Your Next President...!
The Campaign Art of Mark and Rosalind Shenkman August 27, 2016â€“April 10, 2017
bottom: President Cleveland’s elaborate kerchief includes a print of the White House to remind viewers that he is the incumbent. President Grover Cleveland re-election campaign kerchief, 1888. Collection of Mark and Rosalind Shenkman.
“Party politics was our first national sport, and the public played and watched the great game with enthusiasm.” —DANIEL WALKER HOWE, HISTORIAN
Your Next President...! The 2016 election season has provoked
The campaign flags, banners, kerchiefs,
powerful clashes within the American voting
buttons, prints, and programs of Your Next
public. Loud arguments abound to the point
President . . . ! The Campaign Art of Mark
where it seems everyone is shouting and no
and Rosalind Shenkman were produced
one is listening. But a look at the first century
between 1819 and 1912. Their slogans
of American political campaigning reveals
and political symbols, flashy colors, and
that the hot-button issues and styles of the
dynamic designs take viewers on a journey
2016 presidential race are not particularly
through the evolution of American political
new. What strike us as twenty-first-century
campaign styles and the textiles that
concernsâ€”immigration, government reform,
popularized their messages.
protection of American industry, prosperity, and patriotismâ€”were very familiar to voters in the nineteenth century. top: Harrisonâ€™s partisans got attention for the candidate by pushing a ten-foot campaign ball from town to town. Harrison promised to reform the weak economy following the Panic of 1837. 13-Star William Henry Harrison campaign flag, 1840. Collection of Mark and Rosalind Shenkman.
Unlike today’s candidates, our first president George Washington refused to campaign for office. Instead of “running” in 1789, Washington “stood” for election, while others made speeches and shook hands on his behalf. For the next century, many presidential candidates followed Washington’s example. In the 1840s, supporters began to circulate flags and kerchiefs to promote their favorite candidates. With advances in photography, Abraham Lincoln took campaigning to a new level, putting his image and message into wide circulation via flags, buttons, and keepsakes printed with his likeness. Your Next President . . . ! takes viewers to a time when many Americans could not read and news traveled by word of mouth. Campaign flags and other novelties relied
on familiar visual imagery—beginning with the U.S. flag itself. George Washington University Trustee Emeritus Mark R. Shenkman has collected 135 rare political textiles since 2000. Thirty-two of these artifacts are displayed in the Woodhull House galleries alongside supporting objects from the museum’s Albert H. Small Washingtoniana Collection, the Historical Society of Washington, D.C., and the Collection of Tony Lee. Because presidential contests ended with inauguration celebrations in Washington, D.C., Your Next President . . . ! concludes with a look at how local Washingtonians once financed and produced these quadrennial festivities. top: Grand Demonstration of the Democracy in New York City (detail), Harper’s Weekly, October 5, 1868. Collection of Mark and Rosalind Shenkman. center inset: Teddy bears symbolized Theodore Roosevelt to voters in 1904. Teddy Bears stickpin, 1904 or 1912. Collection of Tony Lee. right panel: Families of legislators and other prominent people watched the parade from a balcony high atop the Capitol. The Inauguration of President Garfield, Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, March 19, 1881. Albert H. Small Washingtoniana Collection 89.
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cover image: This rare and unusually large flag features a Lincoln portrait by Mathew Brady. Abraham Lincoln and Hannibal Hamlin campaign banner, 1860. Collection of Mark and Rosalind Shenkman.
Published on Sep 19, 2016
Guide to the George Washington University Museum's exhibition (August 27, 2016 through April 10, 2017)