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Release: Immediate

UI Libraries opens new exhibit on Henry A. Wallace and the Progressive Party

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 ticket.

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.