Henry Wallace's 1948 Presidential Campaign and the Future of Postwar Liberalism

By Thomas W. Devine | Go to book overview

7
ROLLING DOWNHILL
Post-Convention Fallout and Dropouts

“It was a great convention,” Frederick Schuman wrote to Beanie Baldwin three days after leaving Philadelphia. “You did a magnificent job. It’s a good platform. The extent of the smear campaign encourages me. The boys are afraid we are going places. Let’s go!” Henry Wallace shared Schuman’s unbridled optimism. Referring to the third party’s previous high point—the Isacson victory in February—Wallace told supporters, “I was going on faith in those days. But since this convention I’m not going on faith. I know we’ve just begun to roll…. We’re getting rolling now and they simply can’t stop us.” “If the people’s movement continues to spread as rapidly as it is at present,” one exuberant North Carolina delegate predicted, “Wallace will carry at least forty states in the November elections.” As the summer progressed, however, emotional fervor gave way to political reality. By Labor Day, the official opening of the 1948 presidential campaign, few Progressives would venture such hopeful forecasts.1

■ Undoubtedly, the three-day gala proved an invigorating morale-builder for many Wallace partisans who had been languishing in the political wilderness. On their arrival in Philadelphia, those who had been ridiculed as “crackpots” or denounced as “commies” in their hometowns happily discovered that they had thousands of like-minded colleagues. On the floor of Convention Hall, a movement culture began to coalesce as the delegates recounted their common experiences and exchanged tales from the trenches. They reveled in this newfound spirit of community, confidently

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