Thursday, August 27, 2015

Candidates, Campaigns and Cockades

Here in South Carolina, we're hearing a lot of election talk as candidates for the 2016 Presidential race hold rallies and fundraising events in our state. Signs and campaign buttons are beginning to blossom in yards and on people's lapels. All this election fervor prompted me to go through my files on historic campaign badges.

Cockades have been used for over 150 years in American presidential campaigns. With the invention of the tintype button, it became easy for people to put a picture of their favorite candidate on a patriotic rosette.

This is a lovely cockade from the 1860 presidential election, featuring candidate Stephen Douglas (of the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates). Early campaign cockades often had the tricolor red, white and blue separated into sections and this cockade is no exception. It appears to have originally had more streamers, possibly printed with words. The remaining blue streamer seems to have the word "Union" on it.

It's only natural that we look at a cockade from his rival, Abraham Lincoln. This cockade is from the 1864 election. You can tell that because the photo of Lincoln has a beard, something he hadn't yet grown in 1860. Once again, the three colors of the cockade are grouped separately in striking fan-shaped designs.
This 1864 Lincoln cockade is styled differently, however. The colors are placed in separate rings, something that was becoming common for patriotic cockades in general. 

Since we're in the 1860s, let's take a look at the other American election that happened then - the election for a president of the Confederate States of America. In this case, the choice for candidate was easy - such was Jefferson Davis's stature that he ran unopposed and was elected to a six-year term. This cockade shows the brilliant red and white, which have often been called the colors of the Confederacy.

By the way, this cockade is from an earlier Davis campaign, likely his 1857 senatorial race.

The campaign cockades didn't end with the Civil War. General U.S. Grant ran for president in 1868 and this beautiful velvet cockade is from that era. Rather showy, isn't it? Even the tintype button is rimmed in velvet!
As time went on, the candidates' photos became more sophisticated but the cockades remained lavish and flashy. Here's a beautiful one from 1896 for William McKinley. It looks almost exactly like the Lincoln cockade above, doesn't it?


Teddy Roosevelt's campaign produced some lovely cockades as well. Here's a gorgeous one with multiple "fans" and bullion tassels radiating out from the photo button.


As metal buttons and stickers became easier to produce in the twentieth century, cockades began to disappear. But a few still occasionally surfaced. Here's a brilliant one for Jimmy Carter's 1976 race.


And here's a striking one for Ronald Reagan's 1981 presidential inauguration.


I've heard a lot of talk about bringing back the values of the past to the presidency. But I have a further suggestion - Don't you think it's time to bring back these cockades? I do!

(And I'm not a bit biased, of course!)

In pursuing that line of thought, I have decided to offer a custom campaign cockade - you can have the candidate of your choice in the center! Just let me know who you are supporting and I'll be happy to put his or her photo in the center!

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