In 1840 the new Whig Party nominated the renowned Indian fighter William
Henry Harrison to seek the presidency. Harrison ran a successful campaign
against the incumbent Martin Van Buren, who had presided over several
years of national economic depression. But Harrison's election was also
remarkable for the remarkable campaign that preceded it. The Whig Party
came together as opponents of Van Buren's predecessor, the popular General
Andrew Jackson. In an effort to return to political primacy after twelve
years in the wilderness, these politicians drafted Harrison, the popular
war hero. Astutely responding to a Democratic editor's slight of Harrison
as a doddering old man sitting in his log cabin drinking hard cider, the
Whigs styled their candidate as a man of the people in opposition to the
refined New Yorker Van Buren. Whigs emphasized their candidate's log cabin
abode and dubbed him "Tippecanoe" in reference to his victory in a pivotal
battle against massed Indian forces in 1811. Whigs took this message to
the voting public in a campaign of unprecedented vigor and complexity.
A legion of Harrison stump speakers, including a young Abraham Lincoln,
prowled their native states speaking out on behalf of the General. Harrison
song books provided loyal Whigs with party messages in the form of ballads
and odes. Party officials organized massive political rallies, including
the "cabin raising" noted in this broadside. These efforts, combined with
the nation's dire economic situation, helped to elect Harrison in 1840.
But he died of pneumonia after only a month in office, delivering the
presidency to the Vice President and erstwhile Democrat John Tyler, who
quickly reverted to political form, much to Whigs' chagrin.