FDR, Dewey, and the Election of 1944

Overview

Although the presidential election of 1944 placed FDR in the White House for an unprecedented fourth term, historical memory of the election itself has been overshadowed by the war, Roosevelt's health and his death the following April, Truman's ascendancy, and the decision to drop the atomic bomb. Today most people assume that FDR's reelection was assured. Yet, as David M. Jordan's engrossing account reveals, neither the outcome of the campaign nor even the choice of candidates was assured. Just a week before ...

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FDR, Dewey, and the Election of 1944

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Overview

Although the presidential election of 1944 placed FDR in the White House for an unprecedented fourth term, historical memory of the election itself has been overshadowed by the war, Roosevelt's health and his death the following April, Truman's ascendancy, and the decision to drop the atomic bomb. Today most people assume that FDR's reelection was assured. Yet, as David M. Jordan's engrossing account reveals, neither the outcome of the campaign nor even the choice of candidates was assured. Just a week before Election Day, pollster George Gallup thought a small shift in votes in a few key states would award the election to Thomas E. Dewey. Though the Democrats urged voters not to "change horses in midstream," the Republicans countered that the war would be won "quicker with Dewey and Bricker." With its insider tales, party politics, and campaigning for votes in the shadow of war and an uncertain future, FDR, Dewey, and the Election of 1944 makes for a fascinating chapter in American political history.

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Editorial Reviews

www.rove.com
This is a fun volume on an often overlooked presidential contest.... This book is worth it for the political junkie who wants to check the 1944 election off their list.—
Library Journal
FDR's first presidential election in 1932, his landslide reelection in 1936, and maybe even the 1940 election that broke the two-term limit are well known. Here Jordan (Winfield Scott Hancock: A Soldier's Life) focuses on the 1944 presidential election, the first wartime presidential election since the Civil War, which has gotten less attention. Both major parties faced a similar dilemma in how to remove a likely contender from their ticket. For isolationist Republicans, it was internationalist Wendell Willkie, defeated by FDR in 1940, and for the Democrats, it was FDR's liberal vice president, Henry Wallace. The Republican primaries solved the Willkie matter, but more Machiavellian measures were needed by Democratic bosses to remove Wallace. Ultimately it was FDR with Harry S. Truman against Thomas Dewey with John Bricker. Though Dewey would later say "the war" defeated him, the author points out that Dewey's cold prosecutor personality was surely a contributing factor. Moreover, Dewey's penchant for smearing the New Deal as a communist program when the Soviet Union was a needed ally led FDR to personally dislike him, unlike his previous opponents. VERDICT Though not breaking new ground, this is a lively, comprehensive account of the last pre-Cold War presidential campaign.—William D. Pederson, Louisiana State Univ., Shreveport
www.bookish.livejournal.com
"[T]his book is informative, interesting (especially for the political history geek) and suspenseful in spite of the fact that we all know how the story is going to end." —bookish.livejournal.com
Journal of American History

"David M. Jordan tells the story of the 1944 presidential election, and he tells it very well. In a clearly written, well-researched narrative he describes the various contenders for the Republican nomination, which eventually went to Thomas E. Dewey." —Journal of American History

Gary Donaldson

"All presidential elections are important—and interesting. The 1944 election is no exception. It's a good story and Jordan tells it well." —Gary Donaldson, author of Truman Defeats Dewey

Roger Lane

"A fast-moving, blow-by-blow account of the often neglected wartime campaign that pitted Franklin Delano Roosevelt against Republican Thomas E. Dewey, with pollsters divided to the very end. For political junkies there is suspense, backroom dealing, and surprises about both presidential and vice-presidential nominations, as well as where the parties would stand on the future both at home and abroad. And while today we worry about partisan extremism, in 1944 a sitting commander-in-chief and his administration were accused not only of domestic corruption but of military blunders that cost American lives, all while leading the country toward communism or monarchy." —Roger Lane, author of Murder in America: A History

Richard Kluger

"David Jordan has produced a lucid, highly engrossing account of a fateful but little chronicled episode in American presidential politics. His narrative of the 1944 election campaign—written with savvy and encyclopedic range and featuring a large cast of personalities rendered in deft cameos—deserves a place alongside Theodore White's histories of how high and low character, fierce ambition, and dumb luck play their part in the nation’s choice of its chief executive." —Richard Kluger, Pulitzer Prize-winning social historian

Karl Rove

"This is a fun volume on an often overlooked presidential contest.... This book is worth it for the political junkie who wants to check the 1944 election off their list." —Karl Rove

bookish.livejournal.com

"[T]his book is informative, interesting (especially for the political history geek) and suspenseful in spite of the fact that we all know how the story is going to end." —bookish.livejournal.com

thepoliticsofjamiesanderson.blogspot

"This book alone proves Jordan has what it takes to allow the reader to check out of present day and visit a time period like no other in history. I commend him for that because he allowed me to do so.
" —thepoliticsofjamiesanderson.blogspot

Intl Social Science Review

"[Jordan's] writing style is superb. He has a sense of narrative cadence and a dramatic rhythm reminiscent of an earlier chronicler of presidential campaigns, Theodore White.... Jordan exudes a gift for characterization and an eye for a quotation." —Intl Social Science Review

Survival

"Jordan provides a detailed account of the 'infighting and horse-trading' of this hard-fought, wartime campaign." —Survival

From the Publisher
"All presidential elections are important—and interesting. The 1944 election is no exception. It's a good story and Jordan tells it well." —Gary Donaldson, author of Truman Defeats Dewey
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780253356833
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press
  • Publication date: 9/2/2011
  • Pages: 408
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

David M. Jordan is author of Roscoe Conking of New York: Voice in the Senate; Winfield Scott Hancock: A Soldier's Life (IUP, 1988); "Happiness Is Not My Companion": The Life of General G. K. Warren (IUP, 2001); and Occasional Glory: A History of the Philadelphia Phillies.

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Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments
Prologue: An Evening at the Statler
1. A Nation at War
2. Politics in Midwar
3. The Republicans
4. The Democrats
5. Willkie Pushes Hard
6. President and Congress
7. Wendell in Wonderland
8. The Bandwagon Rolling
9. It Looks Like Dewey
10. The Republican Convention
11. Meanwhile, the Democrats
12. The Ailing President
13. Will Roosevelt Run?
14. Who Runs with Roosevelt?
15. The Democrats Arrive in Chicago
16. Democrats in Convention
17. Campaign on the High Seas
18. The Republicans Go to Work
19. Dewey Heads West
20. The Battle Is On
21. The October Campaign Kicks In
22. Death in October
23. Dewey on the Offensive
24. FDR Strikes Back
25. Down to the Wire
26. Bricker's Campaign
27. The Man from Missouri
28. The Last Days
29. Election Day
30. Summing Up
Epilogue: The Fourth Term
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Indiana University Press

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