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Henry Wallace, America's Forgotten Visionary


Society & Culture  (tags: activists, americans, education, freedoms, history, Henry Wallace )

Kit
- 689 days ago - truth-out.org
One of the great "What if?" questions of the 20th century is how America would have been different if Henry Wallace rather than Harry Truman had succeeded Franklin Roosevelt in the White House.



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Kit B. (276)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 12:58 pm
Henry Agard Wallace. (Photo: Department of Commerce)


One of the great "What if?" questions of the 20th century is how America would have been different if Henry Wallace rather than Harry Truman had succeeded Franklin Roosevelt in the White House. Filmmaker Oliver Stone has revived this debate in his current ten-part Showtime series, "The Untold History of the United States," and his new book (written with historian Peter Kuznick) of the same name.

In the late 1930s and early 1940s, only FDR eclipsed Wallace - Roosevelt's secretary of agriculture (1933-1940) and then his vice president (1941-1944) - in popularity with the American people. Stone's documentary series and book portray Wallace as a true American hero, a "visionary" on both domestic and foreign policy. Today, however, Wallace is a mostly forgotten figure. If Stone's work helps restore Wallace's rightful place in our history and piques the curiosity of younger Americans to learn more about this fascinating person, it will have served an important purpose.

Wallace almost became the nation's president. In 1940, he was FDR's running mate and served as his vice president for four years. But in 1944, against the advice of the Democratic Party's progressives and liberals - including his wife Eleanor - FDR reluctantly allowed the party's conservative, pro-business and segregationist wing to replace Wallace with Sen. Harry Truman as the vice presidential candidate, a move that Stone calls the "greatest blunder" of Roosevelt's career. Had Wallace remained as vice president, he would have become president when FDR died in April 1945.

Wallace opposed the cold war, the arms race with the Soviet Union and 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.

Stone raises several titillating but unknowable questions: Had Wallace become president, would the United States have dropped the atom bomb on Japan? Would the country have spent several decades engaged in a costly cold war and arms race with the Soviet Union? Would we have created a permanent war economy (one that President Eisenhower later warned had become a "military-industrial complex") and replaced England as the world's most assertive imperialist and colonial power, leading the country into numerous military adventures, including Vietnam? Would our society have postponed for at least a decade the civil rights and women's rights revolutions?

Today, if Wallace is remembered at all, it is as a fringe candidate who ran on the Progressive Party ticket against Truman in 1948 and garnered less than 3 percent of the popular vote. That is unfortunate, because Wallace was a remarkable public servant. He was, according to John Kenneth Galbraith, "second only to Roosevelt as the most important figure of the New Deal."

Wallace was born on an Iowa farm in 1888. After graduating from Iowa State College in 1910, he went to work for his family's newspaper, Wallaces' Farmer, which was widely read by farmers and was influential in educating farmers about new scientific techniques and political issues shaping agricultural life. In 1921, Wallace took over as editor when his father became secretary of agriculture in the administrations of Warren G. Harding and then of Calvin Coolidge.

Wallace had a great passion for what was then called "scientific agriculture" and a talent for agricultural research. In 1926, he started the Hi-Bred Corn Company - later renamed Pioneer Hi-Bred - to market a new high-yield corn seed he had developed during his years conducting scientific experiments on a part-time basis. The company was hugely successful, making Wallace rich and his heirs secure. The new company revolutionized American agriculture. (DuPont bought the business for $9.4 billion in 1999.)

Wallace recognized that farming followed an unpredictable boom-and-bust cycle due to the weather, overproduction and consumers' ability to pay for food. In the 1920s, almost half of all Americans made their living directly or indirectly from agriculture. Wallace saw that farmers had not shared in the decade's prosperity and that their plight worsened when the economy crashed in 1929. Between 1929 and 1932, farm income fell by two-thirds. Farm foreclosures were occurring at a record pace. Farming communities were emptying as family farmers and sharecroppers abandoned the land looking for jobs elsewhere, a situation portrayed in John Steinbeck's 1939 novel The Grapes of Wrath and in the film based on it.

As Adam Cohen recounts in Nothing to Fear (2009), his book on the first 100 days of FDR's administration, these experiences radicalized many farmers throughout the farm belt. In May 1932, for example, 2,000 farmers attended a rally at the Iowa state fairgrounds and urged fellow farmers to declare a "holiday" from farming, under the slogan "Stay at Home - Buy Nothing Sell Nothing." In effect, they were urging farmers to go on strike - to withhold their corn, beef, pork and milk until the government addressed their problems. They threatened to call a national farmers strike if Congress did not provide farmers with "legislative justice." In Sioux City, Iowa, farmers put wooden planks with nails on the highways to block agricultural deliveries. In Nebraska, one group of farmers showed up at a foreclosure sale and saw to it that every item that had been seized from a farmer's widow sold for five cents, leaving the bank with a total settlement of just $5.35. In Le Mars, Iowa, a group of farmers kidnapped Judge Charles Bradley off the bench while he was hearing foreclosure cases and threatened to lynch him if he did not agree to stop foreclosures.

Wallace, a scientist and economist as well as a farmer, believed that the solution to the farm crisis was a combination of better farm management and government relief. Both Wallace and his father had been loyal Republicans, but in 1928, the younger Wallace changed his allegiance, supporting Democrat Al Smith for president. Four years later, Wallace endorsed FDR in the pages of his newspaper. Iowa, a traditionally Republican state, gave FDR almost 60 percent of its votes. Soon after winning the presidency, FDR recruited Wallace to become his secretary of agriculture - at 44, Wallace was the youngest member of the cabinet.

