Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Political Quilts #4: Democratic Victory---Whig's Defeat

Democratic Victory Quilt
Recorded in the Tennessee Project.
Family history attributes it to 1851, Loudon County, Hardin Valley

I would call this pattern Whig's Defeat but the family story told at the Quilt Discovery Day in Tennessee 30 years ago differs. The owner's grandmother called it a Democratic Victory pattern.

"Grandmother and Grandfather disagreed about the name of the quilt. Pawpa said there was no such name as 'Democratic Victory.' Pawpa had a furniture store and had put a bedroom suite in the window display. Mawma decided this quilt would look nice on the bed in the window. While it was on display, an elderly and well respected lady of the town came in and said, 'Lorena, what a lovely Democratic Victory.' Mawma loved to tease Pawpa with this story. Both grandparents were from Hardin Valley."

Whigs and Democrats were the two major political parties in the 1840s and early '50s so a Democratic Victory would be a Whig's Defeat. In any case, the design doesn't seem to have been  pro-Whig.

The Kansas City Museum owns this similar quilt with the date 1844 inscribed,
the year Democrat James K. Polk defeated Whig Henry Clay.

Bordered with a chintz stripe, recently auctioned
in South Carolina at Wooten & Wooten

Florence Peto published the design as Democrat's Fancy or Whig's Defeat in 1941.

Quilting Bee from the Library of Congress

The pattern and its political names seem to be quite enduring.


  1. Simple and classic quilt, I like the cross hatch hand quilting.
    I'm always amazed when I see antique quilts from the south.
    Doesn't it get ridiculously humid there and isn't humidity
    hard on cotton?
    Just curious.

  2. Janie---There are a variety of microclimates from Kentucky to Florida and west to Texas. Kansas gets ridiculously humid too.
    I don't know much about preserving fabric but I would guess relatively high humidity is good for cotton. 50-60% would be better in the long run than 10% like in L.A. Too much humidity without any circulation can cause mildew. Too little humidity causes the fibers to become brittle. They keep museum storage areas at about 50%

  3. My friend has a Whig's Defeat quilt I would like to replicate. I tried drawing it and the curved diamonds defeated me. Do you know where I can find a pattern of this block?

  4. I am also seeking a pattern of this block! Thanks for any source you can share.