Helen Louise Allen textile Collection


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Image: handkerchief

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Date: 1840 - 1840
Country: United States of America
Continent: North America
Technique: roller print, weaving
Material: silk on cotton
Dimensions: 15 x 14 in. (37 x 34 cm)
Credit: Transferred from the Visual Materials Archive, Wisconsin State Historical Society
Accession Number: 2000.13.001

Comments: This piece is political paraphanalia recognized as coming from the first presidential election to ever use it-that of William Henry Harrison against Henry Clay in 1840.  The cabin and hard cider was an image used in Harrison's Whig campaign to represent his humbleness and likeness to 'commoners.' Off-white square silk handkerchief roller printed in dark brown.  The simplistic line drawn motifs fill the center, with the image of a log cabin and farm equipment, with a large flag mounted to a pole above the roof reading 'HARRISON AND REFORM' and a cask labeled 'HARD CIDER' in front of the house.  Shading, decoration, and detail are achieved through a stippled effect.  Border is printed with reverse scallops made of dots and lines.  The piece has been remounted on plain muslin with a plastic coated top, and exhibits significant damage.

This handkerchief was printed in 1840 for the first presidential campaign to use propaganda – William Henry Harrison against Henry Clay.  This campaign is considered the first modern campaign because it used tactics such as character defamation.  Harrison, who had fought in the war of 1812, was venerated as a war hero.  As part of his campaign, the Whig party developed the slogan “Tippecanoe and Tyler too,” which referenced Harrison’s heroism at the Battle of Tippecanoe.

This handkerchief downplays Harrison’s connections to war in order to promote his connection to the common man.  The log cabin, barrel of hard cider, and plow all represented Harrison’s more humble side.  Although he won the election, Harrison’s presidency was short lived.  He died of pneumonia only 30 days after being sworn in.

Bibliography List
This object has the following bibliographic references:
  • Herbert Ridgeway Collins. Threads of History: Americana Recorded on Cloth 1775 to Present. Smithsonian Institution Press. Washington, D.C. , 1979. Page Number: 87-107, *101.

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reversed scallop
log cabin

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