Thomas Nast: President Maker and Campaign Breaker

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 45 Macculloch Ave Morristown NJ 07960  See map

With this January’s Presidential inauguration in mind Macculloch Hall Historical Museum presents more than twenty examples of presidential campaign images from the late nineteenth century with the exhibit Thomas Nast: President Maker and Campaign Breaker.  The exhibit illustrates six presidential campaigns from 1864 through 1884. 


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 which depicts a battered elephant to show how tough the election was for Hayes, Nast, and the entire Republican Party.  It was not until the election of 1884 that Nast temporarily broke with the Republican Party and supported the Democratic candidate Grover Cleveland.  Nast felt Cleveland would best serve the country, so he helped him to win the office.  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.  This topical exhibit is open during touring hours Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday afternoons from 1pm – 4pm.


Macculloch Hall Historical Museum is also exhibiting some of its most popular pieces as well as many seldom-seen treasures which have been in storage. Vivid examples of the antique Oriental rug collection are on display in the museum's first floor gallery, complemented by textbook examples of fine porcelain, silver, glass and furniture collected by Museum founder, W. Parsons Todd. This is a special opportunity to see rarely-exhibited treasures from the collection in the gallery and tour the rest of the museum to see many other pieces in period room settings.  The exhibit also features some of our country’s founding heroes documents and artifacts including George Washington, Dolley Madison and others. This special exhibit is open through June 30th 2013.  “A Fine Collection” has a perimeter layout which leaves the center of the room open for a series of speakers and musical programming taking place in conjunction with the exhibit over the next several months.  Programs in conjunction with the exhibit take place with music on the first Sunday at 4:30pm and speakers on the third Sunday of the month November through June (no programs in January) Visit maccullochhall.org for full details and ticket information.


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. Please note the Museum is closed for the holiday break from Friday December 21st 2012 and reopens for tours of the house and exhibits in 2013, beginning Wednesday January 2nd, 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.


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