Salem, [Massachusetts]: 1840. Unbound. The bifold letter sheet (Milgram WH-8) measures 8” x 9¾” folded. It is datelined “Salem June 1840.” It features a portrait of a long-faced, dour Harrison with a rustic log cabin scene alongside. Two soldiers and a civilian are drinking cups of “hard cider” drawn from a barrel sitting next to the cabin’s door. A plow, symbolizing simple hard-working famers stands next to the men. An imprint under the scene reads “Sold by Peter C. Jones, 110 State St., Boston.”
Beneath the illustration, the unnamed donation coordinator has written,
“It being necessary in order to defray the expenses of the Whig Celebration of the Fourth of July ensuring in addition to the cost of the collations [probably food, drink, and fireworks] which has been fixed at 50c to raise the sum of about Six hundred dollars We the subscribers agree to pay the sums placed against our respective names.”
Forty-seven Whig subscribers signed the pledge on two pages, and the list of names includes several prominent Salem citizens, e.g., Caleb Foote, Winthrop Sergeant, Stephen Webb, Joshua Phippin, B.R. Peabody and Thomas Downing.. Very good. Item #010096
The election occurred during the worst depression that the United States had then yet experienced, and the public blamed the incumbent, President Martin Van Buren. Harrison campaigned as a “log cabin – hard cider” man of the people, while portraying Van Buren as indifferent to the public’s pain. After Harrison was elected, he gave an inauguration speech that lasted almost two hours in cold and inclement weather. He contracted pneumonia and died one month later.
(For more information, see Milgram’s Presidential Campaign Illustrated Envelopes and Letter Paper 1840-1872 and Lot 176 in Bonham’s 11 April 2016 Caren II auction.)
At the time of listing, no Harrison campaign letter sheets are for sale in the trade, and OCLC does not identify any in institutional holdings. However, they occasionally appear at auctions. The Rare Book Hub and Stamp Auction Network show six have appeared at auction including this specific item which sold at a 2016 Bonhams auction..