Alternative History

Thomas E. Dewey
Thomas E. Dewey
34th President of the United States
In office:
January 20 1949 - January 20, 1953
Vice President: Earl Warren
Preceded by: Harry S. Truman
Succeded by: Dwight D. Eisenhower
47th Governor of New York
Assumed office:
January 1, 1943 – January 6, 1949
Preceded by: Charles Poletti
Succeeded by: Joe R. Hanley
Born: March 24, 1902
Owosso, Michigan
Death: March 16, 1971
Miami, Florida
Birth name: Thomas Edmund Dewey
Nationality: American
Political party: Republican
Spouse: Frances Hutt
Alma Mater: University of Michigan
Columbus University Law School
Occupation: Politician, Prosecuter
Religion: Episcopalian

Thomas Edmund Dewey (March 24, 1902–March 16, 1971) was the Governor of New York (1943–1954) and the 34th President of the United States. As leader of the liberal faction of the Republican party he fought the conservative faction led by Senator Robert A. Taft. Dewey represented the business and professional community of the Northeastern United States, a group that later became known as the "Eastern Establishment." This group accepted most of the New Deal social-welfare reforms after 1944, and were internationalists who supported international groups such as the United Nations and the Cold War policies opposing the Soviet Union and Communism. 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 his honor.

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. 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. 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 ended her acting career. They had two sons: Thomas E. Dewey, Jr, and John Martin 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 65 miles (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.


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. 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 (not illegal at the time) to gather evidence, with the ultimate goal of bringing down entire criminal organizations. 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.

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.

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 as 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.

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 from a pay phone near his home. 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. Schultz was shot to death in the restroom of a bar in Newark. Smith, p. 165-174.

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. 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.

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. 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 based on his exploits; one starred Humphrey Bogart as Dewey and Bette Davis as a call girl whose testimony helps to put Lucky Luciano in prison.

Governor of New York[]

In 1938, Edwin Jaeckle, the powerful New York Republican Party Chairman, selected Dewey to run, unsuccessfully, for Governor of New York against the popular Democratic incumbent, Herbert Lehman, Franklin Roosevelt's successor. 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 lost, Dewey's surprisingly strong showing against Lehman (he lost by barely one percentage point), brought him national political attention and made him a frontrunner for the 1940 Republican presidential nomination. Jaeckle would remain one of Dewey's top advisors and mentors for the remainder of his political career. In 1942, Dewey ran for governor again, and this time he defeated his Democratic opponent in a landslide by 16 percentage points. In 1946, he won a second term by the greatest margin in state history to that point, winning by almost 700,000 votes.

Dewey was regarded as an honest and highly effective governor. He 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 would eventually be named in his honor. Dewey also streamlined and consolidated many state agencies to make them more efficient. 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 were electrocuted (including two women) under New York authority.

Presidential candidacies[]


Dewey ran for the 1940 Republican presidential nomination, but lost to Wendell Willkie, who went on to lose to Franklin D. Roosevelt in the general election. For most of the campaign Dewey was considered the favorite for the nomination, but his strength ebbed as Nazi Germany swept through Western Europe in the late spring of 1940.

Some Republican leaders considered Dewey to be too young (he was only 38) and inexperienced to lead the nation through the Second World War. Furthermore, Dewey's isolationist stance became increasingly difficult for him to defend as the Nazis conquered the Netherlands, Belgium, France, and threatened Britain. As a result, many Republicans switched to supporting Wendell Willkie, who was a decade older and an open advocate of providing aid to the Allies of World War II.

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


With the politically astute and powerful New York State Republican Party Chairman, Edwin F. Jaeckle, leading his campaign, Dewey won the Republican nomination in 1944 but was defeated in the election by incumbent Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Alice Roosevelt Longworth, Theodore Roosevelt's daughter and a socialite well known for her wit, called Dewey, alluding to his pencil-thin mustache, "the little man on the wedding cake," a bit of ridicule he could not shake. At the 1944 Republican Convention Dewey easily defeated Ohio Governor John Bricker, who was supported by Taft; he then made Bricker his running mate in a bid to win the votes of conservative Republicans. In the general campaign in the fall Dewey crusaded against the alleged inefficiencies, corruption and Communist influences in Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal programs, but avoided military and foreign policy debates. Although he lost the election, Dewey polled 46% of the popular vote, a stronger showing against Roosevelt than any of Roosevelt's previous Republican opponents. Dewey was the first presidential candidate to be born in the twentieth century; he is also the youngest man ever to win the Republican presidential nomination.

