirable report of the Special Committee on Civil Rights is not action it is no more than a welcome prelude to action. It must not be pigeonholed. We need no further investigations—we didn’t need this one—to know that a federal anti-lynch law is a necessity. The time is long past when we liberal Americans can be pacified with reports and promises of action. Our readiness to accept reports in place of action is one of the big reasons for our failure to be fully effective in the fight against Jim Crow.
Lynchings, serving to intimidate Negro Americans, may be useful to those who would keep some of our people submerged, but none of them dare defend lynching openly.
The contention that a federal anti-lynching law violates states’ rights has no validity. The power of our federal government is used to interfere in the internal affairs of half the countries in the world it can certainly be used to defend Americans at home.
Poll taxes and lynch laws are only two of the hateful devices used to maintain Jim Crow which must be completely destroyed. No less important is positive action to enlarge and equalize the educational opportunities of American children—especially in the South.
We cannot rest easily with a shameful picture you know better than I—the picture of dilapidated and barren Negro school houses in most of the rural South the poorly paid teachers, the extremely meager—or non-existent school transportation facilities the scores of southern counties where there are absolutely no high school facilities for Negroes, and the severely limited and substandard college and professional facilities.
That great historic hoax called “separate but equal” Negro school must be ended. There is not, and there never can be, equality of educational opportunity in a system of segregated schools. This system is not only an impossible drain on the financial resources of the South, but it is a system which is intended deliberately to maintain suspicion and hatred between Negro and white and to keep the masses of both people in virtual ignorance. The Supreme Court, as well as Congress, must discard the “substantial equality” doctrine.
I realize full well that the administration of public education in the states is beyond the scope of federal legislative control, but the federal government can and must make tremendous contributions toward enlarging and equalizing educational opportunities through appropriations to the states. Such grants-in-aid must be made under a plan sufficiently rigid to prevent discrimination. Many a white American, eager to help the Negro people, has insisted that education is essential. Some have used “lack of education” as an excuse for present atrocious conditions with others it is a genuine belief of the need for greater education. In any case, all proponents of more education must be enlisted in the fight for adequate federal aid. From an Administration which demands an annual expenditure of two million dollars for an outrageous program of compulsory military training we must demand the dollars which can enlarge and equalize educational opportunities in the South and in rural areas in other sections of the nation.
We Must End Job Discrimination
The abolition of the educational props to Jim Crow must be accompanied by an end to the widespread employment discriminations which bar millions of Negroes, Jews, Catholics, and foreign-born Americans from decent jobs.
During the war, under Franklin Roosevelt, our federal government began a serious attack upon the problem of discrimination in employment. The vital and struggling Fair Employment Practice Committee did heroic work in opening up job opportunities. But now, like so much that Roosevelt fought hard to build, the FEPC has been allowed to die—almost without a struggle. Peacetime employment is reverting again to the widespread discrimination on grounds of race, creed, and national origin.
President Truman did, indeed, ask the Congress for permanent FEPC legislation. Yet no observer on Capitol Hill has seen the power which the Administration can command thrown into a serious fight to guarantee the adoption of a permanent FEPC law. Nor, indeed, has any action been taken to combat the job discrimination which exists under the President’s nose in the administrative departments of government. The thousands of Negro federal employees, who held good jobs during the war, are rapidly disappearing.
I have said many times—and I say again—that the President does not have to wait upon Congress to correct this sordid condition. If he can proclaim so-called “loyalty oath” witch-hunts against civil service workers who show the least tinge of progressive thought then he can, if he really wants to, proclaim an Executive Order barring discrimination in federal employment.
I would remind you, too, of another broken platform pledge solemnly proclaimed at the Republican Convention in 1944. It was the promise to pass permanent FEPC legislation if the Republicans got control of Congress. They now have such control.
It is obvious, I think, that we—both white and Negro—have pulled too many punches in our past fights against Jim Crow. This must stop. We have every moral principle and every economic and social fact on our side. There is no reason to compromise or relent in the fight against Jim Crow.
There is a particularly hateful expression, used innocently at times by many white Americans—it is a line about “The Great White Hope.” I say to you and to those who speak of “White Hopes” that the true white hope is a well-organized, intelligently-directed Negro minority fighting for full justice. The measure of success or failure of American democracy can be found at all times in the conditions of our thirteen million Negro citizens. The great Negro organizations—fraternal, social, economic, and political—have greater powers than they have ever used. I beg of you—do not compromise. You are indebted to no one for the crumbs of justice you have been thrown. Gratitude should be reserved for genuine favors not idly bestowed for simple justice.
