Estherville Daily News from Estherville, Iowa on January 28, 1972 · Page 12
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Estherville Daily News from Estherville, Iowa · Page 12

Estherville, Iowa
Issue Date:
Friday, January 28, 1972
Page 12
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Every four years, presidential fever makes lapels sprout campaign buttons. This declaration of preference for some presidential hopeful dates back to a resolution of Congress on February 27, 1815, when General Andrew Jackson was awarded a gold medal for the "brave and successful repulse" of British troops who had attacked New Orleans the month before. The execution of the medal was long delayed because of Jackson's tardiness in providing the engraver with a suitable portrait. But by the time Jackson became an announced candidate for President of the United States, the medal had been executed. It was formally presented to the doughty warrior by President Monroe on March 16, 1824. Shortly thereafter, Jackson's supporters were sporting from their lapels small brass discs which bore the name: "Gen'l Andrew Jackson" and his likeness on one side. Reverse side of the metal tokens bore the legend: "The Hero of New Orleans," referring to Jackson's achievements in the War of 1812. Thus was born the symbol of the American presidential election — the political campaign button! Ever since, each presidential election has seen a variety of campaign buttons, ribbons, banners, hats, jewelry and other items, some of which are models of mechanical perfection; others so villifying in nature as to rate a firing squad in the lands behind the iron curtain. Yet an examination of this memorabilia reveal they are an intimate reflection of the political freedom that is the heritage of Americans. They are truly American in their plaudits, cheers and jeers. No institution is so typically American as a presidential campaign. At no other time can all Americans, from every walk of life, prove so conclusively they are the government. Presidential campaigns are politics in the raw and history in the making. They are rowdy and raucous, emotional and eccentric, dignified and down-to-earth. Being races for the most important political office in our land, they are truly popularity contests on a national scale. With no opposition to the Democratic-Republican party in the tenth election of 1824, it developed into a scramble of "native sons" for the presidency. Congress was in a turmoil. Flat­ tery, promises, coalition and intrigue were rampant. The contest was really between Jackson and John Quincy Adams. The other contestant, William H. Crawford, had suffered a paralytic stroke and was incapacitated, and Henry Clay had been one of the qualifying candidates. But when Clay threw his support to Adams, it was all over. On the first ballot Adams received the votes of thirteen of the 24 states participating in the elections, Jackson seven states and Crawford four. Adams made Clay his Secretary of State, and the infuriated General Jackson, shouted "bargain and corruption" as long as he lived. Adams' inauguration was commemorated by a medalet, and out of this lively contest, the idea of campaign insignia was born. The military tradition was again revived in the election of 1840, when William Henry Harrison's victories in the Indian Wars were exploited with the use of his victory at Tippecanoe Creek. Thus many campaign tokens in collectors' hands today bear the legend: "The Hero of Tip- The political campaign button was born when supporters of General Andrew Jackson began, back in 1824, to sport from their lapels small brass discs which bore the likeness of the General. pecanoe," and buttons marked "Tippecanoe and Tyler, too," helped advance his cause. In the election of 1848, the Whigs chose Zachary Taylor, "Old Rough and Ready", as a candidate because they had no issue, mainly on account of his military triumphs during the Mexican War. Tokens and medals were dispensed to voters. These campaign items were inscribed with his military victories and his supposed phrase: "General Taylor never surrenders" was a political slogan that adorned countless lapels. In 1864, when Lincoln ran for reelection, General McClellan was the Democratic candidate, and General Grant's candidacy in 1868 was based on his brilliant military record. Campaign tokens of the time carried his famed battlefield message: "I propose to fight it out on this line if it takes all summer." Thereafter until McKinley, most candidates were chosen with an eye to their Civil War record, although they were not always exploited on their political paraphernalia and buttons. Rutherford B. Hayes had an enviable record. His term was unpopular and he refused to run again. In 1904, Teddy Roosevelt's record in the Spanish American war was exploited by campaign items terming him "The Rough Rider". A Rough Rider hat was used extensively as a campaign novelty—his expression of availability as a candidate "My hat's in the ring", ending inspiration to that ephemeral political device as well as adding a new term to American political literature. About the dirtiest presidential campaign in U.S. history was that waged in 1884 when the GOP candidate James Blaine was defeated by Democrat Grover Cleveland. Samples of campaign literature call Blaine "The Continental Liar from the State of Maine" and a song book published by the Republicans entitled "Rough on democRATS" contained highly unflattering material about Cleveland. Implicated in a political fraud by the so- called "Mulligan letters", which the opposition published widely, while Democrats chanted: "Blaine! Blaine! James G. Blaine! The Continental Liar from the State of Maine", Repubi- cans answered "Ma! Ma! Where's my pa? He's gone to the White House. Ha! Ha! Ha!", this barb slanted to support the Republican charge that bachelor Cleveland had fathered an illegitimate child.

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