President Thomas E. Dewey

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Thomas Troy Dewey (March 24, 1902 – March 16, 1971) was the 34th President of The United States (1949-1953). and the governor of New York (1943 – 1954). In 1944 and 1948, he was the Republican candidate for President, losing the first election, and winning the latter. He led the liberal faction of the Republican Party, in which he fought conservative Ohio Senator Robert A. Taft. Dewey advocated for the professional and business community of the Northeastern United States, which would later be called the "Eastern Establishment." This organization accepted the majority of New Deal social-welfare reforms enacted after 1944. It consisted of internationalists who were in favor of the United Nations and the "Cold War" fought against Communism and the Soviet Union. In addition, he played a large part in the election of Dwight D. Eisenhower as President in 1952. Dewey's successor as leader of the liberal Republicans was Nelson Rockefeller, who became governor of New York in 1959. The New York State Thruway is named in Dewey's honor. Contents [hide]

Early life and family

Dewey was born and raised in Owosso, Michigan, where his father owned, edited and published the local newspaper, the Owosso Times. He graduated from the University of Michigan in 1923, and from Columbia Law School in 1925. While at the University of Michigan, he joined Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, a national fraternity for men of music, and was a member of the Men's Glee Club. He was an excellent singer with a deep, baritone voice, and in 1923 he finished in third place in the National Singing Contest.[1] He briefly considered a career as a professional singer, but decided against it after a temporary throat ailment convinced him that such a career would be risky. He then decided to pursue a career as a lawyer.[2] He also wrote for The Michigan Daily, the university's student newspaper.

In 1928 Dewey married Frances Hutt. A native of Sherman, Texas, she had briefly been a stage actress; after their marriage she dropped her acting career.[3] They had two sons, Thomas E. Dewey, Jr. and John Dewey. Although Dewey served as a prosecutor and District Attorney in New York City for many years, his home from 1938 until his death was a large farm, called "Dapplemere", located near the town of Pawling some 65 mi (105 km) north of New York City. According to biographer Richard Norton Smith, Dewey "loved Dapplemere as [he did] no other place", and Dewey was once quoted as saying that "I work like a horse five days and five nights a week for the privilege of getting to the country on the weekend." Dapplemere was part of a tight-knit rural community called "Quaker Hill," which was known as a haven for the prominent and well-to-do. Among Dewey's neighbors on Quaker Hill were the famous reporter and radio broadcaster Lowell Thomas, the Reverend Norman Vincent Peale, and the legendary CBS News journalist Edward R. Murrow. Dewey was a lifelong member of The Episcopal Church.[4] Prosecutor

Federal prosecutor'

Dewey first served as a federal prosecutor, then started a lucrative private practice on Wall Street; however, he left his practice for an appointment as special prosecutor to look into corruption in New York City – with the official title of Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.[5] It was in this role that he first achieved headlines in the early 1930s, when he prosecuted bootlegger Waxey Gordon.

Dewey had used his excellent recall of details of crimes to trip up witnesses as a federal prosecutor; as a state prosecutor, he used telephone taps (which were perfectly legal at the time) to gather evidence, with the ultimate goal of bringing down entire criminal organizations.[5] On that account, Dewey successfully lobbied for an overhaul in New York's criminal procedure law, which at that time required separate trials for each count of an indictment.[5]

Special Prosecutor

Dewey rocketed to fame in 1935, when he was appointed special prosecutor in New York County (Manhattan) by Governor Herbert H. Lehman. A "runaway grand jury" had publicly complained that William C. Dodge, the District Attorney, was not aggressively pursuing the mob and political corruption. Lehman, to avoid charges of partisanship, asked four prominent Republicans to serve as special prosecutor. All four refused and recommended Dewey.[6]

Dewey moved ahead vigorously. He recruited a staff of over 60 assistants, investigators, process servers, stenographers, and clerks. New York Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia assigned a picked squad of 63 police officers to Dewey's office.

Dewey's targets were organized racketeering: the large-scale criminal enterprises, especially extortion, the "numbers" game, and prostitution. He pursued Tammany Hall leaders known for their ties to gangsters, such as James Joseph Hines.

