• Latest News
  • Pitch a Story
  • Work with a Journalist
  • Join the Blog Squad
  • Afghanistan
  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Baltimore
  • Canada
  • Egypt
  • Europe
  • Latin America
  • Middle East
  • Russia
  • Economy
  • Environment
  • Health Care
  • Military
  • Occupy
  • Organize This
  • Reality Asserts Itself
  • US Politics
  • Untold History: The Coup Against Wallace and What Might Have Been

    Pt.4 Peter Kuznick (co-author with Oliver Stone of the Untold History of the United States): A Wallace Presidency might have prevented the dropping of nuclear bombs on Japan and prevented the Cold War -   January 11, 2013
    Members don't see ads. If you are a member, and you're seeing this appeal, click here


      Share to Twitter
    Share to Facebook

    TRNN is a rare source of objective facts, analysis and commentary, not available in mainstream news. - Robert
    Log in and tell us why you support TRNN


    Peter Kuznick, Professor of History; Director, American University’s Nuclear Studies Institute; Co-writer (with Oliver Stone) "Untold History of the United States"


    Untold History: The Coup Against Wallace and What Might Have BeenPAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay in Baltimore. We're continuing our series of interviews about The Untold History of the United States with coauthor Peter Kuznick. Thanks for joining us again, Peter.

    And just one more time, to remind everybody, Peter teaches at American University, history, in D.C.

    So we're just going to pick up the discussion. We were talking about the convention where Henry Wallace loses the vice presidency. We'll—as we said in the last segment, you'll see in the series, this is like a coup, in a sense.

    PETER KUZNICK, PROF. HISTORY, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: Yeah. And, in fact, Edwin Pauley, the Democratic Party treasurer, referred to it as Pauley's coup. Pauley's an important figure. He went into—he was a California oil millionaire who went into politics, he said, when he realized it was cheaper to elect a new Congress than to buy up the old one. And so he later gets indicted. He's corrupt. And he's the treasurer of the Democratic Party. The chair of the Democratic Party is Bob Hannegan. And the two of them work together.

    Pendergast, who was Truman's initial sponsor, was in federal prison in Kansas City in 1940 when Truman was up for reelection. Roosevelt refused to support him and endorse him.

    Truman was coming in third in that election, and he turned to Hannegan, who was the head of the St. Louis machine, the Hannegan-['dIkl3`] machine around St. Louis. And Hannegan throws his support to Truman, who barely pulls out that election in 1940.

    He was not very popular. In fact, most of the senators shunned him after his first term. They referred to him as the senator from Pendergast and thought of him as a corrupt hack. It's during his second term where he begins to develop a national reputation. But Truman is no stellar figure at that point, which is why he had so little support.

    JAY: So let's go back to this moment.

    KUZNICK: Yeah.

    JAY: Roosevelt says yes to Truman, knowing he's a hack. He gives in to these party bosses. But there's another step to it. We talked a lot about this thing about Roosevelt in the last segment, so I won't go over that again, but once this coup takes place, it's clear the majority of the party wants Wallace.

    KUZNICK: Yes.

    JAY: They manipulate the process to force—in a way that gives them time to rally the votes for Truman. They essentially steal it from Wallace. But then, once they do, Wallace says, okay, I accept this. And then the trade unions who one would think were a much more powerful force at the time—they were a powerful force—they accept it too. I mean, why isn't there a war? Because it—you know, you could say the whole soul of what the Democratic Party was under FDR is being wrenched out of that party to quite a different path. Why does Wallace—and particularly the unions, why do they go along with this?

    KUZNICK: There's no clear answer to that one. Wallace had the support. I mean, Wallace didn't just have union support. He was the leading spokesperson for labor in the Democratic Party at that point, but he also had the support of every black delegate there. He was the leading spokesperson for civil rights in the Democratic Party. He had tremendous women's support because he was an outstanding spokesperson for women's rights much earlier, and feminism.

    And he—but his other enemies—Wall Street people hated him. The British and the French hated him, 'cause he had been writing books and pamphlets attacking British and French colonialism. And they actually had Roald Dahl spying on him for Churchill during this time. So he had a lot of enemies.

    But he had the support of labor, and he had the support of the black delegates, and he had the support of all the progressives and the liberal and the average Democratic Party voters. So why does he not fight more? It's not really his nature, in a certain way, if you know Henry Wallace. He's a man of great principle, but he's not the—.

    JAY: Well, yeah, even if—but my question was more the unions. I understand Wallace might have felt, okay, I'm not going to split the party over this, I don't want it to be about me, and I guess I can imagine that. But why the unions?

