Henry Who?


Jim Sleeper reminds us that there was yet another candidate on the 1948 presidential ballot. Here's how he puts in on the History News Network:

"…Thurmond wasn't the only 'third-party' candidate endangering Democrats and civil rights. If anything, he was the fourth-party candidate in the 1948 popular vote, coming in behind another candidate who, like him, had bolted the Democrats to run on an insurgent ticket. Never mind that this challenger was running left, accusing Truman of timidity on civil rights. Because this challenger had held a higher public office than Thurmond and was far better known, his defection gave segregationists an unexpected, unintended boost by drawing more votes from Democrats than Thurmond did.

"Like Ralph Nader's voters in 2000, the leftist insurgent's supporters in 1948 cost Democrats several states: Michigan, New Jersey, and New York went narrowly to Dewey, whose civil-rights posture was at best platitudinous and ephemeral and whose antipathy to labor was legendary. Dewey carried his own state, the solidly New Deal New York, by 61,000 votes only because nearly half a million votes which should have been Truman's went instead to the leftist challenger, who claimed to be Roosevelt's true legatee."

The mystery challenger was Henry Wallace, who has all but disappeared from modern U.S. history. "Why," asks Sleeper, "the eerie silence about Wallace, who was Vice-President of the United States during Franklin D. Roosevelt's third term (1941-1945) and became the 1948 presidential nominee of the Progressive Citizens of America party?"

NEXT: Will Ted Williams Become the First Immortal?

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  1. When the current majority leader of the Senate — or any prominent politician, for that matter — starts talking about how much better off we’d be if Henry Wallace had been elected president, then I imagine the “eerie silence” will be broken.

    But there’s no mystery here. Wallace, as you say, disappeared. Thurmond continued to be elected and to serve in the Senate, without ever renouncing or apologizing for his segregationist stances. In other words, Wallace became history; Thurmond helped run this country. Don’t tell me Sleeper doesn’t see the difference there?


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