Active presidential campaigning and
the use of mementos for advertising did not begin until the mid eighteen
hundreds. One reason was that through 1812, a majority of presidential
electors were chosen by state legislatures rather than by popular
vote. A second reason was that it was not considered proper to openly
seek the office of president. After being nominated, most candidates
stayed at home and awaited the results.
It was Andrew Jackson's bitter loss to John Quincy Adams in 1824
that led him to plan political assaults and win against Adams in
1828 and Henry Clay in 1832. A few items such as snuff boxes, thread
boxes, clothing buttons, tokens, ribbons, and ceramic plates were
made to appeal to the electorate.
1840 is considered the year when campaigns and
trinkets really began to flourish. "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too" was the slogan for
William Henry Harrison and John Tyler, Whigs. Their party generated
enthusiastic support with parades, political rallies, and souvenirs
that were intended to get them elected. The tradition of "Hurrah
Campaigns" has diminished over the years with modern electioneering.
Much of the political activity has shifted toward special
The twentieth century brought the age of electronic transmission,
first radio, then television, and the Internet.
All of these forums are used to reach the voting public. Media
consultants view voters as members of an audience rather than participants
in a process. Gadgets such as buttons, pins, banners, and posters
are not considered to be as valuable in generating votes . This
has led to a decrease in their production. It will be interesting
to watch how future elections are conducted and if broad based
voter participation is ever revived.
This exhibit of buttons, ribbons,
pins, watch fobs, medalets, postcards, and sheet music is made
possible through the courtesy
Ohio Historical Society and
the Macy Hallock collections. The author wishes to thank
these people for generously allowing her to photograph their
for this educational project. A list of books used for
preparation of the exhibit can be found on the resources page.
In Addition, the Library of Congress has published a
book of Presidential Posters