Sunday, October 07, 2007

October 7, 1888:

Henry Wallace's Birthday

Iowa farm boy, newspaperman, agriculturalist, secretary of commerce and agriculture, and 1948 Progressive Party presidential candidate Henry Agard Wallace, who along the way was 33rd Vice President of the United States, was born this day in 1888. He died in 1965.

He made enemies among the upper reaches of the Democratic Party, and alienated President Roosevelt as well, so he lost his slot on the ticket in 1944 -- a shift that led to Harry Truman's accession to the White House instead. The Progressive Party was formed to run Wallace in the 1948 election. Wallace and his running mate Sen. Glen Taylor of Idaho polled about 1.15 million votes, only slightly fewer than Dixiecrats Strom Thurmond and Fielding Wright, but because of the structure of the electoral college, the Progressives got no electoral votes, while the Dixiecrats got 39.

His most famous speech, which he expanded into a book, came in 1942 when, as vice president, he spoke to the Free World Association in New York. "Some have spoken of the 'American Century,'" Wallace said. "I say that the century on which we are entering — the century which will come out of this war — can be and must be the century of the common man. Perhaps it will be America's opportunity to suggest that Freedoms and duties by which the common man must live. Everywhere the common man must learn to build his own industries with his own hands is a practical fashion.

"Everywhere the common man must learn to increase his productivity so that he and his children can eventually pay to the world community all that they have received. 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. The methods of the nineteenth century will not work in the people's century which is now about to begin. India, China, and Latin America have a tremendous stake in the people's century. As their masses learn to read and write, and as they become productive mechanics, their standard of living will double and treble. Modern science, when devoted whole-heartedly to the general welfare, has in it potentialities of which we do not yet dream.

"... Cartels in the peace to come must be subjected to international control for the common man, as well as being under adequate control by the respective home governments. In this way, we can prevent the Germans from again building a war machine while we sleep. With international monopoly pools under control, it will be possible for inventions to serve all the people instead of only a few.

"Yes, and when the time of peace comes, the citizen will again have a duty, the supreme duty of sacrificing the lesser interest for the greater interest of the general welfare. Those who write the peace must think of the whole world. There can be no privileged peoples. We ourselves in the United States are no more a master race than the Nazis. And we can not perpetuate economic warfare without planting the seeds of military warfare. We must use our power at the peace table to build an economic peace that is just, charitable and enduring."

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