1941: The Pearl Harbor attack ends World War II debate
The debate amongst Republicans over whether or not to get involved in the war ended after Japanese forces attacked the U.S. military base of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. After the attack in December of 1941, the United States officially entered World War II.
1942: Republicans make gains in the midterm elections
In this election, which took place during FDR’s third term in office, Republicans picked up important seats in Congress. Republicans won 209 House seats, while Democrats took 222 seats, making it the party’s most successful election since the 1930s.
1943: The 78th U.S. Congress convenes
Although the 78th Congress still contained a Democratic majority in both chambers, Republicans were able to make more substantial changes thanks to the gains they achieved in the recent midterm elections. Joseph W. Martin Jr. served as the Republican minority leader during the session, and many New Deal assistance programs were repealed because of a wartime production boom.
1944: Thomas E. Dewey challenges FDR
During this World War II-era election, New York Republican governor Thomas E. Dewey lost to FDR, who was elected to a historic fourth presidential term. During his campaign, Dewey accused the president of indirectly helping American communists and large Democratic organizations through his legislation.
1945: Republicans criticize Harry S. Truman
Roosevelt died just months into his fourth term, leaving Vice President Harry S. Truman as his successor. Truman was criticized amidst mounting labor strikes and post-war unrest, which Republicans capitalized on in order to retake Congress the following year.
1946: Republicans retake Congress
This marked the first time the political party had controlled Congress in 16 years. Since new president Harry S. Truman was not receiving the same popularity as his predecessor (President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who he succeeded after his death), 54 Republicans were able to successfully gain House of Representatives seats.
1947: The Taft-Hartley Act is enacted
Enacted by a Republican-majority Congress, the Taft-Hartley Act restricted the autonomy and power of U.S. labor unions. It was later passed over President Truman’s veto in summer of 1947.
1948: The 1948 Republican National Convention
At this convention, Thomas E. Dewey once again received the Republican presidential nomination, this time running against President Harry S. Truman. That year’s RNC, which was held in Philadelphia, also focused on a crackdown on Communism and an extension of Social Security for Americans.
1949: Homer Ferguson defeats Frank E. Hook
Starting in 1948, Democratic lawyer Frank E. Hook attempted to unseat Michigan Republican representative Homer Ferguson, who had held the role for a decade. He ultimately failed, and Ferguson won his second term race with over 44,000 votes.
1950: Senator Joseph McCarthy introduces McCarthyism
Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy conducted an aggressive campaign to snuff out supposed communist individuals and institutions in the United States from 1950 to 1954 that was eventually known as McCarthyism. Although most of these people did not belong to the Communist Party, many were fired from their jobs and/or blacklisted anyway.