The Farm Belt protests continued after FDR took office in March 1933. Wallace used the growing farm rebellion to persuade the president to support a number of innovative and controversial programs, including crop subsidies, to keep farmers afloat. Wallace was the key advocate for the Agricultural Adjustment Administration, the Rural Electrification Administration, the Soil Conservation Service, the Farm Credit Administration, and the food stamp and school lunch programs. Wallace added a program for erosion control. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) sponsored research to combat plant and animal diseases, to locate drought-resistant crops, and to develop hybrid seeds to increase farm productivity.

As a result, the USDA changed from a marginal department into one of the largest agencies, in size and influence, in Washington. Wallace's agency was also widely considered the best-run department in the federal government.

Business groups and Republicans in Congress opposed Wallace's plans, as they did most of the New Deal initiatives. Radical farm groups, like the National Farmers Union, thought the plans did not go far enough. But it is clear that the New Deal farm programs saved the farm economy and helped stabilize rural areas.

Wallace, Frances Perkins, Harry Hopkins, and Rex Tugwell formed the progressive wing of FDR's inner circle. Wallace had FDR's ear on a wide variety of issues, and he used that influence to push for policies to help industrial workers and the urban poor as well as farmers. Wallace became the New Deal's evangelist. In 1934 alone, he traveled more than 40,000 miles to all 48 states, delivered 88 speeches, signed 20 articles, published two books, and met regularly with reporters to promote the president and his program.

Because the fate of American farming is closely linked to global issues - particularly the export and import of food, but also hunger and famine around the world - Wallace was well versed in foreign affairs. In the late 1930s, he became alarmed by the rise of fascist dictatorships in Germany, Italy and Japan. Many Midwesterners, including progressives, were still isolationists, but Wallace had become a vigorous internationalist and a strong advocate for "collective security" among the United States and its allies.

During FDR's first two terms, Wallace developed a broad following among farmers, union activists and progressives. FDR was impressed by Wallace's popularity, his intelligence, and his integrity and believed that they shared a common view of government's role in society. In the summer of 1940, having decided to run for an unprecedented third term, FDR picked Wallace to be his vice presidential running mate.

During World War II, FDR involved Wallace in many military and international matters. Wallace also traveled throughout the war-torn world. FDR encouraged him to speak out about the possible shape of the postwar world. "Henry Wallace," wrote columnist James Reston in The New York Times in October 1941, "is now the administration's head man on Capitol Hill, its defense chief, economic boss and No. 1 post war planner."

Wallace faced significant opposition from the Democratic Party's conservative, business and segregationist wings. He feuded openly with Jesse H. Jones, a one-time Texas banker and businessman who was FDR's secretary of commerce and head of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC), which controlled the purse strings for purchasing wartime supplies. For example, Wallace and Jones disagreed over the importing of essential materials for the war effort, such as rubber from South America. Wallace knew that about 40,000 workers were needed to extract the 20,000 tons of rubber that the United States needed each year. But each year, one-third of the rubber workers died and another third were too sick to work, afflicted with malaria, malnutrition, venereal disease, contaminated water, and other conditions. To guarantee a steady supply of rubber, Wallace (with the support of Perkins, the labor secretary) wanted the United States to provide the workers with healthy food and to require labor clauses in contracts with South American suppliers that mandated health and safety standards. Jones was adamantly opposed to Wallace's proposal and rounded up allies within the Roosevelt administration (including the State Department) and in Congress, including Republican Sen. Robert Taft of Ohio, who accused Wallace of "setting up an international WPA."

On May 8, 1942, Wallace delivered a talk in New York City that became famous for his phrase "the century of the common man." It was, noted John Culver and John Hyde in their biography, American Dreamer: A Life of Henry A. Wallace, "as pure an expression of progressive idealism as Wallace could muster." Wallace defined America's wartime mission as laying the groundwork for a peaceful world of global cooperation, "a fight between a slave world and a free world." Modern science has made it possible for everyone to have enough to eat, Wallace said, but it will require cooperation among the major nations to raise the standard of living for the common man in every corner of the world.

The speech was Wallace's response to a 1941 article by Henry Luce, the publisher of Time and Life magazines, which called for an "American century" after the war - meaning a century dominated by the United States, "to exert upon the world the full impact of our influence, for such purposes as we see fit and by such means as we see fit."

Wallace's rebuttal was very explicit. He envisioned an end to colonialism, a world in which "no nation will have the God-given right to exploit other nations. Older nations will have the privilege to help younger nations get started on the path to industrialization, but there must be neither military nor economic imperialism." Wallace was aiming for a kind of global New Deal.

Millions of copies of Wallace's speech were distributed around the world in 20 languages. It drew praise in liberal and progressive circles, but it also stirred controversy. The British prime minister, Winston Churchill - who hoped that Britain would still have an empire to run after the war - was upset by Wallace's stark anticolonial sentiments. American business groups objected to Wallace's views about economic imperialism. The New York Times and, of course, Luce's publications, thought it was too radical.

Wallace's speech framed the debate between progressives and conservatives. Opponents viewed Wallace as naive, a dreamer and a radical. These opponents included influential Democrats who worried that FDR might anoint Wallace as his successor, or at least give Wallace a big enough stage from which to launch a presidential bid once FDR had retired.

