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Selected Works of Henry A. Wallace
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"I Shall Run in 1948"
An Independent Candidate for Presidency
Henry A. Wallace
A speech delivered over the Mutual Broadcasting System, Chicago, Illinois, December 29, 1947.
From Vital Speeches of the Day (January 1, 1948), v. 14, n. 6, p. 172.
- For the past fifteen months I have traveled up and down, and back and forth across this country. I have talked with half a million people in public meetings and with thousands in private gatherings. I have been working for, and I shall continue to work for, peace and security in America, grounded on a foundation of world peace and security.
- Everywhere in the United States today, among farmers, workers, small businessmen and professional men and women, I find confusion, uncertainty and fear. The people do not ask, "will there be another war"but "when will the war come?"
- Everywhere I find that people are spending so much for food and rent that they can't afford their customary services from the doctor and dentist. They do not ask, "will there be another depression"but "when will the depression start?"
- Peace and abundance mean so much to me that I have said at a dozen press conferences and in many speeches when asked about a third party, "if the Democratic party continues to be a party of war and depression, I will see to it that the people have a chance to vote for peace and prosperity." To those who have come to me asking the conditions of my adherence to the present Democratic administration, I have said, "let the administration repudiate universal military training and rid itself of the Wall Street-military team that is leading us toward war."
- I have insisted that the Democratic administration curb the ever-growing power and profits and monopoly and take concrete steps to preserve the living standards of the American people. I have demanded that the Democratic administration cease its attacks on the civil liberties of Americans. In speeches in the North and in the South at non-segregated meetings I have stated the simple truth that segregation and discrimination of any kind or character have no place in America.
- My terms to the Democratic high command have been well known. By their actions and finally by their words, they have said"Henry Wallace, we welcome your support but we will not change our policies."
- In answering me, the Democratic leadership also gave its answer to millions of Americans who demand the right to vote for peace and prosperity. Thus, the leadership of the Democratic party would deprive, the American people of their rightful opportunity to choose between progress and reaction in 1948. As far as the Republican party is concerned, there is no hopeas George Norris, Fiorello LaGuardia, and Wendell Willkie long ago found out.
OLD PARTIES "ROT"
- When the old parties rot, the people have a right to be heard through a New Party. They asserted that right when the Democratic party was founded under Jefferson in the struggle against the Federalist party of war and privilege of his day. They won it again when the Republican party was organized in Lincoln's time. The people must again have an opportunity to speak out with their votes in 1948.
- The lukewarm liberals sitting on two chairs say, "why throw away your vote?" I say a vote for a new party in 1948 will be the most valuable vote you ever have cast or ever will cast. The bigger the peace vote in 1948, the more definitely the world will know that the United States is not behind the bi-partisan reactionary war policy which is dividing the world into two armed camps and making inevitable the day when American soldiers will be lying in their Arctic suits in the Russian snow.
- There is no real fight between a Truman and a Republican. Both stand for a policy which opens the door to war in our lifetime and makes war certain for our children.
- Let us stop saying, "I don't like it but I am going to vote for the lesser of two evils."
- Rather than accept either evil, come out boldly, stand upright like men, and say so loudly all the world can hear"We are voting peace and security for ourselves and our children's children. We are fighting for old-fashioned Americanism at the polls in 1948. We are fighting for freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. We are fighting to end racial discrimination. We are fighting for lower prices. We are fighting for free labor unions, for jobs, and for homes in which we can decently live."
- We have just passed through the holiday season when every radio and every church proclaimed the joyous tidings of peace. Every year at this time the hearts of the American people swell with genuine good will toward all mankind. We are a kindly, well-meaning people. But the holiday season soon passes and one of the first items on the agenda of the new Congress is Universal Military Training. I say the first political objective of progressives is the defeat of this bill, which would deliver our eighteen-year-olds over to the Army and cost the nation $2,000,000,000 a year.
- The American people read of the fantastic appropriations that are being made for military adventures in Greece, Turkey, Chinaand billions for armaments here at home. Slowly it dawns on us that these newspaper headlines have stepped into our everyday lives at the grocery store when we pay $1 for butter, 95 cents for eggs, and 90 cents for meat. We suddenly realize that we can't have all the people of the world getting ready for the next war without paying for it in our daily lives with less food, clothing and housing. War preparations create record profits for big business, but only false prosperity for the peopletheir purchasing power shrinks as prices rise, their needs go unfilled, and they are burdened with new debts. Yes, corporate profits are over three times what they were in 1939, but every family is paying for our war policy at the grocery store.
