Thomas Dewey photo

Address Accepting the Presidential Nomination at the Republican National Convention in Chicago, Illinois

June 28, 1944

Mr. Chairman and fellow Americans:

I am profoundly moved by the trust you have placed in me. I deeply feel the responsibility which goes with your nomination for President of the United States at this grave hour of our nation's history.

That I have not sought this responsibility, all of you know. I told the people of my State, two years ago, that it was my intention to devote my full term as governor exclusively to their service. You have decided other-wise. In accordance with the principles of our republican form of government you have laid upon me the highest duty to which an American can be called. No one has a right to refuse such a call. With the help of God, I will try to be worthy of the trust. I accept the nomination.

I am happy and proud to be associated with my good friend from the State of Ohio, John W. Bricker. For many months, John Bricker has gone from state to state telling the people of the issues, of the great need for better government, for the sound principles of government, and the leader-ship which will come to it with a Republican victory this year. Never before have I seen such good sportsmenship as that displayed by John Bricker here this morning and I am proud to be associated with him.

I come to this great task a free man. I have made no pledges, promises or commitments, expressed or implied, to any man or woman. I shall make none, except to the American people.

These pledges I do make:

To men and women of the Republican Party everywhere I pledge my utmost efforts in the months ahead. In return, I ask for your support. Without it, I cannot discharge the heavy obligation you lay upon me.

To Americans of every party I pledge that on Jan. 20 next year our government will again have a cabinet of the ablest men and women to be found in America. The members of that Cabinet will expect and will receive full delegation of the powers of their office. They will be capable of administering those powers. They will each be experienced in the task to be done and young enough to do it. This election will bring an end to one-man government in America.

To Americans of every party I pledge a campaign dedicated to one and above all others—that this nation under God may continue in the years ahead a free nation of free men.

At this moment on battlegrounds around the world Americans are dying for the freedom of our country. Their comrades are pressing on in the face of hardship and suffering. They are pressing on for total victory and for the liberties of all of us.

Everything we say or do today and in the future must be devoted to the single purpose of that victory. Then, when victory is won, we must devote ourselves with equal unity of purpose to re-winning at home the freedom they have won at such desperate cost abroad.

To our allies let us send from this convention one message from our hearts: The American people are united with you to the limit of our resources and manpower, devoted to the single task of victory and the establishment of a firm and lasting peace.

To every member of the axis powers, let us send this message from this Convention: By this political campaign, which you are unable to understand, our will to victory will be strengthened, and with every day you further delay surrender the consequences to you will be more severe.

That we shall win this war none of us and few of our enemies can now have any doubt. But how we win this war is of major importance for the years ahead. We won the last war but it didn't stay won. This time we must also win the purposes for which we are fighting. Germany must never again nourish the delusion that she could have won. We must carry to Japan a defeat so crushing and complete that every last man among them knows that he has been beaten. We must not merely defeat the armies and the navies of our enemies. We must defeat, once and for all, their will to make war. In their hearts as well as with their lips, let them be taught to say: "Never again."

The military conduct of the war is outside this campaign. It is and must remain completely out of politics. General Marshall and Admiral King are doing a superb job. Thank God for both of them. Let me make it crystal clear that a change of administration next January cannot and will not involve any change in the military conduct of the war. If there is not now any civilian interference with the military and naval commands, a change in administration will not alter this status. If there is civilian interference, the new administration will put a stop to it forthwith.

But the war is being fought on the home front as well as abroad, while all of us are deeply proud of the military conduct of the war, can we honestly say that the home front could not bear improvement? The present administration in Washington has been in office for more than 11 years. Today, it is at war with Congress, and at war with itself. Squabbles between Cabinet members, feuds between rival bureaucrats and bitterness between the President and his own party members, in and out of Congress, have become the order of the day. In the vital matters of taxation, price control, rationing, labor relations, manpower, we have become familiar with the spectacle of wrangling, bungling and confusion.

Does anyone suggest that the present national administration is giving either efficient or competent government? We have not heard that claim made, even by its most fanatical supporters. No, all they tell us is that in its young days it did some good things. That we freely grant. But now it has grown old in office. It has become tired and quarrelsome. It seems that the great men who founded this nation really did know what they were talking about when they said that three terms were too many.

When we have won the war, we shall still have to win the peace. We are agreed, all of us, that America will participate with other sovereign nations in a cooperative effort to prevent future wars. Let us face up boldly to the magnitude of that task. We shall not make secure the peace of the world by mere words. We can't do it simply by drawing up a fine-sounding treaty. It can not be the work of any one man or of a little group of rulers who meet together in private conferences. The structure of peace must be built. It must be the work of many men. We must have as our representatives in this task the ablest men and women America can pro-duce, and the structure they join in building must rest upon the solid rock of a united American public opinion.

