Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags
Sold Flags



  PORTRAIT STYLE PARADE FLAG MADE FOR THE 1860 CAMPAIGN OF NORTHERN DEMOCRATS STEPHEN DOUGLAS & HERSCHEL JOHNSON, WITH A RARE AND BEAUTIFUL SHIELD-SHAPED MEDALLION OF 44 STARS

Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L): 16" x 21"
Flag Size (H x L): 8" x 13"
Description....:
PORTRAIT STYLE PARADE FLAG MADE FOR THE 1860 CAMPAIGN OF NORTHERN DEMOCRATS STEPHEN DOUGLAS & HERSCHEL JOHNSON, WITH A RARE AND BEAUTIFUL SHIELD-SHAPED MEDALLION OF 44 STARS:

Few elections in American history were more crucial and interesting than the battle won by Abraham Lincoln. With a dividing and indecisive nation at hand, four significant candidates emerged, among which was Northern Democrat Stephen Douglas, who is represented here on an interesting parade flag among surviving examples. Printed on glazed cotton, the flag features a highly detailed portrait of Douglas, the likeness of which strongly resembles the official campaign image, issued by Currier & Ives in 1860 on their "Grand National Banner" lithograph. This is set within a semi-oval window, framed by a shield-shaped medallion of 44 stars. In the stripes, the following text was printed contemporaneously with the blue of the canton: “For President, Stephen A. Douglas. Vice President, Herschel V. Johnson.”

As with some political campaign parade flags, the star count is only decorative. Nonetheless it is one of the most unusual counts, having no relation to the period in question. Many such flags use an earlier design as a matter of convenience and therefore have a star count that is lower than the actual count in the year of the respective election. But there were 33 states in 1860 and the number wouldn’t reach 44 for another 30 years. Far more important, however, is the specific configuration itself, which is unique among known styles. Other shield patterns exist, but they are extraordinarily rare and highly desired for both their graphic appeal and military reference. The star design and portrait are complimented by the thick glazing still present on the surface of the coarse cotton, as well as the brilliant tomato red of the stripes and the unusual blue-green color of the canton and text.

When the Democrats convened in Charleston in 1860 to nominate a presidential candidate, Douglas succeeded in adding his moderate planks to the party platform. Several Southerners stormed out of the convention, breaking off to form their own party with John Breckinridge and Joseph Lane as their candidates. Northern Democrats met again in Baltimore a few weeks later and unanimously nominated Douglas for president.

The Democratic Party orchestrated their own demise when they split into two factions. John Bell’s Constitutional Union Party, which included remnants of hard line Whigs and members of the Know-Nothing Party, split the ballot even further and closed the door on Democrat hopes. The fractured field resulted in a win for Lincoln, despite the fact that he didn't even appear on the ballot in several Southern States.

A flag in this style resides in the collection of the Smithsonian and is documented in “Threads of History”, by Herbert Ridgeway Collins (Smithsonian Press, 1979), as item 306 on page 161. Collins served as curator of political history at the Smithsonian and his landmark text is considered the foremost reference on political flag and textile collecting.

Brief History of Douglas & Johnson:
Stephen Douglas was born in Brandon, Vermont in 1813, studied at the Canandaigua Academy in Upstate New York, and moved to Illinois at the age of 20 to find work as an itinerant teacher. He studied law and immediately gained the position of State’s Attorney for Morgan County. After this he was elected to the state legislature and then to the Illinois Supreme Court. This was followed by two terms in Congress, 1842 and 44, three terms in the Senate, where he remained until his untimely death in 1861. Lincoln contested his seat in 1858 and though he lost, became famous in the process.

Douglas became famous during the 1850’s due to his role as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Territories, which was the hottest topic of the period due to the potential spread of slavery. Douglas supported a state’s right to choose, and chiefly designed the Compromise of 1850. He also delivered the highly controversial Kansas-Nebraska Act, the opposition of which resulted in the formation of the Republican Party. Keeping to his opinion, he supported Dred Scott. He wasn’t a champion of slavery, but instead of the Constitutionality of state laws with regard to the slavery issue. So when southerners John Breckinridge and Joseph Lane split off as southern Democratic candidates in support of imposed slavery, he fought them tooth and nail.

Douglas’s running mate, Herschel Vespasian Johnson, was an attorney, former U.S. Senator, and Governor of Georgia who opposed secession and was chosen to balance the Democrat ticket. After Lincoln’s election he threw in the towel and fell in line with the Southern cause, where he served on the Confederate Senate. He attempted to return to the U.S. senate following the war in 1866. Though elected by popular vote, he was disallowed for his role in the rebellion. He did, however, play a crucial role in Reconstruction, where he served as head of the Georgia constitutional convention.

Mounting: The sully style, gilded American frame dates to the 1820's. The flag has been hand-stitched to a background of 100% cotton, black in color, which was washed to reduce excess dye. An acid-free agent was added to the wash to further set the dye and the fabric was heat-treated for the same purpose. Spacers keep the textile away from the glazing, which is U.V. protective glass.
Collector Level: Flags for the truest Patriots. My best offerings
Flag Type: Parade flag
Star Count: 13
Earliest Date of Origin: 1860
Latest Date of Origin: 1860
State/Affiliation: Illinois
War Association: 1777-1860 Pre-Civil War
Price: SOLD
E-mail: Inquire
 

Views: 871