Talk:Henry A. Wallace

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Wallace for many years was closely associated with a mystic whom he called Guru. A hostile journalist Westbook Pegler published some of the letters:

"In March 1948 Pegler began to publish some of the actual letters in his widely syndicated column. One letter asked, "Have you heard from the horoscope?" Some contained references to "the Flaming One," "the Sour One," "the Tigers," and so on. Still others displayed the strange ethereal language in which much of the early correspondence had been couched: "I look at the locket from out of the past and wonder if I shall see it in the far distant future. Apparently we are fighting always a new battle. Shall our hearts sing at the fighting? Do we never create that sweet land of beauty and justice?" Or again: "Disappointments are frequent and difficulties great, but we hope for much because of the obvious imminency of the times. The earth beat, the Indian rhythm of ancient America, haunts me like a faint fragrance from the past while I strive to center my complete forces on the pressing problems of the day." [Henry A. Wallace: His Search for a New World Order. by John Maze & Graham White University of North Carolina Press. page 273]

Historians conclude they are authentic, though Wallace refused to comment on them.

Historians? What historians? Culver and Hyde say they were doctored to make Wallace look bad. It is an early example of Swiftboating. Pegler, an anti-Semite, famous for his over-the-top invective against New Deal, FDR, and Eleanor in particular, made jokes about assassination. He also hated the Kennedy family. Hardly an unbiased authority. In his later years he was expelled from the John Birch society for being too "extremist." Mballen (talk) 23:00, 3 July 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Henry A. Wallace RIP[edit]

What was the cause of Wallace's death? I've read somewhere (can't quite remember), it was Lou Gehrig's Disease. If so, can anyone find a verifiable source on this & add it to the article? I can't find a source. GoodDay 01:00, 4 November 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Someone had already added that. I made the reference tag visible. Also added him to [Category:Deaths from motor neurone disease].-- (talk) 17:54, 11 January 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thankyou all. GoodDay (talk) 21:11, 5 February 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Well, must we agree?[edit]

" Historians Schapsmeier and Schapsmeier argue (1970 p 181)

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

All right: that's what these two gentlemen think. Perhaps I do not agree: should my own opinions be quoted too?

Are you an historian, do you have a published work to which reference can be made? --ukexpat 01:20, 16 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
You would have to disagree with Wallace himself, in his 1952 study "Where I was Wrong". (talk) 07:16, 27 October 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Civil Rights Icon[edit]

The man was an early proponent of civil rights and a progressive. Why is that not reflected in his bio?

It could be, as long as it's cited in reliable sources, so it can be verified. Be bold!  Frank  |  talk  15:58, 27 May 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

According to John C. Culver and John Hyde's American Dreamer: A Life of Henry A. Wallace (2001), Wallace campaigned for President in 1948 on a civil rights ticket with an integrated staff, a tremendously dangerous undertaking, given the resurgence of the KKK after WW II. Their integrated campaign team, called by Wallace, "Gideon's army," was stoned and spat upon during their Southern tour.

Wallace's family had been staunch abolitionists before and during the Civil War. His parents had hosted George Washington Carver,the African-American biologist, during Henry A. Wallace's boyhood, when Carver was the first black student at Iowa State College (where Henry's father taught) and later the first black professor there. His friendship with Carver awoke in the young Henry Wallace a lifelong interest in plants and plant breeding. At the turn of the century, plant breeding was comparable to dog breeding, specimens were judged on such outward characteristics as symmetry and evenness of the rows of corn on the ear. As a plant breeder, Wallace proved that outward appearance was not necessarily related to disease resistance and productivity of corn. His strain of corn was so superior that he was a self-made millionaire when Roosevelt appointed him Secretary of Agriculture.

Wallace opposed the Marshall plan as excessively militaristic, but when the plan was altered to provide extensive civilian aid to European countries, he changed his mind and supported it. He remained a life-long friend of fellow Iowan Dwight Eisenhower, though they disagreed on racial integration.

The deeply religious Wallace was known for his remarkable industry, but: "No word was more commonly attached to Henry Wallace's name than 'dreamer.'" (American Dreamer, p. 239).

In the spring of 1944, Wallace had been pondering the "dreamer" issue when the snippet of a poem came to mind.

I am tired of planning and toiling /

In the crowded hives of men, /

Heart-weary of building and spoiling /

And spoiling and building again. /

And I long for the dear old river, /

Where I dreamed my youth away, /

For the dreamer lives forever, /

But the toiler dies in a day. /

The poem was called "The Dreamer," Wallace had heard it many years before from an old friend, Des Moines lawyer Addison Parker. In a spare moment Wallace wrote a note to Parker asking whether he still remembered it. Parker sent back a copy of the poem, written by John Boyle O'Reilly, along with a letter recalling how he'd heard it. As a young man Parker had gone to hear Williams Jennnings Bryan when the famed populist spoke in Des Moines in 1909. Bryan observed that he had been called a dreamer and quoted the poem in response. Parker continued,

Bryan then went on to say something to the charge of being a dreamer like this: "However I am not willing to rest my defense on what might be termed poetic license, so I have turned to the Book which I always turn to confound my enemies and confuse my critics—the Bible, and I find there was more than three thousand years ago a man by the name of Joseph of whom his brothers said, 'Let us kill him for he is a dreamer of dreams.'

But fortunately for them and their people they did not succeed in their murderous designs and seven years later they went down to Egypt and brought corn of the Dreamer to feed their starving people!"

"Don't be disturbed if you are a voice crying in the wilderness," Parker told Wallace, "Because you may recall that the first voice that cried in the wilderness is still echoing through the ages and until it is heeded there will be no peace, I fear, in this troubled world."

If Wallace was disturbed, he gave no sign of it. He dreamed on. —John C. Culver and John Hyde, American Dreamer, a Life of Henry A. Wallace (New York: WW Norton, 2001), pp. 329–330 [The co-author of this work is a former Senator from Iowa named John C. Culver. He served one-term in the 1970s. Through their story of Henry A. Wallace, the authors mount a formidable defense of the ideals of American liberalism.] (talk) 20:46, 3 July 2008 (UTC) July 3, 2008Reply[reply]

Was there a missing heir for Henry Agard Wallace? We understand an attempt was made on a young man's life by the name of "Wallace" around 1949. The attack occurred in Greenport, L.I., New York. Could this have been linked to the controversy over Henry Agard Wallace's political views? Was he somehow related?WallaceResearch2 (talk) 22:31, 15 January 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Claimed Second-Hand Complicity with Soviet Espionage[edit]

The references to Duggan and Harry Dexter White being proven Soviet agents have been changed and changed back far too many times. It's clear that the dispute is over ideology, not historical veracity. --Wabobo3 (talk) 01:13, 18 August 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Furthermore, Duggan and White, as well as their proven or unproven connections, are irrelevant to this article. If there is any evidence to support the claim that Wallace wanted two Soviet spies in his cabinet, let's see it. Otherwise, this item does not belong in the article at all. I am deleting it. Altgeld (talk) 15:37, 27 August 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"After Wallace feuded publicly with Jesse Jones and other high officials, Roosevelt stripped him of all responsibilities and made it clear Wallace would not be on the ticket again." Where is the source of this information? The article on Jesse Jones contradicts it, saying that Jones was ousted on account of Wallace. Altgeld (talk) 15:29, 27 August 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

1944 Soviet visit[edit]

Just read in a Sunday Times review of The Forsaken by Tim Tzouliadis, that Wallace visited gold-mining labour camps in the USSR in 1944 and was impressed by a Potemkin Village. He then gave radio broadcasts in the US praising those in labour camps for their 'patriotic' and 'voluntary' work. Malick78 (talk) 12:34, 7 September 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

You realize that 1944 was when the Soviet Union was our best friend, and Wallace was acting as in official capacity as the second-man of the Roosevelt administration? (talk) 09:12, 21 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Yes, in Wallace's oral history, he suggests that he understood the entire presentation was a charade, but obviously was not going to make a big deal about it when millions of Russians were dying doing our fighting for us. Stupid conservatives didn't understand that then, still don't. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:02, 26 October 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington[edit]

Is this the same President of the Senate who came in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington? The President in the movie was referred to as "Henry."Leo-Isaurus-Rex (talk) 18:01, 18 September 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Naw, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington came out in the late thirties, and Wallace was not Vice President (and thus, President of the Senate) until 1941.

Wallace and Agriculture[edit]

More details need to be given about Wallace's personal contribution to agriculture outside of government. His extensive work in plant breeding and his works on agricultural economics and agricultural history need to be addressed. Orville Eastland (talk) 21:21, 20 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Wallace was co-author of a 1923 book entitled "Corn and Corn Growing" — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:42, 27 August 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Roerich an anti-communist and universalist[edit]

During the electoral campaigns of the 1940s Henry Wallace's previous interest in the work of Theosophist painter and set designer Nicholas Roerich (who was several times nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize) was brought up in an effort to discredit him. It should be noted however, that according to wikipedia's own article, Roerich was an an anti-communist who evinced

an extreme hostility to the Bolshevik regime – prompted not so much by a dislike of communism as by his revulsion at Lenin's ruthlessness and his fear that Bolshevik rule would lead to the destruction of Russia's artistic and architectural heritage – was amply documented. He illustrated Leonid Andreyev's anti-communist polemic "S.O.S." and had a widely published pamphlet, "Violators of Art" (1918–1919).

