US Coins

We know Lincoln won, but who ran against him in 1860?

This is the third part of a multi-part series on Presidential campaign collectibles from the Nov. 7, 2016, monthly issue of Coin World:

Presidential campaign banners, badges, tokens, medals and more from 200-plus years of American elections provide windows into the quadrennial campaigns and their eras. Depending upon the campaign and candidates, available items may be abundant and cost only a few dollars each, or scarce, some costing  thousands of dollars regardless of condition.

The presidential aspirations in the 1860 campaign of “Honest Abe,” Republican Abraham Lincoln, were not without periodic acerbic exchanges with his Democratic opponent, Sen. Stephen Douglas of Illinois.

Also-rans in that race included Constitutional Union nominee John Bell and Southern Democrat John C. Breckinridge.

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Political memorabilia collectors may consider collectibles associated with each candidate, as well as their vice presidential running mates.

Lincoln and Douglas were no strangers to one another. In 1858 they had faced off in a series of seven debates across Illinois as Lincoln attempted to unseat the incumbent Douglas in a race for the U.S. Senate. Before then, both men courted Mary Todd in Springfield, Ill. Todd chose to marry Lincoln.

The issue of slavery became the hottest of topics in the senatorial campaign that Douglas won, but which had also cast Lincoln into the national spotlight. The issue of slavery would continue to face Lincoln during his presidency marked by Civil War.

While it is not uncommon today for political candidates in state and national contents to stump in any small community that will host them, during the 1860 campaign the tactic was considered somewhat tacky.

Douglas, however, claiming he was taking a leisurely train trip from the nation’s capital to New York to visit his mother, took more than a month to do it, scheduling campaign stops along the way.

Lincoln supporters were quick to ridicule Douglas and his tactic. They published and distributed a “Lost Child” handbill chronicling the trip, claiming Douglas answered to “Little Giant,” a reference to Douglas being just 5 feet 4 inches tall. Lincoln was a full foot taller.

The handbill also noted Douglas “Talks a great deal, very loud, always about himself.”

Douglas, on the other hand labeled Lincoln as a “horrible-looking wretch, sooty and scoundrelly in aspect, a cross between the nutmeg dealer, the horse-swapper and the nightman.”

Douglas also once referred to Lincoln as “the leanest, most ungainly mass of legs and arms and hatchet face ever strung on a single frame.”

Lincoln’s appearance is speculated to have been due to Marfan syndrome or a related disorder, affecting connective tissue. While no DNA testing has been done to prove the theory, his symptoms somewhat match the disorder, an affliction characterized by a tall, thin body shape, with long arms, legs, fingers and toes.

While Lincoln and Douglas were presidential arch rivals, Breckinridge finished second in the Electoral College balloting, despite being third in the popular vote, behind Douglas.

Lincoln collectors have much more ornate memorabilia to acquire for the 16th president’s re-election campaign in 1864.

Among the pieces are a jugate shield badge featuring portraits of Lincoln and running mate, Andrew Johnson. An example realized $56,762.50 in a Dec. 11, 2012, Heritage sale.

Read our entire series so far on collecting Presidential election materials:

1828 election collectiblesThe presidential election that might have been the nastiest on record: So nasty were the personal attacks between Jackson and the incumbent, John Quincy Adams, during the 1828 campaign that Jackson blamed the stress of the attacks for contributing to the death of his wife.

1828 election collectiblesThe election of 1800 saw a number of firsts among American presidential races: The presidential election of 1800 was a particularly uncomfortable one in political circles, pitting Vice President Thomas Jefferson against the president he was currently serving under, John Adams.

1860 presidential election collectiblesAbraham Lincoln faced more than one opponent in the 1860 presidential election: While it is not uncommon today for political candidates in state and national contents to stump in any small community that will host them, during the 1860 campaign the tactic was considered somewhat tacky.

1896 presidential election collectiblesSounds like jewelry, so why was a ‘cross of gold’ not considered a good thing in 1896?: The hotly contested presidential race of 1896 pitted former Ohio Gov. William McKinley, a Republican, against Democratic contender and perennial presidential wannabe William Jennings Bryan.

Teddy Roosevelt cigar cutterHow Theodore Roosevelt helped deliver the White House to Woodrow Wilson: The 1912 election witnessed the establishment of a new political entity, Roosevelt’s Progressive Party, also dubbed the Bull Moose Party. 

Franklin Roosevelt buttonFour-time winner Franklin Roosevelt generates opposition collectibles: The election of 1932 put Democrat and former New York governor Franklin Delano Roosevelt into the White House for the first of his unprecedented four terms. 

Donald Trump novelty noteThe 2016 presidential election hitting new heights, or depths, of nastiness: Campaign collectibles are trying to promote the 2016 presidential candidates amid all the mudslinging.

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