Dewey Defeats Truman


Many people have seen this photo, called ‘the most famous newspaper photo of the century’ and know the story behind, but few have seen it in its uncropped version. It is taken by W. Eugene Smith for Time Life Pictures on the election night 1948. In the biggest political upset in U.S. history, Harry S. Truman surprised everyone when he, and not Thomas E. Dewey, won the 1948 Presidential election. When Truman went to bed on November 2, he was losing the election. When he woke up the next morning he learnt. He traveled to back to Washington, D.C. that day by train, and on a short stop in St. Louis, he was confronted by a copy of Chicago Tribune. “This is one for the books,” quipped an elated President Truman as he held up the erroneous front page of Chicago Tribune.

In the picture is Truman’s famous ‘whistle-stop’ train–a special “Magellan” train chartered by the Democrats–which made 201 stops on the route to reenforce his image as people’s president. (In fact, both Dewey and Truman did their Presidential campaigning by train. This was the last Presidential election to use this form of transportation; since then Presidential candidates have used airplanes to travel.)

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