Medalet promoting Abraham Lincoln for president, 1860. Brass. DeWitt AL 1860-41. Holed for suspension. OBV: Chest-up profile bust of beardless Lincoln to right; inscription around, HON. ABRAHAM LINCOLN; below, 1860. REV: Above, THE RAIL SPLITTER OF THE WEST, surrounding a rural scene depicting Lincoln and helper splitting rails (helper is thought to represent fellow Illinoisan and Democratic rival Stephen A. Douglas).
Lincoln acquired the nickname "Rail Splitter of the West" in reference to the occupation of his youth, when he toiled on the frontier, clearing land and building a homestead. Future Illinois governor Richard Oglesby, a personal friend, is credited with originating the Rail Splitter imagery when he orchestrated the exhibition of one of Lincoln's rails at the Republican State Convention in Decatur, Illinois, in May 1860. It caught on immediately and appears on numerous campaign items, most notably this medalet. Signifying Lincoln's humble origins and emphasizing his considerable stature and hardbitten temperament (here in contrast with the diminutive and somewhat effete Douglas), the Rail Spitter's popularity then nearly matches his popularity today among collectors of political Americana.
A strong, high-grading specimen, circulated during the campaign, showing fine detail and original gilt.