    KUZNICK: But that was why they were—when they went through the list of who they could replace Wallace with, the party bosses, they went through various people, and they decided Jimmy Byrnes was too segregationist, that's not going to work.

    JAY: But were the unions in on the deal?

    KUZNICK: The unions were not in on the deal. The unions were very strongly supporting Wallace at the convention. And it was actually finally when they—given their choices, when it was clear they weren't going to get Wallace, they agreed to Truman. But they were very, very angry about that and they fought very hard for Wallace at the convention.

    Truman was chosen because he didn't have any real enemies. He wasn't pro-labor, but he wasn't anti-labor like a lot of the other people in the party. The party still had a conservative wing.

    JAY: And easily manipulable.

    KUZNICK: They knew he was manipulable 'cause he had always been manipulable. As a senator he was willing to go along with the conservative influences from Missouri who were behind him, Pendergast and other people.

    JAY: So does it tell us something about the character of the Democratic Party in the long run, which is, when push comes to shove, it is a party of one section of the American elite, and when push comes to shove, it's those instincts that really take over the party?

    KUZNICK: But it was even worse during this time, 'cause you have such a strong southern segregationist wing of the party that it doesn't have now. It's not held back by those forces in the same way. And those people were outright racists, segregationists, and very conservative on most issues, and they wanted Jimmy Byrnes.

    So Roosevelt was always a pragmatic politician. I mean, he had some principle, of course, but he was always very pragmatic and he was always figuring how you put together coalitions that can get you elected and where the money was going to come from and where the votes were going to come from. And the party bosses convinced him that he would do better in '44 with Truman on the ticket, or if not do better, then if they wanted his—he wanted their strong support.

    JAY: At this time does he think he's going to live long enough for another term?

    KUZNICK: Yes, yes.

    JAY: So he's not thinking it's imminent that this guy's going to be the next president.

    KUZNICK: No, no, he's not thinking it, but everybody else understood that. When he would try to pour people's drinks or light their cigarettes, his hands would shake at that point. They knew that his health was deteriorating rapidly and visibly.

    JAY: So this is more this guy can help me get reelected more than Wallace can, and as long as I'm around, things are okay.

    KUZNICK: But then he begged Wallace to stay in the cabinet, you know, said, you can have any position you want, he said, other than secretary of state; I don't want to break old Cordell Hull's heart. So he says, I have to leave him as secretary of state, but you can have any other position. And Wallace chose to stay in as secretary of commerce.

    And it's from that vantage point that he fights against Truman's policies. And he fights heroically. But I think in some ways it goes against his nature to be a fighter in that way. He's always this man of principle. He's above the fray, in a sense. And that's why some people thought of him as so otherworldly. Some people thought of him as not a typical politician, and he wasn't in any way.

    JAY: So, then, let me argue with you on one thing now.

    KUZNICK: Sure.

    JAY: Do you not think that if Wallace had remained vice president and he became president, that the fundamentals of the American political system, where power resides, that in spite of all his intentions, he would not have been able to do what he wanted to do, and one way or the other he wouldn't have been president for long, whether they defeat him in an election or they shot him or whatever it was? He's just too at odds with the basic class interest of those people who have real power in the country.

    KUZNICK: We don't know that. I mean—.

    JAY: Well, I can speculate as well as you can.

    KUZNICK: You can speculate better than I can, I think. But certain things he could have done. And he could have prevented the atomic bombing at Hiroshima—

    JAY: Yeah, that's possible.

    KUZNICK: —and Nagasaki. And the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is a fundamental aspect of the Cold War as it goes forward. That was in large part a warning to the Russians, to the Soviets, of what the United—how ruthless the United States really was.

    JAY: But the bomb development begins under Roosevelt.

    KUZNICK: Bomb—and it begins under Wallace, because the October 1941 meeting in which they decide to move forward with the project, Wallace is the person who's in that meeting with Roosevelt and Vannevar Bush and others. And I think Wallace had a lot of guilt as a result of that, because he—. But, you know, the people who were pushing the project at that point were mostly the emigre scientists who had escaped from Nazi-occupied Europe. It was the Leó Szilárds and the Albert Einsteins and the Fermis. These were the—.

    JAY: Because at that time they think Hitler could actually—

    KUZNICK: They thought—.

    JAY: —win this war,—

    KUZNICK: Yes.

    JAY: —and if push came to shove, you needed the ultimate weapon.

