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Cover of 'Songs for the People, or Tippecanoe Melodies'

Cover of "Songs for the People, or Tippecanoe Melodies"

The Whig Party went to great lengths to unseat Andrew Jackson's lieutenant, Martin Van Buren, who had already served one term in office by 1840. Whigs selected the aged William Henry Harrison, who had emerged victorious at the Battle of Tippecanoe and in the ensuing War of 1812. Despite Harrison's position as a descendant of the Virginia gentry, Whig managers presented him as "Old Tip," a common man of the Northwest who lived in a log cabin and drank hard cider. The party distributed countless songbooks such as the one pictured here, from which Whig loyalists sang songs that praised Harrison and the Whig platform, while ridiculing Van Buren and the Democrats. The tactic helped Harrison to defeat Van Buren, but Old Tip died after only one month in office.

For more information about politics in the 19th century, please look at Lincoln/Net's Getting the Message Out! National Political Campaign Materials, 1840-1860 Web site.

Permission: Newberry Library.
©Copyright 2002 Abraham Lincoln Historical Digitization Project