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Henry A. Wallace

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Henry Agard Wallace

Henry Agard Wallace (October 7, 1888November 18, 1965) served as the 33rd Vice President of the United States.

Contents

Early life

Wallace was born on a farm near Orient, Adair County, Iowa, and graduated from Iowa State College at Ames in 1910. He worked on the editorial staff of Wallace's Farmer in Des Moines, Iowa from 1910 to 1924 and edited the publication from 1924 to 1929. He experimented with breeding high-yielding strains of corn (maize), and authored many publications on agriculture. In 1915 he devised the first corn-hog ratio charts indicating the probable course of markets. The company he founded during this time, now known as Pioneer Hi-Bred, is among the most profitable agriculture corporations in the United States today.

In 1933, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt appointed Wallace United States Secretary of Agriculture in his Cabinet. (Wallace's father, Henry Cantwell Wallace, had served as Secretary of Agriculture from 1921 to 1925.) Wallace had been a liberal Republican, but he supported Roosevelt's New Deal and soon switched to the Democratic Party. Wallace served as Secretary of Agriculture until September 1940, when he resigned, having been nominated for Vice President as Roosevelt's running mate in the 1940 presidential election.

Vice Presidency

Wallace was elected in November 1940 as Vice President on the Democratic Party ticket with President Franklin D. Roosevelt. His inauguration took place on January 20, 1941, for the term ending January 20, 1945. He immediately set out to counter his predecessor John Nance Garner's characterization of the vice presidency as "not worth a bucket of warm piss".

Roosevelt named Wallace chairman of the Board of Economic Warfare (BEW) and Supply Priorities and Allocations Board (SPAB) in 1941. Both positions became important with the U.S. entry into World War II. As he began to flex his new-found political muscle in his position with SPAB, Wallace came up against the conservative wing of the Democratic party in the form of Jesse H. Jones, Secretary of Commerce. The two differed on how to handle wartime supplies.

On May 8, 1942, Wallace delivered his most famous speech, which became known by the phrase "Century of the Common Man", to the Free World Association in New York City. This speech, grounded in Christian references, laid out a positive vision for the war beyond the simple defeat of the Nazis. The speech, and the book of the same name which appeared the following year, proved quite popular, but it earned him enemies among the Democratic leadership and among important allied leaders like Winston Churchill.

In 1943 Wallace made a goodwill tour of Latin America, shoring up support among important allies. His trip proved a success and helped convince 12 Latin American countries to declare war on Germany.

Wallace was far ahead of his time in trade relationships with Latin America. He convinced the BEW to add "labor clauses" to contracts with Latin American producers. These clauses required producers to pay fair wages and provide safe working conditions for their employees, and it committed the United States to paying for up to half of the required improvements. Not surprisingly, this upset many at the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The Democratic Party bumped Wallace from its ticket in 1944, largely due to party concerns over FDR's failing health and thus the likelihood of his running-mate succeeding him, over Wallace's alleged "communist" beliefs and perceived closeness to the Soviet Union, as well as over his unorthodox New Age tendencies. The party went on to nominate Missouri Senator Harry S. Truman for Vice President.

Later career

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Henry Agard Wallace as Secretary of Commerce

Harry S. Truman placated Wallace by appointing him Secretary of Commerce. Wallace served in this post from March 1945 to September 1946, when W. Averell Harriman replaced him because Truman regarded Wallace as too critical of Truman's foreign policy.

Following his term as Secretary of Commerce, Wallace became the editor of The New Republic magazine, using his position to criticize vociferously Truman's foreign policy. On the declaration of the Truman Doctrine in 1947, he predicted it would mark the beginning of "a century of fear". He left his editorship position in 1948 to make an unsuccessful run as a Progressive Party candidate in the 1948 U.S. presidential election. His campaign was unusual for his time in that it included African American candidates campaigning alongside white candidates in the American South, however, the party's opposition to Truman's hard-line stance against the Soviets brought it into disrepute and its members largely rejoined the Democrats.

In 1952 Wallace published Why I Was Wrong, in which he explained that his seemingly-trusting stance toward the Soviet Union and Stalin stemmed from inadequate information about Stalin's excesses and that he, too, now considered himself an anti-Communist.

Wallace resumed his farming interests, and resided in South Salem, New York. During his later years he made a number of advances in the field of agricultural science. His many accomplishments included a breed of chicken that at one point accounted for the overwhelming majority of all egg-laying chickens sold across the globe. He died in Danbury, Connecticut. His remains were cremated at Grace Cemetery in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and the ashes interred in Glendale Cemetery, Des Moines, Iowa.

Sources

External links


Preceded by:
Arthur M. Hyde
United States Secretary of Agriculture
1933 – 1940
Succeeded by:
Claude R. Wickard
Preceded by:
John Nance Garner
Democratic Party Vice Presidential candidate
1940 (won)
Succeeded by:
Harry S. Truman
Preceded by:
John Nance Garner
Vice President of the United States
January 20, 1941January 20, 1945
Succeeded by:
Harry S. Truman
Preceded by:
Jesse Holman Jones
United States Secretary of Commerce
March 2, 1945September 20, 1946
Succeeded by:
W. Averell Harriman

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