Led by Robert Hannegan, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, local and state party bosses quietly lobbied FDR to replace Wallace with Truman. Going into the 1944 Democratic convention in Chicago, Wallace was strongly favored to keep his position as FDR's running mate. Too ill to attend the convention and too busy overseeing the American war effort to get in the middle of an intraparty battle, FDR let it be known that either Wallace or Truman (a little-known senator from Missouri with few accomplishments to his credit) would be an acceptable vice presidential pick. On the first ballot, Wallace beat Truman, but lacked sufficient votes needed to secure the nomination. Then the party's conservative influence-peddlers went to work making deals with leaders from different states to gain votes for Truman. They maneuvered successfully and handed Truman the nomination.

Wallace was deeply hurt by FDR's failure to back him. After the election, FDR appointed Wallace to be secretary of commerce, but he stripped Wallace of control of the RFC, which he left in Jones' conservative hands. Wallace had a prestigious title, but he was no longer an influential insider. After FDR died in April 1945, Wallace continued to speak out in public, often in terms critical of Truman. Within a year, Truman had purged most of FDR's key appointees. In September 1946, he fired Wallace, too.

On the major issues facing postwar America - the cold war and the arms race (particularly the atomic bomb), strengthening New Deal social policies and boosting organized labor, and addressing segregation and racism - Wallace believed that Truman was too cautious and conservative. These were themes Wallace would pick up on when he campaigned for president against Truman on the Progressive Party ticket. He attacked Truman's support for loyalty oaths to root out communists and radicals from government jobs, unions, and teaching positions in schools and universities. He called for national health insurance, an expanded public works program, and reparations for Japanese Americans who had been interned during the war. He said it was time to elevate women to "first-class citizenship." And when Wallace campaigned in the South, he refused to speak to segregated audiences.

On foreign policy, Wallace opposed the so-called Truman Doctrine, which aimed to contain communism through military intervention if necessary. He 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.

Some early polls showed that Wallace had the support of more than 20 percent of the voters. Democratic Party officials, as well as some left-leaning union leaders, feared that even if Wallace could not win the election, he might attract enough Democratic voters that the White House would fall into the hands of the Republicans. Although his campaign initially attracted support from a wide political spectrum of liberals and radicals - including high-profile figures like scientist Albert Einstein and singer and actor Paul Robeson - much of that support soon withered as Wallace became closely identified with communists.

There were communists in key positions within the Wallace campaign, particularly among the left-wing unions that supported him after most other unions had abandoned his crusade. In some ways, Wallace was naive about the Soviet Union. He visited the port city of Magadan in Siberia in 1944 and described it as "combination TVA and Hudson's Bay Company." In reality, it was a slave-labor camp filled with political prisoners. Only later did he acknowledge that he had been conned by his Soviet guides.

Wallace believed in what would decades later be called "détente" - finding ways to cooperate with the Soviet Union rather than getting trapped in a spiraling arms race. Even as cold war tensions were growing, Wallace simply did not subscribe to the anticommunist hysteria that emerged after the war. "I say those who fear communism lack faith in democracy," he said.

In the 1948 contest, Truman beat New York Gov. Thomas Dewey, the Republican candidate, in a historic upset. Wallace received only 2.38 percent of the national vote. He even trailed third-place Strom Thurmond, the Democratic governor of South Carolina, who was running on the segregationist Dixiecrat Party ticket.

After this humiliating defeat, Wallace bought a farm in New York State, where he enjoyed working with plants and keeping chickens and made only occasional forays into public life. He was soon forgotten or reviled as a misguided radical. It is easy to see, with 20-20 hindsight, that running as the Progressive Party's presidential candidate transformed Wallace into a marginal figure. But an honest examination of his 1948 platform reveals that most of the ideas for which he was condemned as a radical are now viewed as common sense.
****

By: By Peter Dreier, Truthout | Historical Analysis

For further reading

Adam Cohen. Nothing to Fear: FDR's Inner Circle and the Hundred Days That Created Modern America. New York: Penguin Press, 2009.

John C. Culver and John Hyde. American Dreamer: A Life of Henry A. Wallace. New York: W. W. Norton, 2000.

Richard J. Walton, Henry Wallace, Harry Truman and the Cold War, New York: Viking, 1976.
 

Kit B. (276)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 1:02 pm

I think I will consider this serendipitous, I was just talking abut Wallace recently on a comment about the "dust bowl" years. Some historians will say if you don't know Wallace you don't know about the FDR years, the depression or World War II. I would agree. No one will ever know how history would have turned if Wallace and not Truman had followed FDR into the White House. I think probably for the better in many ways.
 

Dave C. (227)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 1:21 pm
There are so many "What ifs" in history....this is an interesting one.....our family just yesterday was discussing "What if Al Gore had become President?".....we suspected that we might already have climate change action, health care reform might be similar, Medicare/SocSec would NOT be in danger and we doubted Iraq would have happened.......couldn't figure out about 9/11 or Afghanistan......was very interesting discussion..........

.....as was this article an interesting read.
 

Kit B. (276)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 1:32 pm

Very true Dave, it's all about each person's perspective of history. If one doesn't know history, and can not make comparative analysis, then great discussions like the one you mention could not happen.

Al Gore was vice president when the WTC was bombed the first time, would he have been as vigilant about that building as Clinton. We will we never know. That he would have moved on climate change I do believe is correct. For Gore this was not some new fad, he had been following this for many years.
 

Mike S. (86)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 1:41 pm
Thank you for this fascinating history article Kit. I'll have to check out the series.
 

