Though the VP was little more than a figurehead in Wallace’s time, he didn't just sit on his ass and play golf, breaking the occasional tie in the Senate. Roosevelt put him to work, as chairman of the Board of Economic Warfare (BEW) and of the Supply Priorities and Allocations Board (SPAB) in 1941, both of which turned out to be influential positions in World War II. Thankfully, no VP since has had such power over doling out contracts during wartime. We’ve really dodged a bullet there.
Wallace was a strident Liberal who criticized the perpetrators of race riots in Detroit (during times of segregation), suggesting that it was difficult to fight the Nazis while condoning bigotry. And his 1943 goodwill tour of Latin America shored up support for the U.S. against the axis powers in WWII.
His outspokenness and public feuds with other officials ultimately cost him a shot at being president. In an effort to appease the Conservative side of his party, Roosevelt (widely assumed by the Democrats to be too ill to complete a fourth term if re-elected) stripped Wallace of his posts and abandoned him for Marcia, er, Truman in 1944.
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Tags: Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman