Who Was Henry Wallace and Why FDR’s One Bad Decision Made the World a more Dangerous Place

Wallace (2)

This story will appear complicated, but it is not. It will tell the tale of one principled American whose relationships with Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Harry Truman would have an effect on Josef Stalin, the Soviet Union, the Cold War, and indirectly spawn the embarrassment of Joseph McCarthy’s fascist hearings between April and June of 1954.

First a little about Henry A. Wallace’s biography. He was born on October 7, 1888 in Adair County, Iowa. He died on November 8, 1965 in Danbury, Connecticut.

His father, Henry Cantwell Wallace, was the secretary of agriculture under Warren G. Harding. After graduating from Iowa State College in 1910, Henry Agard Wallace went to work for “Wallace’s Farmer,” a magazine begun by his grandfather. He became the editor in 1921. As an expert in agriculture, he found ways to increase production of corn. His advances in plant genetics gained him a much deserved reputation in the farming industry.

In 1928 Wallace broke with his family’s loyalty to the Republican Party and eventually became a Democrat. Wallace’s celebrity with Iowa farmers and his ability to deliver Iowa to Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s presidential campaign made him the perfect choice to become the Secretary of Agriculture. He was directly responsible for the 1933 Agricultural Adjustment Act which stabilized farm prices across the nation.

He served in that position for FDR’s first two terms until he became the President’s running mate in 1940. Wallace played a large part in the administration. He was a goodwill ambassador to multiple nations for the ailing president, and after the United States entered WWII, he shared duties with the President including the nation’s economic affairs.

In 1944 party conservatives convinced FDR to abandon Wallace and replace him with an unqualified and uncontroversial Harry S. Truman. Democrats from southern states disliked Wallace’s beliefs and with his health failing, President Roosevelt capitulated and agreed to support the man who would be his third vice-president.

Wallace and Truman disagreed on policy. On April 12, 1945 the President lost his battle for life and Truman was sworn into office. “Give ‘em hell Harry” did not share FDR’s view of our nation’s future.

Disagreements became untenable after the end of WWII. Wallace was opposed to the use of the atomic bomb. He also believed that the relationship between the Soviet Union and the United States did not need to be adversarial. Truman hated the idea of communism. Winston Churchill agreed with Truman.

Speeches by both Truman and Churchill became more aggressive towards Stalin. Wallace believed that making the Soviets enemies of the United States would result in a nuclear arms race and once again make the world less safe for the people of all nations.

Truman fired Wallace in 1946. The man who believed in diplomacy and peace formed the “Progressive Party” and in 1948 challenged Truman for the presidency. He received a million votes but lost the election and returned to private life.

A single decision by FDR in 1944: a decision to surrender to “party bosses:” created the world we live in today.

Wallace was often referred to as the “assistant president.” He agreed with FDR’s opinion about war. The two men believed in ‘making friends of their country’s enemies.’ They suggested that diplomacy was more successful than threats.

In 1945 Wallace, not Truman would have become our nation’s president. Among others, General Dwight D. Eisenhower was not in favor of using “the bomb.” Japan was facing defeat, and the estimation of military leaders was that the ‘War in the Pacific’ would end within two months.

Wallace also believed that if America respected the Soviet’s need to protect itself from future attacks the nation which had been a crucial ally during the war would eventually become close friends and similar to the United States. He believed that like FDR, he could remain friends with Stalin. The people would demand additional freedoms and economic security as life became easier for the Soviet people.

Truman intentionally alienated the USSR, and the cold war began. A nuclear arms race also began, and lasted until the end of the 1980’s.

Wallace predicted that the enmity between Truman and Churchill, and the Soviets would result in more nations turning to communism. He was right again.

Washington had become obsessed with the spread of communism. Indirectly, the Truman presidency was responsible for the “blacklist,” and hearings held by Joseph McCarthy in 1954.

During the hearings several major actors and the leaders of the Hollywood studios surrendered to McCarthy’s unending attacks on anyone who favored liberal policies and began making movies about the evils of communism, while shunning actors, writers, and directors who disagreed with their policies and their surrender to a man free thinking Americans considered a fascist.

Today we are witnessing changes in America which are destroying long-standing policies and agreements which required decades to achieve. The Constitution is under attack as the majority of our nation’s people are losing their freedoms as the quality of life is diminishing for most.

In just over three years our country has been moved backwards to the dark ages of nearly 70 years past.

The world would be in a far better place today if FDR had retained Wallace as his VP. In recent years the same could be said if Al Gore had become our nation’s 43rd president in 2000 and if Hillary Clinton was now living in the White House.

History is filled with stories about single incidents and situations which result in major changes to nations and the world.

On November third the American people can restore dignity, respect, and common sense to the executive branch and the senate. We can change the backwards direction of our nation and end Republican rule over the American people. A man who will serve all Americans can replace the current fascist dictator who is unfit for any public office.

“The Truth Lives Here”

Op-ed by James Turnage

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Image courtesy of Marvin Moose

My eight novels, including “Tales from Between the Sheets,” are exclusively available on Amazon; CLICK HERE; the Kindle app is a free download

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