Campaign ribbon, A. Lincoln

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Campaign ribbon, A. Lincoln
John Chester Buttre
7.5 x 2.5 in.
Chicago Public Library
SPE CW 2008.33

This silk campaign ribbon bears an image of Abraham Lincoln based on a famous photograph taken by Mathew Brady. It was reproduced for the ribbon by John Chester Buttre, an American steel plate engraver and lithographer who specialized in political and military portraits. Lincoln is fifty-one years old, beardless, and dressed as he was when he gave his famous “Cooper Union speech” in New York. Considered the American press capital, New York provided Lincoln a national forum for his bid to become president. The speech, which he gave on February 27, 1860, was a great success. This ribbon would have been worn, like a political pin or bumper sticker today, by supporters of Lincoln’s campaign.

Matthew Brady operated photography studios in New York and Washington, D.C., and he photographed most of the leading political and military figures of the Civil War era. As he explained in an interview late in his life, the photograph on which the ribbon was based was made the day Lincoln gave the Cooper Union address. “He was full of fun in the gallery,” Brady explained, “as genial as a summer day, and teeming with reminiscence.” He went on to say that, when Brady visited Lincoln at the White House shortly after he was elected, Lincoln exclaimed that this picture, along with the speech, had made him president.

1. Why do you think that this ribbon might have influenced people to vote for Lincoln?

2. Compare this ribbon to A Nation’s Loss. The ribbons obviously had very different purposes. What is different about the ways that Lincoln is portrayed by the artists?

For information about the images, please contact Special Collections at the Chicago Public Library (