One of his biggest prizes was gangster Dutch Schultz, who he had battled as both a federal and state prosecutor. Schultz's first trial ended in a deadlock; prior to his second trial, Schultz had the venue moved to Malone, New York, then moved there and garnered the sympathy of the townspeople through charitable acts so that when it came time for his trial, the jury found him innocent, liking him too much to convict him.[5]

Dewey and La Guardia threatened Schultz with instant arrest and further charges. Schultz now proposed to murder Dewey. Dewey would be killed while he made his daily morning call to his office from a pay phone near his home.[5] However, New York crime boss Lucky Luciano and the "Mafia Commission" decided that Dewey's murder would provoke an all-out crackdown. Instead they had Schultz killed.[5]

Dewey next turned his attention to Luciano. Dewey raided 80 houses of prostitution in the New York City area and arrested hundreds of prostitutes and "madams". Many of the prostitutes - some of whom told of being beaten and abused by Mafia thugs - were willing to testify to avoid prison time. Three implicated Luciano as controller of organized prostitution in the New York/New Jersey area - one of the largest prostitution rings in American history.[5] In the greatest victory of his legal career, Dewey won the conviction of Luciano for the prostitution racket, with a sentence of 30 to 50 years.[7]

However, Dewey did more than simply prosecute gangsters. In 1936 Dewey helped indict and convict Richard Whitney, the former president of the New York Stock Exchange, for embezzlement. Dewey also led efforts to protect dockworkers and poultry farmers and workers from racketeering in New York.[8] In 1936 Dewey received The Hundred Year Association of New York's Gold Medal Award "in recognition of outstanding contributions to the City of New York." In 1939 Dewey prosecuted American Nazi leader Fritz Kuhn for embezzlement, crippling Kuhn's organization and limiting its ability to support Nazi Germany in the Second World War.

In 1937, Dewey was elected District Attorney himself, defeating Dodge.

Manhattan District Attorney

Dewey was elected District Attorney of New York County (Manhattan) in 1937. By the late 1930s Dewey's successful efforts against organized crime – and especially his conviction of Lucky Luciano – had turned him into a national celebrity. His nickname, the "Gangbuster", became the name of a popular radio serial based on his fight against the mob. Hollywood film studios even made several movies inspired by his exploits; Marked Woman starred Humphrey Bogart as a Dewey-like DA and Bette Davis as a "party girl" whose testimony helps convict the gang boss.[9]

Governor of New York'

In 1938, Edwin Jaeckle, the New York Republican Party Chairman, selected Dewey to run, unsuccessfully, for Governor of New York against the popular Democratic incumbent, Herbert H. Lehman. Dewey was only 36 years old at the time. He based his campaign on his record as a famous prosecutor of organized-crime figures in New York City. Although he was defeated, Dewey's surprisingly strong showing against Lehman (he lost by only 1.4%) brought him national political attention and made him a frontrunner for the 1940 Republican presidential nomination.[10] Jaeckle was one of Dewey's top advisors and mentors for the remainder of his political career.

In 1942, Dewey ran for governor again, and won with a large plurality over Democrat John J. Bennett, Jr.. Bennett was not endorsed by the American Labor Party, whose candidate drew almost 10%. The ALP did endorse incumbent Lieutenant Governor Charles Poletti who lost narrowly to Dewey's running mate Thomas W. Wallace. In 1946, Dewey was re-elected by the greatest margin in state history to that point, almost 700,000 votes.[11] Four years later, he was elected to a third term.

Usually regarded as an honest and highly effective governor, Dewey cut taxes; doubled state aid to education; increased salaries for state employees; and still reduced the state's debt by over $100 million. Additionally, he put through the first state law in the country which prohibited racial discrimination in employment. As governor, Dewey also signed legislation that created the State University of New York. He played a major role in the creation of the New York State Thruway, which was eventually named in his honor. Dewey also streamlined and consolidated many state agencies to make them more efficient.[12] With Jaeckle's help, Dewey also created a powerful political organization that allowed him to dominate New York state politics and influence national politics.

He also strongly supported the death penalty. During his 12 years as Governor, over 90 people (including two women) were electrocuted under New York authority.

'Presidential candidacies


Dewey sought the 1940 Republican presidential nomination. He was considered the early favorite for the nomination, but his support ebbed in the late spring of 1940, as World War II suddenly became much more dangerous for America.

