Campaign posters tell the story of American politics through the years and how a dignified portrait of the candidate, a catchy slogan, bold graphics, and the selling of the American dream can get you elected. The presidential campaign posters in this slide show—taken from Presidential Campaign Posters From the Library of Congress: Two Hundred Years of Election Art—collect the best election images going back to the 1828 race between Democrat Andrew Jackson and incumbent John Quincy Adams of the National Republican party, which many historians consider the beginning of modern American politics, in part for its savagery.
One of the first posters in the gallery reads “Some Account of some of the Bloody Deeds of GENERAL JACKSON,” with imagery portraying Jackson as a common murderer. Known as the “Coffin Handbill,” this anti-Jackson broadside from 1828 claimed that Jackson had executed deserters during and after the War of 1812. In spite of the imaginative presentation, Jackson went on to win the election.
From Andrew Jackson as murderer and king, James Garfield as a muscular farmer wielding a scythe, Gerald Ford as Fonzie, to Barack Obama as the embodiment of “Hope,” this slide show presents a narrative of presidential politics as told through the collections of the Prints and Photographs Division.
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