Campaign Buttons: Historical Background
Political buttons originate with
George Washington. At his inauguration, Washington and his
supporters wore a brass clothing button that said "G.W.-Long
Live the President." When the ferrotype and tintype
were invented, pictures could be used. These were surrounded
by a metal frame with a hole punched in the top so a ribbon
could be attached. These were worn on lapels.
The first buttons that were used
extensively for campaigning appeared in the 1896 presidential
campaign between William McKinley and William Jennings Bryan.
They were made by placing a thin piece of celluloid protective
covering over paper and then wrapping it around a metal disk.
Many colorful designs were created during the golden age (1896
- 1916) of campaign buttons.
For the past 100 years, slogans, pictures, and names have been
used to promote candidates and causes. While buttons are still
produced, disposable stick-on badges are often used at rallies
and political events, since they can be made cheaply and in large
The following items are the courtesy of the Ohio Historical
Society and the Macy Hallock collections.