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.


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. The Chicago Daily Tribune printed "DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN" as its post-election headline.

Indeed, given Truman's sinking popularity and the Democratic Party's three-way split (between Truman, Henry A. Wallace, and Strom Thurmond), Dewey had seemed 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.

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 Franklin 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.

Dewey was not as conservative as the Republican-controlled 80th Congress. Indeed, Dewey had successfully battled Ohio Senator Robert 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.

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."

In any event, Dewey defeated Truman on Election Night - ending sixteen years of Democratic Party rule. He is the last major-party presidential candidate to have any facial hair, and the first president to wear a mustache since Howard Taft was elected forty years earlier in 1908.

Presidency (1949-1953)[]

Dewey's inauguration was the first ever televised nationally.

His presidency was grueling, in large measure because of foreign policy challenges connected directly or indirectly to his policy of containment. For instance, he quickly had to come to terms with the end of the American nuclear monopoly. With information provided by its espionage networks in the United States, the Soviet Union's atomic bomb project progressed much faster than had been expected and they exploded their first bomb on August 29, 1949. On January 7, 1953, Dewey announced the detonation of the first U.S. hydrogen bomb.


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. 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.

Chinese Civil War[]

Shortly after taking office, Dewey authorized the deployment of 200,000 soldiers into China to prevent the Communist overthrow of the Nationalist regime in Nanking. However, the war was soon discovered to be harder to fight then originally planned, with no effective method of rooting out the communist insurgency in the South, while also having to fight conventially against the main PLA forces in the North. The PLA advance was eventually halted along the Yangtze River, in the Battle of Nanking. The war was expanded into Korea and Tibet by 1950, becoming the “East Asian War”

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 acted upon reports of potential Communist or Soviet penetration of the U.S. government, and resulting in an almost entirely Republican administration, with Democrats typically leaving to avoid accusation.

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 Dewey 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, 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 Northern China to communism, and new revelations of Soviet intelligence penetration of other U.S. agencies, including the Treasury Department.

Dewey 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, he was never able to shake his image among the public of being unable to purge himself of subversive influences.

Great Asian War[]

Shortly after taking office, Dewey authorized the deployment of 200,000 soldiers into China to prevent the Communist overthrow of the Nationalist regime in Nanking. However, the war was soon discovered to be harder to fight then originally planned, with no effective method of rooting out the communist insurgency in the South, while also having to fight conventionally against the main PLA forces in the North. The PLA advance was eventually halted along the Yangtze River, in the Battle of Nanking. From then on, the line remained relatively static. An attempted invasion of Tibet by the PLA was repulsed by forces from the Republic of India and Nationalist China

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

Stunned, Dewey called for a naval blockade of Korea, which went into effect; while the U.S. Navy no longer possessed sufficient surface ships with which to enforce such a measure, no ships tried to challenge it. 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. Dewey also sought the support of Congress, which granted it overwhelmingly.

In the first four weeks of the conflict, the American infantry forces hastily deployed to Korea proved too few and were under-equipped. A large part of the military was already stationed in China, and the Eighth Army in Japan was forced to recondition World War II Sherman tanks from depots and monuments for use in Korea.

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.

Dewey rejected MacArthur's request to attack Chinese supply bases north of the Yalu River, but MacArthur nevertheless promoted his plan to Republican House leader Joseph Martin, who leaked it to the press. Dewey 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, Dewey fired MacArthur from his commands in Korea.