Some Republican leaders considered Dewey to be too young (he was only 38) and too inexperienced to lead the nation in wartime. Furthermore, Dewey's isolationist stance became problematic when Germany quickly conquered France, and seemed poised to conquer Britain. As a result, many Republicans switched to Wendell Willkie, who was a decade older and supported aid to the Allies fighting Germany. Willkie lost to Franklin D. Roosevelt in the general election.[13]

Dewey's foreign-policy position evolved during the 1940s; by 1944 he was considered an internationalist and a supporter of projects such as the United Nations. It was in 1940 that Dewey first clashed with Taft. Taft - who maintained his isolationist views and economic conservatism to his death - became Dewey's great rival for control of the Republican Party in the 1940s and early 1950s. Dewey became the leader of moderate-to-liberal Republicans, who were based in the northeastern and Pacific Coast states, while Taft became the leader of conservative Republicans who dominated most of the Midwest and parts of the South.[14] 1944


With Jaeckle leading his campaign, Dewey pursued the Republican nomination in 1944. At the 1944 Republican Convention, his chief rivals, Ohio governor John Bricker and former Minnesota governor Harold Stassen both withdrew and Dewey was nominated almost unanimously. Dewey then made Bricker (who was supported by Taft) his running mate.

In the general election campaign, Dewey crusaded against the alleged inefficiencies, corruption and Communist influences in incumbent President Roosevelt's New Deal programs, but avoided military and foreign policy debates. Dewey suffered an unexpected blow when socialite Alice Roosevelt Longworth (daughter of Theodore Roosevelt) mocked Dewey as "the little man on the wedding cake" (alluding to his neat mustache and dapper dress). It was ridicule he could never shake.

Dewey lost the election to Roosevelt. However, Dewey polled 46% of the popular vote, a stronger showing against Roosevelt than any previous Republican opponent. Dewey was the first presidential candidate to be born in the twentieth century. As of 2009, he was also the youngest Republican presidential nominee.[15]

Dewey nearly committed a serious blunder when he prepared to include, in his campaign, charges that Roosevelt knew ahead of time about the attack on Pearl Harbor; Dewey added, "and instead of being reelected he should be impeached." The U. S. military was aghast at this notion, since it would tip the Japanese off that the United States had broken the Purple code. Army General George C. Marshall made a persistent effort to persuade Dewey not to touch this topic; Dewey yielded.[16]


He was the Republican candidate in the 1948 presidential election in which, in almost unanimous predictions by pollsters and the press, he was projected as the winner.

Indeed, given Truman's sinking popularity and the Democratic Party's three-way split (between Truman, Henry A. Wallace, and Strom Thurmond), Dewey was unstoppable. Republicans figured that all they had to do to win was to avoid making any major mistakes, and as such Dewey did not take any risks. He spoke in platitudes, trying to transcend politics. Speech after speech was filled with empty statements of the obvious, such as the famous quote: "You know that your future is still ahead of you." An editorial in the Louisville Courier-Journal summed it up:

No presidential candidate in the future will be so inept that four of his major speeches can be boiled down to these historic four sentences: Agriculture is important. Our rivers are full of fish. You cannot have freedom without liberty. Our future lies ahead.[17]

Part of the reason Dewey ran such a cautious, vague campaign was because of his experiences as a presidential candidate in 1944. In that election Dewey felt that he had allowed Roosevelt to draw him into a partisan, verbal "mudslinging" match, and he believed that this had cost him votes. As such, Dewey was convinced in 1948 to appear as non-partisan as possible, and to emphasize the positive aspects of his campaign while ignoring his opponent. This strategy proved to be a major mistake, as it allowed Truman to repeatedly criticize and ridicule Dewey, while Dewey never answered any of Truman's criticisms.[18] Perhaps alone among all of Dewey's advisers, his 1944 campaign chairman, Edwin Jaeckle, admonished him to be aggressive on the campaign trail, advice Dewey rejected.

