Medalet promoting William Henry Harrison for president, 1840. Brass. DeWitt WHH 1840-49 and variants. Holed for suspension.
OBV: Military bust of Harrison to left; inscription around, MAJ: GENl. W. H. HARRISON BORN FEB. 8. 1773. REV: Center, log cabin with flag flying from the roof and large cider barrel right; inscription (two variants): above, THE PEOPLES CHOICE, below, THE HERO OF TIPPECANOE; above, THE CHOICE OF THE PEOPLE; below, IN THE YEAR 1840.
"Give him a barrel of hard cider and a pension...and take my word for it, he will sit the remainder of his days in his log cabin."
This was how one Democrat reacted to the news that William Henry Harrison would be the Whig candidate for president in 1840. It probably cost Martin Van Buren the election.
Scion of a prominent family of Virginia planters, his father a signer of the Declaration of Independence, William Henry Harrison had achieved fame as a soldier on the young Republic's western frontier. Entering politics later in life, he was one of three opposition candidates for president in 1836, coming in a respectable second behind Van Buren. By 1840, with the nation in the grips of a depression, Van Buren was vulnerable, and the opposition, now organized as the Whig Party, rallied behind Old Tippecanoe.
The campaign that followed was unprecedented, utilizing every available form of propaganda to mobilize voters. The Whigs turned the Democrats' characterization of Harrison as an ignorant rustic to their advantage, transforming their candidate into a romantic figure, the soldier-statesman in homespun, spokesman for the common man.
The log cabin and cider barrel came to symbolize Harrison's candidacy. The imagery was exploited to its full potential, appearing on everything from clothing buttons to dinnerware. Harrison toured the country and spoke before crowds of thousands, the first candidate to stump in his own behalf. Bottles of whiskey in the shape of log cabins were dispensed, and by the end of the campaign, there were parades miles long of voters singing, drinking, and chanting, "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too!" (John Tyler of Virginia, Harrison's running mate). The strategy worked, Harrison won the election, and the Whigs took both houses of Congress.
We offer a choice specimen of an original Harrison campaign token featuring a log cabin on the reverse...now over 170 years old! A classic that belongs in every collection of political Americana.
Note: Natural patina may vary from example shown.