Campaign newspapers: a hobby within a hobby…

January 19, 2009 by  
Email This Post Email This Post | Print This Post Print This Post

Before the days of television, radio and certainly the internet, how did Presidential candidates get their platforms across the the electorate? Daily newspapers could not be counted upon as most were politically aligned with one of the parties so reporting had an obvious bias.

“Campaign newspapers” were one vehicle for candidates. Rather than rely on the ethics of the local publisher, parties produced their own newspapers during the campaign with the emphasis on the platform of the candidate. Logically such newspapers were short-lived and are relatively rare today as a result.

William Miles did a book titled: “The People’s Voice: An Annotated Bibliography of American Presidential Campaign Newspapers, 1828-1984” which lists chronologically and by party over 700 titles. The following is excerpted from his Preface:

“Every four years since at least 1828 the campaign newspaper, like the campaign biography, song, poster, and similar election paraphernalia, has reappeared as a familiar part of the American presidential electoral process. Unlike the general party or partisan newspaper, these sheets were published specifically to support the cause of an aspiring candidate or an officially nominated ticket. Usually issued only during the period of the campaign itself, they were the campaign documents that emphasized the strengths and the importance of political organization at all levels; and to attack, generally in vitriolic language, the opposition. No matter if established and issued by party committees or by committed private individuals, or as “extras” and subsidized papers by already established partisan journals, the purpose was the same: organize the party faithful to work on behalf or electing the national, and by extension, the state and local tickets.”

Such elusive titles do provide an interesting array of titles including “Hickory Sprout” “Coon Hunter” “Harry Of The West” “Rebel Youth” “Hickory Tree” “On Our Way” “Rail Splitter” “Sober Second Thought” “Soup-Spiller” “Magician” “Grape Shot”  “Rough & Ready” “Barnburner” “Dirty Shirt” “Kickapoo” and “Straight-Out Harrisonian” to name but a few.

Collecting campaign newspapers can be a fascinating hobby within a hobby, if only for the variety of titles available. Do you have any great-named campaign newspapers in your collection? Feel free to share.

If you liked this post, you may also enjoy...


Feel free to leave a comment...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!