Thomas Dewey & Harry Truman 1948 Presidential Election Campaign Collage

Presented is a unique commemorative collage, celebrating the 1948 U.S. presidential election between Harry Truman and Thomas Dewey. This one-of-a-kind collage features a Harry Truman signed commemorative postal cover, a Dewey campaign pennant, a Dewey campaign button, and photographs from the campaign trail and election night.

As Vice President in 1945, Truman ascended to the presidency after the death of President Roosevelt. He successfully concluded the war against Germany, brought the United States into the United Nations, and engineered the surrender of Japan. Yet as his presidential term progressed, his popularity diminished, as did that of the Democratic Party. The Republicans triumphed in the midterm congressional elections of 1946, running against Truman as the symbol of the New Deal. And by the time the 1948 election was on the horizon, many believed Truman could not win.

During the 1948 Republican National Convention, the first ever to be televised, the party nominated New York governor Thomas Dewey as its presidential candidate and California governor Earl Warren as his running mate. At the Democratic National Convention, Truman was nominated on the ballot, and the keynote speaker, Alben Barkley, a U.S. senator from Kentucky, was nominated as Truman’s vice presidential running mate. Yet just after the convention’s end, a group of Southerners formed the States’ Rights Party, popularly labeled the Dixiecrats. The Dixiecrats nominated South Carolina governor Strom Thurmond as their candidate for president, which threatened to divide the Democratic vote. 

Throughout the race, it was widely acknowledged by pollsters and the media that Dewey would win the election. The New York Times claimed that Dewey’s election was a “foregone conclusion,” and Life magazine ran a caption several months before the election declaring Dewey the “next president of the United States.” Nevertheless, Truman refused to believe he would lose. He launched a cross-country campaign, railing against the Republican congress. In more than 300 speeches in more than 250 cities and covering some 21,000 miles, Truman hammered away. The excitement generated by Truman’s vigorous campaigning contrasted sharply with Dewey’s lackluster speeches.

Yet in the days preceding the 1948 presidential vote, political analysts and polls had Truman so far behind Dewey that on election night, long before all the votes were counted, the Chicago Tribune published an early edition with the iconic banner headline “DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN.” In fact, Truman was the winner, not Dewey. Truman easily defeated Dewey in the Electoral College, by a 303 to 189 margin, and won by the popular vote, 50-45 percent.  

Truman's surprise victory was the fifth consecutive win for the Democratic Party in a presidential election. As a result of the 1948 congressional election, the Democrats regained control of both houses of Congress. President Truman’s victory is considered to be the greatest election upset in presidential election history. 

This collage celebrates the story leading up to that surprising result. At top left is a felt Dewey campaign pennant. The cream pennant has a printed portrait of Dewey and the text “Elect Thomas E. Dewey President” in blue, a red felt headband, and its original red stick. This pennant was used during the campaign, most likely given out to supporters during a speech, political rally, or possibly on election night. 

Also included in the collage is a small Dewey campaign button.  The white button is printed with the phrase “Truman was Screwy to Build a Porch for Dewey.” The button hints at an inevitable Dewey victory despite Truman’s recent renovations to the White House, which included a second floor balcony addition completed in March of 1948. 

At center is a First Day cover, honoring the U.S. Coast Guard and their operations in the South Pacific at the end of the war. Postmarked on the first day of issue, November 10, 1945, the envelope is signed “Harry S. Truman” along the top in black ink. Assuming the role of President in April of 1945, Truman oversaw the end of the War in the Pacific and the Japanese surrender. His foreign policy experience helped him in his reelection campaign of 1948. 

At top right is an original press photograph from Truman’s final months of campaigning, during his whirlwind train tour. Stopping in Uvalde, Texas on September 27, 1948, Truman was greeted by a crowd of his supporters. Jack Richardson, a goat raiser from Ulvade, playfully presented Truman with his angora goat, draped in a “Dewey’s goat” blanket. Symbolic of "getting their goat" and angering an opponent into losing a race, Truman replied to the farmer, "I'm going to put him on the White House lawn to graze for the next four years." 

At bottom right is the famous photograph of Truman,the morning after winning the election, holding up an edition of Chicago Daily Tribune with the incorrect headline "Dewey Defeats Truman." This is one of the most iconic and remembered images in American political history. 


Pennant: Cream felt pennant, with toning and scattered light stains. Pennant is printed with blue text and portrait. Printed text and portrait intact, without creasing or chipping. Red felt headband to pennant, creating a pole sleeve, machine sewn. Red painted wooden stick with a silver finial at top. Wear to silver finial, chipping to silver paint on finial. 

Envelope: First Day Issue Cover, honoring the Armed Forces and U.S. Coast guard Operations on the South Pacific Beachhead. Envelope is white, with only slight wear at corners and minimal toning. Envelope postmarked “New York/ NOV 10/ 9 AM/1945/ N.Y.” with black ink, in circular stamp at center. Green U.S. Coast Guard postage 3 cent stamp, adhered to upper right corner. Stamp is overprinted with black “First Day Issue” cancellation stamp. Envelope is signed in black ink, “Harry Truman” along the top. Signature is very legible and clean. 

Campaign Pinpack: Small circular campaign pinback button. White button with blue printed text: “Truman Was Screwy To Build A Porch for Dewey.” Very clean, in good condition. 

Press Photograph: Black and white, original press photograph of Truman patting Dewey’s goat. Acme Telephoto caption at bottom, reads: “DALLAS- 9/27/48- UVALDE, TEXAS - -  President Treman pats Dewey’s goat while John Nance Garner looks on. Goat was presented to President by Jack Richardson, left, goat raiser from Uvalde, when Presidential train stopped in Uvalde Sunday. (ACME TELEPHOTO.)” Caption is faded but still legible. Photograph in good condition. 

Two additional photograph reproductions included, a head and shoulders portrait of President Truman at bottom left and “Dewey Defeats Truman” photograph at bottom right. 

Elements are artfully mounted and framed together in a custom burl wood and beaded frame, with a brown linen top mat, gold spandrels, an engraved metal plaque, and UV Conservation Clear glass. 

Framed Dimensions: 34 5/8" H x 40 1/4" W x 3" D.

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