Long before he became New York’s governor, Thomas Edmund Dewey already displayed outstanding leadership and talent incomparable to those of his age. Who would have thought that a mere class president would eventually become the governor of New York?
Thomas Edmund Dewey has a story that is as inspiring as his legal feats in the United States. Read further to know more about his inspirational life as a young boy, a student, a lawyer, a husband, a father, and an influential politician.
Dewey was born to Annie and George Martin Dewey, an owner of a local newspaper publication in Owosso, Michigan. Several anecdotes note of Dewey’s leadership abilities as a young lad. Quoting a journalist, it was said that the young Dewey “[showed] leadership and ambition above the average; by the time he was thirteen, he had a crew of nine other youngsters working for him” selling magazines and newspapers to the people of Owosso.
He has also gained popularity in their school as well, serving as the president of his class and the chief editor of their school yearbook, where he showcased his flair for debate.
His yearbook caption read:
“First in the council hall to steer the state, and ever foremost in a tongue debate.”
A biographer reacted towards this and said: “the bent of his mind, from his earliest days, was towards debate.”
Life in the academe
His knack for leadership and debate brought him forth to the University of Michigan in 1923, where he rose to stardom as an outstanding singer and a writer for the university’s student paper. 2 years later, he took a Juris Doctor degree from Columbia Law School.
Dewey married actress Frances Eileen Hutt 3 years after he graduated from law school. They were blessed with two sons, namely: Thomas E. Dewey Jr. and John Martin Dewey. They were based in Dapplemore, which was 65 miles away from his work in New York.
Life as a government official
He embarked on his first job as a federal prosecutor. Shortly after, he entered a lucrative private practice on Wall Street. From 1935 to 1937, he started attracting attention from the public as a special prosecutor in an investigation of a crime in New York. This role made waves in the headlines, most notably when he prosecuted bootlegger Waxey Gordon. He also got 72 convictions out of 73 prosecutions of racketeers.
This feat instantly propelled Dewey to greater opportunities to showcase his legal acumen.
In 1937, he became the District Attorney of New York County after William C. Dodge quitted running for re-election. He prosecuted and convicted the former president of the New York Stock Exchange, Richard Whitney for embezzlement, as well as Tammany Hall and James Joseph Hines. Following his plausible legal performance, he was given the opportunity to lead New York state politics.
Although he was defeated for his first attempt to run as New York’s governor, he was elected for three successive terms since 1942.
He was dubbed as an honest and highly effective governor after giving aid to the state’s education, increasing employee salaries, and reduced the state’s debt by more than $100 million.
The New York governor also played a big role in securing support for the New York State Thruway, which is now named after him to honor his excellence.
His attempt to become the nation’s president
Dewey took his public service up a notch. He became the youngest Republican presidential nominee in 1944.
During the general election campaign, Dewey attacked the alleged ineptitude, corruption, and Communist influences of President Roosevelt’s New Deal programs. Unfortunately, during the November 1944 election, Dewey lost to President Roosevelt.
In 1948, the Chicago Tribune mistakenly declared Dewey for winning the presidential race with Harry S. Truman, when in fact, it was the latter who really won the election a day after it appeared in the newspaper. The picture of Harry Truman holding a copy of the paper makes it one of history’s most iconic photographs up to this day.
His role as a Republican leader
It was his first and last attempt to run as president. However, as a leader of the eastern Republicans back in 1952, he greatly influenced the presidential nomination of Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower and the vice-presidential nomination of Sen. Richard M. Nixon.
He ended his term as New York governor at the end of 1954 and returned to his private law practice. Despite his career shift, Dewey remained as a trusted Republican adviser to Republican administrations.
Dewey faced an ill-fated death, just a year after his wife lost to breast cancer. It was said that Dewey died due to heart attack eight days before the advent of his 69th birthday.
Thomas Edmund Dewey is a lawyer, prosecutor, a politician, but most of all, he is a man of honor, honesty, and valor up to the moment he died.