Henry C. Wallace
An agricultural journalist and secretary of agriculture in the Harding administration, Henry Cantwell Wallace was one of the founders and for many years associate editor and editor of Wallaces' Farmer. In his distinguished career, he carried on much of the work begun by his father, Henry Wallace, one of the finest characters of Iowa biography.
Henry C. Wallace was born on May 11, 1866, at Rock Island IL to Nannie (Cantwell) and Henry Wallace. His father had come to Iowa as a minister of the gospel, had to leave that profession because of threatened tuberculosis, then returned to farming, and became one of the greatest exponents of modern agriculture in the Middle West. Harry was five years old when the family moved to Winterest, where his father took up the management of some farms in Adair County that belonged to his father's estate. Through going with his father to these farms Henry C. became interested in farming. His father later purchased the Winterset Chronicle, and here Henry C. got his first experience in newspaper work by becoming a practical printer.
Known as Harry, he attended the city schools at Winterset. He went to attended Iowa State Agricultural College at age nineteen, and attended for two years, from 1885 to 1887. He then rented one of his father's farms and married Carrie May Brodhead of Muscatine IA on November 24, 1887. They operated this farm for five years. Two children, Henry Agard and Annabelle, were born while they were on this farm. They eventually had six children. Returning to the Iowa State Agricultural College in 1891, he graduated in 1892, specializing in dairy work, taking a course in dairy bacteriology. James 'Tama Jim' Wilson, recognizing the importance of dairying, obtained the appointment of Wallace as assistant professor of agriculture in dairying in 1893 and served up to August, 1894.
In the meantime his father had become editor of the Iowa Homestead, and while at Ames Henry C. also did some writing for that paper. In 1894 he became part owner and publisher, with Charles F. Curtiss of the Farm and Dairy published at Ames. In a few months, he, his father, and his brother, John P. Wallace, became the owners and decided to move it to Des Moines, his father having left Iowa Homesteadand joining his sons. The name was changed toWallaces' Farm and Dairy and later to Wallaces' Farmer Henry C. Wallace became associate editor and, on the death of his father in 1916, editor. He held to the policies of his father in editing this journal, one of the leading agricultural periodicals in the United States. He made for himself a reputation as a writer of vigorous editorials on farm practices and on questions affecting the welfare of the farm family and the country as a whole. The editorial columns dealt with a variety of agricultural topics and leading problems of the time, both domestic and foreign.
He exerted a large influence through various farm organizations, among which may be mentioned especially the Cornbelt Meat Producers Association, of which he was the secretary for seventeen years. He labored for the equalization of railroad rates for farm producers and became a recognized leader of national movements for the advancement of agricultural interests. He attended farm institutes and worked with farm organizes. He was an active member of the United Presbyterian Church, the denomination in which his father preached during his active ministry. He was also greatly interested in the rural church. Interested in State YMCA work, he served for many years as chairman of the state committee. During WWI, he gave much time to the selecting of "Y" secretaries from Iowa to serve abroad. During WWI he bitterly opposed the food administration policy of Herbert Hoover.
When the Republicans returned to power in 1921 on a platform promising farm relief, Harding appointed him as secretary of agriculture. Wallace was reluctant to leave his home and work in Des Moines, but under the urging of friends and leaders in agriculture he consented to serve, in the hope that he could render service to agriculture, much needed since the deflation in 1920. He was reappointed by Coolidge.
As Administrator, as framer of public policies on behalf of agriculture, and as defender of the public domain, Mr. Wallace made a distinguished record as secretary of agriculture. He reorganized the department into more unified and effectively co-related bureaus, established the Bureau of Agricultural Economics and the Bureau of Home Economics, and inaugurated the radio service for market reports. He was a zealous advocate of education, being concerned primarily with the improvement of the rural schools and the advancement of the agricultural colleges along scientific and practical lines He created the bureau of agricultural to centralize and to increase the economic work of the department. He was the leading proponent of a plan for the control of the exportable surplus of farm products to the end that the tariff might be made effective on that portion of the crop consumed at home. He opposed the transfer of all marketing functions to the Department of Commerce. He urged that the Department of Agriculture should not only assist the farm in increasing the efficiency of production but that it should also develop improved systems of marketing. The adjustment of production to the needs of consumption was emphasized as a proper function of the department. A champion of conservation, he fought successfully for the retention of the forest service and Alaska, which Secretary Fall attempted to have transferred to the Department of the Interior. While the navy oil reserves were being looted by Secretary Fall and his associates, the equally important national reserves under the Department of Agriculture were kept intact. He had an important part in framing agricultural legislation. He supported the principles of the McNary-Haugen Bill.
He died while in office, October 25, 1924. After his death, Our Debt and Duty to the Farmer (1925) was published by Nils A. Olsen and Henry A. Wallace the following winter. A United Presbyterian by training and professions, he was an active churchman and a loyal supporter of YMCA work, with which he was officially connected in various capacities. His funeral service was held at the White House in the East Room. Services were conducted by the Rev. Wallace Radcliffe of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, and he was buried at Des Moines.Upon hearing of his death Joseph C. Grew, Acting Secretary of State, directed that flags on all public buildings in the United States be at half mast until the funeral in Des Moines.
In Des Moines the city observed one minute of silence at 2 p.m. on the 29th. An estimate of Henry C. Wallace's service to agriculture appears on the boulder erected by the American Country Life Association on the Iowa State University campus. It is located on the path between Beardshear Hall and the Memorial Union, and was dedicated October 18, 1929. It reads:
'As editor, he worked for a richer and happier rural life; as Secretary of Agriculture, he provided an economic service for the American farmer; as statesman, he led the vanguard in the battle for equality for agriculture; as prophet, he saw in the fertile lands of the corn belt the basis of a rural civilization finer than any the world has yet know; he died laboring to bring nearer the day of its coming.'