CONTACT: MARY GERAGHTY
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0011; fax (319) 384-0024
UI Libraries opens new exhibit on Henry A. Wallace and the Progressive
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- While the most infamous aspect of the 1948 presidential
election may have been the erroneous "Dewey Defeats Truman" headline,
another important player in that year's political scene was Henry A. Wallace,
an Iowa native and the presidential candidate on the Progressive Party
To mark the 50th anniversary of that election, the University of Iowa
Libraries Department of Special Collections has opened a new exhibition
on Wallace's presidential campaign and the creation of the Progressive
Party. "Henry A. Wallace, the Progressive Party and the Presidential
Election of 1948" is currently on view and runs through Oct. 9.
The exhibit, which is free and open to the public, highlights materials
from the UI Libraries' collections, including the Progressive Party's records
and Wallace's papers. Among the items on display are manuscripts of Wallace's
campaign speeches, both typewritten and in his own hand, campaign buttons,
posters, flyers, photographs, political cartoons, and materials on and
by the Progressive Party.
Born on a farm near Orient, Iowa (about 60 miles southwest of Des Moines),
Wallace was raised in a prominent agricultural family. In his political
life, he enjoyed a tumultuous relationship with the Roosevelt administration.
Roosevelt appointed Wallace secretary of agriculture in 1933 and chose
him as his running mate in 1940 for his third term as president. Wallace
served as vice president from 1941 until 1945 but was dropped from the
Democratic ticket in 1944, replaced by Harry S. Truman. Wallace was then
appointed secretary of commerce, a position he continued to hold after
Roosevelt's death until Truman fired Wallace in 1946 because of disagreements
over foreign policy, especially Soviet-American relations.
By 1947, Wallace had decided to run for the presidency on a third-party
ticket, becoming the candidate for the Progressive Party in 1948. The Progressive
Party was created in 1947 with the goals of "peace, freedom and abundance."
Decidedly to the left of the political spectrum, the party included some
Communist sympathizers and expressed the need to "fight for the constitutional
rights of Communists and all other political groups to express their views
as the first line in the defense of the liberties of a democratic people."
The party also advocated "family farms as the basic unit of American
agriculture"; a federal emergency housing program; a national system
of health care; women's rights in the form of a "constitutional amendment
which will effectively prohibit every form of discrimination against women";
and civil rights with "full equality for the Negro people, the Jewish
people, Spanish-speaking Americans, Italian Americans, Japanese Americans
and all other nationality groups."
In November 1948, Wallace and the Progressive Party placed fourth in
the election, behind
J. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina who ran as the candidate of the
States' Rights Party, popularly known as the "Dixiecrats." Truman
won the election over Thomas E. Dewey.
After his electoral defeat, Wallace devoted the rest of his life to
agricultural experiments on plants. The Henry A. Wallace papers were given
to the University of Iowa Libraries in 1959. He died in 1965.
The Department of Special Collections is located on the third floor
of the Main Library. Regular viewing hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday
through Friday. For additional information on the exhibition or these collections,
contact the Special Collections Department at (319) 335-5921.