    KUZNICK: Well, they thought that Hitler—they knew that Hitler was going to develop a bomb himself. That was their belief. And the Germans do begin, 'cause the Germans, even though they'd gotten rid of the Jewish scientists, they still were very advanced in science and technology and physics, and they begin the bomb project, and they put it under Heisenberg, who's a brilliant physicist. And so we didn't know till 1944, late 1944, that the Germans had abandoned their bomb project back in 1942. But at this point, the scientists believed that we were actually possibly a year or more behind the Germans in developing the bomb. So that was the reason why Wallace and others supported it initially, for fear that the Germans would get it and use it to take over the world.

    JAY: Okay. In the next segment of the interview, we're going to talk more about the role of the Soviet Union in the war, because certainly one of the things this series does that you've never seen on mainstream television before, I think, is unpack the role of the Soviet Union in being the real bulwark or the force that broke the back of German fascism. I mean, anyone that has ever studied this history with any seriousness kind of knows that, but it's sure not part of what's taught in schools—

    KUZNICK: No, it's not taught at all.

    JAY: —and it's not part of the official narrative.

    KUZNICK: And it's not even a part of people's consciousness. When you ask people who won World War II in Europe, they say the Americans. But when you explain it to them, they get it.

    JAY: Alright. So join us for the next segment of our interview with Peter Kuznick on the untold history of the United States on The Real News Network.


    DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


    Our automatic spam filter blocks comments with multiple links and multiple users using the same IP address. Please make thoughtful comments with minimal links using only one user name. If you think your comment has been mistakenly removed please email us at


