“…to Serve The World-not To Dominate It”


The unity was short-lived. When the Korean War erupted in June, Wallace immediately supported United States armed intervention and announced: “Undoubtedly the Russians could have prevented the attack [by North Korea] and undoubtedly they could now stop the attack any time they wanted.” He had just signed the Stockholm Peace Petition but requested that his name be removed. When the Progressive Party’s national committee called for an immediate cease-fire without pinpointing the blame for hostilities, Wallace refused to join the statement and resigned from the party on August 4.

Wallace retired to “Farvue,” a rambling white three-story farmhouse set on 115 acres in New York’s Westehester County, where he crossbred leghorns to increase their egg yield and experimented with improved strains of gladioli and strawberries. Supporting Eisenhower for the Presidency in 1956, he complained bitterly in an article in Life magazine that he had been duped by the Communists in 1948 and that “in their fanatical way they ruined my campaign and destroyed the efforts of a great many truly patriotic Americans …”

This flash of bitterness evaporated in his enthusiam for President John F. Kennedy. He mellowed both politically and personally, inviting former Progressive associates to his farm—“he even had drinks with us, something he never did before,” one recalled.

Still vigorous at seventy-six, he was climbing the ancient pyramids of Guatemala when he developed sharp pains in his legs, diagnosed on his return as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a rare disease of the nervous system. He lost coordination of his muscles and even his power of speech, and had to communicate by writing on a blackboard. Baldwin visited him, expecting to stay only a few minutes, but was kept for an hour by Wallace’s ceaseless questions, particularly his concern over United States policy in Vietnam. Baldwin remembered the last thing Wallace scrawled on the blackboard: “We’re like Icarus, flying into the sun.” Wallace died on November 18, 1965.

The principles Wallace forced the public to confront have gained new stature since the 1948 campaign. He was a poor politician, but with his humanity, vision, and identification with global suffering, he grasped what other politicians ignored. His conception of United States foreign policy touched the core of almo.st every problem that has arisen since. On the night of his defeat he scribbled a penciled message to President Truman: “The destiny and salvation of the United States is to serve the world- not to dominate it.”