Pinback button promoting William McKinley for president, 1896. The Whitehead & Hoag Co., Newark, New Jersey.
Under the watchful eye of a professional campaign manager, the Republican governor of Ohio conducted his 1896 presidential campaign from the front porch of his home in Canton. Aloof and above the fray, McKinley would appear at appointed times and deliver carefully scripted speeches to a sympathetic press corps. His conventional style of campaigning was intended to contrast with that of his opponent, the voluble William Jennings Bryan, who barnstormed the country, regaling throngs of common folk with populist oratory. A massive Republican propaganda blitz ultimately carried McKinley into the White House by a comfortable margin.
This vintage celluloid pinback, one of the earliest made for a political campaign, features a portrait of McKinley.