Kit B. (276)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 1:55 pm

Many episodes of the series are now available free on You Tube. Oliver Stone's "The Untold History of the United States". Not being a fan of Oliver Stone I didn't expect this series to be so very good. I can not recommend it enough. It begins with a brief overview of the Stock Market crash that led to the Great Depression, and takes us right up through the presidency of Barack Obama.
 

Ros G. (84)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 2:13 pm
Thanks again Kit, always enjoy a good read and I did find this very interesting. As for the "What if's" - well history does repeat itself - there have been great Visionery Leaders worldwide throughout the decades that have been "disposed" of even after winning an election. Australia's Gough Whitlam comes to mind. Kudos to Oliver Stone and those involved.
 

Tamara Noforwardsplz (185)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 2:17 pm
I found this article extremely interesting. Thanks Kit for posting.
 

Angelika R. (144)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 2:21 pm
Thanks Kit, indeed good read. although I have not yet completed reading the long article I've already gotten the idea. That multi-talented man would be exactly what's needed today for the US, likely not only there.
Good on O Stone to raise awareness and too bad he cannot raise him from the dead again.
 

Rose NoFWDSPLZ (283)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 2:25 pm
Another great post Kit
 

Val R. (254)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 2:29 pm
WOnderful - thanks.
 

Dandelion G. (384)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 2:44 pm
Thanks Kit for an interesting read as always.

But in 1944, against the advice of the Democratic Party's progressives and liberals - including his wife Eleanor - FDR reluctantly allowed the party's conservative, pro-business and segregationist wing to replace Wallace with Sen. Harry Truman as the vice presidential candidate, a move that Stone calls the "greatest blunder" of Roosevelt's career.

Sounds pretty much of what has been happening right up to today. The so called progressive liberal Democratic Party leaning further and further to the right to hardly distinguish itself from the conservative, pro-business and whack a doodles on the extremist right.

I'd say we are in a "great blunder"!
 

Theodore Shayne (56)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 2:49 pm
I have never been a fan of FDR. Although there are many things I would agree with Wallace on there were a few I wouldn't have; certainly not his evaluation of that Siberian city Magadan; nor his inclusion of Communists on his party ticket. Capitalism is the only system that works provided it is practiced equitably and fairly, unlike the Corporatist bastard we are slaving under today.
Then again you have to wonder what FDR was thinking when he appointed Truman, a failed haberdasher as VP. Truman was Pendergast's boy and Pendergast was as crooked a political boss as they came in those days. From NY to LA; from Chicago to NO politics was corrupt and dirty. It's the dirtiest game around up to and including murder, rape and genocide. Add planeticide to the list and we're up to date.
One point that should be raised is how the Midwestern farmers were treated during the dust bowl years. The Midwestern and Southwestern banks were deliberately allowed to fail although the Federal Reserve banks could have bailed them out. This was payback by the Feds for the aforementioned's refusal to back centralized banking. This was subsequently compounded by the manipulation of the stock market by the Elite Eastern barons in 1927 and then the manipulated short selling in 1929 which became the Great Depression. The Eastern Elites bought up the majority of preferred stocks for pennies on the dollar giving them control. It is said by many that FDR's policies prolonged the GD by years.
In certain ways Kennedy reminds me of Wallace. Where are we at on the scale today? I think we are on the brink of a retro 1927 if the rumors that France is on the verge of bankruptcy are true.
 

Ros G. (84)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 2:51 pm
Here's your *****Green Star Dandelion so true. Here in Australia all our major parties are now so conservative you can't really tell the difference
 

Kit B. (276)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 3:21 pm

If we look back on history then we must remember that by this time, FDR was already very ill, though he didn't acknowledge that to many. I think this convention happened around the president and not through FDR. I may be incorrect but I do believe he paid very little attention to this convention. Communism has such a different meaning in modern context. Wallace could see clearly the possibilities of using and combining the best of each of the communist and capitalistic ideals.
 

Yvonne White (233)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 3:41 pm
You cannot currently send a star to Kit because you have done so within the last week.
I don't do "what ifs", unless I'm reading Science Fiction.. Things had to be the way they were for us to get to where we are. That's NOT saying we couldn't have been Better Every Step of the Way. I'm glad Wallace is getting some exposure after all these years & he certainly is a Progessive Ideal!:) Now, do we HAVE to burn crops & start strikes to Get a FAIR DEAL yet again???
 

Kit B. (276)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 3:48 pm

Yes - we do!
 

Yvonne White (233)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 3:52 pm
Then I gotta get more lighter fluid..;)
 

Kit B. (276)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 4:00 pm

Stock up because that day is coming.
 

Sue D. (150)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 4:05 pm
Great article, Kit. I enjoyed the read, and agree wholeheartedly with Dandelion. Just a bit of information that points out, possibly, the real origin (or part) of current problems. We very likely could have continued on a path of more equality and peace had Wallace remained. I also agree that it's hard to distinguish the Democratic Party from what "was" the Republican Party. Whereas Wallace had a problem running as a Progressive Party candidate, the Republicans may soon have a problem (if not somewhat already) as more of a Tea Party faction. (Seems they ARE the wack a doodles) Some words/labels have a distinct meaning to most people - especially when it comes to Politics & Religion. Socialist, Communist, Conservative, Liberal, Progressive, Corporatist, Capitalist, Believer, Atheist, and the 'list' goes on. Every one of those descriptive terms have a wide range of minimal to extreme - and the extreme is most always 'BAD'. The average person SHOULD be able to find some common ground for the common good.
 

