The 1940s Government, Politics, and Law: Headline Makers

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The 1940s Government, Politics, and Law: Headline Makers

Thomas E. Dewey
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Alger Hiss
Charles Houston
George C. Marshall
Frances Perkins
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Harry S Truman

Thomas E. Dewey (1902–1971) On the day after the 1948 presidential election, President Harry S Truman was photographed holding the first edition of the Chicago Daily Tribune. Its banner headline declared a Thomas Dewey victory! In fact, Truman won by 2.2 million popular votes and 144 electoral votes. But despite his defeats in two presidential elections, Dewey had a long and successful political career. As governor of New York, he had a reputation for being hard on gangsters, and in the 1940s Dewey became popular for reducing taxes. He

Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890–1969) In 1938, Dwight D. Eisenhower was thinking of retiring from the army. But World War II gave him the opportunity to reach the highest levels in the U.S. military and government. He led Operation Torch, the invasion of North Africa in November 1941, and he went on to lead Operation Overlord on June 6, 1944, commonly known as D-Day. During this battle, Eisenhower successfully coordinated 2.8 million personnel and landed thousands of Allied troops on the beaches in Normandy, France. In 1950, he took command of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). He was elected president of the United States in 1952, holding the office until 1960.

Alger Hiss (1904–1996) In 1948, Whittaker Chambers, a magazine editor and former Communist Party courier, accused high government official Alger Hiss of having helped transmit confidential government documents to the Russians. When Hiss was first brought to trial in 1949, the jury was unable to reach a decision. At a second trial Hiss was found guilty and sentenced to a five-year prison term. He was released from prison in 1954. In 1957, he wrote In the Court of Public Opinion, in which he denied all charges against him. Hiss maintained his innocence to his death; Soviet files made public in 1995 convinced most observers that he had been guilty, but controversy lingers.

Charles Houston (1895–1950) Charles Houston was one of the major civil rights leaders of the twentieth century. He paved the way for later more famous figures such as Martin Luther King Jr. (1929–1968) and Thurgood Marshall (1908–1993). Houston enrolled in Harvard Law School in 1919, graduating in 1922. Between 1935 and 1940 he was special counsel to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and later served as chairman of the group's legal committee until shortly before his death in 1950.

George C. Marshall (1880–1959) George C. Marshall managed American military strategy during World War II and later became one of the main strategists of the cold war. His "Marshall Plan" helped reconstruct Europe in the late 1940s, and in 1953 he became the only soldier ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize. But while the Marshall Plan and his diplomatic missions to China in 1945 certainly helped restore peace to the world, Marshall was criticized for his part in the decision to drop atomic bombs on Japan.

Frances Perkins (1882–1965) Frances Perkins was the first woman ever appointed to a cabinet position in the U.S. government. From 1933 onwards, she helped reshape the labor market and bring new rights, better pay, and safer working conditions to millions of Americans. But because of her views on unemployment assistance, as well as her attacks on private industry, she was labeled a communist. In 1939, the Republicans began impeachment proceedings against her, but they were dropped. She served in the U.S. Civil Service Commission from 1945 to 1953.

Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882–1945) Franklin D. Roosevelt is the only person to have been elected to the U.S. presidency four times. Over that period he became one of the most respected and best-loved of all presidents. He saw the United States through the Great Depression and most of World War II. Conservatives often criticized Roosevelt for imposing limits on business and for championing the rights of ordinary people. His critics also thought he was devious and dictatorial. But Roosevelt made the country the wealthiest and most powerful in the world.

Harry S Truman (1884–1972) Harry S Truman became president when President Franklin D. Roosevelt died in April 1945. He was committed to fairness and justice at home and abroad, but one of his first acts as president was deciding to drop atomic bombs on Japan. He also became well known for the "Truman Doctrine," which promised to fund anticommunists in Europe. Truman was a champion of civil rights, helping to bring about the end of the racist Jim Crow system in the South. His obituary in the New York Times ran for seven pages.

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The 1940s Government, Politics, and Law: Headline Makers

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The 1940s Government, Politics, and Law: Headline Makers