Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Presidential Campaign Buttons

Thank you all for the well-wishes. The move is going pretty smoothly but I still have another week of work to do. I'll get back to regular posting soon. And I can't wait to catch up on reading all of your blogs!


Today Barak Obama will be sworn in as the president of the United States. Barak Obama has inspired a wide range of art that has been printed on posters, t-shirts, hats, and, of course, buttons. So what better day is there to write about presidential campaign buttons?

When George Washington was sworn in as president in 1789, he and some of his supporters wore buttons that said “G.W.” in the center and “Long Live the President” around the edge (shown below). Washington did not use these buttons to campaign, but the presidential candidates who followed him did.

The first campaign buttons were used in 1824 when John Quincy Adams was elected president over Andrew Jackson. The buttons were made of metal with words and pictures stamped into them. The buttons were hung from a cord and worn around the neck. Shown below is a button used by Abraham Lincoln in 1860. Notice the hole in the top.
In 1896 a new type of button was introduced. The words and pictures were printed on paper and then covered with a clear film called celluloid. You can see an example below from William Jennings Bryan who lost to William McKinley in 1896.
Candidates still used the metal buttons in 1896, though. Below is one of McKinley’s buttons from 1896.
Presidential candidates still use campaign buttons. Below is a button worn by Bill Clinton supporters in 1992.
And finally, below is a button worn by Barak Obama supporters.
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5 comments:

Ms. Julie's Place said...

Oh, but you are very talented! I covet your writing ability. As for drawing skills, that is mostly desire and practice. I admire what you do very much, and your work helps me immensely!
I hope when you do get to your classroom eventually that I will be able to return the favor by leaving you some fun art lessons.

Peter said...

Very interesting, well illustrated and of course appropriate to the day!

Jessica said...

Julie:
I can't wait to use some of your projects! In particular, I have big plans for Vermeer. And thanks for the compliment. I feel the same way about writing that you do about drawing--that it's mostly desire and practice. I guess we need all types of people with all types of talent.

Peter:
Thanks! Campaign buttons make me think of that movie National Treasure with Nicholas Cage. One of the characters had a complete collection of Washington's inaugural buttons. Funny how pop culture pervades.

Peter said...

Curious to know what you plan for Vermeer. I plan to revisit his two paintings at the Louvre and also to go to Amsterdam, Delft... in a few weeks. (Like to join? :-))

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