The Real Henry Wallace
Oliver Stone is wrong about him.

Henry Agard Wallace


Conrad Black


Eminent Cold War historian John Lewis Gaddis has written that “there is Soviet documentation that Wallace was regularly reporting to the Kremlin in 1945 and 1946 while he was in the Truman administration,” and that later, when Truman was considering a secret effort to approach the Soviets, his effort was “blown wide open by Wallace when he was running for president on the Progressive Party ticket” in 1948. This was after Truman fired Wallace for giving an address in Madison Square Garden attacking the Truman administration for excessive anti-Communist zeal.


Wallace — who chose the “singing cowboy,” Idaho senator Glen Taylor (“Oh give me a home by the Capitol dome”), to be his running mate — advocated unilateral disarmament, the immediate end of the draft, and the end of the Marshall Plan (and of any assistance against Communist subversion anywhere), and declined to repudiate the endorsement he received from the American Communist party.


He was reviled as a Communist dupe by H. L. Mencken, Dorothy Parker, and even perennial Socialist-party presidential candidate Norman Thomas. He won only 2.4 percent of the vote and did not influence the outcome of the election, a narrow victory by President Truman and Kentucky senator (and Senate majority leader) Alben W. Barkley over Republicans Thomas E. Dewey, governor of New York, and Governor Earl Warren of California.


Oliver Stone is a notorious myth-maker, and is responsible for the films on John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon that claim, inter alia, that Kennedy was murdered by a conspiracy led by Lyndon Johnson, J. Edgar Hoover, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and a group of Texas oil centi-millionaires that spread to approximately 2,000 people in the FBI, CIA, and right through the Dallas police force, without any of the legion of conspirators’ hinting at any of this these nearly 50 years; and that Nixon resigned as president to cover up an even larger conspiracy involving a similar cast of immense size and treachery rooted in the inevitable and proverbial military-industrial complex.


Stone and Kuznick, in as preposterous an act of historical myth-making as Stone’s scurrilous fabrications about Kennedy and Nixon, claim that if Wallace had been renominated for vice president and had succeeded to the presidency on the death of Roosevelt in April 1945, Stalin would not have been provoked into the Cold War, and the wartime good relations between Moscow and Washington would have continued. (The relations were so excellent that, as Roosevelt assumed was happening, Stalin bugged the rooms of the American delegation to the Tehran and Yalta conferences. Stalin told Yugoslav Communist Milovan Djilas after the initial Big Three meeting at Tehran — which ended with the communiqué saying that the leaders parted “as friends in fact, in spirit, and in purpose” — that “Churchill would pick my pocket for a kopek but Roosevelt would only dip in his hand for larger coins.”)


In fact, as commentator Ron Radosh has remarked:


Wallace would have created an American foreign policy run by Soviet agents he had installed in the White House, including Lauchlin Currie, Harry Dexter White, his former assistant at Commerce, and the secret Communist and Soviet agent Harry Magdof, who wrote Wallace’s Madison Square Garden speech in 1946 . . . all of whom would have given Joseph Stalin precisely what he sought: control of Eastern Europe and inroads into subversion of France, Italy, and Great Britain as well. The result would have been a deepening of Stalinist control of Europe, and a tough road that might well have made it impossible for the West actually to have won the Cold War and to have defeated Soviet expansionism. Moreover, as Gaddis suggests, new evidence has emerged that points to just how much Wallace was under the control of the Soviets, and how they were counting on him as the man in the United States best suited to serve their ends.


No one could expect anything more rigorous or responsible from a compulsively mendacious fiction-producer like Stone, but it is distressing to see the New York Times and The New York Review of Books, suckers for or even aggressive propagators of self-flagellating American leftist revisionism though they often are, taking up the cudgels to respectabilize such lies. We seem to come closer every year to the triumph of Malcolm Muggeridge’s famous and familiar “great liberal death wish.”


— Conrad Black is the author of Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of FreedomRichard M. Nixon: A Life in Full, and the recently published A Matter of Principle. He can be reached at [email protected].