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Thomas Dewey

Thomas Dewey

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Thomas Edmund Dewey was the 47th Governor of New York (1943–1954). In 1944
United States presidential election, 1944
The United States presidential election of 1944 took place while the United States was preoccupied with fighting World War II. President Franklin D. Roosevelt had been in office longer than any other president, but remained popular. Unlike 1940, there was little doubt that Roosevelt would run for...

 and 1948
United States presidential election, 1948
The United States presidential election of 1948 is considered by most historians as the greatest election upset in American history. Virtually every prediction indicated that incumbent President Harry S. Truman would be defeated by Republican Thomas E. Dewey. Truman won, overcoming a three-way...

, he was the Republican
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

 candidate for President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

, but lost both times. He led the liberal faction of the Republican Party
History of the United States Republican Party
The United States Republican Party is the second oldest currently existing political party in the United States after its great rival, the Democratic Party. It emerged in 1854 to combat the Kansas Nebraska Act which threatened to extend slavery into the territories, and to promote more vigorous...

, in which he fought conservative Ohio
Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

 Senator Robert A. Taft. Dewey was an advocate for the professional and business community of the Northeastern United States
Northeastern United States
The Northeastern United States is a region of the United States as defined by the United States Census Bureau.-Composition:The region comprises nine states: the New England states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont; and the Mid-Atlantic states of New...

, which would later be called the "Eastern Establishment
The Establishment
The Establishment is a term used to refer to a visible dominant group or elite that holds power or authority in a nation. The term suggests a closed social group which selects its own members...

." This organization accepted the majority of New Deal
New Deal
The New Deal was a series of economic programs implemented in the United States between 1933 and 1936. They were passed by the U.S. Congress during the first term of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The programs were Roosevelt's responses to the Great Depression, and focused on what historians call...

 social-welfare reforms enacted during the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

. It consisted of internationalists
Internationalism (politics)
Internationalism is a political movement which advocates a greater economic and political cooperation among nations for the theoretical benefit of all...

 who were in favor of the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 and the "Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

" fight against communism
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

 and the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

. In addition, he played a large part in the election of Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States, from 1953 until 1961. He was a five-star general in the United States Army...

 as President in 1952
United States presidential election, 1952
The United States presidential election of 1952 took place in an era when Cold War tension between the United States and the Soviet Union was escalating rapidly. In the United States Senate, Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin had become a national figure after chairing congressional...

. Dewey's successor as leader of the liberal Republicans was Nelson Rockefeller
Nelson Rockefeller
Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller was the 41st Vice President of the United States , serving under President Gerald Ford, and the 49th Governor of New York , as well as serving the Roosevelt, Truman and Eisenhower administrations in a variety of positions...

, who became governor of New York in 1959. The New York State Thruway
New York State Thruway
The New York State Thruway is a system of limited-access highways located within the state of New York in the United States. The system, known officially as the Governor Thomas E. Dewey Thruway for former New York Governor Thomas E. Dewey, is operated by the New York State Thruway Authority and...

 is named in Dewey's honor.

Early life and family


Dewey was born and raised in Owosso, Michigan
Owosso, Michigan
Owosso is a city in Shiawassee County in the U.S. state of Michigan. The population was 15,713 at the 2000 census. The city is located on the eastern side of Owosso Township, but is politically independent...

, where his father owned, edited, and published the local newspaper, the Owosso Times. He graduated from the University of Michigan
University of Michigan
The University of Michigan is a public research university located in Ann Arbor, Michigan in the United States. It is the state's oldest university and the flagship campus of the University of Michigan...

 in 1923, and from Columbia Law School
Columbia Law School
Columbia Law School, founded in 1858, is one of the oldest and most prestigious law schools in the United States. A member of the Ivy League, Columbia Law School is one of the professional graduate schools of Columbia University in New York City. It offers the J.D., LL.M., and J.S.D. degrees in...

 in 1925. While at the University of Michigan, he joined Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia
Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia
Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia is an American collegiate social fraternity for men with a special interest in music...

, a national fraternity for men of music, and was a member of the Men's Glee Club
University of Michigan Men's Glee Club
The University of Michigan Men's Glee Club is an all-male glee club at the University of Michigan currently conducted by Eugene Rogers. With roots tracing back to 1859, it is the second oldest glee club in the United States and is the oldest student organization at the University...

. He was an excellent singer with a deep, baritone
Baritone
Baritone is a type of male singing voice that lies between the bass and tenor voices. It is the most common male voice. Originally from the Greek , meaning deep sounding, music for this voice is typically written in the range from the second F below middle C to the F above middle C Baritone (or...

 voice, and in 1923 he finished in third place in the National Singing Contest. He briefly considered a career as a professional singer, but decided against it after a temporary throat ailment convinced him that such a career would be risky. He then decided to pursue a career as a lawyer. He also wrote for The Michigan Daily
Michigan Daily
The Michigan Daily is the daily student newspaper of the University of Michigan. Its first edition was published on September 29, 1890. The newspaper is financially and editorially independent of the University's administration and other student groups, but shares a university building with other...

, the university's student newspaper.

In 1928 Dewey married Frances Hutt. A native of Sherman, Texas
Sherman, Texas
Sherman is a city in and the county seat of Grayson County, Texas, United States. The city's estimated population as of 2009 was 38,407. It is also one of two principal cities in the Sherman-Denison Metropolitan Statistical Area.-History:...