    Latest Stories

    The Modern History of Venezuela and Popular Democracy - Edgardo Lander on RAI (9/9)
    An Asia "Pivot" Should Mean Cooperating with China to Solve the Global Environmental Crisis
    Assessing the U.S. Environmental Movement
    Intimidation and Political Interference Goes Unpunished in UAW Case
    Exclusive Investigation Uncovers How BP Uses Bribes To Do Business
    The Modern History of Venezuela, The Protests and Democracy - Edgardo Lander on RAI (8/9)
    Greek Politics 4 Years After The Financial Crisis
    CBO Report Confirms U.S. Deficit Back to Normal Level
    Israel Uses Refugees as "Currency" in Arms Trade with Africa
    Who Will Pay for Climate Change Disaster?
    Canada Shifts to Right Under Harper, Mimicking the United States
    The Savings and Loan Crisis Demonstrates the Importance of Glass-Steagall
    South African Platinum Miner's Struggle Challenges ANC Leadership
    TRNN Original Report: Manning Determined to Fight Back After Army Upholds 35- Year Sentence
    Hundredth Anniversary of the Ludlow Massacre
    The Bundy Ranch Standoff Demonstrates Values Shared by Corporations and the Far Right
    The Resegregation of American Schools
    The Modern History of Venezuela, Why Still So Much Crime? - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (7/9)
    What Role Has Russia Played in Eastern Ukraine?
    Can Johns Hopkins Afford to Pay A Living Wage? (2/2)
    University Sit-In Targets World's Largest Private Coal Company
    The Modern History of Venezuela and the Need for a Post-Oil Economy - Edgardo Lander on RAI (6/9)
    Can Johns Hopkins Afford to Pay A Living Wage? (1/2)
    One Percent of Environmentalists Killings Lead to Convictions
    Investigation Finds Former Ukraine President Not Responsible For Sniper Attack on Protestors
    The Modern History of Venezuela from 1973 to the Caracazo Massacre - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (3/9)
    Ukraine Transitional Gov't Moves Militarily To Reclaim Seized Buildings
    IPCC Report Flawed By Narrow Focus on Carbon Emissions
    The Modern History of Venezuela: The Bolivarian Revolution - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (5/9)
    Obama Signs Directives to Reduce the Gender Wage Gap
    Eastern Ukraine Lacks Political Representation in Kiev
    Demystifying the Role of Mitigation in the Most Recent IPCC Report
    Hypersurveillance State Won't Prevent Another Boston Marathon Bombing
    The Modern History of Venezuela from 1973 to the Caracazo Massacre - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (3/9)
    Univ. of Maine Faculty Reinstated After Students Protest Against Cuts
    The Modern History of Venezuela from 1908 to 1973 - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (2/9)
    IMF Will Address Global Inequality, Says Managing Director Christine Lagarde
    Raising Big Banks' Leverage Ratio Good, But Not Nearly Enough
    TRNN Replay: Austerity Road to 19th Century
    Has Palestinian Maneuvering Revived Peace Talks?
    Late Jackson Mayor Lumumba's Son Wins Primary to Replace His Father, Runoff Election Ahead
    Quebecers Reject PQ and Elect a Liberal Government Representing Big Business
    TRNN Debate: Decriminalization vs. Legalization
    The Beginning of the Chavez Era - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (4/9)
    "Off With His Head": Court Upholds Obama's Power to Kill
    Workers at Nation's Top Hospital Strike For Fair Wages
    From Exile to Radicalization in Venezuela - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (1/9)
    Rwanda 20 Years Later: Genocide, Western Plunder of Congo, and President Kagame
    Ukrainian Protesters in the East Demand More Autonomy From Kiev Government
    Hunger Strikers Demand President Obama Halt His Record 2 Million Deportations
    Indian Parliamentary Elections - A Primer With Vijay Prashad
    West Looks to Carve Up Ukraine & Privatize Industries Held by Kleptocrats
    Where Are Israeli-Palestinian Peace Negotiations Headed?
    The Multiple Kingdoms of Saudi Arabia (5/5)
    Do the Afghan Presidential Elections Signify Progress?
    Republican Presidential Hopefuls Pay Homage to Billionaire Casino Tycoon Sheldon Adelson
    Will Extremist Lieberman Become Israel's Next Prime Minister?
    Why do the Saudis Want the US to Attack Iran? (4/5)
    Immigrant Advocates and Families Tell President Obama 'Not One More'
    Elections, Pipelines, and Protests - The Canada Panel
    Chris Hedges on "Israel's War on American Universities"
    Baltimore Residents Decry Lack of Affordable Housing
    Yellen Talks the Talk But Will She Walk the Walk?
    Hopkins Hospital Workers Speak Out against "Poverty Wages"
    Will Venezuela's New Floating Exchange Rate Curb Inflation?
    The European Central Bank's War on Wages is Pushing Europe's Economy to the Brink
    Supreme Court Decision Opens Floodgates for More Campaign Cash
    Charles Keating, the Financier Behind the Savings and Loan Scandal, Dies at 90
    Saudi Arabia and the al-Qaeda Monster (3/5)
    Maryland Residents Voice Opposition to Natural Gas Fracking Export Facility
    Supreme Court Ruling Gives Wealthy Individuals More Influence Over Elections
    What are the Saudis Afraid Of? - Madawi Al-Rasheed (2/5)
    Baltimore's MICA Adjunct Professors Set to Vote on Unionization
    Boycott of Israel Moving to Next Level?
    Hypocrisy Dressed Up as "Realism" Justifies American Alliance with Saudi Dictatorship
    Immigration Reform in the Shadows of Cesar Chavez's Legacy
    Leaked Senate Report Shows Use of Torture As "Ineffective"
    UN Report Says Climate Change Will Threaten Food Production Worldwide
    The Hypocrisy of US Calling for Enforcement of International Law
