Henry Agard Wallace

Wallace, Henry Agard, 1888–1965, vice president of the United States (1941–45), b. Adair co., Iowa; grad. Iowa State Univ. He was (1910–24) associate editor of Wallaces' Farmer, an influential agricultural periodical run by his family, and when his father, Henry Cantwell Wallace, died in 1924, he became editor. Henry A. Wallace had developed several strains of hybrid corn that were to be used extensively by farmers of the American Corn Belt, and his writings on farm economics and plant genetics quickly won him recognition as an agrarian authority. A Republican until 1928, Wallace helped swing Iowa to the Democratic party in the 1932 election. In 1933 he was appointed secretary of agriculture by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and soon led the reorganization of the Dept. of Agriculture and the supervision of the Agricultural Adjustment Administration. He became a highly regarded leader in the New Deal, and was Roosevelt's running-mate in the 1940 election. As vice president, he went on several missions to Latin America and Asia and served (1942–43) as head of the Board of Economic Warfare.

Plagued by accusations that he was too friendly toward the Soviet Union, Wallace failed to receive the vice presidential nomination in 1944. In 1945, shortly before Roosevelt's death, he became secretary of commerce. He held that position until Sept., 1946, when he was forced to resign because of his open opposition to President Truman's foreign policy. He then edited (1946–48) The New Republic. In 1948, Wallace helped launch the new Progressive party, which charged the Truman administration with primary responsibility for the cold war. As its presidential candidate that year he polled some 1,150,000 votes (mostly in New York state), but won no electoral votes. Wallace left the party in 1950 after it had repudiated his endorsement of the U.S.-UN intervention in Korea. Retiring from politics, he denounced Soviet communism and returned to the Republican party. Wallace's numerous books on agricultural problems and politics include Agricultural Prices (1920), New Frontiers (1934), The Century of the Common Man (1943), Toward World Peace (1948), and The Long Look Ahead (1960). With E. N. Bressman he wrote Corn and Corn Growing (1923), and with W. L. Brown he wrote Corn and Its Early Fathers (1956).

See biographies by D. Macdonald (1948), E. L. Schapsmeier (2 vol., 1968–70), and J. C. Culver and J. Hyde (2000); R. Lord, The Wallaces of Iowa (1947); K. M. Schmidt, Henry Wallace: Quixotic Crusade, 1948 (1960); J. S. Walker, Henry A. Wallace and American Foreign Policy (1976); T. W. Devine, Henry Wallace's 1948 Presidential Campaign and the Future of Postwar Liberalism (2013).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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