, she had briefly been a stage actress; after their marriage she dropped her acting career. They had two sons, Thomas E. Dewey, Jr.
Thomas E. Dewey, Jr.
Thomas E. Dewey, Jr. is the eldest son of the former governor of New York and two-time Republican presidential candidate, Thomas E. Dewey, Sr.-Career biography:...

 and John Martin Dewey. Although Dewey served as a prosecutor
Prosecutor
The prosecutor is the chief legal representative of the prosecution in countries with either the common law adversarial system, or the civil law inquisitorial system...

 and District Attorney
District attorney
In many jurisdictions in the United States, a District Attorney is an elected or appointed government official who represents the government in the prosecution of criminal offenses. The district attorney is the highest officeholder in the jurisdiction's legal department and supervises a staff of...

 in New York City for many years, his home from 1938 until his death was a large farm, called "Dapplemere", located near the town of Pawling
Pawling (town), New York
Pawling is a town in Dutchess County, New York, United States. The population was 7,521 at the 2000 census. The town is named after Catherine Pauling, the daughter of Henry Beekman, who held the second largest land patent in the county. A misprint caused the U to change to a W and the name...

 some 65 miles (105 km) north of New York City. According to biographer Richard Norton Smith
Richard Norton Smith
Richard Norton Smith is an American historian and author specializing in US presidents.-Life:Born in Leominster, Massachusetts, in 1953, Smith graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University in 1975 with a degree in government...

, Dewey "loved Dapplemere as [he did] no other place", and Dewey was once quoted as saying that "I work like a horse five days and five nights a week for the privilege of getting to the country on the weekend." Dapplemere was part of a tight-knit rural community called "Quaker Hill," which was known as a haven for the prominent and well-to-do. Among Dewey's neighbors on Quaker Hill were the famous reporter and radio broadcaster Lowell Thomas
Lowell Thomas
Lowell Jackson Thomas was an American writer, broadcaster, and traveler, best known as the man who made Lawrence of Arabia famous...

, the Reverend Norman Vincent Peale
Norman Vincent Peale
Dr. Norman Vincent Peale was a minister and author and a progenitor of the theory of "positive thinking".-Early life and education:...

, and the legendary CBS News
CBS News
CBS News is the news division of American television and radio network CBS. The current chairman is Jeff Fager who is also the executive producer of 60 Minutes, while the current president of CBS News is David Rhodes. CBS News' flagship program is the CBS Evening News, hosted by the network's main...

 journalist Edward R. Murrow
Edward R. Murrow
Edward Roscoe Murrow, KBE was an American broadcast journalist. He first came to prominence with a series of radio news broadcasts during World War II, which were followed by millions of listeners in the United States and Canada.Fellow journalists Eric Sevareid, Ed Bliss, and Alexander Kendrick...

. Dewey was a lifelong member of the Episcopal Church
Episcopal Church (United States)
The Episcopal Church is a mainline Anglican Christian church found mainly in the United States , but also in Honduras, Taiwan, Colombia, Ecuador, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, the British Virgin Islands and parts of Europe...

.

Federal prosecutor


Dewey first served as a federal prosecutor, then started a lucrative private practice
Practice of law
In its most general sense, the practice of law involves giving legal advice to clients, drafting legal documents for clients, and representing clients in legal negotiations and court proceedings such as lawsuits, and is applied to the professional services of a lawyer or attorney at law, barrister,...

 on Wall Street
Wall Street
Wall Street refers to the financial district of New York City, named after and centered on the eight-block-long street running from Broadway to South Street on the East River in Lower Manhattan. Over time, the term has become a metonym for the financial markets of the United States as a whole, or...

; however, he left his practice for an appointment as special prosecutor to look into corruption in New York City—with the official title of Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. It was in this role that he first achieved headlines in the early 1930s, when he prosecuted bootlegger
Rum-running
Rum-running, also known as bootlegging, is the illegal business of transporting alcoholic beverages where such transportation is forbidden by law...

 Waxey Gordon
Waxey Gordon
Waxey Gordon was an American gangster who specialized in bootlegging and illegal gambling. An associate of Arnold Rothstein during prohibition he was caught up in a power struggle following his death...

.

Dewey had used his excellent recall of details of crimes to trip up witnesses as a federal prosecutor; as a state prosecutor, he used telephone taps
Telephone tapping
Telephone tapping is the monitoring of telephone and Internet conversations by a third party, often by covert means. The wire tap received its name because, historically, the monitoring connection was an actual electrical tap on the telephone line...

 (which were perfectly legal at the time) to gather evidence, with the ultimate goal of bringing down entire criminal organizations. On that account, Dewey successfully lobbied for an overhaul in New York's criminal procedure law, which at that time required separate trials for each count of an indictment.

Special Prosecutor


Dewey rocketed to fame in 1935, when he was appointed special prosecutor in New York County (Manhattan
Manhattan
Manhattan is the oldest and the most densely populated of the five boroughs of New York City. Located primarily on the island of Manhattan at the mouth of the Hudson River, the boundaries of the borough are identical to those of New York County, an original county of the state of New York...

) by Governor Herbert H. Lehman
Herbert H. Lehman
Herbert Henry Lehman was a Democratic Party politician from New York. He was the 45th Governor of New York from 1933 to 1942, and represented New York in the United States Senate from 1950 to 1957.-Lehman Brothers:...

. A "runaway grand jury" had publicly complained that William C. Dodge
William C. Dodge
William Copeland Dodge was an American lawyer and politician from New York.-Early life:He was born on September 6, 1880 Manchester, New Hampshire to Arthur Pillsbury Dodge and Elizabeth Ann Day . The family moved to Chicago in 1891, and then to New York City in 1897...

, the District Attorney
New York County District Attorney
The New York County District Attorney is the elected district attorney for New York County , New York. The office is responsible for the prosecution of violations of New York state laws....

