Item #42 - Axe Used As Political Button for Abraham Lincoln
The simple axe – the invaluable tool used by courageous frontiersmen – is symbolic of the push west by Americans during the 1800’s. Hard work, symbolized by the steel head, cleverness, by the sharpened blade, and strength of character, represented by the hickory handle, conspicuously reveals the traits of the everyday American. In the game of national politics, victory is achieved by he who stands closest to the common man, relating to them at the most basic level – that of the will to survive. Abraham Lincoln used this tactic effectively by showing his would-be voters that he is more like them rather than the typical career politician. In an adroit move, the newly-formed Republican Party created campaign posters that depicted Lincoln as, “... muscular…, axe in hand, splitting fence rails in Illinois….His rolled-up sleeves and unbuttoned shirt convey the strenuousness of his task and the diligence of his effort.”1 The move paid off, winning enough votes to send Lincoln to the White House and creating a talisman that is still used today.
1Matt Fackler. “Holding Together the Multifaceted Republican Party: The Primary Reason Why Abraham Lincoln Was Able to Win the Presidential Election of 1860.” Menlo School Roundtable 7 (Fall 2009), pp. 28-29.↩