“An Eye Single for Righteousness”

In an era in which American internationalism has once again met American empire on the field of law and politics, Henry Wallace’s life and work are instructive. Wallace, one of the great internationalists of his era, was Secretary of Agriculture, Secretary of Commerce, Vice President under Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 1948 presidential nominee of the Progressive Party, and founder of Pioneer Hy-Bred, for decades the world’s dominant hybrid seed company (pp. 82, 90). John Culver and John Hyde’s new biography of Wallace brings this life before a newer generation of Americans concerned with America’s place in the law and political architecture of a world in rapid change and raises new questions about the origins of the role of American legal power in the transformation of law outside our borders. Henry Wallace’s role as a pioneer and defender of an international law and polity based on international organizations and an early concern for a right to development sprang from unanticipated roots. Born in 1888 on a farm in central Iowa, he was an undocumented American of an earlier era, not obtaining a birth certificate until he reached adulthood. Wallace’s ancestors and immediate older relatives were farmers, but they were also, crucially, scientists and preachers. Henry Wallace’s grandfather, “Uncle Henry” Wallace, was both a corn farmer and one of Iowa’s most prominent public citizens and publishers, the mainstay of a family that believed that “man must worship God through service to his fellow man. And the men Uncle Henry cared most about were farmers. Only by creating and sustaining a vibrant agricultural civilization, he thought, could the nation secure its future” (p. 4).