Stop the Presses!

With Election Day upon us and votes soon to be counted, the nation waits with bated breath to see who our next president will be. Here in D.C., crowds gather in local bars and pubs, as if it were Monday Night Football, to catch the news of which candidate won what state and taking bets on who will be elected president.

But history has shown that it might be better to hedge those bets. Case in point: in the 1948 election pitting incumbent President Harry S. Truman against Republican Thomas E. Dewey, most predicted that Dewey would win. In fact, The Chicago Daily Tribune was so sure of his victory, they printed the front-page headline, “DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN,” that Tuesday before any polls closed. According to the paper’s website, a printers’ strike on election night forced editors to go to print hours before the normally scheduled time. However, as the night wore on and reports filtered in, it became clear that Truman would again be president.

The photograph with Truman raising aloft the newspaper with its headline has become one of the most famous newspaper photos of that century. The Library holds a copy of that issue, dated Nov. 3, 1948, in its Serial and Government Publications Division.

Truman won the election by winning three big states: California, Ohio and Illinois. Dewey won New York, Pennsylvania and Michigan, but it was too little too late. The president managed to carry 24,105,812 popular votes to Dewey’s 21,970,065.

According to political experts, while Truman may have been unpopular in the polls, his aggressive campaign style attributed much to his success, compared to Dewey, who appeared complacent and distant in his approach.

(This is the final post in a series of posts featuring presidential campaign items from the Library’s collections. Read the others here, here and here.)

Protocol for One and All

    Etiquette.  We love to make fun of it – from the character Rose Maybud in Gilbert & Sullivan’s “Ruddigore” who is constantly consulting her tiny etiquette book (“It’s manners out-of-joint, to point!”) to Vincent Price lecturing his creation “Edward Scissorhands” in the movie of the same name: “Etiquette tells us just what is …

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Inquiring Minds: An Interview with John Witte

(The following is a guest post by Jason Steinhauer, a program specialist in the Library’s John W. Kluge Center, as part of the blog series, “Inquiring Minds.”) Legal scholar John Witte served as the recent Cary and Ann Maguire Chair in Ethics and American History. Author of 220 articles, 15 journal symposia, and 26 books, …

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Growing a Library

(The following is an article from the September-October 2012 issue of the Library’s new magazine, LCM, discussing how the Library acquires its collections.) By Audrey Fischer Beginning with a purchase of 740 books by Congress in 1800, the Library of Congress collection has grown to nearly 152 million items. But purchase is just one acquisition …

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Terminology in Office

(This is the third in a series of posts featuring presidential campaign items from the Library’s collections. Read the others here and here.) Every election year, as candidates go head to head during their campaigns, a new wave of vocabulary is born. Political idioms that have found their way into our lexicon include POTUS, left-wing, …

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“Words Like Sapphires”

(The following is a guest article written by my colleague Mark Hartsell, editor of the Library’s staff newsletter, The Gazette, about today’s opening of a new exhibition celebrating the 100th anniversary of the institution’s Hebraic collection.) A simple label inside thousands of rare books bears witness to the origins of one of the great collections …

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Dear Diary

LeRoy Gresham (1847-1865) was a teenaged invalid who kept a diary for nearly every day of the Civil War, recording the news, his Confederate sympathies and perceptive details about life on the homefront as he experienced the conflict through newspapers, letters and personal visitors. The son of an attorney, judge, and plantation owner in Macon, …

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Black and White and (Still) Read All Over

Old newspapers have acquired an iffy reputation over the years.  We bemoan the trees that had to die to bring them into existence for their one day of glory; we dub them “mullet-wrappers” or note, as they do in the British Isles, that “Yesterday’s news is tomorrow’s fish-and-chip paper.” But old newspapers can be addictive!  …

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First Drafts: “The Star-Spangled Banner”

(The following is an article from the September-October 2012 issue of the Library’s new magazine, LCM, highlighting “first drafts” of important documents in American history.) O! say, can you see by the dawn’s early light …”   These words are as American as, well, the American flag that inspired them. Francis Scott Key, a young …

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