5 December 2006
[TRUMAN, HARRY S. (1884-1972, President)] A complete copy of the Chicago Tribune newspaper of 3 November 1948. Folio broadsheet, framed.
DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN
An edition of the most famous wrong-call in American political history. "Dewey defeats Truman" has become a catch-phrase for misplaced over-confidence. But on Election Day in 1948, it wasn't just Tribune publisher (and Truman hater) Col. Thomas McCormack who felt sure of Dewey's victory. Truman's owns staff thought their man would lose. The majority of the nation's newspapers endorsed the Republican challenger. All the polls showed him safely ahead, and even a slight slip in late polls caused Dewey no great alarm. On election night, the early returns showed Dewey ahead. This edition was set in type by inexperienced workers brought in because of a strike at the paper. Thus the tell-tale "issue-point" of this edition: the 5 lines on the far-right column that are printed upside down.
After printing and delivery of the papers, the gap between Truman and Dewey started to close. As the Democratic votes piled up, so did a sense of panic among Tribune officials. They sent staffers out to stop delivery trucks, even to scoop up copies from people's lawns. Many were reclaimed, but many survived, like this one, and the one that somebody thrust into Truman's hands at the St. Louis railway station the next morning. The President-elect held it up to the flashing press cameras, a huge smile on his face as he called out: "This is one for the books!"
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