As we enter one of the most critical years in world history, we must overcome our weaknesses in order to fight successfully. We must distinguish between words and deeds.
“What doth it profit, my brethren, if a man say he hath faith, but have not works? Can that faith save him f a brother or sister be naked, and in lack of daily food, and one of you say unto them, go in peace, be ye warm and filled and yet he give them not the things needful to the body what doth it profit?…Faith, if it have not works, is dead in itself.” (James)
Before I take leave of this audience—and in thanking Alpha Phi Alpha for the opportunity to address you—let me say that I am haunted by a single, grim fact—pulled out of dry statistics as I wrote an address a while ago.
It is the fact that a Negro child born this day has a life expectancy ten years less than that of a white child born a few miles away.
I say that those ten years—those ten extra years for millions of Americans are what we are fighting for. I say that those who stand in the way of the health, education, housing and social security programs which would erase that gap commit murder. I say that those who perpetuate Jim Crow are criminals. I pledge you that I shall fight them with everything I have.
The Einstein-Bohr legacy: can we ever figure out what quantum theory means?
Quantum theory has weird implications. Trying to explain them just makes things weirder.
- The weirdness of quantum theory flies in the face of what we experience in our everyday lives.
- Quantum weirdness quickly created a split in the physics community, each side championed by a giant: Albert Einstein and Niels Bohr.
- As two recent books espousing opposing views show, the debate still rages on nearly a century afterward. Each "resolution" comes with a high price tag.
Albert Einstein and Niels Bohr, two giants of 20 th century science, espoused very different worldviews.
To Einstein, the world was ultimately rational. Things had to make sense. They should be quantifiable and expressible through a logical chain of cause-and-effect interactions, from what we experience in our everyday lives all the way to the depths of reality. To Bohr, we had no right to expect any such order or rationality. Nature, at its deepest level, need not follow any of our expectations of well-behaved determinism. Things could be weird and non-deterministic, so long as they became more like what we expect when we traveled from the world of atoms to our world of trees, frogs, and cars. Bohr divided the world into two realms, the familiar classical world, and the unfamiliar quantum world. They should be complementary to one another but with very different properties.
The two scientists spent decades arguing about the impact of quantum physics on the nature of reality. Each had groups of physicists as followers, all of them giants of their own. Einstein's group of quantum weirdness deniers included quantum physics pioneers Max Planck, Louis de Broglie, and Erwin Schrödinger, while Bohr's group had Werner Heisenberg (of uncertainty principle fame), Max Born, Wolfgang Pauli, and Paul Dirac.
Almost a century afterward, the debate rages on.
Top 10 People Who Almost Became President
Sometimes things don&rsquot quite work out as they are expected to. If you have ever been passed over for a job, or missed out on something that seemed like a sure thing then this list might cheer you up a little. Here are ten people who came very close to the highest office in the land. Some of them missed it by only a few weeks or a few votes. This list excludes people who eventually become president. How different do you think things would have been if some of these men had become president?
In 1948 just about everybody thought Thomas Dewey was going to be elected president. Harry Truman was losing popularity and most people felt that the Democratic vote was going to be split between two third party candidates, Henry Wallace and Strom Thurmond. Dewey was told that all he had to do was not make any major mistakes. Truman, however, wasn&rsquot going to give up. He ran a very vigorous campaign and attacked Dewey on all fronts. In spite of this, many media outlets still did not think it was enough. Early returns from the election led the Chicago Tribune to print their infamous &ldquoDewey Defeats Truman&rdquo headline. However, as the night went on it became clear that Truman had won the election thanks to swing voters in a few select states. Dewey may have lost the election, but thanks to his infamous headline he is one of the most famous runners-up in history.
Rockefeller was a politician who very much wanted to be president, and in September 1975 he almost got his chance. During that month there were two assassination attempts on president Gerald Ford. The first by &ldquoSqueaky&rdquo Fromme is the most famous, although her gun was loaded improperly and was therefore harmless. Seventeen days later, however, Ford was shot at by Sara Jane Moore but the bullet was deflected. Nelson Rockefeller was Ford&rsquos vice president by special appointment. Had the assassination attempts been successful, Rockefeller would have been the second president in a row to reach the office without having to win an election.
