A matter of inches

The Untold History of the United States by Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick.

Politics, like baseball, is sometimes a game settled by a matter of inches. Henry Wallace was a progressive Secretary of Agriculture in FDR’s administration for eight years. Then he was FDR’s Vice President in FDR’s third term. By the time of the Democratic convention in Chicago in mid-1944, it was obvious to all that FDR would not finish a fourth term if re-elected. The party bosses did not want Wallace to succeed FDR at his death, so they forced Wallace off the ticket and replaced him with Harry Truman who they thought that they could control. During the convention, the delegates were ready to re-nominate Wallace to be Vice President, but the party bosses resorted to bribery and arm twisting to alter the results. Late one night, they adjourned before the Wallace supporters could force a vote. One Wallace supporter was moving toward the platform to demand an immediate vote and he came within five feet, 60 inches, of succeeding. FDR reportedly wanted Wallace to remain on the ticket, but he was too tired and ill to fight the party bosses. So close and yet so far did the US come to electing a progressive who would have become president. It is believed that a President Wallace would have prevented the start of the cold war with the Soviet Union.

Wallace was Secretary of Commerce in FDR’s fourth term and for a short time in the Truman administration. Harry fired him. Then Wallace ran for president in 1948 and lost badly.

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