Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Evaluating a Campaign Slogan: The 1948 Presidential Election
Kate Sutter
US History
Time Frame:
• 20 minutes, as a bell ringer, exit ticket, or introduction to an activity where students might create their own election posters/campaign materials for a historical or current election.
1948 Election

Grade Levels:
8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Classroom/Homework Activity to be performed:
  • Students will look at a campaign button from losing candidate Dewey in the 1948 election. They will then weigh the merits of using the slogan in a short writing assignment.

  • Students will be creating an argument and demonstrating sound reasoning while using a historical artifact in context.

District, state, or national performance and knowledge standards/goals/skills met:


  • 1: History Continuity and Change
    • Theme 1D. Using an inquiry lens, develop compelling questions about United States history post c. 1870 to determine helpful resources and consider multiple points of views represented in the resources.
  • 5: People, Groups, and Cultures
    • Theme 1A. Using a United States’ historical lens, describe how peoples’ perspectives shaped the sources/artifacts they created.

Primary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:
  • Image of Dewey campaign button. Found in the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library. Attached from online

Full description of activity or assignment.
  • Students will be given the handout (or posted as a bellringer to recreate).
  • Students will list arguments for and against the candidate using the “I’m on the team” slogan.
  • Students will act as Dewey’s campaign manager and advise him of whether or not to use the slogan.


Name:                                                              Block:

The Campaign of 1948


In 1948, President Harry Truman was running for reelection against the Republican candidate Thomas Dewey. While many have seen the incorrect Chicago Tribune headline announcing “Dewey Defeats Truman!” fewer people are aware of their campaign slogans prior to the election. Dewey used “I’m on the team,” as seen on the button in the picture.


You are Dewey’s campaign manager. First, fill out the chart below listing the positives and negatives of using this statement. Then, write a short letter to Dewey explaining why he should or should not use it for his campaign. Use the back of your paper if more room is needed.


Pros of Statement

Cons of Statement














Dear Mr.Dewey:                                             Historically Correct Date:________________________________







Full explanation of the assessment method and/or scoring guide:
  • A student or the teacher will act as Dewey and members of the class will read their letters to “him.” A class vote will determine the students’ choice of the most effective argument.