Presidential Campaigns:
A Cartoon History 1789-1976
Introduction Elections by Year The Cartoonists U.S. Presidential Elections
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American Political Cartoons
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Notes Bibliography Indiana University
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1789

Candidate
Popular
Electoral
George Washington
Federalist
*
69
John Adams
Federalist
*
34
John Jay
Federalist
*
9
*popular vote was not recorded

George Washington, by Gilbert Stuart

All presidential candidates' images are taken from
Wikimedia Commons unless otherwise noted.

To call this a presidential election cartoon may be stretching the point, but it is one of the few prints depicting Washington in a political, that is, non-military role, before his election in 1789 (1A-1066488). Washington is pictured on the left in the chariot offering the "grand Fabrick of American Independence, the Federal Constitution," to the thirteen freemen, representing the original thirteen states, pulling his chariot. Benjamin Franklin is seated next to him.


In a similar picture, Washington is portrayed in a favorable light, triumphing against the "French Republican cannibals and French Revolutionary sympathizers" (1B-1066489). Jefferson is portrayed as trying to "stop de wheels of de gouvernement." This was published late in Washington's second term.


Here Charles Thomson, exhausted after riding from New York to Mount Vernon, a trip of a week, is shown bringing Washington the news of his election to the presidency of the new nation (1C-1066490). Thomson was secretary of the Old Continental Congress. Washington received all of the sixty-nine electoral votes cast for president and was the only president ever to be elected unanimously by the Electoral College.

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1A-1066488 Anonymous, cartoon, Bickerstaff's Boston Almanack, or Federal calendar for 1788, 1788, reprinted from A History of American Graphic Humor, by William Murrell (New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 1933) 35.

1B-1066489 Artist unknown, cartoon, 1797, The Times, a Political Portrait, The New York Historical Society, reprinted from The American Presidency in Political Cartoons: 1776-1976 , by Thomas Blaisdell Jr., Peter Selz and Seminar (Salt Lake City: Peregrine Smith, 1976) 41.

1C-1066490 Artist unknown, cartoon, 1836, reprinted from History of the United States: for the Use of Schools and Academies, by John Frost (Philadelphia: Edward C. Biddle, 1837).


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