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Dewey Defeats Truman: The 1948 Election and the Battle For America's Soul

Harry S. Truman Presidential Library

Thursday, November 2, 2023 - 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. CDT

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On November 2, 1948, a politically divided nation went to the polls to elect a president, but the outcome was all but certain: Thomas Dewey was going to trounce Harry Truman.

Now, on the 75th anniversary of that great upset, author A.J. Baime joins us for a livestream event focused on one of the greatest election stories of all times, in which Truman mounted a history-making comeback and staked a claim for a new course for America.

On the eve of the 1948 election, America was a fractured country. Racism was rampant, foreign relations were fraught, and political parties were more divided than ever. Americans were certain that President Harry S. Truman’s political career was over. “The ballots haven’t been counted,” noted political columnist Fred Othman, “but there seems to be no further need for holding up an affectional farewell to Harry Truman.” Truman’s own staff did not believe he could win. Nor did his wife, Bess. The only man in the world confident that Truman would win was Mr. Truman himself. And win he did.

1948 was a fight for the soul of a nation. Drawing on his thrilling account, Dewey Defeats Truman, New York Times best-selling author A. J. Baime sheds light on one of the most action-packed six months in American history. Truman not only triumphs, but oversees watershed events—the passing of the Marshall plan, the acknowledgement of Israel as a new state, the careful attention to the origins of the Cold War, and the first desegregation of the military.

Not only did Truman win the election, he succeeded in guiding his country forward at a critical time with high stakes and haunting parallels to the modern day.

This special HST75 event includes a live Q&A with A.J. Baime.


All events listed in the calendar are free unless noted.