Parades, Protests and Politics


The 1944 Republican National Convention

Delegates with Dewey placards at Republican National convention at Chicago Stadium on June 29, 1944.

Delegates with Dewey placards at Republican National convention at Chicago Stadium on June 29, 1944. (CHS, ICHi-26179)

The 1944 Republican National Convention took place as WWII raged on. The fate of millions of humans rested on the American Armed Forces and the issue was whether Americans would support or reject Democrat Franklin Roosevelt, a wartime president, for a fourth term.

The Republican party was rebuilding itself and, for the first time, candidates for the office of president were widely known prior to the convention. The drama element was missing. The big names on the 1944 convention were Thomas Dewey and Wendall Wilkie. In the previous years, Wendall Wilkie had stolen the nomination and support from New York governor Dewey and, in 1944, he tried again.

Dewey was known as an impeccably honest man; a crime buster and an efficient budget cutter. He was also the first presidential candidate born in the 20th century. Despite this, many Republicans distrusted him and thought he was rigid and fascinated with power.

The convention began on Monday, June 26 and was radio broadcasted. The convention opposed the New Deal as contrary to the ideas of American government. The delegates wanted to reestablish the peace industry promptly, take government out of competition, eliminate emergency powers such as rationing and price fixing, stabilize employment and reduce taxes. The party asked for equal rights in employment for post-war women, condemned racial and religious intolerance, and wanted to lower taxes.

The convention and the nomination ran smoothly--Dewey received 1,056 votes on the first ballot, all but one. John William Bricker was selected VP; he was Dewey's second choice.

Dewey was determined but it wasn't enough to unseat Roosevelt, who won by 3 million votes in November.


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