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Henry Wallace

Henry Wallace

Henry Wallace (1836-1916) was an American agricultural publicist and editor of the newspaper Wallaces' Farmer from 1895 to 1916.

Henry Wallace was born on a farm outside West Newton, Pa., on March 19, 1836. His parents were hardworking, religious, Scotch-Irish farmers who had come to the United States from Northern Ireland in 1832. Henry graduated from Jefferson College, Pa., in 1859 and then taught for a year at Columbia College in Kentucky. After theological study at Allegheny Seminary in Pennsylvania (1860-1861) and Monmouth College in Illinois (1861-1863), he was ordained. He was a Union chaplain during the Civil War.

Wallace was pastor at various churches in Illinois and lowa until 1877, when he retired from the ministry for health reasons. But for this forced retirement he might never have developed his later, and historically more important, career as a journalist, which helped to lead his two sons into political life. Wallace had already developed a taste for journalism and had published articles and become mildly interested in the reforms of his day, including temperance and antislavery.

In 1877 Wallace moved to Winterset, lowa, and took up farming. He had decided against accepting either the presidency of Monmouth College or entering religious journal nalism, for he felt the need for an outdoor life. He became involved in editorial work for local farm papers and eventually took part ownership in the Iowa Homestead. In 1895, with his two sons, he established his own paper to push "the agricultural interest." The newspaper later became known as Wallaces' Farmer.

Wallaces' Farmer was a leading organ and spokesman for the midwestern farmer. It fought for railroad regulation and for agricultural education, while maintaining a strong religious interest. The paper is now an important source for historians, as are Wallace's writings. These include Doctrines of the Plymouth Brethren (1878); three works on technical aspects of farming: Clover Culture (1892), Clover Farming (1898), and The Skim Milk Calf (1900); two volumes of popular education: Uncle Henry's Letters to the Farm Boy (1897) and Letters to the Farm Folks (1915); and a polemic against monopoly: Trusts and How to Deal with Them (1899).

In 1908 President Theodore Roosevelt appointed Wallace a member of the Country Life Commission. Two years later he became president of the National Conservation Commission. In 1891 he traveled in Europe for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to investigate flax growing, and in 1913 he was again sent abroad to study farm conditions in Britain. He died on Feb. 22, 1916.

Further Reading

The chief source of information on Wallace is his post-humously published autobiography, Uncle Henry's Own Story of His Life: Personal Reminiscences (3 vols., 1917-1919). Russell Lord, The Wallaces of Iowa (1947), is a history of the entire family.

Additional Sources

Kirkendall, Richard Stewart, Uncle Henry: a documentary profile of the First Henry Wallace, Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1993. □

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Wallace, Henry

Henry Wallace, 1836–1916, American agricultural leader, b. West Newton, Pa., grad. Jefferson (later Washington and Jefferson) College, 1859. He studied (1861–63) theology and went (1863) to Iowa as a home missionary of the United Presbyterian Church. He later turned to farming, pioneering in several aspects of agriculture, and began writing agricultural articles for the Iowa Homestead. He was made its managing editor, but his efforts in the early 1890s to curb railroad powers led to his removal from the editorship. In 1895 he joined with his son Henry Cantwell Wallace in founding the newspaper that later was called Wallaces' Farmer. This journal soon won recognition as a leading agricultural newspaper of the country. "Uncle Henry," as he was affectionately known, was a popular speaker and a counselor of Republican statesmen. He served (1908) as a member of President Theodore Roosevelt's Country Life Commission. Wallace's works include Clover Farming (1898) and Letters to the Farm Folk (1915). His autobiography, Uncle Henry's Own Story of His Life (1917), dealt chiefly with his boyhood.

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"Wallace, Henry." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Wallace, Henry

WALLACE, HENRY


Henry Wallace (18361916) was a pastor, farmer, agricultural publicist and editor who acted as a leading spokesperson for Midwestern farmers. He sought to educate farmers in applied science in order to prepare them for the technological advancements of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This dramatically changed agricultural production in the United States, and Wallace's influence spread to the level of the federal government. He served on several commissions for President Theodore Roosevelt (18581919) and also impressed his views about agricultural development upon his family; his son and grandson continued his work in shaping U.S. agricultural policies.