    How the Ecuadorian Economy Grew in a Global Recession
    'Shadows of Liberty' Trailer
    Kristina Borjesson on Why CBS Shut Down Her investigation into Flight 800 (2/8)
    Glen Ford on Racism in the American Media (3/8)
    Paul Jay on What Drives Corporate Media and What Drive The Real News (4/8)
    Creating a New Media Paradigm After Citizens United (5/8)
    Should The Left Engage with the Mainstream Media? (6/8)
    What Is the Financial Backing For The Real News? (7/8)
    Standing up to Character Assassination (8/8)
    Oligarchs, Fascists and the People's Protest in Ukraine
    TRNN Debate: Is Obamacare In the Interest of Workers?
    Too-Big-To-Fail Advantage Remains Intact For Big Banks
    Obama and the Saudi Agenda
    TRNN Replay: Investigating the Saudi Government's 9/11 Connection and the Path to Disilliusionment - Sen. Graham on Reality Asserts Itself pt 1
    The Iraq War's Real Legacy
    Petitions with 100,000+ Signatures Call for Snowden's Passport to be Reinstated
    We Need to Harness People Power - Andy Shallal on Reality Asserts Itself (4/4)
    BC Pipeline Fight and Quebec Elections - The Canada Panel
    Jonathan Schell - 1943-2014: Board Member of TRNN on Why We Need The Real News
    Teachers on Strike from the UK to Argentina
    Connecticut Poised to Become First State with $10.10 Minimum Wage
    Oil Spill Threatens Wildlife and Local Economy
    DC School Test Scores Up, But Poor Black Kids Are Doing Worse - Andy Shallal on RAI (3/4)
    Obama's Proposal To End NSA Bulk Data Collection Won't Protect Privacy
    How Google, Apple & The Biggest Tech Companies Colluded to Fix Workers' Wages
    An American Should be One that Questions Their Government - Andy Shallal on RAI (2/4)
    What's Driving Putin & Obama's Posturing on Ukraine?
    Hundreds of Students & Faculty Occupy College Campus to Fight Cuts to Public Higher Ed
    Due Process 'Impossible' In Harsh Death Sentencing Of Over 500 Muslim Brotherhood Members
    Has Anglo-American Capitalism Run Out of Steam?
    Being the "Other" in America - Andy Shallal on Reality Asserts Itself (1/4)
    TRNN Debate: Should Baltimore 'Ban The Box'?
    How Fallujah Became the Iraqi Government's New Battleground
    Why I Decided to Blow the Whistle on the NSA
    NASA Climate Predictions Show Serious Threat To Humanity
    Professor Who Teaches Israel-Palestine Conflict Accuses College of Violating His Academic Freedom
    CIA and NSA Wrongdoing Requires Independent Investigation, Says Former Church Committee Staff
    Are Tuition Breaks Enough To Combat High Student Debt And Low Graduation Rates?
    Industries Across the U.S. Are Stealing Wages From Their Lowest Paid Workers
    Who In Ukraine Will Benefit From An IMF Bailout?
    NSA Recording All International Calls From U.S.
    Israel "Making Lives Miserable" for Africans, Hoping They 'Self-Deport' (2/2)
    BP Gets Green Light to Drill in Gulf, But Has Safety Improved?
    Residents Still Not Drinking Tap Water Two Months After West Virginia Spill (1/2)
    Libya's Descent Into Turmoil Three Years After NATO Intervention
    From Pipelines to Peladeau - Canadian Report
    Israel "Making Lives Miserable" for Africans, Hoping They 'Self-Deport' (1/2)
    Congressional Progressive Caucus Budget Strikes Back Against Austerity
    Libya Three Years Later - Chaos and Partition
    Why Was Gaddafi Overthrown?
    Should Ukraine and West Accept De Facto Crimea Joining Russia? (2/2)
    Tony Benn Saw Socialism as the Culmination of Democratization
    Why Didn't Bush/Cheney Attack Iran and Can Obama Make and Sell a Deal? - Gareth Porter on Reality Asserts Itself (3/3)
    After Late Mayor Lumumba is Laid to Rest, What's Next for Jackson, Mississippi? (2/2)
    Crimea Referendum: Self Determination or Big Power Manipulation? (1/2)
    Sen. Graham: President Must Side with Openness About CIA and 9/11
    Manufacturing a Narrative for War - Gareth Porter on Reality Asserts Itself (2/3)
    Protesters Hit the Streets of Brooklyn to Demand $15 Minimum Wage
    Hammer: 'Moral Bankruptcy' Behind Massive GM Recall
    White House Withholds Thousands of Documents from Senate CIA Probe
    I Grew Up Believing in Time Magazine's Version of America - Gareth Porter on RAI (1/3)
    Western European Banks Vulnerable to Ukrainian Sovereign Debt Crisis
    TRNN Debate: What's Driving Inflation in Venezuela? (2/2)
    CIA vs. Senate: Who Is Obama Protecting?
    Will Tipped Workers Get Excluded Again From Minimum Wage Hike?
    TRNN Debate: What's Driving Inflation in Venezuela? (1/2)
    After Late Mayor Lumumba is Laid to Rest, What's Next for Jackson, Mississippi?(1/2)
    TRNN Replay: A Look at Who's Poised to Become No.2 at the Fed
    How Right-Wing Nationalism Rose to Influence in Ukraine (2/2)
    Netanyahu Attacks Boycott As Campaign Enters New Phase
    Moving Towards a Police State - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (7/7)
    Fighting Reagan's Secret, Illegal Wars - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (6/7)
    Puerto Rican Independence Movement and Cuba Further Radicalized Me - Michael Ratner on RAI (5/7)
    The Butcher of Attica - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (4/7)
    MLK and a Radicalizing Moment in American History - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (3/7), Real News Network, Real News, Real News For Real People, IWT are trademarks and service marks of IWT.TV inc. "The Real News" is the flagship show of IWT and Real News Network.

    All original content on this site is copyright of The Real News Network.  Click here for more

    Problems with this site? Please let us know

    Linux VPS Hosting by Star Dot Hosting