, was not aggressively pursuing the mob and political corruption. Lehman, to avoid charges of partisanship, asked four prominent Republicans to serve as special prosecutor. All four refused and recommended Dewey.

Dewey moved ahead vigorously. He recruited a staff of over 60 assistants, investigators, process servers, stenographers, and clerks. New York Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia assigned a picked squad of 63 police officers to Dewey's office.

Dewey's targets were organized racketeering: the large-scale criminal enterprises, especially extortion
Extortion
Extortion is a criminal offence which occurs when a person unlawfully obtains either money, property or services from a person, entity, or institution, through coercion. Refraining from doing harm is sometimes euphemistically called protection. Extortion is commonly practiced by organized crime...

, the "numbers" game, and prostitution
Prostitution
Prostitution is the act or practice of providing sexual services to another person in return for payment. The person who receives payment for sexual services is called a prostitute and the person who receives such services is known by a multitude of terms, including a "john". Prostitution is one of...

. He pursued Tammany Hall
Tammany Hall
Tammany Hall, also known as the Society of St. Tammany, the Sons of St. Tammany, or the Columbian Order, was a New York political organization founded in 1786 and incorporated on May 12, 1789 as the Tammany Society...

 leaders known for their ties to gangsters, such as James Joseph Hines
James Joseph Hines
James Joseph Hines was one of the most powerful leaders of Tammany Hall in New York City.-Biography:...

.

One of his biggest prizes was gangster Dutch Schultz
Dutch Schultz
Dutch Schultz was a New York City-area Jewish American gangster of the 1920s and 1930s who made his fortune in organized crime-related activities such as bootlegging alcohol and the numbers racket...

, whom he had battled as both a federal and state prosecutor. Schultz's first trial ended in a deadlock; prior to his second trial, Schultz had the venue moved to Malone, New York
Malone (village), New York
-Notable natives:Notable natives include:*William Almon Wheeler served as Vice President of the United States under Rutherford Hayes. Is buried at Morningside Cemetery in Malone....

, then moved there and garnered the sympathy of the townspeople through charitable acts so that when it came time for his trial, the jury found him innocent, liking him too much to convict him.

Dewey and La Guardia threatened Schultz with instant arrest and further charges. Schultz now proposed to murder Dewey. Dewey would be killed while he made his daily morning call to his office from a pay phone near his home. However, New York crime boss Lucky Luciano
Lucky Luciano
Charlie "Lucky" Luciano was an Italian mobster born in Sicily. Luciano is considered the father of modern organized crime in the United States for splitting New York City into five different Mafia crime families and the establishment of the first commission...

 and the "Mafia Commission
The Commission (mafia)
The Commission is the governing body of the American Mafia. Formed in 1931, the Commission replaced the "Boss of all Bosses" title, with a ruling committee, consisting of the New York Five Families bosses and the boss of the Chicago Outfit...

" decided that Dewey's murder would provoke an all-out crackdown. Instead they had Schultz killed.

Dewey next turned his attention to Luciano. Dewey raided 80 houses of prostitution in the New York City area and arrested hundreds of prostitutes and "madams". Many of the prostitutes — some of whom told of being beaten and abused by Mafia
Mafia
The Mafia is a criminal syndicate that emerged in the mid-nineteenth century in Sicily, Italy. It is a loose association of criminal groups that share a common organizational structure and code of conduct, and whose common enterprise is protection racketeering...

 thugs — were willing to testify to avoid prison time. Three implicated Luciano as controller of organized prostitution in the New York/New Jersey
New Jersey
New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

 area — one of the largest prostitution rings in American history. In the greatest victory of his legal career, Dewey won the conviction of Luciano for the prostitution racket, with a sentence of 30 to 50 years.

However, Dewey did more than simply prosecute gangsters. In 1936 Dewey helped indict and convict Richard Whitney
Richard Whitney (financier)
Richard Whitney was an American financier, president of the New York Stock Exchange from 1930 to 1935, and a convicted embezzler.-Biography:He was born on August 1, 1888 in Boston, Massachusetts to George Whitney, Sr....

, the former president of the New York Stock Exchange
New York Stock Exchange
The New York Stock Exchange is a stock exchange located at 11 Wall Street in Lower Manhattan, New York City, USA. It is by far the world's largest stock exchange by market capitalization of its listed companies at 13.39 trillion as of Dec 2010...

, for embezzlement
Embezzlement
Embezzlement is the act of dishonestly appropriating or secreting assets by one or more individuals to whom such assets have been entrusted....

. Dewey also led efforts to protect dockworkers and poultry
Poultry
Poultry are domesticated birds kept by humans for the purpose of producing eggs, meat, and/or feathers. These most typically are members of the superorder Galloanserae , especially the order Galliformes and the family Anatidae , commonly known as "waterfowl"...

 farmers and workers from racketeering in New York. In 1936 Dewey received The Hundred Year Association of New York
The Hundred Year Association of New York
The Hundred Year Association of New York, founded in 1927, is a non-profit organization in New York City aimed at recognizing and rewarding dedication and service to the City of New York by businesses and organizations that have been in operation in the city for a century or more and by individuals...

's Gold Medal Award "in recognition of outstanding contributions to the City of New York." In 1939 Dewey prosecuted American Nazi
Nazism
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

 leader Fritz Julius Kuhn for embezzlement, crippling Kuhn's organization and limiting its ability to support Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

.

In 1937, Dewey was elected District Attorney himself, defeating Dodge.