Kit B. (276)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 4:11 pm

Thanks Sue, very well said. There should be common ground, but if what we saw at Hagel's confirmation hearing was middle ground, than I don't want to know what extreme might look like.

Take but one example, Wallace was not in favor of developing the Atom bomb and even less in favor of using the thing. Those who know history do know that it saved no lives, did not end the war and began us all down a journey of no return.
 

Sue D. (150)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 4:12 pm
I think you said it better than I, Kit - but I was still trying to put it together as you & Yvonne continued. Yvonne, you are ALWAYS a great source of humor!
 

Kit B. (276)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 4:14 pm

That she is - she is our own Jon Stewart. Or "Chuckles the Clown" not sure which.
 

Ness F. (211)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 4:20 pm
Interesting read Kit, Thanks for sharing!

Love the last comment on the article: But an honest examination of his 1948 platform reveals that most of the ideas for which he was condemned as a radical are now viewed as common sense.

Hmm...common sense is NOT very common though is it in this day and age!*wink*

Dandelion and Ros G, well said!



 

Angelika R. (144)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 4:21 pm
Not trying to take honor and glory away from Henry Wallace, but picking up on Yvonne's and Kit's remarks there I just throw in this thought from today's Robert Reich's blog- , not so totally off topic after all:

America's First Progressive Revolution

xactly a century ago, on February 3, 1913, the 16th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, authorizing a federal income tax. Congress turned it into a graduated tax, based on "capacity to pay."

It was among the signal victories of the progressive movement - the first constitutional amendment in 40 years (the first 10 had been included in the Bill of Rights, the 11th and 12th in 1789 and 1804, and three others in consequence of the Civil War), reflecting a great political transformation in America.

The 1880s and 1890s had been the Gilded Age, the time of robber barons, when a small number controlled almost all the nation's wealth as well as our democracy, when poverty had risen to record levels, and when it looked as though the country was destined to become a moneyed aristocracy.

But almost without warning, progressives reversed the tide. Teddy Roosevelt became president in 1901, pledging to break up the giant trusts and end the reign of the "malefactors of great wealth." Laws were enacted protecting the public from impure foods and drugs, and from corrupt legislators.

By 1909 Democrats and progressive Republicans had swept many state elections, subsequently establishing the 40-hour work week and other reforms that would later be the foundation stones for the New Deal. Woodrow Wilson won the 1912 presidential election.

A progressive backlash against concentrated wealth and power occurred a century ago in America. In the 1880s and 1890s such a movement seemed improbable if not impossible. Only idealists and dreamers thought the nation had the political will to reform itself, let alone enact a constitutional amendment of such importance - analogous, today, to an amendment reversing "Citizens United v. FEC" and limiting the flow of big money into politics.

But it did happen. And it will happen again. ---
 

Angelika R. (144)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 4:27 pm
Hope I could boost your hope a bit-not to spoil this SuperBowl Sunday with too much sadness and reflections of "what if".. ;)
 

marie c. (168)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 4:41 pm
Great article thanks Kit
 

Dandelion G. (384)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 4:50 pm
Thank you Angelika, many of us needed that. Robert Reich has been a strong and powerful voice for many. We need the leadership of people like him and others who are speaking out loud and clear. By you and others that push his voice to all corners the more people that read the words the better.
 

Kit B. (276)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 5:04 pm

We forget just how much we owe to a book mostly forgotten now. Henry J Heinz, then a struggling but somewhat successful businessman, read the book and gave it to his friend Teddy Roosevelt. After that TR began the efforts t clean up American safety in our food. Thank you Upton Sinclair. (The Jungle)
 

Yvonne White (233)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 5:14 pm
I'm so glad to see people re-learning about Progressive politics, though I notice they're always labled "naive" about Communists (The Soviet Union type anyway).. without pointing out the naive way "Patriots" always embrace American policies. I notice, too, that TV programs seem to run in waves - recently a semi-anti-Corporate series started in America called CONTINUUM & The AMERICANS (retro-1980's Reaganomic anti-Commie stuff) started last week..so far I like both, but CONTINUUM is my favorite new show. JUSTIFIED is a return favorite as well, and it is the most realistic - I'm afraid I know those people..;) I'm just saying that once the Entertainment Industry gets on board, we Should be able to smother TeaBaggers in their bunkers!;)
 

Iona Kentwell (134)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 5:14 pm
Fascinating
 

Kit B. (276)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 5:20 pm

Interesting, now I have to go look up those programs and see if they are available on demand. Thanks Yvonne.
 

Iona Kentwell (134)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 5:32 pm
Thanks Kit. I know very little of US political history, but given the influence the US have on the rest of the planet I should probably know more. I always wondered what would have happened if Gore had been president instead of GW Bush. However I guess we have what we have and that's what we need to work with. Learn from history and work toward a brighter future.
 

Arielle S. (317)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 5:32 pm
Most interesting. I'm not likely to forget Mr. Wallace now. Perhaps on some alternate universe, he was president and that country lives in peaceful plenty. Easy to get into the "what if's".....but as they say, " if the queen had balls, she'd be the king..." Besides, how would we realize how bad a president could be if we had't had George W. for 8 years ?
 

Dandelion G. (384)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 5:37 pm
I noticed this comment didn't take, good thing I've been copying them lately.

Yes, there are many voices both male and female that have been standing up for a long time. Some just get more of the spotlight, but we need their voice.