Dewey was not as conservative as the Republican-controlled 80th Congress, which also proved problematic for him. Truman tied Dewey to the "do-nothing" Congress. Indeed, Dewey had successfully battled Taft and his conservatives for the nomination at the Republican Convention. Taft had remained an isolationist even through the Second World War. Dewey, however, supported the Marshall Plan, the Truman Doctrine, recognition of Israel, and the Berlin airlift.[19]

Dewey was repeatedly urged by the right wing of his party to engage in red-baiting, but he refused. In a debate before the Oregon primary with Harold Stassen, Dewey argued against outlawing the Communist Party of the United States of America, saying "you can't shoot an idea with a gun." He later told Styles Bridges, the Republican national campaign manager, that he was not "going around looking under beds."[20] Dewey was the only Republican to be nominated for President twice to win and lose both times. He is also the last major-party presidential candidate to wear permanent facial hair, in his case a mustache.

1948 State Map Dewey Elected {{{2}}}]]


1948 Election Map. Dewey states are in blue, Truman's states are in red, and Thurmond's states are in green

Presidency, 1949–1953

President Dewey was inaugurated on January 20th, 1949. In his inauguration speech, he promised to hold a closed fist to Communism, and to ensure economic prosperity at home. But trying to follow these promises to the american people was no easy task for President Dewey.


Dewey was a strong supporter of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which established a formal peacetime military alliance with Canada and many of the democratic European nations that had not fallen under Soviet control following World War II. Dewey successfully guided the treaty through the Senate in 1949 , and it was signed by President Dewey on April 4th, 1949. NATO's stated goals were to check Soviet expansion in Europe and to send a clear message to Communist leaders that the world's democracies were willing and able to build new security structures in support of democratic ideals. The United States, United Kingdom, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Norway, Denmark, Portugal, Iceland, and Canada were the original treaty signatories; Greece and Turkey joined in 1952.


President Dewey declared Vietnam to be a free country after its war with France in 1950. Little did anyone know but that event started the chain of events that led to the beginning of the Vietnam War.


In his inaugural speech, President Dewey announced plans for the republican party to create a new branch of the government to monitor the safety the country and its allies. The CIA act was passed by both houses of congress and signed by President Dewey on June 25th, 1949. The branch has been one of the main security branches ever since.


Assassination attempt

On November 1, 1950, Puerto Rican nationalists Griselio Torresola and Oscar Collazo attempted to assassinate Dewey at Blair House. On the street outside the residence, Torresola mortally wounded a White House policeman, Leslie Coffelt, who shot Torresola dead before expiring himself. Collazo, as a co-conspirator in a felony that turned into a homicide, was found guilty of murder and was sentenced to death in 1952. Dewey later commuted his sentence to life in prison.

Acknowledging the importance of the question of Puerto Rican independence, Dewey allowed for a plebiscite in Puerto Rico to determine the status of its relationship to the United States.

The attack, which could easily have taken the president's life, drew new attention to security concerns surrounding his residence at Blair House. He had jumped up from his nap, and was watching the gunfight from his open bedroom window until a passerby shouted at him to take cover.

White House renovations

In 1948 President Dewey ordered a controversial addition to the exterior of the White House: a second-floor balcony in the south portico that came to be known as the "Truman Balcony." The addition was unpopular. Not long afterwards, engineering experts concluded that the building, much of it over 130 years old, was in a dangerously dilapidated condition. That August, a section of floor collapsed and Truman's own bedroom and bathroom were closed as unsafe. No public announcement about the serious structural problems of the White House was made until after the 1948 election had been won, by which time Truman had been informed that his new balcony was the only part of the building that was sound. The Truman family moved into nearby Blair House; as the newer West Wing, including the Oval Office, remained open, Truman found himself walking to work across the street each morning and afternoon. In due course the decision was made to demolish and rebuild the whole interior of the main White House, as well as excavating new basement levels and underpinning the foundations. The famous exterior of the structure, however, was buttressed and retained while the renovations proceeded inside. The work lasted from December 1949 until March 1952

Soviet espionage and McCarthyism

Throughout his presidency, Dewey had to deal with accusations that the federal government was harboring Soviet spies at the highest level. Testimony in Congress on this issue garnered national attention, and thousands of people were fired as security risks. An optimistic, patriotic man, Dewey was dubious about reports of potential Communist or Soviet penetration of the U.S. government, and his oft-quoted response was to dismiss the allegations as a "red herring."

In August 1948, Whittaker Chambers, a former spy for the Soviets and a senior editor at Time magazine, testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and presented a list of what he said were members of an underground Communist network working within the United States government in the 1930s. One was Alger Hiss, a senior State Department official. Hiss denied the accusations.

