President Harry S Truman: Truman Beats Dewey and His Second Term

About the election of President Harry S Truman where he narrowly defeated the favorite Dewey, his second term and vetoes.

November 2, 1948...

On election night, Truman was ahead from the beginning, but many commentators refused to believe it. A heavy vote for Henry Wallace in New York had thrown that State to Dewey, while Thurmond had carried 4 States in the Deep South. How could a Democratic candidate possibly win, while losing both New York and the Solid South? Harry Truman showed them how. He swept the big cities, the West, and the farm belt, including many traditionally Republican States, for 303 electoral votes to Dewey's 189. The popular totals were 24,179,345 for Truman, and 21,991,291 for Dewey. Strom Thurmond won 1,176,125 votes and 39 electoral votes (Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Louisiana). Henry Wallace and his Progressives, who had been badly hurt by the prominence of Communist party members in their campaign organization, drew only 1,157,326 votes (half of them in New York)--a far weaker showing than expected. In explaining the upset of "President Dewey," observers pointed to the extraordinarily low turnout; many voters, bored by a campaign that appeared to be over before it even started, simply stayed home on Election Day.

On its front page of November 3, the Washington Post advertised a banquet for the President, during which "political reporters and editors, including our own, along with pollsters, radio commentators, and columnists" would be treated to "breast of tough old crow, en glace." If Truman came, he would eat "turkey."

January 20, 1949...

Truman was sworn into office by Chief Justice Fred M. Vinson on the east portico of the Capitol. Certain of Dewey's victory, the Republican Congress had made an unusually generous allowance for inauguration ceremonies, so Truman was treated to one of the most elaborate public celebrations in inaugural history. Over a million persons in Washington watched a 3-hour parade, while 700 airplanes roared overhead.

Vetoes: Faced with a Republican Congress for several years of his term, Truman was forced into extensive use of his veto power; of all American Presidents, only FDR and Cleveland used that power more often. Among the 250 bills vetoed by the President were the antilabor Taft-Hartley Act, the highly repressive McCarran "Internal Security" Act, and a bill extending anti-Semitic and anti-Catholic immigration quotas. All of these measures were passed over Truman's veto. A total of 12 of the President's vetoes were overridden by Congress.

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