Manhattan District Attorney


Dewey was elected District Attorney
District attorney
In many jurisdictions in the United States, a District Attorney is an elected or appointed government official who represents the government in the prosecution of criminal offenses. The district attorney is the highest officeholder in the jurisdiction's legal department and supervises a staff of...

 of New York County (Manhattan
Manhattan
Manhattan is the oldest and the most densely populated of the five boroughs of New York City. Located primarily on the island of Manhattan at the mouth of the Hudson River, the boundaries of the borough are identical to those of New York County, an original county of the state of New York...

) in 1937. By the late 1930s Dewey's successful efforts against organized crime—and especially his conviction of Lucky Luciano
Lucky Luciano
Charlie "Lucky" Luciano was an Italian mobster born in Sicily. Luciano is considered the father of modern organized crime in the United States for splitting New York City into five different Mafia crime families and the establishment of the first commission...

—had turned him into a national celebrity. His nickname, the "Gangbuster", became the name of a popular radio serial based on his fight against the mob. Hollywood film studios even made several movies inspired by his exploits; Marked Woman
Marked Woman
Marked Woman is a crime melodrama film released by Warner Bros. in 1937. It was directed by Lloyd Bacon, and stars Bette Davis and Humphrey Bogart, with featured performances by Lola Lane, Isabel Jewell, Rosalind Marquis, Mayo Methot, Jane Bryan, Eduardo Ciannelli and Allen Jenkins...

starred Humphrey Bogart
Humphrey Bogart
Humphrey DeForest Bogart was an American actor. He is widely regarded as a cultural icon.The American Film Institute ranked Bogart as the greatest male star in the history of American cinema....

 as a Dewey-like DA and Bette Davis
Bette Davis
Ruth Elizabeth "Bette" Davis was an American actress of film, television and theater. Noted for her willingness to play unsympathetic characters, she was highly regarded for her performances in a range of film genres, from contemporary crime melodramas to historical and period films and occasional...

 as a "party girl" whose testimony helps convict the gang boss.

Governor of New York


In 1938, Edwin Jaeckle
Edwin Jaeckle
Edwin Frederick Jaeckle was a Republican politician and party chairman in New York State during the 1930s. During his tenure as chairman, Jaeckle enforced strict adherence to party discipline, which significantly bolstered the party's standing in the state.As chairman, Jaeckle exerted an outsized...

, the New York Republican Party Chairman, selected Dewey to run, unsuccessfully, for Governor of New York against the popular Democratic incumbent, Herbert H. Lehman
Herbert H. Lehman
Herbert Henry Lehman was a Democratic Party politician from New York. He was the 45th Governor of New York from 1933 to 1942, and represented New York in the United States Senate from 1950 to 1957.-Lehman Brothers:...

. Dewey was only 36 years old at the time. He based his campaign on his record as a famous prosecutor of organized-crime figures in New York City. Although he was defeated, Dewey's surprisingly strong showing against Lehman (he lost by only 1.4%) brought him national political attention and made him a frontrunner for the 1940 Republican presidential nomination. Jaeckle was one of Dewey's top advisors and mentors for the remainder of his political career.

In 1942, Dewey ran for governor again, and won with a large plurality over Democrat John J. Bennett, Jr.
John J. Bennett, Jr.
John James Bennett was an American Lawyer and politician.- Life :...

 Bennett was not endorsed by the American Labor Party
American Labor Party
The American Labor Party was a political party in the United States established in 1936 which was active almost exclusively in the state of New York. The organization was founded by labor leaders and former members of the Socialist Party who had established themselves as the Social Democratic...

, whose candidate drew almost 10%. The ALP did endorse incumbent Lieutenant Governor Charles Poletti
Charles Poletti
Charles Poletti was an American lawyer and politician. He was the 46th Governor of New York in 1942, and was the first Italian-American governor in the United States.-Early life and education:...

 who lost narrowly to Dewey's running mate Thomas W. Wallace
Thomas W. Wallace
Thomas W. Wallace was an American lawyer and Republican politician. Running on the ticket with Governor Thomas E. Dewey, he was elected Lieutenant Governor of New York in November 1942, but died less than seven months into his only term.-Life:Wallace was corporation counsel of Schenectady, New York...

. In 1946, Dewey was re-elected by the greatest margin in state history to that point, almost 700,000 votes. Four years later, he was elected to a third term.

Usually regarded as an honest and highly effective governor, Dewey cut taxes; doubled state aid to education; increased salaries for state employees; and still reduced the state's debt by over $100 million. Additionally, he put through the first state law in the country that prohibited racial discrimination in employment. As governor, Dewey also signed legislation that created the State University of New York
State University of New York
The State University of New York, abbreviated SUNY , is a system of public institutions of higher education in New York, United States. It is the largest comprehensive system of universities, colleges, and community colleges in the United States, with a total enrollment of 465,000 students, plus...

. He played a major role in the creation of the New York State Thruway
New York State Thruway
The New York State Thruway is a system of limited-access highways located within the state of New York in the United States. The system, known officially as the Governor Thomas E. Dewey Thruway for former New York Governor Thomas E. Dewey, is operated by the New York State Thruway Authority and...

, which was eventually named in his honor. Dewey also streamlined and consolidated many state agencies to make them more efficient. With Jaeckle's help, Dewey also created a powerful political organization that allowed him to dominate New York state politics and influence national politics.

He also strongly supported the death penalty. During his 12 years as Governor, over 90 people were electrocuted
Electric chair
Execution by electrocution, usually performed using an electric chair, is an execution method originating in the United States in which the condemned person is strapped to a specially built wooden chair and electrocuted through electrodes placed on the body...

 under New York authority.

1940


Dewey sought the 1940 Republican presidential nomination. He was considered the early favorite for the nomination, but his support ebbed in the late spring of 1940, as World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 suddenly became much more dangerous for America.

