Tuesday, October 2, 2012

"A Plain Democrat" Powder Horn

The date of 1840 with the motto; "A Plain Democrat" defines exactly who the maker/owner was...little doubt that he was a farmer and a Jacksonian. The breed of swine engraved is a Guinea Hog, a breed of pig common in the Eastern half of the US during the 19th c. Depicted in a woodland landscape is just exactly where one would find such an animal as during that time period, hogs were allowed to forage for themselves in the wild.
During the Presidential campaign of 1840 it was a contest between incumbent President Martin Van Buren (Democrat) and William Henry Harrison (Whig Party).
The presence of a class component in Jacksonian/Van Buren parties, setting Democratic plain farmers and workers against the Whig bourgeoisie or business elite, is argued to this day. Once the popular Jackson left the scene, the two parties were very nearly equal in their bases of popular support. Presidential elections through the 1840s were among the closest in history, while party control of Congress passed back and forth.
Whigs, eager to deliver what the public wanted, took advantage of this and declared that Harrison was "the log cabin and hard cider candidate," a man of the common people from the rough-and-tumble West. They depicted Harrison's opponent, President Martin Van Buren, as a wealthy snob who was out of touch with the people. In fact, it was Harrison who came from a wealthy, prominent family while Van Buren was from a poor, working family.
Nonetheless, the election was held during the worst economic depression in the nation's history, and voters blamed Van Buren, seeing him as unsympathetic to struggling citizens. Harrison campaigned vigorously and won. After giving the longest inauguration speech in U.S. history (about 1 hour, 45 minutes, in freezing cold weather), Harrison served only one month as president before dying of pneumonia on April 4, 1841.
History never repeats itself....but it often rhymes! 

Copy and photos supplied by Steven Lalioff with additional information from Wikipedia.

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