Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Political Quilts #3: Clay Campaign Ribbons & Badges

Silk quilt by Rebecca Vanuxem Lombart Williams (1819-1880)
Collection of the Museum of the Daughters of the American Revolution. 

The quilt has two Clay campaign ribbons stitched into the border. Family history indicates it was made in Philadelphia in the 1840s. Rebecca spent much of her life in Hunterdon County, New Jersey.

The years that Henry Clay ran for President were decades that changed the way American conducted elections. The "Selling of the President" became established with the two major parties, Whigs and Democrats, developing slogans, songs, parade scenarios and trinkets to persuade the voters to choose their man.

Numerous Henry Clay ribbons were printed on silk.
The ribbon in Rebecca's quilt says "The Peoples' Choice"
and "Pride of America."

Here's the ribbon in white.
We call them ribbons; they might have called them badges at the time.

See more about the quilt here:

Collection of Cornell University
New Jersey's Whig delegates to the nominating convention
 may have worn these badges in 1844

Had women had been able to vote Henry Clay might have been president rather than a long-term also-ran. If surviving quilts are the evidence they favored Clay over his rivals.

Polk and Dallas won the 1844 election.

The Quilt Index shows a New Jersey silk quilt with hexagonal stars pieced between strips of Clay campaign ribbons....
All featuring Henry Clay and Theodore Frelinghuysen (a New Jersey native son), the Whig party's unsuccessful candidates for President and Vice President in 1844.One ribbon reads, "Barbecue by the Whigs of Ohio to the Whigs of Kentucky at Dayton. Sept. 29th, 1842". Clay's name is printed above his picture with the date 1844 below. A farmer and a team of horses is shown, promoting Clay's image as a farmer.Remnants of other ribbons mention "Clay now, Polk never" and "Henry Clay, Nation's Choice. 
Clay Ribbon quilt made in Belvedere, Warren County,
New Jersey, About 1844.
See an allover photo in the HQPNJ's book New Jersey Quilts - 1777 to 1950, page 223.

The Barbecue ribbon, which is dated 1842.
From the collection of the Western Kentucky University
Museum and Library.

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