Some Republican leaders considered Dewey to be too young (he was only 38) and too inexperienced to lead the nation in wartime. Furthermore, Dewey's non-interventionist stance became problematic when Germany quickly conquered France
Battle of France
In the Second World War, the Battle of France was the German invasion of France and the Low Countries, beginning on 10 May 1940, which ended the Phoney War. The battle consisted of two main operations. In the first, Fall Gelb , German armoured units pushed through the Ardennes, to cut off and...

, and seemed poised to conquer Britain
Battle of Britain
The Battle of Britain is the name given to the World War II air campaign waged by the German Air Force against the United Kingdom during the summer and autumn of 1940...

. As a result, many Republicans switched to Wendell Willkie
Wendell Willkie
Wendell Lewis Willkie was a corporate lawyer in the United States and a dark horse who became the Republican Party nominee for the president in 1940. A member of the liberal wing of the GOP, he crusaded against those domestic policies of the New Deal that he thought were inefficient and...

, who was a decade older and supported aid to the Allies
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

 fighting Germany. Willkie lost to Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

 in the general election.

Dewey's foreign-policy position evolved during the 1940s; by 1944 he was considered an internationalist
Internationalist
Internationalist may refer to:* Internationalism , a movement to increase cooperation across national borders* Internationalist, socialists opposed to World War I* The Internationalist Review, an e-journal founded in Maastricht...

 and a supporter of projects such as the United Nations. It was in 1940 that Dewey first clashed with Taft. Taft—who maintained his non-interventionist views and economic conservatism to his death—became Dewey's great rival for control of the Republican Party in the 1940s and early 1950s. Dewey became the leader of moderate-to-liberal Republicans, who were based in the northeastern and Pacific Coast states, while Taft became the leader of conservative Republicans who dominated most of the Midwest
Midwestern United States
The Midwestern United States is one of the four U.S. geographic regions defined by the United States Census Bureau, providing an official definition of the American Midwest....

 and parts of the South
Southern United States
The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South—constitutes a large distinctive area in the southeastern and south-central United States...

.

1944


With Edwin Jaeckle
Edwin Jaeckle
Edwin Frederick Jaeckle was a Republican politician and party chairman in New York State during the 1930s. During his tenure as chairman, Jaeckle enforced strict adherence to party discipline, which significantly bolstered the party's standing in the state.As chairman, Jaeckle exerted an outsized...

 leading his campaign, Dewey pursued the Republican nomination in 1944. At the 1944 Republican Convention, his chief rivals, Ohio governor John Bricker and former Minnesota
Minnesota
Minnesota is a U.S. state located in the Midwestern United States. The twelfth largest state of the U.S., it is the twenty-first most populous, with 5.3 million residents. Minnesota was carved out of the eastern half of the Minnesota Territory and admitted to the Union as the thirty-second state...

 governor Harold Stassen
Harold Stassen
Harold Edward Stassen was the 25th Governor of Minnesota from 1939 to 1943. After service in World War II, from 1948 to 1953 he was president of the University of Pennsylvania...

 both withdrew and Dewey was nominated almost unanimously. Dewey then made Bricker (who was supported by Taft) his running mate.

In the general election campaign, Dewey crusaded against the alleged inefficiencies, corruption and Communist influences in incumbent President Roosevelt's New Deal programs, but avoided military and foreign policy debates.

Dewey lost the election to Roosevelt. However, Dewey polled 46% of the popular vote, a stronger showing against Roosevelt than any previous Republican opponent. Dewey was the first presidential candidate to be born in the twentieth century. As of 2011, he was also the youngest Republican presidential nominee.

Dewey nearly committed a serious blunder when he prepared to include, in his campaign, charges that Roosevelt knew ahead of time about the attack on Pearl Harbor
Pearl Harbor
Pearl Harbor, known to Hawaiians as Puuloa, is a lagoon harbor on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, west of Honolulu. Much of the harbor and surrounding lands is a United States Navy deep-water naval base. It is also the headquarters of the U.S. Pacific Fleet...

; Dewey added, "and instead of being reelected he should be impeached." The U. S. military was aghast at this notion, since it would tip the Japanese
Empire of Japan
The Empire of Japan is the name of the state of Japan that existed from the Meiji Restoration on 3 January 1868 to the enactment of the post-World War II Constitution of...

 off that the United States had broken the Purple code. Army General George C. Marshall made a persistent effort to persuade Dewey not to touch this topic; Dewey yielded.

1948


He was the Republican candidate in the 1948 presidential election
United States presidential election, 1948
The United States presidential election of 1948 is considered by most historians as the greatest election upset in American history. Virtually every prediction indicated that incumbent President Harry S. Truman would be defeated by Republican Thomas E. Dewey. Truman won, overcoming a three-way...

 in which, in almost unanimous predictions by pollsters and the press, he was projected as the winner. His running mate was Earl Warren
Earl Warren
Earl Warren was the 14th Chief Justice of the United States.He is known for the sweeping decisions of the Warren Court, which ended school segregation and transformed many areas of American law, especially regarding the rights of the accused, ending public-school-sponsored prayer, and requiring...

. The Chicago Daily Tribune
Chicago Tribune
The Chicago Tribune is a major daily newspaper based in Chicago, Illinois, and the flagship publication of the Tribune Company. Formerly self-styled as the "World's Greatest Newspaper" , it remains the most read daily newspaper of the Chicago metropolitan area and the Great Lakes region and is...

printed "DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN
Dewey Defeats Truman
"Dewey Defeats Truman" was a famously inaccurate banner headline on the front page of the Chicago Tribune on November 3, 1948, the day after incumbent United States President Harry S. Truman beat Republican challenger and Governor of New York Thomas E...

