Rare Official January 6 Electoral Vote Count for FDR's Fourth Term
"[Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman Electoral Vote Certification Signed]",
Subject: Historical Documents, Presidential
Period: 1945 (published)
Color: Black & White
11.5 x 27.6 inches
29.2 x 70.1 cm
This is an extremely rare Tally of Vote Certificate that was prepared for the January 6 Joint Session before Congress to ratify the vote for the 1944 election. This election was particularly unique as it occurred during World War II and resulted in Franklin D. Roosevelt winning an unprecedented fourth term (which would subsequently become unattainable with the ratification of the 22nd Amendment several years later limiting the presidency to two terms). FDR won the election against New York Governor Thomas E. Dewey in a landslide, winning 432 electoral votes out of a total of 531.
Interestingly, Roosevelt’s running mate was not his current Vice President, Henry Wallace. Although Roosevelt’s health was already causing concern among Democrats, his nomination as President was largely uncontested. However, as a result of his declining health, U.S. Senator Harry S. Truman from Missouri was deemed a better Vice Presidential candidate in the event that Roosevelt would be unable to fulfill his duties as President.
After the November 1944 general election, the electors for each state cast their votes for President and Vice President and then were required to prepare official Certificates of Vote that detailed the persons who received electoral votes in their state. Each state sent an official copy of its Certificate of Vote to the President of the Senate, Vice President Henry Wallace, who presided over the January 6, 1945 Joint Session for counting electoral votes. The Joint Session began at 12:56 p.m. with Wallace presenting the Certificates of Vote from each state in alphabetical order. The votes were then counted by four Tellers: Theodore Francis Green and Warren R. Austin on the part of the Senate and Eugene Worley and Ralph A. Gamble on the part of the House. After all the Certificates of Vote were read and counted, and without any objections, Wallace announced Roosevelt as President and Truman as Vice President.
This Tally of Vote Certificate is particularly unusual, as it was also signed by Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Henry Wallace, Sam Rayburn and Lewis Deschler. Rayburn was Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives at the time and still holds the record for the longest tenure as Speaker. A congressional office building for the House was named after him in 1965. Deschler was the first Parliamentarian of the U.S. House of Representatives and also holds the record for his tenure in that role.
Tally of Vote Certificates are only meant to be signed by the four Tellers, whose names are printed on the document with lines indicating where they are to sign. This example appears to have been created specifically for Eugene Worley, one of the Tellers of the House, whose name has been scrawled in the bottom left corner of the document, likely as an indicator that this copy was meant for him personally. At the time Worley was a member of the U.S. Representatives from Texas, which he served from 1941 until 1950, at which point he was nominated by Truman to an Associate Judge seat on the United States Court of Customs and Patent Appeals. He was later appointed by President Eisenhower to Chief Judge of the United States Court of Customs and Patent Appeals, which he held from 1959-72.
This certificate is such a fascinating piece of history, documenting the most important cornerstone in our democracy – a fair and free election. Outside of government institutions, documents of this sort are rare; we have only found two other examples that have come up for auction in the last 25 years. That this example is signed by the President and Vice President appears to make it even more unique.
Many thanks to the National Archives and Records Administration for their assistance in researching this document.
On a toned sheet with three watermarks of the Great Seal of the United States, four horizontal folds, and several stains.