The political campaign button as we know it was introduced for the 1896 presidential election which was between William McKinley ® and William Jennings Bryan (D and Populist Party). Before then the most common campaign pieces were struck tokens and medals. Those pieces date from the 1824 race, from the Andrew Jackson’s first presidential run.
When I was high school I was confused about Abraham Lincoln’s positions on slavery. Yes, he was known as “The Great Emancipator,” but that mostly got started when he announced his Emancipation Proclamation in the fall of 1862. Before then his position was that slavery could continue to exist in the states where it was already established but could not spread any new states or territories. This position was presented on a number of his campaing tokens. Here is an example.
The other major theme in Lincoln’s 1860 campaign was “Lincoln the railsplitter.” Then intent was to give Lincoln a downhome, populist image. Some how the phrase “Lincoln, the well paid lawyer” just would not have cut it, which would have been much closer the truth when Lincoln ran in 1860. There are a number of pieces that display this theme. Here is one of the more attractive examples. Some people think that the guy in the top hat holding the wedge for Lincoln on the reverse is Stephen A. Douglas! There is another variety of this theme that looks more like Douglas.
I have many, many more campaign pieces, and this was a bit of an experiment to see what you folks think of this. If you have a favorite presidential candidate from 1824 to 2012, let me know. I can post a picture of a campaign. piece.