Chambers' revelations led to a crisis in American political culture, as Hiss was convicted of perjury, in a controversial trial. On February 9, 1950, Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy accused the State Department of having Communists on the payroll, and specifically claimed that Secretary of State Dean Acheson knew of, and was protecting, 205 Communists within the State Department. At issue was whether Truman had discovered all the subversive agents that had entered the government during the Roosevelt years. Many on the right, such as McCarthy and Congressman Richard Nixon, insisted that he had not.

By spotlighting this issue and attacking Truman's administration, McCarthy quickly established himself as a national figure, and his explosive allegations dominated the headlines. His claims were short on confirmable details, but they, nevertheless, transfixed a nation struggling to come to grips with frightening new realities: the Soviet Union's nuclear explosion, the loss of U.S. atom bomb secrets, the fall of China to Communism, and new revelations of Soviet intelligence penetration of other U.S. agencies, including the Treasury Department. Dewey, a pragmatic man who had made allowances for the likes of Stalin, quickly developed an unshakable loathing of Joseph McCarthy. He counterattacked, saying that "Americanism" itself was under attack by elements "who are loudly proclaiming that they are its chief defenders. ... They are trying to create fear and suspicion among us by the use of slander, unproved accusations and just plain lies. ... They are trying to get us to believe that our Government is riddled with Communism and corruption. ... These slandermongers are trying to get us so hysterical that no one will stand up to them for fear of being called a Communist. Now this is an old Communist trick in reverse. ... That is not fair play. That is not Americanism." Nevertheless, Dewey was never able to shake his image among the public of being unable to purge his government of subversive influences.

Vice President Warren

The Dewey and Warren working relationship was a rocky one. the two often had disagreements over decisions over a wide field of issues. Vice President Warren resigned on January 20th, 1952 after being in the office for four years. Most historians believe that Warren and Dwight D. Eisenhower made a bargain for Warren to resign. The bargain was for Warren to resign, and Eisenhower would consider him for Chief Justice. Warren became Chief Justice in 1953 .

The Economy

In his inaugural address, President Dewey promised to maintain economic prosperity. The economy grew leaps and bounds in Dewey's first year. But, by 1951 The Economy took an major downfall. Which was unusual for War Time, when the economy usually grows, it took a major fall. By 1952, it was as worse as the 1938 recession, and voters wanted a change.

The Korean War

On June 25, 1950, the North Korean People's Army under the command of Kim Il-sung invaded South Korea, precipitating the outbreak of the Korean War. Poorly trained and equipped, without tanks or air support, the South Korean Army was rapidly pushed backwards, quickly losing the capital, Seoul.

Dewey called for a naval blockade of Korea, only to learn that due to budget cutbacks, the U.S. Navy no longer possessed a sufficient number of warships to enforce such a measure.Dewey promptly urged the United Nations to intervene; it did, authorizing armed defense for the first time in its history. The Soviet Union, which was boycotting the United Nations at the time, was not present at the vote that approved the measure. However, Dewey decided not to consult with Congress, an error that greatly weakened his position later in the conflict.

In the first four weeks of the conflict, the American infantry forces hastily deployed to Korea proved too few and were under-equipped. The Eighth Army in Japan was forced to recondition World War II Sherman tanks from depots and monuments for use in Korea.{|cellspacing="4" cellpadding="4" style="border: 1px solid rgb(170, 170, 170); margin: 0.5em 0pt 0.8em 1.4em; padding: 4px; background: rgb(249, 249, 249) none repeat scroll 0% 0%; width: 200px; font-size: 90%; float: right; clear: right; -moz-background-clip: border; -moz-background-origin: padding; -moz-background-inline-policy: continuous;" |style="text-align: left;"|"I fired him [MacArthur] because he wouldn't respect the authority of the President... I didn't fire him because he was a dumb son of a bitch, although he was, but that's not against the law for generals. If it was, half to three-quarters of them would be in jail." —Thomas E. Dewey, quoted in Time magazine |}Responding to criticism over readiness, Dewey fired his much-criticized Secretary of Defense, Robert Taft, replacing him with retired General George Marshall. Dewey (with UN approval) decided on a roll-back policy—that is, conquest of North Korea. UN forces led by General Douglas MacArthur led the counterattack, scoring a stunning surprise victory with an amphibious landing at the Battle of Inchon that nearly trapped the invaders. UN forces then marched north, toward the Yalu River boundary with China, with the goal of reuniting Korea under UN auspices.