The article goes on to call Agni Yoga (that is Nicholas and, chiefly, his wife Helena Roerich's version of Theosophy): "squarely within the age-old theosophical tradition that sees all ancient religions and philosophies as expressions of the same essential truths." 18:10, 31 January 2013 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)

I'm sure Roerich had a number of positive qualities, but Wallace's taking him on as his personal guru was not thought to reflect positively on Wallace's qualifications to be president of the United States in the climate of opinion of the 1940s... AnonMoos (talk) 18:21, 3 February 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Culver and Hyde say that a lot of the documentation about the Roerich affair is fraudulent and designed to discredit Wallace, though their own account is also quite patronizing and dismissive. It is true that Roerich consistently referred to himself as "guru" and Wallace (and other people) addressed Roerich as that, but that does not mean Wallace took Roerich on "as his personal guru." (What does that mean, exactly?) We do know that Wallace was sympathetic to Roerich's goals: world peace, preservation of artistic monuments, and even, perhaps, his quest for a mythical Buddhist kingdom in Tibet, but then so were a lot of people, including the Roosevelts, Rabindranath Tagore, Albert Einstein, and even Herbert Hoover, who had invited Roerich to the White House. (Roosevelt was also interested in the occult, according to the Roosevelt museum website.) Culver and Hyde also belittle Wallace's correspondence with the Irish poet and newspaper editor AE (George Russell), but AE, like Wallace, was interested in improving agriculture and pioneered farmers' credit unions, as part of an effort to stem the exodus of farmers from the Irish countryside. Credit unions were a reform with practical staying power.
As far as I can tell, during his 1934 trip Roerich ignored diplomatic protocol, misrepresented himself as an American citizen when he held a French passport, and enraged the State Department and the plant scientists of the Department of Agriculture with whom he was traveling. His conduct also aroused the suspicions of the British, Japanese, Chinese, and Soviet governments, who all suspected him of different things, according to their own prejudices. In short, the trip was a fiasco and Wallace was very disappointed and broke off relations with him. The US gov. then proceeded to hound Roerich for tax evasion. (talk) 01:03, 8 February 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Fact error in the article? The article currently states that when he was appointed Ag Sec'y in 1933, Wallace "was one of the two Republicans that Roosevelt appointed to his cabinet (the other was Harold Ickes, Secretary of the Interior)." According to this contemporaneous NYTimes article (, 4th paragraph, however, there were three. The third Republican was William H. Woodin of NY, Sec'y of the Treasury.

Before modifying the article based on this source, please add any further information about whether this new information is correct, controversial, or incorrect. Thanks. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Bolt1955 (talkcontribs) 13:01, 4 March 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Good catch, thanks. The wikipedia article says Woodin, a Republican, had been a major contributor to FDR's campaign. It also says that he resigned at the end of 1933 and died in May of the following year, which is probably why my other source didn't mention him. (talk) 11:16, 7 March 2013 (UTC) P.S. My source for the "two Republicans" was Arthur Schlesinger's Los Angeles Times' article ( -- It just goes to show that even well-regarded historians can make mistakes!Reply[reply]

Faking history?[edit]

Apparently, in order to make Mike Pence's tie vote on the Betsy Devos even more historic, the tie vote by Harry Truman on Wallace's confirmation as Secretary of Commerce has been deleted from the historical record, at least here on Wikipedia. Can one find out where that anonymous got his figures on the vote? Is he/she faking history with "Alternate facts?"Arglebargle79 (talk) 12:46, 9 February 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I have added the citation. Emir of Wikipedia (talk) 13:41, 9 February 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Claim of being only Vice President not to have held elected office previously[edit]

This claim appears to be untrue; Chester Arthur had never held elective office prior to having been nominated for, and subsequently elected to, the office of Vice President in 1880, and Hoover also had only appointed office prior to attaining the Presidency. I'm withholding editing for now in case somebody has a suggestion for what should be done with that line, other than simply deleting it. There is a point to be made about the relative controversy of having somebody stand for an Executive office who has no previous experience, but it would have to be put into the proper historical context of 1940 reactions for this to be a valuable addition to the article.

As is, I'd propose just deleting the line. Comments?

- Maria MariaMitchell (talk) 19:20, 12 May 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The article says only that Wallace was "the last vice president of any party who had not previously held any elected office" (emphasis added), which is accurate. Ewulp (talk) 22:43, 12 May 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

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Disillusioned with Republicans[edit]

The lead paragraph says that "after the death of his father in 1924, Wallace increasingly drifted away from the Republican Party, and he supported Democratic presidential nominee Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1932 election."

A Republican by family tradition, in 1924 Wallace supported the third party Progressive Party presidential candidate, Bob La Follette, but as the article says further down, "Dissatisfied with both major party candidates in the 1928 presidential election, Wallace tried to get [Republican] Governor Frank Lowden of Illinois to seek the presidency". Therefore, in 1928 he was still a Republican, though ultimately he voted for the Democratic candidate Al Smith over Republican Herbert Hoover.

As a member of FDR's cabinet Wallace, is usually referred to as one of the "Republicans" in the cabinet. If you are going to say he had "drifted away" from the party during the 1920s, it should be explained why he did so further down in the article, but no explanation is offered.

The reason I have always read is the (chiefly Wall Street driven) economic boom of 1920s completely bypassed the farm sector, which experienced the Great Depression ten years earlier and therefore 10 years longer than the nation as a whole. Wallace was desperately disillusioned because neither the Republican, nor the Democratic party cared what the farmers were going through, much less offered them any assistance, but La Follette did. The Republicans of the boom era, Coolidge and Hoover, especially, were egregious in their neglect of agriculture, which they considered a "special interest". (talk) 00:55, 28 July 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]