Hall of Governors

Virtual Visit: Object Stories - Governor Dewey Portrait

Discover the story behind Thomas E. Dewey’s gubernatorial portrait in the Hall of Governors at the New York State Capitol.
Virtual Visit: Object Stories - Thomas E. Dewey Gubernatorial Portrait
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Virtual Visit: Object Stories - Governor Dewey Portrait

Discover the story behind Thomas E. Dewey’s gubernatorial portrait in the Hall of Governors at the New York State Capitol.

Fast Facts

 

  1. Thomas Dewey was the 47th Governor of New York
  2. He was born in Michigan and went to the University of Michigan.
  3. Dewey served as Governor for three terms.
  4. He lost to FDR in the 1944 Presidential Election
  5. The portrait artist was Molly Guion who also painted Winston Churchill.
  6. Dewey turned down offers to be Chief Justice of the United States by Eisenhower and Nixon.
Trivia

 

Where did Dewey work prior to his terms as New York State Governor?
Dewey gained recognition as a prominent prosecutor in the 1930s when he presided over organized crime trials in New York City.

Which significant bills did Governor Dewey sign into law?
On March 12, 1945 Governor Dewey signed the Ives-Quinn bill into law, which outlawed racial and religious discrimination in employment, making New York the first state in the nation to have such legislation.

Why is the NYS Thruway named after Governor Dewey?
Governor Dewey authorized the construction of the New York State Thruway in 1946 and it was renamed in his honor in 1964.

Did Dewey create the SUNY System?
Governor Dewey signed the law in 1948 that authorized the creation of the State University of New York (SUNY) system, making New York the last state to have a public university.

Was Dewey expected to win the 1948 Presidential Election?
According to the polls, the expectations for Dewey to defeat Harry S. Truman in the 1948 election were so high that one newspaper erroneously reported “Dewey Defeats Truman” prior to the results.

What did Governor Dewey go on to do after serving as New York State Governor?
Governor Dewey decided to retire from public life after serving his third and final term as Governor in 1954.  He went on to become a partner at Dewey Ballentine where he practiced law until his death in 1971.

How did Molly Guion capture the likeness of her subjects?
Guion did not use photographs of her subjects in order to complete their portraits, rather she chose to paint from life and asked her subjects to sit for their portraits in person.

Did Molly Guion learn any interesting facts about Dewey while painting his portrait?
In an interview with the New York Times from 1977, Guion remembers learning that Dewey was a talented singer but he chose not to embark on a professional career as a singer.

Which baseball legend did Governor Dewey play golf with right before he passed away suddenly?
Carl Yastzemski

Which newspaper prematurely printed the headline “Dewey Defeats Truman” during the 1948 Election?
Chicago Daily Tribune

How many books did Dewey write?
He wrote three, The Case against the New Deal (1940), Journey to the Far Pacific (1952), and Thomas E. Dewey on the Two Party System (1966).