Kickass Whig Letterhead

Or, Goodness that looks expensive and full of republican virtue

So, in digging through various (endless) letters about the election of 1840, I’ve come across a couple of examples of extreme dedication to the Whig cause: William Henry Harrison letterhead.

Here’s one of a coin apparently minted in Harrison’s honor (click to embiggen):


Here’s one with WHH in profile, with a vignette at his famous log cabin, complete with hard cider (click to embiggen):


How’s that for showing your dedication to the cause, eh? Buying reams of stuff stamped with ‘Ole Tip’s noble schnoz?

Sad thing is, these guys were probably stuck with it well after WHH’s untimely demise. Hopefully they had the tact not to use it …

I don’t know if the Democrats had similar stuff, though I’d expect so (but with, y’know, the Little Magician on it).

Our Glorious National Heritage, The Past is a Foreign...Something

And Tyler’s Two

Or, an example of history repeating, er, threats

the man who almost wasn't
the man who almost wasn't

Though, in fairness to Mr. Jackson, I think this one was much more sincerely offered:

Unfortunately, for the Captain and his Guard the animosity ran deeper than a few office seekers. Both Cushing and Tyler received “hate mail” from around the country. Vituperative James Campbell of Philadelphia urged Cushing to intercede and persuade Tyler, “a miserable, paltry, third rate county court scoundrel,” to resign. Campbell, somewhat more irrational than most of Cushing’s correspondents, suggested that for his treason to his party Tyler should “have his privates cut off and while yet still alive to have them nailed to a cross as a warning to political traitors hereafter.” In case any doubt existed he attached a graphic color rendering of his intent.

~John M. Belohlavek, Broken Glass: Caleb Cushing and the Shattering of the Union (Kent, Ohio: The Kent State University Press, 2005), p.136.

Here’s the primary source cite for the letter and “graphic color rendering”: James Campbell, Philadelphia, July 16, 1842, to Caleb Cushing, in Caleb Cushing Manuscripts, Library of Congress.


Image cite: Tony the Misfit, “John Tyler, 10th Union President, Confederate Congressman,” Flickr, CC License

History and Historians, Ten Things I Hate About You

Muddy Whigs, Stuck Wheels

Muddy Wheel

Sorry for the long(ish) absence. I have been lost in the unruly reeds of the Serial Set, ladies and germs, a wanderin’ in the wilderness of Congress’s forgotten backlot. I have seen many things, horrible things, in that slushpile: innumerable, ungainly, uncollated reports sprouting anteDeweyvian reference numbers, all housed with an organization scheme only a Melville could love in its Eris-inspired and Demos-driven multiplicity. (His erstwhile namesake, Melvil, would’ve hated it).

It’s not pretty, folks. Not pretty ‘t’all.

But I come bearing new loads of data, new sand and clay to be mixed with the brackish water of intellect and baked into scholarly bricks, and then built into a sturdy House of Monograph, shelter for kith and kin, and possibly even a way to pay rent.

Stuff for my dissertation, I mean. Not just ridiculous extended metaphors.

But that’s not what I came to discuss today. No, what interests me today is this: Daniel Howe, “Goodbye to the ‘Age of Jackson’ ?” New York Review of Books, May 28, 2009.

Howe is an eminent historian — preeminent, even, as not only is his most recent book part of a field-defining (if staid) series, but it won the Pulitzer prize in History. Like all of the books in the Oxford series, the interpretation Howe puts forward in What Hath God Wrought is intended as a master synthesis of the existing literature, the new foundation for all work to come. The NYRB review is a restatement of that larger project in miniature.

My concern with this particular article is not his critique of the books under review, per se, but rather an argumentative tack he makes along the way – a restatement of that made in the larger work.(1).

Put simply: Howe replicates a general feature of the political historiography of the Jacksonian era that drives … me …nuts.(2).

Like many other would-be synthesizers of the period, Howe maps contemporary political labels onto the political parties and personalities of the second party system – the Democrats and the Whigs – while trying to claim he’s doing the opposite. This effectively trades any development in the historiography, by way of synthesis, for retrenchment. This leaves us on the other side of the ditch, but still stuck in the mud.

Continue reading “Muddy Whigs, Stuck Wheels”