" as its post-election headline, issuing a few hundred copies before the returns showed conclusively that the winner was Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman was the 33rd President of the United States . As President Franklin D. Roosevelt's third vice president and the 34th Vice President of the United States , he succeeded to the presidency on April 12, 1945, when President Roosevelt died less than three months after beginning his...

, the incumbent.

Indeed, given Truman's sinking popularity and the Democratic Party's three-way split (between Truman, Henry A. Wallace
Henry A. Wallace
Henry Agard Wallace was the 33rd Vice President of the United States , the Secretary of Agriculture , and the Secretary of Commerce . In the 1948 presidential election, Wallace was the nominee of the Progressive Party.-Early life:Henry A...

, and Strom Thurmond
Strom Thurmond
James Strom Thurmond was an American politician who served as a United States Senator. He also ran for the Presidency of the United States in 1948 as the segregationist States Rights Democratic Party candidate, receiving 2.4% of the popular vote and 39 electoral votes...

), Dewey had seemed unstoppable. Republicans figured that all they had to do to win was to avoid making any major mistakes, and as such Dewey did not take any risks. He spoke in platitudes, trying to transcend politics. Speech after speech was filled with empty statements of the obvious, such as the famous quote: "You know that your future is still ahead of you." An editorial in the Louisville Courier-Journal
The Courier-Journal
The Courier-Journal, locally called "The C-J", is the main newspaper for the city of Louisville, Kentucky, USA. According to the 1999 Editor & Publisher International Yearbook, the paper is the 48th largest daily paper in the United States and the single largest in Kentucky.- Origins :The...

summed it up:

No presidential candidate in the future will be so inept that four of his major speeches can be boiled down to these historic four sentences: Agriculture is important. Our rivers are full of fish. You cannot have freedom without liberty. Our future lies ahead.


Part of the reason Dewey ran such a cautious, vague campaign was his experience as a presidential candidate in 1944. In that election Dewey felt that he had allowed Roosevelt to draw him into a partisan, verbal "mudslinging" match, and he believed that this had cost him votes. As such, Dewey was convinced in 1948 to appear as non-partisan as possible, and to emphasize the positive aspects of his campaign while ignoring his opponent. This strategy proved to be a major mistake, as it allowed Truman to repeatedly criticize and ridicule Dewey, while Dewey never answered any of Truman's criticisms. Perhaps alone among all of Dewey's advisers, his 1944 campaign chairman, Edwin Jaeckle
Edwin Jaeckle
Edwin Frederick Jaeckle was a Republican politician and party chairman in New York State during the 1930s. During his tenure as chairman, Jaeckle enforced strict adherence to party discipline, which significantly bolstered the party's standing in the state.As chairman, Jaeckle exerted an outsized...

, admonished him to be aggressive on the campaign trail, advice Dewey rejected.

Dewey was not as conservative as the Republican-controlled 80th Congress, which also proved problematic for him. Truman tied Dewey to the "do-nothing" Congress. Indeed, Dewey had successfully battled Taft and his conservatives for the nomination at the Republican Convention. Taft had remained an isolationist even through the Second World War. Dewey, however, supported the Marshall Plan
Marshall Plan
The Marshall Plan was the large-scale American program to aid Europe where the United States gave monetary support to help rebuild European economies after the end of World War II in order to combat the spread of Soviet communism. The plan was in operation for four years beginning in April 1948...

, the Truman Doctrine
Truman Doctrine
The Truman Doctrine was a policy set forth by U.S. President Harry S Truman in a speech on March 12, 1947 stating that the U.S. would support Greece and Turkey with economic and military aid to prevent their falling into the Soviet sphere...

, recognition of Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, and the Berlin airlift.

Dewey was repeatedly urged by the right wing of his party to engage in red-baiting
Red-baiting
Red-baiting is the act of accusing, denouncing, attacking or persecuting an individual or group as communist, socialist, or anarchist, or sympathetic toward communism, socialism, or anarchism. The word "red" in "red-baiting" is derived from the red flag signifying radical left-wing politics. In the...

, but he refused. In a debate before the Oregon
Oregon
Oregon is a state in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It is located on the Pacific coast, with Washington to the north, California to the south, Nevada on the southeast and Idaho to the east. The Columbia and Snake rivers delineate much of Oregon's northern and eastern...

 primary with Harold Stassen, Dewey argued against outlawing the Communist Party of the United States of America, saying "you can't shoot an idea with a gun." He later told Styles Bridges, the Republican national campaign manager, that he was not "going around looking under beds." Dewey was the only Republican to be nominated for President twice and lose both times. He is also the last major-party presidential nominee to wear permanent facial hair, in his case a mustache.

1952


Dewey did not run for President in 1952, but he did play a major role in securing the Republican nomination for General Dwight Eisenhower. The 1952 campaign was the climactic moment in the fierce rivalry between Dewey and Taft for control of the Republican Party. Taft was an announced candidate, and given his age he freely admitted that 1952 was his last chance to win the presidency. Dewey played a key role in convincing Eisenhower to run against Taft
Draft Eisenhower
The Draft Eisenhower movement was the first successful political draft of the 20th century to take a private citizen to the Oval Office. It was a widespread American grassroots political movement that eventually persuaded Dwight D. Eisenhower to run for President...