- Two years ago I denounced those who were talking up World War III as criminals. Of course, the bulk of our people are not criminals, but it is possible for a little handful of warmongers to stampede them. As Mark Twain long ago pointed out: "The nation will rub its sleepy eves and try to make out why there should be a war and will say, earnestly and indignantly, 'for it is unjust and dishonorable and there is no necessity for it.' The handful will shout louderand now the whole nation will take up the war cry and shout itself hoarse, and mob any honest man who ventures to open his mouth and presently such mouths will cease to open. Next the statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting the blame on the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities."
- This pattern, as Mark Twain saw it fifty years ago, is repeating itself on a scale so vast as to threaten the destruction of humanity. The rich monopolists have always been more ready to sacrifice their sons than their money, but now they have reached a point where they are willing to sacrifice both for the sake of world control.
- It just doesn't make sense. The time has come for a new party to fight these war makers. We say that peace is mandatory and that it can be had if we only want it.
- Universal Military Training is the first decisive step on the road toward Fascism. We shall fight it to the limit and all Congressmen who vote for it.
- A New Party must stand for a positive youth program of abundance and security, not scarcity and war. We can prevent depression and war if we only organize for peace in the same comprehensive way we organize for war.
- I personally was for the humanitarian aspects of the Marshall Plan long before it was announced. Because I saw the post-war need of helping human beings I was accused of wanting a quart of milk for every Hottentot. I pushed for help far Greece against the opposition of the Administration eight months before the Truman Doctrine was announced.
- But I have fought and shall continue to fight programs which give guns to people when they want plows. I fight the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan as applied because they divide Europe into two warring camps. Those whom we buy politically with our food will soon desert us. They will pay us in the basic coin of temporary gratitude and then turn to hate us because our policies are destroying their freedom.
- We are restoring western Europe and Germany through United States agencies rather than United Nations agencies because we want to hem Russia in. We are acting in the same way as France and England after the last war and the end result will be the sameconfusion, digression and war.
- It just doesn't need to happen. The cost of organizing for peace, prosperity and progress is infinitely less than the organizing for war.
- We who believe this will be called "Russian tools" and "Communists," but let the fearmongers not distort and becloud the issue by name calling. We are not for Russia and we are not for Communism, but we recognize Hitlerite methods when we see them in our own land and we denounce the men who engage in such name-calling as enemies of the human race who would rather have World War III than put forth a genuine effort to bring about a peaceful settlement of differences.
- One thing I want to make clear to both Russia and the United Statespeace requires real understanding between our peoples. Russia has as much to gain from peace as the United States, and just as we here fight against the spreaders of hate and falsehood against Russia, the Russian leaders can make a great contribution by restraining those extremists who try to widen the gap between our two great countries.
- I insist that the United States will not be fully secure until there is real peace between this country and Russia and until there is an international police force stronger than the military establishment of any nation, including Russia and the United States. I am utterly against any kind of imperialism or expansionism whether sponsored by Britain, Russia or the United States, and I call on Russia as well as the United States to look at all our differences objectively and free from that prejudice which the hatemongers have engendered on both sides. What the world needs is a U. N. disarmament conference to rid humanity for all time of the threat, not only of atomic bombs, but also of all other methods of mass destruction.
- It happens that all of my mother's and three-fourths of my father's ancestors came to this country before the American Revolution. I love the Americanism I was taught to respect in the public schools of Iowa half a century ago. That Americanism was betrayed after World War I by forces which found their origin in monopoly capitalism, yellow journalism and racial bigotry. Today there is a greater menace than ever beforea menace more serious than has ever confronted the human race.
- That menace can be met and overcome only by a new political alignment in America which requires the organization of a new political party.
- To that end I announce tonight that I shall run as an independent candidate for President of the United States in 1948.
- Thousands of people all over the United States have asked me to engage in this great fight. The people are on the march. I hope that you who are listening to me tonight will lead the forces in peace, progress and prosperity throughout your communities and throughout our country. Will you let me know that you have come out fighting against the powers of evil?
- We have assembled a Gideon's Army, small in number, powerful in conviction, ready for action. We have said with Gideon, "Let those who are fearful and trembling depart." For every fearful one who leaves, there will be a thousand to take his place. A just cause is worth a hundred armies. We face the future unfetteredunfettered by any principle but the general welfare. We owe no allegiance to any group which does not serve that welfare. By God's grace, the people's peace will usher in the century of the common man.
Introduction | Essay | Documents | Resources
Selected Works of Henry A. WallaceN E W D E A L N E T W O R K