PBS has a great program on right now I'm listening to and watching, concerning the Women's Movement and Gloria Steinman. With all the push back on women, this is an important program to have on. Thank you PBS. There is a reason that the conservative right wanted to cut the funding to it.
 

Kit B. (276)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 5:41 pm

Arielle you made me laugh out loud. I will look up that too Dandelion, thanks for the heads up.

Don't feel alone Iona - most Americans know little of their own history, they "select" what fits to what they want to believe not what actually happened.
 

Nyack Clancy (453)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 5:52 pm
Had that happened, perhaps we may have actually won the war against Nazi Germany, instead of bringing the Nazi Party home to the US to feed, clothe, house, educate and employ.
 

Kit B. (276)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 6:08 pm

Zing, there is more than a little truth in that.
 

Laurie H. (730)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 6:10 pm
Funny, my husband and I were just discussing about If Al Gore won the Presidency, just yesterday! This was a very interesting and enjoyable article, Kit! Time and time again, we hear that history repeats itself-how I wish only the GOOD things could be included in that statement and all that we have learned could bring about POSITIVE changes for a better future.~~
 

Kit B. (276)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 6:13 pm

History does repeat, it just never looks exactly the same when it comes around again.
 

Joanne Dixon (40)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 6:24 pm
"against the advice of the Democratic Party's progressives and liberals - including his wife Eleanor -" He should NEVER have failed to listen to Eleanor.

I think a longer section of Arielle's quote goes (better out loud than in print because of the sly pun) - "Balls!" said the Quees, "If I had any, I'd be king!" The king smiled, because he had to.
 

Kit B. (276)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 6:34 pm

Why do we never say...."get yourself a pair of ovaries"? I would call that some long term conditioning. Though the joke is not lost on me.
 

Lin Penrose (92)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 6:46 pm
Thanks Kit for the fascinating article. Had not really thought about Mr. Wallace before and his role in our history. The "what ifs?" are very intriguing.
 

Past Member (0)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 6:55 pm
Thanks Kit---very interesting. I will read further into this.
 

Dana W. (9)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 6:55 pm
Thanks Kit - Very interesting reading.
 

JL A. (276)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 7:00 pm
Hope springs eternal and great ideas never are completely buried but will rise to the surface until a myriad of voices shout them aloud. Wallace's platforms could indeed have been the model for party planks at a number of conventions of the past--like the one where RFK might have become the candidate. Some of his treatment is not unlike what happened to the brilliant man, but not as excellent orator Hubert Humphrey who was saddled with LBJ's mistakes he had advised against. Both earned the title statesman--a title too few in today's political landscape deserve.
 

Kit B. (276)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 7:04 pm

A title few will ever earn. Interesting observations J L, I like that comparison to Humphrey, a man not really appreciated until after his death.
 

JL A. (276)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 7:15 pm
I once read an article comparing Humphrey to Adlai Stevenson which asserted that while both were more knowledgeable with firmer grasp of the issues to formulate sound and effective policy compared to their competition, and that both were also far more intelligent, that they both mistakenly spoke too long with too much detail when campaigning and that was why they were defeated. I found that so sad yet see that type of analysis as part of the foundation for more recent campaigns where I cringe at the absence of solid information and policy proposals in so many speeches.
 

Kit B. (276)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 7:20 pm

That is what the folks want, short sound bite packages. Don't bore them with details, don't ask them to know facts or learn history, just give 'em some quick sound bites. I think it was Bill Maher that said during the election, to Obama, do not assume the public knows what you are talking about - they don't. Sorry to say, there is more truth than joke in that.
 

Angelika R. (144)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 7:33 pm
JL - That is exactly the art of politicis and politicians- talk without saying anything! Always beware-enemy is listening in. (media and public)
 

Munro Tapper (80)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 8:04 pm
Thank you. This is a fascinating article and everyone's comments gave me new insights. I do some serious Amazon book shopping with I have some time at home. I look for good meaty reads like this, so Wallace and Cohen, mentioned in the article, go on my to buy list.
 

pam w. (191)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 8:53 pm
We'll never know.....
 

Deanna Zimmerman (74)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 8:57 pm
Thanks Kit. This is a good read,
 

Daniel Partlow (189)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 9:30 pm
Too bad he didn't make it. Probably he didn't because it would have been better. Just like Kennedy was too good and had to be assassinated. There are always those who will stop the greatest from ever coming into their own. Sad really.
 

Terrie Williams (773)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 10:01 pm
Thanks for the refresher, Kit! I try not to do the 'what if' game because it tends to get me very despondant and ZI spiral into very dark despair. So I don't dew it. BUT.........in this case I think history would have turned out very different indeed.
 

Sherri O. (257)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 10:06 pm
What's that saying? The thinnest of cream rises to the top, while the richest of cream sinks to the bottom.
 

Michael Carney (212)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 10:30 pm
Noted, thanks Kit...it gives you a lot to think about...History is filled with what ifs, what if Kennedy hadn't been killed, what if MLK hadn't been killed, or RFK...What if's can drive you crazy...
 

Kamila A. (141)
Monday February 4, 2013, 5:24 am
This is certainly a biggie "what if", we would have avoided a lot of the suffering the world has endured. I have been watching Star Trek Next Generation reruns and stunned to hear story lines that now don't seem as science fiction-y as they did back then. Thank you Kit, this is very interesting to read.
 

Dandelion G. (384)
Monday February 4, 2013, 6:05 am
Having native heritage another big "what if" is, if the boat people had learned from the native people instead of trying to wipe them out......

