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

By Thomas W. Devine | Go to book overview

10
TRUMAN DEFEATS WALLACE
Denouement

As he made the long walk from the Yankee Stadium home-team dugout to the podium erected at second base, the deafening cheers and shouts from the throng of nearly fifty thousand people struck a stark contrast to the less welcoming salutations Henry Wallace had received throughout most of Dixie. If nowhere else, the Progressive Party’s standard-bearer could still get a standing ovation in the Bronx. His devoted disciples, at least two-thirds of them teenagers and young men and women in their early twenties, had turned out in great force and full voice to welcome their hero returned. As with most large Progressive rallies, the atmosphere at this gathering on September 10 was one of an open-air revival meeting, complete with singing, “pass the hat” fund-raising, and an audience seemingly borne along on its own fervor. With the bright floodlights beating down on him, Wallace stood for ten minutes in the misty night air, smiling broadly and waving his arms to quiet the crowd.1

Half an hour before midnight he began his address, recounting with great emotion the dramatic events of his weeklong visit to the South and reiterating his conviction that racism was merely the by-product of economic exploitation. “To me,” Wallace declared, “fascism is no longer a second-hand experience…. No, fascism has become an ugly reality—a reality which I have tasted…. [I saw] how hate and prejudice can warp good men and women; turn Christian gentlemen into raving beasts; turn good mothers and wives into jezebels.” Yet the unfortunate people of the South were not to blame, he insisted; they were only the

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