Who Would You Vote For? Campaigning for President

Presidents of the United States (79.34.1)

Presidents of the United States, ca. 1861

A. Feusier, lithographer; F. Bouclet, publisher

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Special Acquisitions Fund, 79.34.1

Photograph by David Bohl

How will you decide who to vote for in the next presidential election?  Do the huge number of political ads that are shown on TV help you make your decision?  Will you take advantage of the chance to hear a candidate speak in person?  Back in the late 1800s, the candidates themselves did little, if any, of the kind of campaigning that candidates do today.  But, their supporters used these textiles and buttons to make their views known.

The themes, topics and iconography on these campaign objects show us that many of the issues we grapple with today are not new, nor is passionate political discourse.  Learning about the presidential campaigns of the past can provide insight about our choices today.  As you look at these objects, think about who you would have voted for and why.  How might American history be different if the election results were reversed?

Many of the campaign textiles seen here were donated to the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library by Robert A. Frank.  We are deeply indebted to Mr. Frank's generosity in making this gift.

Who Would You Vote For? Campaigning for President