Harry S. Truman's upset of Republican challenger Thomas E. Dewey is considered the greatest election upset in American history. Truman, the incumbent, won despite a three-way split of his own Democratic party.
Dewey, the unsuccessful Republican nominee in 1944 against unbeatable Franklin Roosevelt, had been reelected governor of New York in 1946 by the largest margin in state history. He quickly took a lead over Truman in national polls (sometimes by double digits), prompting a "dump Truman" movement that fragmented the Democratic Party. Strom Thurman's States' Rights Democratic Party opposed civil rights for blacks. Progressive Party nominee Henry A. Wallace opposed the cold war policies of Truman, including the Marshall Plan (to rebuild Europe) and Truman Doctrine (to support Greece and Turkey). Here, cartoons from Buffalo and Chicago newspapers support Wallace's stance by criticizing Truman's conciliatory approach to Russian leader Joseph Stalin at their 1945 meeting in Potsdam, Germany.
Truman, ever trailing in the polls, fought back with a campaign as vigorous as Dewey's was cautious. He nicknamed the Republican-controlled House and Senate the "do-nothing" Congress, and he toured the nation, speaking to large crowds with such fiery rhetoric as to earn the slogan, "Give 'em hell, Harry!" In the end, there was broad public support for Truman's foreign policy, and his successful Berlin Airlift (June 1948 to April 1949) extricated him from the corner into which the Chicago cartoonist painted him.
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