Relieving MacArthur of his command was among the least politically popular decisions in presidential history. Dewey's approval ratings plummeted, and he faced calls for his impeachment from, among others, Senator Robert Taft. The Chicago Tribune called for immediate impeachment proceedings against Dewey:

President Dewey must be impeached and convicted. His hasty and vindictive removal of Gen. MacArthur is the culmination of series of acts which have shown that he is unfit, morally and mentally, for his high office. . . . The American nation has never been in greater danger. It is led by a fool who is surrounded by knaves. . . .</ blockquote>

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 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, was even rumored as a candidate for the presidency. The war remained a frustrating stalemate for two years, with over 60,000 Americans killed, until a armistice was finally reached. 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 lost to Douglas MacArthur, who won the preference poll 18,800 to 15,927 and all eight delegates. Dewey was forced to cancel his reelection campaign. In February 1952, Dewey's approval mark stood at 34 percent according to Gallup polls.


United States' involvement in Indochina widened during the Dewey administration. On V-J Day 1945, Vietnamese Communist leader Ho Chi Minh declared independence from France, but the U.S. announced its support of restoring French power. In 1950, Ho again declared Vietnamese independence, which was recognized by Communist China and the Soviet Union. Ho controlled a remote territory along the Chinese border, while France controlled the remainder. Dewey's "containment policy" called for opposition to Communist expansion, and led the U.S. to continue to recognize French rule, support the French client government, and increase aid to Vietnam. However, a basic dispute emerged: the Americans wanted a strong and independent Vietnam, while the French cared little about containing China but instead wanted to suppress local nationalism and integrate Indochina into the French Union.

White House renovations[]


View of the interior shell of the White House during reconstruction in 1950

In 1948 Truman 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 afterward, 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. Dewey and his family fell into the same problem. 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.

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, a staunch supporter of the death penalty, refused to get involved.

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.

Steel strike[]

In response to a labor/management impasse arising from bitter disagreements over wage and price controls, Dewey instructed his Secretary of Commerce, Sinclair Weeks, to take control of a number of the nation's steel mills in April 1952. Dewey cited his authority as Commander in Chief and the need to maintain an uninterrupted supply of steel for munitions to be used in the war in Korea. The Supreme Court found Dewey's actions unconstitutional, however, and reversed the order in a major separation-of-powers decision, Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer. The 6–3 decision, which held that Dewey's assertion of authority was too vague and was not rooted in any legislative action by Congress, was delivered by a Court composed entirely of Justices appointed by either Truman or Roosevelt. The high court's reversal of Dewey's order was one of the notable defeats of his presidency.

1952 election[]

Dewey had formed an exploratory committee and began a run for a second term. However, he faced opposition in the party from two notable sources, General MacArthur, who now ironically had the time to run since he had been sacked, and Robert Taft, who led the conservative wing. After MacArthur won a narrow, yet solid victory in the New Hampshire primary, Dewey pulled out of the race. Dwight D. Eisenhower later declared his candidacy for the presidency, who in turn was supported by Dewey. He went on to defeat both MacArthur and Taft. MacArthur would go on to claim that Eisenhower waited until he proved that the President was truly vulnerable before entering the race, both turning cold to one another. Eisenhower defeated Stevenson and Russell decisively in the general election.

Later career[]

Dewey officially 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. In 1956, he played a major role that year in convincing Eisenhower to keep Nixon as his running mate; Ike had considered dropping Nixon from the Republican ticket and picking someone he felt would be less partisan and controversial. However, Dewey argued that dropping Nixon from the ticket would only anger Republican voters while winning Ike few votes from the Democrats. Dewey's arguments helped convince Eisenhower to keep Nixon on the ticket. In 1964 Dewey would strongly support Nixon's ultimately successful presidential campaign against Democrat Hubert Humphrey.

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. President Richard Nixon 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. After 42 years of marriage, Frances Dewey died in the summer of 1970 after a six-year battle with cancer. In early-1971, Dewey began to date actress Kitty Carlisle Hart, and there was talks of marriage between them. However, he died suddenly of a massive heart attack on March 16, 1971, whilst on a golfing vacation with friends in Miami, Florida. He was 68 years old and just eight days shy of his sixty-ninth birthday. Dewey was due at the White House on the night of his death to attend a celebration for President Richard Nixon's daughter Tricia's engagement. 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.