The Fog Of Historical Pictures: The Dewey Files

I had a blast posting images from the 1912 and 1968 Presidential campaigns. I wanted to walk the same path with the 1948 election, but couldn’t find much of interest from Truman and the Democratic splinter candidacies of Henry Wallace on the left and Strom Thurmond on the right. There are, however, some swell Dewey campaign images online including some from 1944.

CNN aired a documentary about the 1948 campaign last week. It was, not surprisingly, horse race obsessed, but it overlooked some other key factors as well. There were two reasons the pundits of the day were convinced Dewey would win: his narrow popular vote defeat in 1944 and  a divided Democratic party. It didn’t seem possible for Truman to win with his predecessor as Veep running to his left. The Wallace campaign laid an egg and didn’t cost Truman many votes at all. Go figure. The name Henry Wallace was never mentioned by CNN. Holy foggy history, Batman.

Let’s move on to the images. First, a button showing the GOP’s 1948 ticket with two of the most popular Governors in the country. Warren, however, didn’t help deliver his home state:


Dewey was the first major party nominee candidate since 1912 with facial hair and his cheesy mustache seems to have cost him votes. His reply to anti-mustache critics was “Mrs. Dewey likes it.” The stache stayed. Dewey may have been a stiff but he loved his wife.

The 1948 Dewey campaign played it safe, which is one reason why they lost. It also meant a paucity of clever images and zingy taglines. That’s why we have to set the Wayback Machine to 1944.

Rumor has it that I’m fond of puns. The next image features a doozy:


Harry Truman was unknown outside Missouri when he was put on the ticket in 1944. There were rumors, subsequently disproven, that he had been a Klansman. To show how much things have changed, Dewey ran to FDR’s left on Civil Rights and had a record at home to match.


There’s been some debate about the current Democratic candidates ties to the Empire State. Ms. Clinton wasn’t the first short-term resident to win a statewide race. There was Robert Kennedy in 1964 and Tom Dewey was originally from Michigan. As always, there’s nothing new under the political sun.  Besides, Sanders is spending all his time in Hipsterland North and most of those folks have lived there for a hot minute if that long.

Finally, here’s the electoral map from the race that made Harry Truman the patron saint of underdogs:


One thought on “The Fog Of Historical Pictures: The Dewey Files

  1. He had to have the mustache so he didn’t look EXACTLY like the “little man on the wedding cake”.

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