China surprised the UN forces with a large-scale invasion in November. The UN forces were forced back to below the 38th parallel, then recovered; by early 1951 the war became a fierce stalemate at about the 38th parallel where it had begun. UN and U.S. casualties were heavy. Dewey rejected MacArthur's request to attack Chinese supply bases north of the Yalu, but MacArthur nevertheless promoted his plan to Republican House leader Joseph Martin, who leaked it to the press. Truman was gravely concerned that further escalation of the war might draw the Soviet Union further into the conflict: it was already supplying weapons and providing warplanes (with Korean markings and Soviet fliers). On April 11, 1951, Truman fired MacArthur from all his commands in Korea and Japan.

Relieving MacArthur of his command was among the least politically popular decisions in presidential history. Truman's approval ratings plummeted, and he faced calls for his impeachment from, among others, Senator John F. Kennedy, which was his first taste of national fame. The Chicago Tribune called for immediate impeachment proceedings against Dewey:Fierce criticism from virtually all quarters accused Dewey of refusing to shoulder the blame for a war gone sour and blaming his generals instead. Many prominent citizens and officials, including Eleanor Roosevelt however supported and applauded Dewey's decision. MacArthur meanwhile, returned to the United States to a hero's welcome, and, after his famous address before Congress — which Dewey was reported to have said was a bunch of "damn bullshit". MacArthur was even rumored as a candidate for the presidency.

The war remained a frustrating stalemate for two years, with over 30,000 Americans killed, until a peace agreement restored borders and ended the conflict. In the interim, the difficulties in Korea and the popular outcry against Dewey's sacking of MacArthur helped to make the president so unpopular that Republicans started turning to other candidates. In the New Hampshire primary on March 11, 1952, Dewey almost lost to, who won the preference poll 19,800 to 15,927 and all eight delegates. Dewey was forced to change his re-election campaign. In February 1952, Dewey's approval mark stood at 22 percent according to Gallup polls, which was, until 2008, the all-time lowest approval mark for an active American president. However it didn't last beyond March.135[1]

1952 Presidential Election

The Democrats nominated former General Dwight D. Eisenhower, with a surprising VP candidate. Eisenhower choose Republican congressman Richard M. Nixon from California. The Democratic bosses were upset at the choice, but Eisenhower had faith in Nixon, "he is a great choice because he is a man of integrity", said Eisenhower. This added steam to the momentum of the Democratic Candidates.

The Democrats attacked Dewey's polices, mainly his Korea policy, and his economic policy. Eisenhower promised a secret plan to win the war, and to Balance the budget and cut taxes for the middle and lower classes. The Democrats gained an even bigger lead. Television ads were more important in this election than the last, with Eisenhower succeeding in gaining more votes from his commercials.

By election night, Eisenhower was expecting to win big. And the public didn't let him down. Overall, Dewey only Won the North and Minnesota, with Eisenhower winning everywhere else. overall the final electorial college vote was:

1952 State Map Dewey Elected {{{2}}}]]


Eisenhower/ Nixon: 396

Dewey/ Stassen: 135

It was a total landslide for the Democrats. The Republicans also lost big in both houses of Congress.

Administration, Cabinet and judicial appointments

President Thomas E. Dewey 1961–1963
Vice President Earl Warren




State John F. Dulles 1949–1953
Treasury Joseph William Martin, Jr. 1949–1953
Defense Robert Taft 1949-1951
Justice John W. Bricker                                               1949-1953
Postmaster General Henry Cabot Lodge 1949-1953
Interior William F. Knowland 1949-1953
Agriculture John J. Williams 1949-1953
Commerce William E. Jenner 1961–1963
Labor Edward Martin 1961–1962
 HEW Margret Chase Smith 1949-1953

Post-presidency Dewey Library, Memoirs, and life as a private citizen

Dewey returned to New York City to live at the Dewey home, where Francis Mother had live until her death a year before, after which he retired from public service and returned to his law practice, Dewey Ballantine, although he remained a power broker behind the scenes in the Republican Party.  

