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Unlikely President: Henry A. Wallace Born in 1888 as a third-generation farmer-journalist (at Wallaces’ Farmer) Henry A.Wallace graduated from Iowa State in 1910. He went to work for the influential family publication after graduation and he became editor upon the appointment of his father Henry Cantwell Wallace as Harding’s secretary of agriculture. Henry Agard himself became Franklin Roosevelt’s agriculture secretary 1933-1941 and was instrumental in turning around the depressed farm economy in the thirties, helped by a squadron of land-grant college graduates and county agents in running one of the most efficient government departments ever. FDR specifically chose Wallace as his running mate in 1940 to help win the Midwest. Wallace didn’t care much for the job as vice president until be was given more responsibility after the war began. As agriculture secretary and later as vice president Wallace wrote and spoke widely, traveling across the United States and on missions abroad to Mexico, Latin America and the Far East. He spoke to his Spanish-speaking listeners in their own language and even managed some Russian in Siberia. In 1942 he gave a speech entitled “The Century of The Common Man” in which he recognized the dignity and potential of the common man, wherever he might live. It was reprinted and distributed and sold in 20 languages and millions of copies. His science training enabled him to represent the government in talks with the atomic bomb scientists and understand what they were doing. And later he was a prime mover in the development of hybrid corn, which revolutionized corn cultivation and made him, his family and his partners wealthy. To Wallace’s great disappointment in 1944 Franklin D. Roosevelt dropped him and chose Harry S. Truman for vice president, who, of course, became president in April 1945 when FDR died. Truman was nominated and elected in his own right in 1948. But this book conjectures what might have happened if Wallace instead of Truman had been the choice of the Democratic party in 1944 and had succeeded Roosevelt, an unlikely president from 1945 to 1949. Wallace joined a third-party movement in 1948 and campaigned for the presidency. A naive idealist, he was cruelly taken in and humiliated by communists and others and received not a single electoral vote. He withdrew from public life after the election. In 1950 he broke with his party and supported the Korean War. He died in 1965 at 77.

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