The environmental mess we live in I do not believe would of existed, we'd already be using the wind, solar, natural ways of building our homes that would of left our environment in a healthier way.

Native American women traditionally belonged to a culture that gave them respect and where they had power, autonomy and equality. Through the last few hundred years and due to European colonization they have lost all that they had.

Unfortunately we can not undo the past but we can learn from it; but we must have the truth in our schools in which to present an accurate study, this is not done, nor has it been done. Is why it is very important to self educate and to "think" upon things from many different angles. One author said, most people think of history unfolding and they think from east to west with this mindset. The author said, try being already in the west and watching the history unfolding towards you. That could mean already being on the shores right of the east coast to living on the plains and watching the history from a different standing.

I also want to apologize for my misleading on the Gloria Steinem program, I thought I had set the channel on PBS but had missed by one and was actually on CNN. As the TV was in the other room I was listening to it and would get up to look if something caugh my attention. I have learned to tune out commercials so well I didn't even hear of one until I shut the C2 down and actually walked into the room to watch Downton Abbey, which is on PBS, only to realize I had the wrong station on.

However, PBS does a lot of such programming but I do want to give credit to CNN and also to not have everyone searching on PBS, incorrect channel.


 

. (0)
Monday February 4, 2013, 6:17 am
Thanks for the post, Kit, very interesting, a good read with my morning coffee. Requested the additional reads from the library. Those "what ifs" always leave you longing for what could have been. Great comments and kudos to Dandelion!
 

John Gregoire (264)
Monday February 4, 2013, 6:29 am
Thnaks Kit for the interesting speculation. For what its worth I think that America under Wallace would have had us all speaking Russian. Among other things he was exluded from knowing anything about our nuclear program or any sensitive wartime information.
 

tasunka m. (338)
Monday February 4, 2013, 7:29 am
thanks kit
hind sight= 20/20
 

Mitchell D. (132)
Monday February 4, 2013, 8:25 am
Very interesting, and thanks, Kit, for posting. I recently attended a talk, in Princeton, by a fellow who wrote a book about "The Five Books that ..." something like helped beat back Communism, in the U.S., which might have had a bearing on Wallace's marginalization.
 

Kit B. (276)
Monday February 4, 2013, 8:57 am

This article most certainly generated many interesting thoughts from all of you. I most appreciate the respect for others opinions. The time of Henry Wallace was before many of us were born or we were just little people and so we must rely those who write or re-write history to give us some insight to the leaders that came before us. The What Ifs are and will always be something the next and future generations will question and ponder. Maybe considering the possibilities is one of the ways to look for the warning flags before mistakes are made in the present or future.
 

Jim Phillips (3202)
Monday February 4, 2013, 11:05 am
We are still fighting "wars" with a bloated military budget echoing President Eisenhower warning that our budget has now become a "military-industrial complex" one. Still fighting for women's equalities, still fighting for racial equalities witness immigrants & Native Americans, Blacks. Still fighting for equalities in other areas as well.

USA has become dominant as the world's most assertive imperialist and colonial power.

What "if" Wallace had become our President, would our country be like it is today. In my opinion, no. Truman is the man that changed the course of USA to what it is today, not in a good place.

Wallace was a man ahead of his time. As the article points out, his ideas are now considered common sense.

Ty, Kit.
.
 

Wild Thang (9)
Monday February 4, 2013, 12:34 pm
At lest two Japanese cities were kept virgin from bombing while most of Japan was firebombed. Two different type of bombs were live tested. It is said Roosevelt and Churchill met on board ship off Newfoundland before we entered WWII and laid plans for a post-war world. Europe and Japan were bombed like an urban renewal project for rebuilding after the war. The complex came to be and the Cold War so the Defense industry would not be tooled down most likely... it was well underway in WWII and a done deal by the time Eisenhower sounded the alarm. Resisting the military industrial complex was already futile and still is now with the war on terror... and right after the 93 WTC bombing a Bush son went on the board of directors of the WTC Security company staying until right about 2001..
 

Gene Jacobson (256)
Monday February 4, 2013, 1:04 pm
"Stone's documentary series and book portray Wallace as a true American hero, a "visionary" on both domestic and foreign policy."

I enjoyed the shows referred to, just based on how I look at the world now, I think I would have far preferred him to Truman. That worrisome little bit about being "conned" by the Soviets is troublesome because that could have caused problems very difficult to resolve had that continued. All in all though, I think he was handed an extremely raw deal by FDR who owed him a lot more for his loyal service than he gave him in 1944. Truman came off as a rube in the series, I tend to think from other readings that is an accurate assessment. Too bad we can never know such things as what might have happened. I think we would have been a different, better nation with him at the helm. I feel the same way about Bobby Kennedy, I did not like him as his brother's Attorney General, but saw in him one of the greatest reversal's of character I've ever seen in anyone after JFK's death. I often wonder what we might have become had he not also been assassinated because I think he would have beaten Nixon more handily than his brother did and he had a good heart and great intentions. At my age, my life is full of what if's. It is hard enough to deal with what is...
 

Gene Jacobson (256)
Monday February 4, 2013, 1:22 pm
Now that I've read the comments, sigh, I want to add a bit about Hubert, from my own state, he was the boy wonder here in the 40's when he, as mayor of Minneapolis, brought together the Democratic and Farmer Labor parties. Yes, he was probably long-winded and too specific, it still galls me to no end that he lost to Nixon, but the albatross of LBJ and Viet Nam was just too much too overcome. He did return to the Senate though and continued the good fight.