Very few events better illustrate the rise of Theodore Roosevelt than the Vice Presidency of William McKinley. Garret Hobart had been one of the most powerful vice presidents in history. He worked very closely with the president, and no doubt could have taken over as president if he needed to. Unfortunately in 1899 Hobart died. Around that same time Roosevelt, then Governor of New York, was wreaking havoc on the corrupt political machines. Those in power thought that the best way to keep him quiet would be to make him Vice President. At the time the VP had very few duties. McKinley and Roosevelt won the election easily. Then around six months later McKinley was assassinated and Roosevelt became president. Today Roosevelt is on Mt. Rushmore and remembered as one of the greats. However, it took a few deaths for him to get there. And although Hobart was a well liked public figure, he is mostly forgotten today.
Had Spiro Agnew been able to keep his hands clean, he would have become president. He was Vice President under Richard Nixon in both his first and second term. About a year into his second term it came out that Agnew had been taking bribes in all of his elected offices. These bribes totaled more than $100,000 dollars, which was a great sum in the 1960s. Agnew was forced to resign, and Nixon, who didn&rsquot get along with Agnew, couldn&rsquot have been happier. Nixon, of course, would be out of office due to a scandal in less than a year, but it was Gerald Ford, and not Spiro Agnew, who ended up in the White House.
Hamlin was Lincoln&rsquos vice president during his first term. He was a popular and experienced politician in his day, but his party saw things differently. They felt that adding a southerner to the 1864 ticket would add more appeal. So for the presidential race they kicked out Hamlin and brought in Andrew Johnson. Lincoln and Johnson easily won the election. However, barely a month after the new term began Lincoln was shot and Johnson took over. His presidency is now infamous for being one of the worst in history. It is probably fair to say that if Hamlin had won, he would have made a far better president than Johnson.
Although most one vote margin victory stories are either completely false or exaggerated, this one is absolutely true. In 1868 Benjamin Wade came within one vote of becoming president. Wade was President pro Tempore at the time President Andrew Johnson was being impeached. Wade was next in line to get the job because Johnson had no vice president. His presidency would have lasted around five months until the upcoming elections and would have been the one of the shortest terms in history. However, the vote in the Senate was one short of the needed 2/3 majority and Johnson was allowed to stay in office.
Marshall was Vice President under Woodrow Wilson, and he probably had a legitimate reason to become president. In 1919 Wilson suffered a debilitating stroke which left him unable to carry out his duties as president. Marshall, though, had one major obstacle standing in his way to the presidency. This obstacle was the president&rsquos wife, Edith Wilson. She was going to make sure that her husband finished his term in office, and did so by taking on many of the executive duties herself. She also kept the knowledge of Wilson&rsquos condition a secret. Marshall reportedly never found out the true extent of the president&rsquos stroke until his last day in office. Many go so far as to say that Edith Wilson was the first woman president, but no matter what her real standing was she was certainly closer to the office than Marshall.
Wallace was the Vice President during Franklin Roosevelt&rsquos third term. During this time he showed himself to be quite a radical, at least according to the controlling Democrats at the time. He was a civil rights advocate who was interested in Buddhism. He was also a strong supporter of Russia thanks to a trip he took in 1944 where the real Russia was hidden from him. Also in 1944 rumors were beginning to surface about the health of FDR. Many insiders were worried that he would not survive another term if elected. Leading democrats were worried about Wallace becoming president, so they kicked him off the 1944 Presidential ticket and replaced him with Harry S. Truman. 82 days after the start of the term FDR died and Truman took over. Wallace missed being president by about three months.
In 1876 Tilden won the popular vote over his opponent Rutherford B. Hayes by around 200,000 and was one vote shy in the electoral college. The problem arose when three southern states (South Carolina, Florida, and Louisiana) turned in two sets of votes. This led to a scandal that revealed heavy fraud in the voting process in these three states. Eventually a 15 member commission was set up to decide the winner. They voted along party lines and awarded the victory to Hayes. This gave him an Electoral College victory of one vote. Tilden lived out the rest of his life quietly and never ran for office again.
