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Future Progressive Party Presidential Candidate Henry A Wallace: 1939 | by Washington Area Spark
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Future Progressive Party Presidential Candidate Henry A Wallace: 1939

1948 Progressive Party presidential candidate Henry A. Wallace is shown while Secretary of Agriculture in Washington, D.C. in 1939.


Wallace served as the head of the agriculture department from 1933-41 where he earned a reputation as an advocate on behalf of African Americans and of federal intervention on behalf of the poor.


President Franklin Roosevelt nominated him for vice-president at the 1940 Democratic Convention and southern and conservative Democrats rebelled. The rebellion was quashed after Roosevelt threatened to quit the race if the delegates did not accept Wallace.


During his term as vice president during World War II from 1941-45, he remained a fervent “New Deal” Democrat and advocated a cooperative relationship with the Soviet Union after the war. This position further inflamed the conservative wing of the party.


During the 1944 Democratic Convention, the conservatives were able to nominate Harry Truman for vice president under Roosevelt. Roosevelt kept Wallace on as Secretary of Commerce, but the longest serving President died three months after he took office in 1945 and Truman took over the office.


Wallace served as the head of Commerce until September 1946 when he was fired by Truman over disputes about relations with the Soviet Union.


Wallace decided to run for President in the 1948 elections on the Progressive Party ticket and campaigned with Idaho Sen. Glen Taylor as his vice presidential candidate. When he announced, observers believed he could win at least several states, possibly throwing the election into the U.S. House of Representatives.


He ran on a platform favoring labor, civil rights, universal health care and peaceful relations with the Soviet Union. He notably refused to appear in segregated halls and appeared side-by-side with African American candidates of the party.


Truman’s advisor Clark Clifford ran a campaign of “dirty tricks” designed to undercut Wallace’s support—mainly by painting him as bumbling tool of the communists. The effort succeeded and whether Clifford personally organized them or not, Wallace was greeted by pickets, eggs and tomatoes at many campaign appearances, particularly in the south.


When the election came, Wallace received about 1.2 million votes, finishing fourth behind segregationist Strom Thurmond and didn’t win a single state. Truman defeated Thomas Dewey largely by marginalizing the Wallace vote.


In 1950, Wallace broke with earlier positions and came out in favor of U.S. intervention in Korea. He later amended his earlier positions on the Soviet Union saying he had been duped and became an anti-communist.


For an article on a local Washington, D.C. incident of suppression of the Progressive Party campaign, see


For more images related to the Washington, D.C. incident, see


Photo by Harris & Ewing. Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Reproduction number LC-DIG-hec-26883 (digital file from original negative)

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Taken sometime in 1939