According to biographer Richard S. Kirkendall, Henry Wallace "was the first in an American line of Henry Wallaces who rose to prominence in Iowa and the United States" (Uncle Henry: A Documentary Profile of the First Henry Wallace, 1993). Wallace was born on March 19, 1836, on a farm outside West Newton, Pennsylvania. His family was a hardworking, religious Scotch-Irish family of farmers. Wallace graduated from Jefferson College, Pennsylvania, in 1859. Although his roots were in agriculture Wallace chose to continue his education in theology at Allegheny Seminary in Pennsylvania, and Monmouth College in Illinois. He was ordained as a Presbyterian minister and served as a Union chaplain during the American Civil War (18611865). He then worked as a pastor for various churches in Illinois and Iowa until he retired from the ministry in 1877 due to health reasons.

In 1877 Wallace moved to Winterset, Iowa, and returned to the family farming business. He combined the skills he had learned as a preacher with his farming background and soon became the local spokesperson for farming issues. Though Wallace gave up the pulpit he found other ways to preach, namely through the press. He became involved in editorial work for local farm papers and eventually took partial ownership in the Iowa Homestead. In 1895 Wallace and his two sons established a family paper called Wallaces' Farmer. The paper became Wallace's forum to promote agricultural interests.


Henry Wallace was a man who respected traditions, especially religious and agrarian traditions. He also held a deep appreciation for modernization, above all in the form of applied science. Wallace saw agrarianism and scientific agriculture as complementary rather than contradictory. Other intellectuals of his time saw technology as a threat that would replace humans with machines. Wallace saw it as a means to improve the agrarian way of life; science would improve the quality of farming production rather than replace farmers. This would make farming a more rewarding and prestigious occupation. It would encourage farmers to remain on the land instead of fleeing to the cities. Wallace spent nearly four decades of his life attempting to persuade farmers to change their ways of thinking because he wanted them to see the advantages technology had to offer farming.

Wallace also believed that industrialization was a positive movement for farmers, but he argued that farmers would have to keep up with scientific advancements in order to survive in an industrial world. They had to learn how to work like business people. They also had to organize in order to protect their interests, just as the urban workers were organizing labor unions in the cities. To this end Wallace participated in agricultural organizations such as the Farmers' Protective Association, the Iowa State Improved Stock-Breeders' Association, and the Farmers' Alliance.

Wallace used his news writing and other publications to promote his ideas and to educate farmers. He wrote technical works about farming, such as Clover Culture (1892), Clover Farming (1898), and The Skim Milk Calf (1900). He also wrote two volumes on popular education, Uncle Henry's Letters to the Farm Boy (1897) and Letters to the Farm Folks (1915). He also wrote a memoir called Uncle Henry's Own Story of His Life: Personal Reminiscences, which was published after his death.

Wallace's views on U.S. agriculture reached the ears of politicians at the federal level. Wallace became a leader in the agricultural world. He represented the interests of the United States government on several occasions. In 1891 Wallace was asked to travel to Europe to investigate flax growing for the United States Department of Agriculture. In 1908 President Theodore Roosevelt appointed Wallace a member of the Country Life Commission, and two years later he became president of the National Conservation Commission. In 1913 Wallace returned to Europe on behalf of the government to study farm conditions in Britain. This was his final trip before his death in 1916.

Wallace's legacy in U.S. agricultural development continued for two generations after his death. His oldest son, Henry Cantwell Wallace, became President Warren Harding's (19211923) Secretary of Agriculture, and his oldest grandson, Henry Agard Wallace, became President Franklin D. Roosevelt's (19331945) first Secretary of Agriculture and second vice president. Both men were strongly influenced by the ideas of the first Henry Wallace, especially with respect to the importance of agricultural science in American farm life.

See also: Agricultural Equipment Industry, Agriculture Industry, Farmers' Alliance, Government Farm Policy

FURTHER READING

Ferlegen, Lou, ed. Agriculture and National Development: Views on the Nineteenth Century. Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1990.

Kirkendall, Richard Stewart. Uncle Henry: A Documentary Profile of the First Henry Wallace. Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1993.

Lord, Russell. The Wallaces of Iowa. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1947.

Wallace, Henry Agard. The Reminiscences of Henry Agard Wallace. Glen Rock, NJ: Microfilming Corporation of America, 1977.

Winters, Donald L. Henry Cantwell Wallace, as Secretary of Agriculture, 19211924. Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 1970.

[t]he very permanence of our republic will depend on the development of the manhood of the farm.

henry wallace, presidential address to the national conservation congress, september 25, 1911

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"Wallace, Henry." Gale Encyclopedia of U.S. Economic History. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Wallace, Henry." Gale Encyclopedia of U.S. Economic History. . Retrieved August 17, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/wallace-henry