- Dewey, Thomas Edmund
- (1902-1971)Born in Owosso, Michigan, Thomas E. Dewey studied music and law at the University of Michigan and graduated in 1923. He graduated from Columbia Law School in 1925 and began working on Wall Street. He also became active in the Republican Party. In 1931, Dewey was appointed assistant U.S. district attorney for New York’s Southern District, and in 1933 he became district attorney. He was appointed special prosecutor to deal with organized crime and in 1936 secured the conviction of the New York Mafia leader Charles (“Lucky”) Luciano. His success led him to become the first Republican to be elected district attorney for New York County (Manhattan) in 1937. He narrowly lost the election for state governor in 1938, losing to Herbert Lehman. However, he won the election in 1942 and was reelected in 1946 and 1950. As governor he introduced antidiscrimination laws in 1945, established New York’s state university system in 1947, approved the building of the New York State Thruway, developed public health programs, and balanced the state’s budget.Dewey’s undoubted achievements led to his nomination as the Republican presidential candidate in 1944 and 1948. Although he was quite easily defeated by the incumbent, Franklin D. Roosevelt, in 1944, in 1948 he was regarded as the favorite against Harry S. Truman and a divided Democratic Party. Dewey did not campaign very effectively, and Truman pulled out a famous upset. Dewey did not stand again in 1952, but he supported the nomination of Dwight D. Eisenhower for the presidency and Richard M. Nixon for the vice presidency. He retired from the governorship of New York in 1955 and took up private law practice in New York City.
Historical Dictionary of the Roosevelt–Truman Era . Neil A. Wynn . 2015.