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This rather dramatic ad was run by the Whig Party in the 1830s.

Founded in 1833, their natural opponent was none other than Andrew Jackson, who they viewed as a despotic leader.

Abraham Lincoln was also an early member of the Whig party, which advocated for congressional supremacy over unchecked executive power.


This ad depicts another Whig presidential candidate, Winfield Scott, sketched as a fighting chicken with human characteristics.

Nicknamed “Fuss and Feathers” by his opponents for his bold anti-slavery position, Winfield did not win the 1852 Whig nomination.

However, he did go on to have a successful military career, with Congress giving him the special rank of Lieutenant General.


Before Fillmore became our 13th president, he was part of this ad portraying him as the true voice of reason, titled “The Right Man for the Right Place.”

Shown in stark contrast with his more volatile opponents, John C. Remount and James Buchanan, brandishing a musket and dagger, Fillmore was the final Whig president and last candidate to not be associated with either the Democratic or Republican party.


A pro-Lincoln satirical ad shows the candidates playing a rousing game of baseball.

The contest has Lincoln standing with his foot on home base, admonishing his opponents, “Gentlemen, if any of you should ever take a hand in another match at this game, remember that you must have a good bat and strike a fair ball to make a clean score an a home run.”

Lincoln won the nomination — however, only days later, the Civil War broke out between the North and South.


Democratic Presidential hopeful George Brinton McClellan hoped to capitalize on a divided nation during the Civil War.

Painting both Lincoln and Confederacy president Jefferson Davis as extremists, George presented himself as an anti-war hero who wanted to “save the Union at any cost.”

Lincoln won the Electoral College in a landslide victory.


Though the run for the 1868 nomination was fraught with in-fighting, the convention chairman Horatio Seymour ended up conceding the votes in his favor.

He declared at the convention, “I could not accept the nomination if tendered. My own inclination prompted me to decline at the outset; my honor compels me to do so now. It is impossible, consistently with my position, to allow my name to be mentioned in this Convention against my protest.”


Ulysses S. Grant attempted to gain popular support by extolling his own humble beginnings as a leather tanner.

Furthermore, the Republican nominee portrayed his pro-confederate opponents as having their “hides handed to them” — using the metaphor of his working-man background as a way to chide Confederate generals.


Benjamin Harrison, 23rd president, is shown riding an eagle, with the “Republican nomination” in hand.

Though not actually stepping into the role until 1888, Benjamin won by a slim margin against Grover Cleveland — with the Electoral College ultimately handing him a victory.

Allegations were later lodged against the Republicans for ballot infractions.


During the same race, Uncle Sam presides over Democratic nominee Grover Cleveland and running-mate Allen G. Thurman.

Interestingly, the pictures also include the party’s symbol at the time, a rooster — which eventually became the donkey.

Though Cleveland later became President, he chose a different running mate the next time around.


The 1896 election had William McKinley, the Republican nominee, advocating for the protectionist policies of his party’s platform — chastising the “free trade” legislation of the opposition.

The heated contest ultimately ended with McKinley winning the Presidency, however, it resulted in one of the most highly contested and complicated races in American history.


Though Taft was initially hesitant to run, hoping to serve on the Supreme Court, he jumped into the 1908 election at the urging of his party and Theodore Roosevelt.

The Democrats were infuriated, referring to Taft’s nomination as pre-determined by the establishment and a potential “forced succession to the presidency.”


The 1908 election was also a predecessor to the modern campaign as the first in history where candidates’ “soundbites” were available to the public.

Speeches from both candidates were recorded on wax cylinders invented by Thomas Edison’s National Phonograph Company.

These “soundbites” were then sent around the country — the first time American’s could hear and identify the actual voices of their elected officials.


Though Roosevelt initially supported William H. Taft, the mud-slinging between the two got increasingly aggressive during the 1912 Republican race.

Roosevelt wasn’t afraid of name-calling, announcing Taft a “fathead” with “the brains of a guinea pig.”

Taft returned the insults, saying Roosevelt’s followers were “radicals” and “neurotics.”


The League of Nations was a huge point of contention during the 1920 election between Harding and James Cox, with Americans struggling to find their place in the global scene post WWI.

This election was also incredibly monumental — it’s the first where American women were given the right to vote.

Though political ads look much differently today, these vintage ads were truly the origin of modern political campaigning. We certainly can see their influence in the election processes of today.

What do you think of these political ads? Do you think political ads can be effective? Let us know in the comments.

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