, and when Eisenhower became a candidate Dewey used his powerful political machine to win Eisenhower the support of delegates in New York and elsewhere. At the Republican Convention Dewey was verbally attacked by pro-Taft delegates and speakers as the real power behind Eisenhower, but he had the satisfaction of seeing Eisenhower win the nomination and end Taft's presidential hopes for the last time. Dewey then played a major role in helping California Senator Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon
Richard Milhous Nixon was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. The only president to resign the office, Nixon had previously served as a US representative and senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961 under...

 become Eisenhower's running mate. When Eisenhower won the Presidency later that year, many of Dewey's closest aides and advisors would become leading figures in the Eisenhower Administration. Among them were Herbert Brownell, who would become Eisenhower's Attorney General
United States Attorney General
The United States Attorney General is the head of the United States Department of Justice concerned with legal affairs and is the chief law enforcement officer of the United States government. The attorney general is considered to be the chief lawyer of the U.S. government...

, James Hagerty, who would become White House Press Secretary
White House Press Secretary
The White House Press Secretary is a senior White House official whose primary responsibility is to act as spokesperson for the government administration....

, and John Foster Dulles
John Foster Dulles
John Foster Dulles served as U.S. Secretary of State under President Dwight D. Eisenhower from 1953 to 1959. He was a significant figure in the early Cold War era, advocating an aggressive stance against communism throughout the world...

, who would become Eisenhower's Secretary of State
United States Secretary of State
The United States Secretary of State is the head of the United States Department of State, concerned with foreign affairs. The Secretary is a member of the Cabinet and the highest-ranking cabinet secretary both in line of succession and order of precedence...

.

Later career



Dewey's third term as governor of New York expired in 1955, after which he retired from public service and returned to his law practice, Dewey Ballantine
Dewey Ballantine
Dewey Ballantine LLP was a white shoe corporate law firm headquartered in New York City. In 2007, Dewey Ballantine merged with LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae to form Dewey & LeBoeuf...

, although he remained a power broker behind the scenes in the Republican Party. In 1956, when Eisenhower mulled not running for a second term, he suggested Dewey as his choice as successor, but party leaders made it plain that they would not entrust the nomination to Dewey yet again, and ultimately Eisenhower decided to run for re-election. Dewey also played a major role that year in convincing Eisenhower to keep Nixon as his running mate; Eisenhower had considered dropping Nixon from the Republican ticket and picking someone he felt would be less partisan and controversial. However, Dewey argued that dropping Nixon from the ticket would only anger Republican voters while winning Eisenhower few votes from the Democrats. Dewey's arguments helped convince Eisenhower to keep Nixon on the ticket. In 1960 Dewey would strongly support Nixon's ultimately unsuccessful presidential campaign against Democrat John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy , often referred to by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963....

.

By the 1960s, as the conservative wing assumed more and more power within the Republican Party, Dewey removed himself further and further from party matters. When the Republicans in 1964 gave Senator Barry Goldwater
Barry Goldwater
Barry Morris Goldwater was a five-term United States Senator from Arizona and the Republican Party's nominee for President in the 1964 election. An articulate and charismatic figure during the first half of the 1960s, he was known as "Mr...

 of Arizona
Arizona
Arizona ; is a state located in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the western United States and the mountain west. The capital and largest city is Phoenix...

, Taft's successor as the conservative leader, their presidential nomination, Dewey declined to even attend the GOP Convention in San Francisco; it was the first Republican Convention he had missed since 1936. President Lyndon Johnson offered Dewey a number of positions on several blue ribbon commissions, as well as a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

, but Dewey declined them all, for he preferred to remain in political retirement and concentrate on his highly profitable law firm. By the early 1960s Dewey's law practice had made him into a multimillionaire.

Although closely identified with the Republican Party for virtually his entire adult life, Dewey was a close friend of Democratic Senator Hubert H. Humphrey, and Dewey aided Humphrey in being named as the Democratic nominee for vice-president in 1964, advising Lyndon Johnson on ways to block efforts at the party convention by Kennedy loyalists to stampede Robert Kennedy onto the ticket as Johnson's running mate.

Frances Dewey died in the summer of 1970 after battling cancer
Cancer
Cancer , known medically as a malignant neoplasm, is a large group of different diseases, all involving unregulated cell growth. In cancer, cells divide and grow uncontrollably, forming malignant tumors, and invade nearby parts of the body. The cancer may also spread to more distant parts of the...

 for six years. Later in 1970 Dewey began to date actress Kitty Carlisle, and there was talk of marriage between them. However, he died suddenly of a massive heart attack
Myocardial infarction
Myocardial infarction or acute myocardial infarction , commonly known as a heart attack, results from the interruption of blood supply to a part of the heart, causing heart cells to die...

 on March 16, 1971, eight days before his 69th birthday, while vacationing with friend Dwayne Andreas
Dwayne Andreas
Dwayne Orville Andreas is one of the most prominent political campaign donors in the United States, having contributed millions of dollars to Democratic and Republican candidates alike...

 in Miami, Florida
Miami, Florida
Miami is a city located on the Atlantic coast in southeastern Florida and the county seat of Miami-Dade County, the most populous county in Florida and the eighth-most populous county in the United States with a population of 2,500,625...

, following a round of golf with Boston Red Sox
Boston Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox are a professional baseball team based in Boston, Massachusetts, and a member of Major League Baseball’s American League Eastern Division. Founded in as one of the American League's eight charter franchises, the Red Sox's home ballpark has been Fenway Park since . The "Red Sox"...

 player Carl Yastrzemski
Carl Yastrzemski
Carl Michael Yastrzemski is a former American Major League Baseball left fielder and first baseman. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1989. Yastrzemski played his entire 23-year baseball career with the Boston Red Sox . He was primarily a left fielder, with part of his later career...

