In the midst of the current Presidential campaign, with the November election and January inauguration coming up, Macculloch Hall Historical Museum presents Thomas Nast: President Maker and Campaign Breaker in the Nast gallery on the second floor of the museum. More than twenty examples of presidential campaign images from the second half of the nineteenth century are featured in the exhibit Thomas Nast: President Maker and Campaign Breaker. The exhibit illustrates the six presidential campaigns for the twenty year period from 1864 through 1884. The exhibition opens July 22, 2012 through the election and inauguration in 2013 and will close in June 2013.
Thomas Nast (1840-1902) was America’s leading political cartoonist in the second half of the nineteenth century. From the studio in his Morristown, NJ home, Nast popularized the symbols of the Democratic (donkey) and Republican (elephant) parties that continue more than a century later. Nast, a staunch Republican, illustrated his views of the presidential campaigns for Harper’s Weekly. He supported the candidate he felt would best serve the country. The power of Nast’s pen was evident — each candidate that he supported went on to become the President of the United States. Equally important were the scathing cartoons Nast drew of the candidates he did not support.
During the presidential campaigns and elections of 1868 and 1872 Nast stayed true to the Republican Party and supported Ulysses S. Grant. This helped Grant, a personal friend of Nast, to win both elections. The exhibit features Nast’s images of Grant as well as campaign banners for Grant and one of his rivals, Horace Greeley. Included in the exhibit is a personal letter in Grant’s hand to Thomas Nast accepting an invitation to the artist’s Morristown mansion.
Thomas Nast continued to support the Republican Party in the election of 1876 and helped to elect Rutherford B. Hayes. This election against Samuel Tilden was a fierce battle with scandals about vote tampering surrounding each man. “Another Such Victory, and I am Done” was published in the March 24, 1877 edition of Harper’s Weekly; it depicts a battered elephant to show how tough the election was for Hayes, Nast, and the entire Republican Party. During the election of 1884, Nast temporarily broke with the Republican Party and supported the Democratic candidate Grover Cleveland. Nast felt Cleveland would best serve the country; through his cartoons, Nast may have influenced the race and helped Cleveland win. Macculloch Hall Historical Museum holds America’s largest collection of artwork by Thomas Nast. Museum founder W. Parsons Todd began the collection with purchases directly from the artist’s family. With recent acquisitions, the Nast collection at the Museum numbers more than 3,500 items. This topical exhibit is open during touring hours Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday afternoons from 1pm – 4pm.
Macculloch Hall Historical Museum continues to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War with the exhibit The Other Side of War: The Civil War on the Home Front. The exhibit includes letters from soldiers writing home asking for various supplies unavailable through traditional army supply channels. One of these men, Lindley Hoffman Miller who lived at Macculloch Hall, wrote letters and poems home describing his experiences as a white officer of a regiment of black troops. Robert Gould Shaw, who led one of the first black regiments (upon whom the movie Glory was based), his sister Josephine Shaw Lowell and her husband Charles Russell Lowell shared intriguing stories of heroism on the battlefield and taking place at home with one another. Civil War poetry by Walt Whitman (who served as a Civil War nurse) and others is on display. A nurse’s lamp is also featured and illustrates the importance of nurses and the Sanitary Commission during the war. The exhibit includes photographs of women and children left at home, as are the stories of the Macculloch grandsons who served. Engravings by Thomas Nast and Winslow Homer help to illustrate the importance of the home front and the roles women played to help the soldiers at the war front. Open during touring hours.
Macculloch Hall Historical Museum preserves the history of the Macculloch-Miller families, the Morris area community, and the legacy of its founder W. Parsons Todd through its historic site, collections, exhibits, and educational and cultural programs. The Museum is open to tour the house and view exhibits on Wednesdays, Thursdays & Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. Adults $8; Seniors & Students $6; Children 6 – 12 $4. Members and children under 5 are free. The last tickets for admission are sold at 3 p.m. School tours, adult/senior tours and rentals may be scheduled by appointment. Call (973) 538-2404 ext. 10, visit our website www.maccullochhall.org or find us on Facebook. Macculloch Hall Historical Museum, 45 Macculloch Ave., Morristown, NJ 07960. Macculloch Hall Historical Museum is a nonprofit educational affiliate of the W. Parsons Todd Foundation.
Image courtesy of Stan Freeny