Today Al Gore has many awards including an Oscar, Grammy, and Nobel Peace Prize to his name, but the ultimate prize eluded him several times. Al Gore came very close to the presidency several times while serving as Vice President under Bill Clinton. In 1994 alone there were three attempts on Clinton&rsquos life. In 1999 Clinton was impeached, but he was kept in office. Then in 2000 Gore got his own chance to run for president. The 2000 election turned out to be one of the most controversial in history. Gore got over 500,000 more popular votes than opponent George W. Bush, but highly scrutinized votes in Florida eventually swung the election in Bush&rsquos favor. Today Al Gore seems to be a happy person who is proud of his accomplishments, but he will undoubtedly never forget how close he was to being president nearly a half dozen times.
Vice President from 1953 - 1961 President from 1969-1974.
Richard Nixon was Vice President under Dwight D. Eisenhower and received the Republican Party's nomination for President in 1960. He was then defeated by Democrat John F. Kennedy in the general election. Two years later, he ran for Governor of California and also lost again. In 1968, Nixon received the Republican Party's presidential nomination and became America's first Vice President to be elected President after a gap in holding public office.
Column: How FDR’s vice president warned against the fascism of Trump
Philosophers through the ages have remarked on how history moves in circles, not a straight line — that “there is no new thing under the sun,” as Ecclesiastes would have it.
That points us to a warning voiced by Henry A. Wallace, the second of Franklin Roosevelt’s three vice presidents and his first secretary of Agriculture, in 1944.
Wallace’s subject in an essay published in the New York Times on April 9 that year was “the danger of American fascism,” and his warning seems to have come true with uncanny accuracy in the America of Donald Trump.
The American fascists are most easily recognized by their deliberate perversion of truth and fact. . They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution.
Henry A. Wallace, former vice president, in 1944
Given the time in which he wrote, it’s unsurprising that the topical focus of Wallace’s essay was the rise of fascism in Germany and Italy. But he sought to identify conditions in those countries that posed an analogous danger to ours.
“Always and everywhere,” Wallace wrote, fascists “can be identified by their appeal to prejudice and by the desire to play upon the fears and vanities of different groups in order to gain power. It is no coincidence that the growth of modern tyrants has in every case been heralded by the growth of prejudice.”
Wallace examined the fascists’ manipulation of public debate — their method is to “poison the channels of public information. . With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power,” he wrote.
“The American fascists are most easily recognized by their deliberate perversion of truth and fact,” he added. “Their newspapers and propaganda carefully cultivate every fissure of disunity. . They use isolationism as a slogan to conceal their own selfish imperialism. . They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution.”
Could there be any more accurate description of Donald Trump’s political tactics? From the moment he began campaigning through to his very latest utterances on Twitter, Trump has strived to divide the American public, not bring them together in the longer tradition of American political leadership.
A new New Deal would correct America’s 50-year decline and fix the COVID-19 pandemic, too.
He has demonized Mexicans, immigrants and Muslims. He has manipulated the news media — and not only the sycophants of Fox News — to sow disunity, even fostering a political divide over sensible anti-pandemic practices such as mask-wearing and social distancing.
He has dismantled the alliances between the U.S. and Europe that established a lasting postwar peace, and trade agreements with Asian and North American partners that made all parties richer.
He was wrapped himself in the flag as though to claim the mantle of patriotism for himself and his followers. He has dismissed truthful reports of real conditions as “fake news,” while his acolytes defend their lies as “alternative facts.”
None of this is designed to make life better for ordinary Americans, but only to gain and maintain power.
Wallace’s words made centrists extremely uneasy. The New York Times, in the very same edition in which it published Wallace’s essay, denounced it for going too far. “It is astonishing that Mr. Wallace cannot see that in going to such lengths he approaches the very intolerance that he condemns,” the Times editorialized.
Before delving deeper into Wallace’s warning, a few words about the man are in order. In political terms, Wallace rather disappeared into the fringes of the Democratic Party after it replaced him on the presidential ticket in 1944 with the more pacific Harry Truman.
(FDR’s vice president for his first two terms was John Nance “Cactus Jack” Garner, the vinegary Texan House speaker who had run against him for the presidential nomination in 1932.)
Wallace has been gaining more attention in recent years, partially because of his position as a true progressive in a Roosevelt administration that was much less leftist than its popular image.
The latest and most trenchant examination comes from the veteran journalist John Nichols, whose book about Wallace, “The Fight for the Soul of the Democratic Party,” was published in April.