. He was 68 years old. Both he and his wife are buried in the town cemetery of Pawling, New York
Pawling (village), New York
Pawling is a village in Dutchess County, New York, USA. The population was 2,233 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Poughkeepsie–Newburgh–Middletown, NY Metropolitan Statistical Area as well as the larger New York–Newark–Bridgeport, NY-NJ-CT-PA Combined Statistical Area...

; after his death his farm of Dapplemere was sold and renamed "Dewey Lane Farm" in his honor.

Public perception


Dewey first came to nationwide attention as "Gangbuster", becoming a household name in the US even before he entered presidential politics. At the age of 37, he was perceived as a rising star in the Republican Party and frontrunner for the presidential nomination in 1940. During that campaign, however, with the war in Europe
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 intensifying, he was widely considered too young and inexperienced for the presidency and lost the nomination to Wendell Willkie
Wendell Willkie
Wendell Lewis Willkie was a corporate lawyer in the United States and a dark horse who became the Republican Party nominee for the president in 1940. A member of the liberal wing of the GOP, he crusaded against those domestic policies of the New Deal that he thought were inefficient and...

, who strongly disliked him and considered endorsing Roosevelt against Dewey at the time of his death in 1944. Dewey was a forceful and inspiring speaker, traveling the whole country during his primary campaigns and attracting uncommonly huge crowds.

During the 1944 election campaign, Dewey suffered an unexpected blow when a remark attributed to socialite Alice Roosevelt Longworth
Alice Roosevelt Longworth
Alice Lee Roosevelt Longworth was the oldest child of Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States. She was the only child of Roosevelt and his first wife, Alice Hathaway Lee....

 (daughter of Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt was the 26th President of the United States . He is noted for his exuberant personality, range of interests and achievements, and his leadership of the Progressive Movement, as well as his "cowboy" persona and robust masculinity...

) mocked Dewey as "the little man on the wedding cake" (alluding to his neat mustache and dapper dress).Longworth did not originate the witticism. Democratic Party operatives Isabel Kinnear Griffin and Helen Essary Murphy began circulating the remark, attributing it to Longworth to help it spread (Cordery, p. 424). It was ridicule he could never shake. Dewey alienated former president and fellow Republican Herbert Hoover
Herbert Hoover
Herbert Clark Hoover was the 31st President of the United States . Hoover was originally a professional mining engineer and author. As the United States Secretary of Commerce in the 1920s under Presidents Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge, he promoted partnerships between government and business...

 during the campaign by ignoring him at the funeral of Wendell Willkie; according to historian William Leuchtenburg
William Leuchtenburg
William E. Leuchtenburg is William Rand Kenan Jr. professor emeritus of history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill at Chapel Hill and a leading scholar of the life and career of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He is the author of more than a dozen books on 20th century history ,...

, Hoover confided to a friend that "Dewey has no inner reservoir of knowledge on which to draw for his thinking," elaborating that "A man couldn't wear a mustache like that without having it affect his mind."

All his presidential campaigns were hampered by Dewey's habit of making overly vague statements, defining his strategy as not being "prematurely specific" on controversial issues. Truman joked that Republican Party
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

 (GOP) actually stood for "grand old platitudes". Walter Lippman, in 1940, regarded him as basically an opportunist, who "changes his views from hour to hour... always more concerned with taking the popular position than he is in dealing with the real issues". Adding to that, he had a tendency towards pomposity and was considered stiff and inapproachable, with even his own aide Ruth McCormick Simms once describing him as "cold, cold as a February iceberg".

Legacy


In 1964, the New York State legislature officially renamed the New York State Thruway
New York State Thruway
The New York State Thruway is a system of limited-access highways located within the state of New York in the United States. The system, known officially as the Governor Thomas E. Dewey Thruway for former New York Governor Thomas E. Dewey, is operated by the New York State Thruway Authority and...

 in honor of Dewey. Signs on Interstate 95 from the end of the Bruckner Expressway
Bruckner Expressway
The Bruckner Expressway is a freeway in The Bronx. It carries Interstate 278 and Interstate 95 from the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge to the south end of the New England Thruway at the Pelham Parkway interchange....

 in the Bronx to the Connecticut
Connecticut
Connecticut is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is bordered by Rhode Island to the east, Massachusetts to the north, and the state of New York to the west and the south .Connecticut is named for the Connecticut River, the major U.S. river that approximately...

 state line (and vice-versa) designate the name as Governor Thomas E. Dewey Thruway, though this official designation is rarely used in reference to the road.

Dewey's official papers from his years in politics and public life were given to the University of Rochester
University of Rochester
The University of Rochester is a private, nonsectarian, research university in Rochester, New York, United States. The university grants undergraduate and graduate degrees, including doctoral and professional degrees. The university has six schools and various interdisciplinary programs.The...

; they are housed in the university library and are available to historians and other writers.

In 2005, the New York City Bar Association named an award after Dewey. The Thomas E. Dewey Medal, sponsored by the law firm of Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP, is awarded annually to one outstanding Assistant District Attorney in each of New York City's five counties (New York, Kings, Queens, Bronx, and Richmond). The Medal was first awarded on November 29, 2005.

Publication

  • The Case Against the New Deal (1940) Harper & Bros., New York,
  • Journey to the Far Pacific (1952) Doubleday & Company, Garden City, NY.
  • Twenty Against the Underworld (1974) Doubleday & Company, Garden City, NY

Further reading

  • Jordan, David M. FDR, Dewey, and the Election of 1944 (Indiana U.P. 2011)
  • Smith, Richard Norton. Thomas E. Dewey and His Times (1984), the standard scholarly biography
  • Stolberg, Mary M. Fighting Organised Crime: Politics, Justice, and the Legacy of Thomas E. Dewey (1995)

External links