Presidential Campaigns:
A Cartoon History 1789-1976
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1840

Candidate
Popular
Electoral
William Henry Harrison
Whig
1,275,390
234
Martin Van Buren
Democrat
1,128,854
60

William Henry Harrison, official White House portrait
(public domain)

Despite the country's financial difficulties in the Panic of 1837, Van Buren was re-nominated to run against Whig candidate William Henry Harrison in 1840. Clay expected the Whig nomination, as is seen in this cartoon where Van Buren and Clay "weigh" their chances (14A-1066517). But Harrison was seen as a man who could capture the popular vote and indeed, his "hard cider, log cabin" image caught on. Although of an aristocratic family and owner of a substantial country estate, he is pictured as a backwoods farmer being visited by Francis Blair, the editor of the Globe, Amos Kendall, the Postmaster General, John C. Calhoun, and Van Buren (14B-1066518). Here, in a correct prediction, Harrison knocks Blair, holding a "globe," Kendall, and Van Buren over a barrel of hard cider (14C-1066519). And this cartoon makes another true prophecy: Harrison pulls Van Buren out of the presidential "throne," despite the efforts of Calhoun, Jackson, and Thomas Hart Benton (14D-1066520).

Two familiar expressions probably originated in this campaign: "O.K.," standing for "Old Kinderhook," Van Buren's nickname, appears in this cartoon (14E-1066521). "Keep the ball rolling" refers to this ball, inscribed with slogans for "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too," which was rolled down the streets of Baltimore in a parade (14F-1066522). It seems that "Old Kinderhook" wasn't O.K. with the people; Harrison was elected.

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14A-1066517 Artist unknown, "Weighed and Found Wanting," cartoon, 1840, H. R. Robinson, pub., reprinted from the collections of the New York Historical Society.

14B-1066518 Artist unknown, "The North Bend Farmer and His Visitors," cartoon, 1840, H. R. Robinson, pub, reprinted from the collections of the New York Historical Society.

14C-1066519 Edward Clay, "Political Jugglers Losing Their Balance," cartoon, 1840, reprinted from the collections of the New York Historical Society.

14D-1066520 Artist unknown, "Granny Harrison Delivering the Country of the Executive Federalist," cartoon, 1840, H. R. Robinson, pub., reprinted from The Image of America in Caricature and Cartoon (Fort Worth, TX: Amon Carter Museum of Western Art, 1976) 68.

14E-1066521 Artist unknown, "A Hard Road to Hoe; or the White House Turnpike Macadamized by the North Benders," cartoon, 1840, Huestis and Co., pub., reprinted from the collections of the Library of Congress.

14F-1066522 Artist unknown, "Keep the ball rolling" (Ball with slogans for "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too" which was rolled down the streets of Baltimore in a parade), cartoon, reprinted from The American Past, by Roger Butterfield (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1947) 105.



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