DC -- Library of Congress -- Exhibit (Agile): Presidential Elections Through the Years:
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LOCELE_161116_001.JPG: Presidential Elections Through the Years
From George Washington to Barack Obama, this display presents a variety of items from the Library of Congress' collections related to US presidential elections and campaigns. The items touch upon a selection of the most notable elections as well as more unusual aspects of campaigning. In particular, these items illustrate the evolution of popular campaigning, both the creativity of how presidential candidates worked to appeal to voters and how the American public adopted, or adapted, the candidates' images and their campaign messages.
According to the provisions of the Constitution which had been ratified the previous year, electors met on February 4, 1789 in each of the state capitals to cast ballots for President of the United States. Ten states of the original 13 cast votes in the election. North Carolina and Rhode Island were ineligible to participate because they had had not yet ratified the Constitution. New York's state legislature failed to appoint its electors in time to participate.
LOCELE_161116_007.JPG: Gazette of the United States, April 15, 1789
LOCELE_161116_024.JPG: Running for president on his success in the Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812, Andrew Jackson repurposed Joseph Wood's painting for use in his 1828 presidential campaign. Jackson chose to announce his candidacy on the anniversary of the battle and his political ascendancy launched the modern Democratic Party. His image as an American hero carried him through to a landslide victory over the incumbent president, John Quincy Adams.
LOCELE_161116_026.JPG: In 1844, witty and ribald campaign lyrics were sung to well-known tavern and minstrel tunes, stirring enthusiasm for Whig Henry Clay of Kentucky in his race against Democrat James K. Polk of Tennessee.
LOCELE_161116_032.JPG: William Henry Harrison used the symbol of a log cabin and campaigned as a friend of the poor, despite having been born on a Virginia plantation.
LOCELE_161116_049.JPG: During the 1860 campaign, a company used Lincoln's "El Biejo Onesto Abe" ("Honest Old Abe" in less than perfect Spanish) image to brand tobacco. His opponent, Stephen DOuglas, was similarly marketed using his nickname "El Pequeno Gigante" ("The Little Giant").
LOCELE_161116_052.JPG: Campaign merchandise is not new to presidential races. Envelopes of the Civil War era often featured the images of prominent political and military figures. Campaign-themes stationery depicted "Abe" Lincoln as an honest rail-slitter [sic] and detailed the anti-secession, free soil platform of his Republican party.
LOCELE_161116_063.JPG: The 1856 campaign brought the newly forged Republican Party onto the presidential political scene. Its "Free Soil, Free Men" platform was represented by western explorer-hero John C. Fremont, who opposed the southern-leaning Democrat James Buchanan of Pennsylvania.
LOCELE_161116_072.JPG: The phrase "to get the ball rolling" came from the presidential campaign of William Henry Harrison. His grandson, Benjamin Harrison offered an actual giant rolling ball in his 1888 run. As a campaign stunt, his supporters rolled the ball over 5,000 miles.
LOCELE_161116_075.JPG: Senator Matthew Quay wore this badge as chairman of the Pennsylvania delegation to the 1892 Republican National Convention in Minneapolis.
LOCELE_161116_079.JPG: William Taft had a reputation for avoiding negative attacks on his political opponents in public. Writing his wife from the campaign trail, Taft commented on the physical rigors of campaigning and revealed his true feelings toward his opponent William Jennings Bryan as well as Bryan's dim prospects of victory. In the election of 1908, Bryan made his third unsuccessful attempt at the presidency as the Democratic nominee.
Tomorrow and next day are going to be hard days for me but I shall have the 21st for a complete rest... It is too much to speak so many times a day when I have to attend a big meeting each evening. My voice will give out constantly.
LOCELE_161116_083.JPG: The President agrees with you and me that Bryan is a hypocritical vulgarian and faker. We are going to notice more and more his attacks upon the courts and the weakening of the powers of the courts contemplated by Gompers. G is now attacking the Supreme Court.
Nobody thinks Bryan is going to be elected except by an undercurrent that no one has been able yet to discover.
LOCELE_161116_101.JPG: This iconic image of Harry S. Truman shows him celebrating his defeat of Thomas Dewey by holding pu an erroneous headline.
LOCELE_161116_103.JPG: John F. Kennedy and his campaign advisor Clark Clifford listed a startling array of "Jack's weaknesses" as a candidate. Kennedy went on to victory over Richard Nixon by one of the narrowest popular vote margins in the twentieth century.
LOCELE_161116_107.JPG: The earliest known presidential campaign song was heard in 1800, and since that time thousands of songs have been written in support of presidential campaigns. Some of these were the work of skilled songwriters, some featured new words adapted to already-popular tunes, and many were published in sheet music format (many with the candidate's image on the cover), becoming a distinct genre of campaign literature.
LOCELE_161116_113.JPG: A Wisconsin supporter sent this vanity license plate to New York Congressman Jack Kemp with the message "These will never expire!" Kemp was unsuccessful in gaining the Republican presidential nomination in the 1988 primaries but would go on to serve as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under the victor that year, President George H.W. Bush.
LOCELE_161116_125.JPG: IDW Publishing released separate biographical comics of Barack Obama and John McCain, and later combined them into a flip book. Timing of publication was important: IDW had to make sure that the comic book would be out in advance of the election in order to benefit from the attention it provoked. The youth vote was expected to be an important factor in the election, and comic book publishers hoped to cash in by appealing to those voters through a popular form of communication.
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2016 photos: Equipment this year: I continued to use my Fuji XS-1 cameras but, depending on the event, I also used a Nikon D7000.
Seven relatively short trips this year:
two Civil War Trust conference (Gettysburg, PA and West Point, NY, with a side-trip to New York City),
my 11th consecutive San Diego Comic-Con trip (including sites in Utah, Nevada, and California),
a quick trip to Michigan for Uncle Wayne's funeral,
two additional trips to New York City, and
a Civil Rights site trip to Alabama during the November elections. Being in places where people died to preserve the rights of minority voters made the Trumputin election even more depressing.
Number of photos taken this year: just over 610,000.