by Christina Lehman Fitzpatrick, Processing Archivist
We are pleased to announce the opening of the Robert A. Wallace Personal Papers. Wallace was an economic consultant to Senator John F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign, and subsequently served in the Treasury Department from 1961 to 1969.
Robert Ash “Bob” Wallace, Jr. was born on May 26, 1921, in Cordell, Oklahoma. He received a B.A. in political science at the University of Washington, and a Ph.D. in public administration from the University of Chicago. Wallace became Legislative Assistant to Senator Paul H. Douglas of Illinois and then worked as Staff Director of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking and Urban Affairs. In 1959, he joined John F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign as an economic consultant. After the inauguration, he was appointed to the Treasury Department as Special Assistant to the Secretary, then Assistant to the Secretary (1961-1963), and finally Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Affairs (1963-1969). In these roles, he coordinated the Treasury Department’s economic forecasts and recommendations to the President, supervised the U.S. Mint and the Secret Service, and served as Equal Employment Opportunity Coordinator for the agency. Wallace was also a member of the U.S. delegations to the Cotton Textiles Committee conference in Geneva, Switzerland and the International Wool Study Group in London, England, both in 1962.
Wallace resigned from his Senate position in April 1959 to join John F. Kennedy’s campaign staff, making him an important early supporter of Kennedy’s presidential bid. Wallace worked closely with Ted Sorensen, Edward M. Kennedy, Sargent Shriver, and Stephen E. Smith, among others, to build national support for the Kennedy campaign. Although initially hired as an economic adviser, Wallace was instrumental in developing the campaign’s grassroots strategy and was soon picked to manage the Kennedy for President Clubs that were springing up across the country. He made frequent trips to many western states to assess local Kennedy organizations and also played a role in West Virginia. After each trip, Wallace wrote a detailed memorandum for Senator Kennedy that assessed the political climate in each state and listed key supporters and delegates.
Kennedy for President Club information brochure (page 1), 29 March 1960. View the entire folder here.
Memorandum from Wallace to the state chairmen of the Kennedy for President Clubs, 27 May 1960. View the entire folder here.
Itinerary for Wallace’s campaign trip to Utah with Ted Sorensen, June 1959. View the entire folder here.
Wallace’s notes for a campaign trip to West Virginia, 29 April – 2 May 1960, written on the back of a West Virginians for Kennedy sign-up sheet. View the entire folder here.
Itinerary for Wallace’s campaign trip to South Dakota and North Dakota with Sargent Shriver, June 1960. View the entire folder here.
After Kennedy assumed the presidency, Robert A. Wallace was appointed to the Treasury Department under C. Douglas Dillon. Early in 1961, Wallace and other Treasury staffers began to meet with representatives from the Council of Economic Advisers and the Bureau of the Budget to discuss economic data. This group became known as the “Troika.” Each month they prepared a report of economic projections and fiscal estimates that were used to make policy recommendations to President Kennedy. In one memorandum, Wallace described how the three agencies agreed to cooperate in this endeavor:
After some discussion, it was agreed that the three functions were too interrelated to be divided – that each of the three agencies had a definite stake in the estimates of the others. Therefore, the group decided that that estimates of expenditures, revenues, and economic projections should be done jointly; and if there were differences of opinion, these would be made clear to the President. This meant that in general all three groups had to move together as a team, thus, the facetious self-reference to the group as the “Troika,” the term used for a Russian three-horse team.
Official procedures for the preparation of Troika economic and fiscal estimates, 31 May 1961. View the entire folder here.
Draft memorandum by Wallace regarding the Troika’s analysis of employment data. View the entire folder here.
After leaving the Treasury Department in 1969, Wallace became an executive at Exchange National Bank in Chicago and was later named Chairman of the Board of National Bancorp of Arizona. He died on June 8, 2001, in Tucson. A detailed guide to his papers is available on our website.