Fascinating Collectibles From Elections Passed
October isn’t only synonymous with the fall season, pumpkins, autumn leaves and Halloween; it’s also a pivotal month on the calendar for the presidential race, a month full of presidential debates, and a month before Election Day.
In the spirit of the presidential election, here’s a look at five fascinating collectibles of the political sort from campaigns passed.
Insert Vote Here
The 2000 presidential election managed to sully a name — poor Chad — and shed light on a dated and flawed voting apparatus, using Votomatic punch card ballots. This item is the very same voting apparatus, complete with chads that have a propensity to hang and the notoriously misleading butterfly ballot—a ballot outlined in such a manner that it drew comparisons to a maze — newspaper clippings of the election, and a various other election goodies. Potential owners of this collectible can use it as a memento of a truly tumultuous election, or to baffle would-be voters in your household.
Dewey Defeats Truman … Not
While we’re on the topic of election eyebrow-raising, the infamous “Dewey Defeats Truman” blunder absolutely comes to mind. The unabashedly Republican-slanting Chicago Daily Tribune had written off Harry S. Truman’s presidential hopes early on, opting instead to champion Republican candidate Thomas Dewey. Stricken with copious amounts of zeal, the paper printed the incorrect headline of Truman’s defeat — one day after Truman was elected as the 33rd President of the United States. Oops.
A Whig in Need
In a story of political altruism, Henry Clay received generous financial recompense for his contributions to the Whig party after he was left all but bankrupt following his nail-biter loss in the 1844 presidential election. Clay dipped dangerously far into his finances while campaigning, until he was finally edged out by James K. Polk by a mere 1% of the general vote. This collection includes Clay’s unpublished letter expressing immense gratitude for the payment, as well as the original letter that started what essentially was a 1800s precursor to Kickstarter or GoFundMe.
Abigail Adams Doesn’t Take Kindly to John’s Political Defeat
Political defeat can be taken in a number of ways. Some take the “dust yourself off and try again approach,” a la Nixon after losing to JFK, while others apply the “end is nigh” approach, a la Abigail Adams’ letter to Hannah Cushing. What Adams wrote to Cushing after her husband, John Adams, failed to be re-elected might be considered political doomsaying, just a little. John’s defeat at the hands of his former vice president, Thomas Jefferson, was the first time the nation was faced with such a political shift. The election of Jefferson was perceived as the emphatic end of the Golden Age and, according to Adams, the beginning of dark, dark times. “The Golden Age is past,” she wrote, “God grant that it may not be succeeded by an age of terror…”
Madison Up to His Usual Wordsmithery
James Madison was an interesting man. James Madison liked to write and sway even the most steadfast of people with his prose. James Madison did that often (ahem, The Federalist Papers). This letter that Madison, serving as secretary of state, wrote to Georgia Governor James Milledge successfully convinced the governor to send notification of his state’s approval of the 12th Amendment, an amendment that required separate ballots for president and vice president. Remarkably, the letter was sent in August, only three months before the 1804 election. Well played, Mr. Madison. His valuable signed documents are all over collectors.com.