|13 star American national parade flag, printed on silk, made for the 1840 campaign of President William Henry Harrison. Note the open circular medallion in the center of the strip field, in which is set a great folk-style portrait of �Old Tippecanoe� in military uniform. Framing the medallion is a wreath of laurel leaves and within it, arched over the portrait, are the words: �Wm. H. Harrison�, under which are 13 more stars, split between 6 on the left and 7 on the right.|
The flag is printed on pre-weighted silk. Note that the flag has no less than 17 stripes. This is probably due to artist�s liberty as opposed to some hidden message. Ten different varieties of this flag are pictured in Threads of History: Americana Recorded on Cloth, 1775 to the Present, by Herbert Ridgeway Collins, 1979, Smithsonian Press. [This is the best text on American political textiles. Collins formerly served as Curator of Political History at the Smithsonian Institution]. The ten flags pictured in the Collins text exhibit no less than 5 different stripe counts.
All of the flags pictured in Threads of History, except one, have 13 stars, configured in either a circular or oval version of the 3rd Maryland pattern. This consists of a wreath of 12 stars, with one star in the center. By contrast, the other flag pictured in Collin�s book has either 25 or 26 stars, depending on how they are counted. There are 2 stars in the center, one large, white star, with a smaller blue one inside it. The correct count of this flag is probably meant to be 26 stars, because 1840 fell squarely within the 26 star period (1837-1845). The earliest known parade flags date to this eight-year time frame. All those without political overprints have 26 stars, and may have been made in any one of those eight years. If all of these non-political 26 star flags were made after 1840, that would mean that the William Henry Harrison campaign flags are the earliest printed parade flags known to exist.
Harrison�s honorary title, �Hero of Tippecanoe�, is printed in the 12th and 14th stripes. Harrison had a successful military career and is most famous for a battle with a feared American Indian chief, Tecumseh, on the banks of the Tippecanoe River. After this he gained the nickname �Old Tippicanoe�. Harrison became secretary of the Northwest Territory, then governor of the subsequently divided Indiana Territory. On campaign items, his home is often depicted as a log cabin. In reality, however, his 20-room, 13-fireplace, Indiana home, called Grouseland, was hardly a cabin in any sense and became a focal point of life in the expanding west. There he met with Indian tribes, managed the many affairs of his governorship, and invited townspeople to seek refuge during Indian attacks. He afterwards moved to Ohio and would serve that state in the U.S. Senate.
A Whig, and son of a wealthy Virginia plantation family, Harrison used the log cabin image and his �hard cider� campaign to portray himself as a commoner, while Van Buren, his Democrat opponent, came off as an aristocrat and subsequently lost the election. But things would not go well for the newly elected president. Harrison, at the age of 68, was a long-winded speaker. He went to his inauguration without a topcoat and droned on for an hour and forty-five minutes in a snowstorm, before greeting guests and remaining outdoors for a prolonged period. He subsequently caught pneumonia and died just 30 days after taking office. Vice President, JohnTyler, finished out his term.
Mounting: The flag has been hand-stitched to 100% cotton, black in color, which has been washed to reduce excess dye. And acid-free agent was added to the wash to further set the dye and the fabric was heat-treated for the same purpose. The mount was then placed in a black-painted, hand-gilded and distressed Italian molding. The front is u.v. protective acrylic.
Jeff R. Bridgman American Antiques, llc
||Phone: (717) 502-1281
||19th Century (1801-1900)|
||There is minor to moderate foxing and staining throughout, accompanied by moderate fading of the red stripes. There are also small tack holes around the perimeter, accompanied by minor holes elsewhere in the textile. Due to the great rarity of all flags from Harrison�s campaign, and their collective importance as the earliest known political parade flags, any state of preservation is accepted.|
||flag: 29" x 27.75" frame: 40.25" x 39"
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