McClatchy Newspapers



From Quirk Books, $40

OK, political groupies, travel back through time to the campaigns of yesteryear. You can even wallpaper your bedroom with (long dead) politicians touting their virtues — and sometimes sliming their opponents.

“Presidential Campaign Posters” — an oversized book from the Library of Congress — is exactly what it says — wall posters — but with the added dollop of history on the side.

If you thought this year’s endless political bickering was ugly, travel back to 1828 when Andrew Jackson ran against John Quincy Adams. Jackson, a hero of the War of 1812, handed out campaign loot like hickory sticks in honor of his nickname, “Old Hickory.” Adams’ campaign struck back attacking him and his decisions.

Jackson supporters reacted in kind. “Fed up with accusations that Jackson murdered the innocent, newspaper editor Isaac Hill printed the following statement in the New Hampshire Patriot: ‘On the 8th of January, 1815 (Jackson) murdered in the coldest kind of cold blood above fifteen hundred British soldiers for merely trying to get into New Orleans in search of Beauty and Booty!’ What began as a taunt became a campaign slogan what would lead Jackson to the presidency.”

Campaign buttons were popular in 1860 when a tintype photograph campaign button with Lincoln and his vice-presidential nominee Hannibal Hamlin was issued.

One of the beauties of this book is that it doesn’t restrict itself to posters of the winners. Included are losers in the presidential battle, and other groups like the Socialist Party in 1904.

Brooke Gladstone has the last word: “As you look at each poster and read about each campaign, it becomes increasingly clear that the tug of war over taxes and trade, the distribution of wealth and power, and the role of government itself, will never end.”

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