The Rise and Fall of the People's Century: Henry A. Wallace and American Liberalism, 1941-1948

By Norman D. Markowitz | Go to book overview

Appendix:
The Mysticism
Legend

Throughout his long public career, Henry Wallace was haunted by gossip in high places and low that he was some species of mystic. Friendly colleagues remembered that he would sometimes sleep through meetings, casual acquaintances were put off by his blank and distant stare, and strangers often equated his shyness with oddness. Hostile reporters and political opponents of course took advantage of these rumors to insinuate that Wallace was as strange as his ideas (indeed, his personal eccentricity was perceived as prima facie evidence for his ideological peculiarity). Thus, derogatory references to the Secretary of Agriculture's experimental diets were occasionally made, and his more serious work in encouraging nutritional research was ignored. Vague references to his interest in the sciences of the occult were sometimes cited, and a reporter for Time even hinted that there was something strange and sinister about the fact that the Secretary of Agriculture liked to throw boomerangs. During and especially after the war, there were even cartoons that portrayed him as a swami, staring into a crystal ball. 1

In 1948, Hearst columnist Westbrook Pegler gave these innuendoes more credence than ever before by publishing alleged mystical letters that Wallace had written to Nicholas Roerich, a refugee Russian artist, while he was Secretary of Agriculture. Because Pegler was probably the most notorious rightwing journalist in the country, few doubted that his story of the

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The Rise and Fall of the People's Century: Henry A. Wallace and American Liberalism, 1941-1948
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • 1 - Prelude to the People's Century 1
  • Notes 31
  • 2 - Keeper of the Flame 36
  • Notes 74
  • 3 - The Missouri Compromise of 1944 81
  • Notes 117
  • 4 - Reconversion and Reaction 124
  • Notes 155
  • 5 - From Stettin in the Baltic 160
  • Notes 193
  • 6 - A Crisis of the American Spirit 200
  • Notes 226
  • 7 - Manifest Destiny, 1947: the Triumph of Containment 231
  • Notes 260
  • 8 - The Last Battle 266
  • Notes 297
  • 9 - The Twenty-First Century 304
  • Notes 328
  • Appendix: the Mysticism Legend 333
  • Notes 341
  • Select Bibliographical Essay 343
  • Index 361
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