Newstalgia Reference Room - Secretary Of Agriculture Henry A. Wallace - 1939

(Henry Wallace in 1939 - before he was vice-President or Presidential candidate, had the unenviable task of Secretary of Agriculture) Most everyone

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(Henry Wallace in 1939 - before he was vice-President or Presidential candidate, had the unenviable task of Secretary of Agriculture)

Most everyone interested in Presidential campaigns past is familiar with Henry Wallace, who ran for President on the Progressive ticket in 1948. Prior to that he was a moderately familiar voice as vice-President to FDR in 1940. But in 1939 he was still Secretary of Agriculture, a post appointed by FDR in 1933. It was not a particularly popular place to be, with price controls on cotton and pork and forcing farmers to slaughter pigs and plow under cotton in order to keep prices up. Nonetheless, Wallace did the best with what was handed him and he implemented a number of New Deal programs during his tenure, including the AAA Farm Program and farm subsidies and emerged as one of the best Agriculture Secretaries the country ever had. Here is one of his rare appearances, addressing a Jefferson Day dinner on April 22, 1939.

Henry Wallace: “Problems of Agriculture are not insoluble as long as the machinery is available to farmers to enable them to cope with their problems. Advance indications are that participation in the AAA Farm Program this year will be the greatest it has ever been. Nearly six million farm families, eighty-five percent of all the farm families in the United States will cooperate in 1939 in this program of balanced farming and soil conservation. In the corn and wheat region, the striking increase in interest is evidenced by the fact from fifteen to twenty percent more farmers are taking part this year than last.”

Less than ten years later he would break with the Democratic Party of Harry Truman and forge his own bid for the Presidency. But that's another story.

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