Publication Date


Degree Granted


Institution Granting Degree

University of Arkansas


This dissertation examines the U.S. wartime presidential campaign of 1944. In 1944, the United States was at war with the Axis Powers of World War II, and Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt, already serving an unprecedented third term as President of the United States, was seeking a fourth. Roosevelt was a very able politician and-combined with his successful performance as wartime commander-in-chief-- waged an effective, and ultimately successful, reelection campaign. Republicans, meanwhile, rallied behind New York Governor Thomas E. Dewey. Dewey emerged as leader of the GOP at a critical time. Since the coming of the Great Depression -for which Republicans were blamed-the party had suffered a series of political setbacks. Republicans were demoralized, and by the early 1940s, divided into two general national factions: Robert Taft conservatives and Wendell WiIlkie "liberals." Believing his party's chances of victory over the skilled and wily commander-in-chief to be slim, Dewey nevertheless committed himself to wage a competent and centrist campaign, to hold the Republican Party together, and to transform it into a relevant alternative within the postwar New Deal political order. Often overlooked by historians, the low-key and "uninteresting" Dewey was an institutional preserver, opening the door to a Dwight Eisenhower presidency, and the "Modem Republicanism" of the 1950s. Unlike Taft (and Herbert Hoover before him), Dewey (and Eisenhower after him) tacitly condoned the basic New Deal reform structure. Though set against a backdrop of global war, the 1944 campaign was also an old-fashioned, free-swinging, partisan affair-including stump speeches, rallies and parades, radio and newspaper advertising, harsh rhetoric, and a near record voter turnout on Election Day. As an ordinary event in an extraordinary time, the 1944 campaign was a testimony to the strength of American democracy.