2019-2020 - “Elections Memorabilia: The Stuff of American Campaigning”
Even before we moved to the Eden Woolley House, the Museum boasted an impressive collection of election artifacts, a gift from Ocean Township resident and Museum member William Mullaney, assembled over decades of an active career in politics.
The new exhibit shows off gems from the collection—buttons, banners, jewelry, and hats, to name a few. There are invitations to national political conventions and presidential inaugurations, a plastic doll of Barry Goldwater, Al Smith and Herbert Hoover medallions, and handmade signs in support of local candidates many oldtimers will remember.
It’s no surprise that the stuff of American political campaigning is colorful. Consider the characters it represents. Even the father of our country wore a campaign button. His was brass, sewn to his coat, and read “Long live the President.”
William Henry Harrison was the first to run an “image” presidential campaign (1840). He was born rich, but chose the log cabin as his logo and coined what might be the first presidential political slogan, “Tippecanoe and Tyler too.”
Campaign buttons were not mass-produced until the 1890s and enjoyed their golden age from 1896 to 1916. They sum up the candidate in a few words like the iconic “I like Ike.” Jimmy Carter went Ike one step further. His button had no words at all, just a golden peanut!
From the start, American campaigning has been rough and tumble. The new exhibit captures the fight and the fun of the contest.