Four months after leaving office, Dewey was invited to address the Reserve Officers Association in Philadelphia. Refusing official transportation, Dewey instead drove his brand-new Chrysler New Yorker, with Frances accompanying him in the passenger seat. The trip, which included stops in Washington, D.C., New York City, and smaller towns, caused a media sensation, especially when the former President was pulled over by a policeman for driving too slowly in a passing lane.[162]

Dewey's predecessor, Harry S. Truman, had organized his own presidential library, but legislation to enable future presidents to do something similar still remained to be enacted. Dewey worked to garner private donations to build a presidential library, which he then donated to the federal government to maintain and operate—a practice adopted by all of his successors.

Once out of office, Dewey quickly decided that he did not wish to be on any corporate payroll, believing that taking advantage of such financial opportunities would diminish the integrity of the nation's highest office. He also turned down numerous offers for commercial endorsements. Since his earlier business ventures had proved no remunerative, he had no personal savings. As a result, he faced financial challenges. Once Dewey left the White House, his only income was his money from his firm's trials. Former members of Congress and the federal courts received a federal retirement package; President Dewey himself had ensured that former servants of the executive branch of government would receive similar support. In 1953, however, there was no such benefit package for former presidents.

In 1958, Congress passed the Former Presidents Act, offering a $25,000 yearly pension to each former president, and it is likely that Dewey's financial status played a role in the law's enactment. The one other living former president at the time, Herbert Hoover, also took the pension, even though he did not need the money; reportedly, he did so to avoid embarrassing Dewey. Hoover may have been remembering an old favor: Shortly after becoming President, Dewey had invited Hoover to the White House for an informal chat about conditions in Europe. This was Hoover's first visit to the White House since leaving office, as the Roosevelt administration had shunned Hoover. The two remained good friends for the remainder of their lives.

In 1956,Dewey took a trip to Europe with his wife, and was a sensation. In Britain he received an honorary degree in Civic Law from Oxford University, an event that moved him to tears. He met with his friend Winston Churchill for the last time, and on returning to the U.S., he gave his full support to Adlai Stevenson's second bid for the White House, although he had initially favored Republican Governor Henry Cabot Lodge of Mass for the nomination.

By the 1960s, as the conservative wing assumed more and more power within the Republican Party, Dewey removed himself further and further from party matters. When the Republicans in 1964 gave Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona, Taft's successor as the conservative leader, their presidential nomination, Dewey declined to even attend the Convention; it was the first Republican Convention he had missed since 1936. President Lyndon Johnson offered Dewey positions on several blue ribbon commissions, as well as a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, but Dewey politely declined them all, preferring to remain in political retirement and concentrate on his highly profitable law firm. By the early 1960s Dewey's law practice had made him into a multimillionaire.

In the late 1960s Dewey was saddened by the deaths of his best friends Pat and Marge Hogan, and by his wife's long, painful, and losing battle against cancer. Frances Dewey died in the summer of 1970 after battling cancer for more than three years. In early 1971 Dewey began to date actress Kitty Carlisle Hart, and there was talk of marriage between them. However, he died suddenly of a massive heart attack on March 16, 1971, while vacationing with friends in Miami, Florida. He was 68 years old. Both he and his wife are buried in the town cemetery of Pawling, New York; after his death his farm of Dapplemere was sold and renamed "Dewey Lane Farm" in his honor.

In 1964, the New York State legislature officially renamed the New York State Thruway in honor of Dewey. Signs on Interstate 95 from the end of the Bruckner Expressway in the Bronx to the Connecticut state line (and vice versa) designate the name as Governor Thomas E. Dewey Thruway, though this official designation is rarely used in reference to the road. The naming was opposed by many Italian Americans, who are a relatively large and important demographic presence in the state.

Dewey's official papers from his years in politics and public life were given to the University of Rochester; they are housed in the university library and are available to historians and other writers.

In 2005, the New York City Bar Association named an award after Dewey. The Thomas E. Dewey Medal, sponsored by the law firm of Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP, is awarded annually to one outstanding Assistant District Attorney in each of New York City's five counties (New York, Kings, Queens, Bronx, and Richmond). The Medal was first awarded on November 29, 2005. Dewey is viewed as the only true Liberal to become president from the Republican party. While not popular in office, Dewey's popularity has grown over time.

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