I am not one of those who despair of achieving that end. I am utterly confident we can do it. For years, we have had men in Washington who were notoriously weak in certain branches of arithmetic but they specialized in division. They've been playing up minor differences of opinion among our people until the people of other countries might have thought that America was cleft in two.

But all the while there was a larger, growing area of agreement. Recently the overwhelming majesty of that broad area of agreement has become obvious. The Republican Party can take pride in helping to define it and broaden it. There are only a few, a very few, who really believe that America should try to remain aloof from the world. There are only a relatively few who believe it would be practical for America or her allies to renounce all sovereignty and join a Super-state. I certainly would not deny these two extremes the right to their opinions; but I stand firmly with the overwhelming majority of my fellow citizens in that great wide area of agreement. That agreement was clearly expressed by the Republican Mackinac Declaration and was adopted in the foreign policy plank of this Convention.

No organization for peace will last if it is slipped through by stealth or trickery or the momentary hypnotism of high-sounding phrases. We shall have to work and pray and be patient and make sacrifices to achieve a really lasting peace. That is not too much to ask in the name of those who have died for the future of our country. This is no task for men who specialize in dividing our people. It is no task to be entrusted to stubborn men, grown old and tired and quarrelsome in office. We learned that in 1919.

The building of the peace is more than a matter of international co-operation. God has endowed America with such blessings as to fit her for a great role in the world. We can only play that role if we are strong and healthy and vigorous as nature has equipped us to be. It would be a tragedy if after this war Americans returned from our armed forces and failed to find the freedom and opportunity for which they fought. This must be a land where every man and woman has a fair chance to work and get ahead. Never again must free Americans face the spectre of long-continued, mass unemployment. We Republicans are agreed that full employment shall be a first objective of national policy. And by full employment I mean a real chance for every man and woman to earn a decent living.

What hope does the present administration offer here? In 1940, the year before this country entered the war, there were still 10,000,000 unemployed. After seven years of unequalled power and unparalleled spending, the New Deal had failed utterly to solve that problem. It never solved that problem. It was left to be solved by war. Do we have to have a war to get jobs?

What are we now offered? Only the dreary prospect of a continued war economy after the war, with interference piled on interference and petty tyrannies rivaling the very regimentation against which we are now at war.

The present administration has never solved this fundamental problem of jobs and opportunity. It can never solve this problem. It has never even understood what makes a job. It has never been for full production. It has lived in chattering fear of abundance. It has specialized in curtailment and restriction. It has been consistently hostile to and abusive of American business and American industry, although it is in business and industry that most of us make our living.

In all the record of the past 11 years is there anything that suggests the present administration can bring about high-level employment after this war? Is there any reason to believe that those who have so signally failed in the past can succeed in the future? The problem of jobs will not be easily solved; but it will never be solved at all unless we get a new, progressive administration in Washington—and that means a Republican administration.

For one hundred and fifty years America was the hope of the world. Here on this great broad continent we had brought into being something for which men had longed throughout all history. Here, all men were held to be free and equal. Here, government derived its just powers from the consent of the governed. Here men believed passionately in freedom, independence—the God-given right of the individual to be his own master. Yet, with all of this freedom—I insist—because of this freedom—ours was a land of plenty. In a fashion unequalled anywhere else in the world, America grew and strengthened; our standard of living became the envy of the world. In all lands, men and women looked toward America as the pattern of what they, themselves, desired. And because we were what we were, good will flowed toward us from all corners of the earth. An American was welcomed everywhere and looked upon with admiration and regard.

At times, we had our troubles; made our share of mistakes; but we faltered only to go forward with renewed vigor. It remained for the past eleven years, under the present national administration, for continuing unemployment to be accepted with resignation as the inevitable condition of a nation past its prime.

It is the New Deal which tells us that America has lost its capacity to grow. We shall never build a better world by listening to those counsels of defeat. Is America old and worn out as the New Dealers tell us? Look to the beaches of Normandy for the answer. Look to the reaches of the wide Pacific—to the corners of the world where American men are fighting. Look to the marvels of production in the war plants in our own cities and towns. I say to you: our country is just fighting its way through to new horizons. The future of America has no limit.

True, we now pass through dark and troubled times, scarcely a home escapes the touch of dread anxiety and grief; yet in this hour the American spirit rises, faith returns—faith in our God, faith in our fellowman, faith in the land our fathers died to win, faith in the future, limitless and bright, of this, our country.

In the name of that faith we shall carry our cause in the coming months to the American people.

Thomas Dewey, Address Accepting the Presidential Nomination at the Republican National Convention in Chicago, Illinois Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project