Thomas Dewey is remembered in large part for something he didn't do, that being defeating President Truman in 1948. That famous photograph of Truman holding up the hasty and incorrect newspaper serves as the icon for a man who ran three times for the white house.
Several of his campaigns are represented in the buttons here. The Dewey-Bricker buttons, date to the 1944 campaign when Dewey, a New York governor, took John Bricker, a senator and governor of Ohio, as his running mate. They ran against some of the more unsavory aspects of the Roosevelt administration, but stayed away from war debate. He was beaten easily, but still fared better than anyone else had against FDR.
In 1948 Dewey asked Earl Warren, the former governor of California and eventual Supreme Court Chief Justice, to run against President Truman. Dewey seemed a certainty to pundits, but ran a bland campaign to protect against mistakes and Truman made him pay.
Dewey's first campaign, in 1940, was less successful. He was considered a favorite to win the Republican nomination, but lost to Wendell Willkie, who fell to Franklin D. Roosevelt in the general election.
The Dewey-Hanley button, meanwhile, refers to a mid-1940s New York gubernatorial race. That plain white one looks ancient, borrowing a style from early in the 20th Century.
Dewey set a few historical firsts: He was the first presidential candidate born in the twentieth century; he is the youngest man ever to win the Republican presidential nomination; Dewey is the only Republican nominated for President twice to lose twice and is the last presidential candidate to wear permanent facial hair, in his case a mustache.
As the Republican party changed Dewey retreated to his lucrative law firm. He turned down appointments on a few of President Johnson's blue ribbon commissions and even decline a seat on the Supreme Court. He died, at 68, while on vacation in Florida.