A quote I use often in a less expanded way is "One of Humphrey's speeches contained the lines "It was once said that the moral test of Government is how that Government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped," which is sometimes described as the "liberals' mantra." I still use those words as my litmus test, my guide in life, how I decide whether an idea is good enough or moral. I guess I admire Hubert as much as any man of the 20th century. They called him the Happy Warrior. And it wasn't an oxymoron. He genuinely cared about people, all people, and you just gotta love that in a politician, or a human being.
 

Kit B. (276)
Monday February 4, 2013, 1:23 pm

I'll toast to that Gene! Well said, indeed.
 

Sue D. (150)
Monday February 4, 2013, 1:44 pm
Yes, Gene! I too, always thought Humphrey was a thinking man with a thoughtful heart and much to offer citizens of the United States. I believe he was a true Statesman, which in fact, not many any more can earn the title.
 

Lois Jordan (58)
Monday February 4, 2013, 2:42 pm
I clearly remember the media playing a huge part in Humphrey's loss. I was still in elementary school, but clearly remember the term, "Dump the Hump" from way back then. We've had a media complicit in the building and continuation of the Military-Corporate-Industrial Complex far longer than we realize, perhaps.
Thanks, Kit, for posting this. I saw a couple of Stone's Untold History of the United States episodes, and was so impressed. There's much to be learned within this series, and I plan to watch them all.
 

Jim Phillips (3202)
Monday February 4, 2013, 3:00 pm
Anybody know the connection to this O Stone's series?

Thanks, Jim.

.
 

Jim Phillips (3202)
Monday February 4, 2013, 3:21 pm
Never mind. I found it.

the untold history of the united states episode 1

LINK: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6ciIE8HKKU

For the other episodes in this series, you are on your own. lol.

.
 

Dandelion G. (384)
Monday February 4, 2013, 3:53 pm
I went to give a green star and for some reason I can't, got an error? Is anyone else having this issue with C2?
 

Allan Yorkowitz (448)
Monday February 4, 2013, 3:56 pm
Wallace did not have the pragmatic vision Truman had. The Berlin airlift would have been unthinkable for Wallace. Would he have dropped the bomb(s) on Japan" - no. Wallace actually believed in the UN; Truman couldn't find the time for discussion; the world needed action. This is what separated the two men.
Wallace would have allowed Russia to eat up Europe. The Marshall Plan saw a stop to this.
 

Sue D. (150)
Monday February 4, 2013, 4:06 pm
Sheryl, I tried to send a green star also, but got an error. I tried twice, then just went to Gene's page and sent one.
 

Dandelion G. (384)
Monday February 4, 2013, 4:10 pm
Thanks Sue for letting me know that it's most certainly a C2 thing. It was Gene I was also wanting to send one too. Coming on over to you Gene as it works doing it on your page according to Sue.
 

Kit B. (276)
Monday February 4, 2013, 4:36 pm

The first episode is also on Care2: http://www.care2.com/news/member/451276626/3508362

Or go to You Tube and type in "The Untold History of the United States - episode _ " I think all episodes are now available on You Tube, free of course.

http://youtu.be/Z6ciIE8HKKU
 

JL A. (276)
Monday February 4, 2013, 4:52 pm
Dandelion, I got it on this thread when I tried to send a star to Gene from his comment. I also got a notice for a Java update about then so I thought it was that. I then tried again without luck, but was able to send him one by going to his profile. Haven't had trouble sending anywhere else.
 

Kit B. (276)
Monday February 4, 2013, 5:12 pm

Oh Allan, need you always be so predictable, while being so short on facts? You are making sweeping assumptions not based on historical fact. Truman was a puppet, by no means a brave man standing up to the big bad Russians, who actually saved our bacon by winning the war in Japan and making the use of the Atomic Bomb a statement not a necessity.
 

Jim Phillips (3202)
Monday February 4, 2013, 5:17 pm
I had the same problem with sending Gene a Star. I kept getting an error.
Went to Gene's page and was able to send one, a Star, from there.

.
 

Suzanne L. (140)
Monday February 4, 2013, 6:24 pm
Thanks for posting Kit. I hadn't heard of Wallace until I watched Stone's series. I think the world would be very different if he had been elected; possibly a much more humane world.
 

Winn Adams (205)
Tuesday February 5, 2013, 7:39 pm
Thanks
 

Ros G. (84)
Wednesday February 6, 2013, 2:35 am
Hi Everyone - great comments as usual. Been having a lot of problems with my Care2 site as well. If I login via Google Chrome they seem to disappear - give it a try - it might help. Thanks Kit.
 

Lynn Squance (219)
Tuesday February 19, 2013, 3:12 am
"He envisioned an end to colonialism, a world in which "no nation will have the God-given right to exploit other nations. Older nations will have the privilege to help younger nations get started on the path to industrialization, but there must be neither military nor economic imperialism." Wallace was aiming for a kind of global New Deal."

The "what ifs" indeed! I had never heard of Wallace, but then as a Canuck, American history was in broader strokes with the exception of the American Revolution and the US Civil War (Canadian history was almost non existent in school) and there was a concentration on world history and ancient history.

A fascinating read. Thanks Kit.
 

Dandelion G. (384)
Tuesday February 19, 2013, 6:31 am
Don't apologize for not knowing this man as a Canadian, I highly doubt there is a school teaching of this man in the USA. If I'm wrong and someone knows of a school teaching of this man please let us all know, they deserve a big round of applause.
 
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