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36 star American National parade flag, made for the 1880 presidential campaign of James A. Garfield and Chester Arthur. This rare style has an extended area at the fly end where red ink at the fly end of the stripe field creates a perpendicular banner that silhouettes the names of the candidates in large letters. Three different sizes are known, of which this is the largest and, in my experience, the most unusual, probably because larger parade flags were more difficult to store and more readily discarded due to damage and other issues. This basic style of campaign parade flag is known to exist for both these, the Republican candidates, and their Democrat rivals, Hancock and English. The bold, chrome orange coloration is not a result of fading, but is a product of the dye used in the process of printing many flags of this nature during this period. It adds a peculiarity and attractiveness that set such flags visually apart from their modern counterparts.

Because Garfield was assassinated during his presidency and was replaced by Vice President Arthur, both men served the nation�s highest office. Having the names of two presidents is a desirable feature on political campaign cloth and is unusual simply because the Vice President so rarely gained the White House.

The 1880 election, its candidates, and the unfortunate event that followed made for one of the most interesting campaigns and presidencies. While the campaign platforms were relatively uninteresting, because they were so similar, the election results would become one of the most unusual in American presidential politics. Garfield and Hancock nearly tied in the popular vote, tallying 4,446,158 and 4,444,260, respectively. This represented approximately 48.3% for each candidate. Garfield won the electoral vote, however, 214 to 155. The margin between the two candidates in the popular vote remains the smallest ever in U.S. history.

James Abraham Garfield was a professor who left academics for law before his 1859 election to the Ohio State Senate. Like his Democrat opponent, Winfield Scott Hancock, Garfield served as a Union Army General during wartime. Though successful would be an accurate description of Garfield�s military career, it was brief and unlike that of the much-celebrated Hancock. Garfield left the Army during wartime, in 1863, when he was elected to the United States Congress. His promotion to major general came after the Battle of Chickamauga, shortly after he had been elected. In 1876 he moved to the Senate and became the Republican floor leader. In that same year he was appointed to the highly controversial Electoral Commission that put Rutherford B. Hayes in the Whitehouse despite his loss of the popular vote. In 1880 he ran for president and won, though he served less than four months in office. He became the second U.S. president to be assassinated when he was shot by Charles J. Guiteau on July 2nd, 1881, a disgruntled man who unsuccessfully pursued a political appointment following the election. Garfield lived until September 19th, when he died as a result of his wounds. Chester Arthur succeeded to the presidency and served out the remainder of the term.

Like many Vice Presidents, Arthur was chosen for political advantage, to placate his faction, rather than for skills or loyalty to his running mate. He is an interesting figure in political history for several reasons, among them the rather shocking fact that he may not have been a U.S. Citizen. Arthur�s parents were Irish immigrants to Canada and lived just 80 miles from the Vermont border before moving to the U.S.. Arthur claimed to have been born in 1829 in the town of Fairfield, Vermont, though no birth record has ever been found and he artfully avoided the question of his possible birth on Canadian soil. On at least one occasion he reported the date of his birth as 1830 instead of 1829, and there seems ample reason to be suspect of the information he provided.

Arthur was a member of the Stalwarts of the Republican Party, a faction the opposed Civil Service reform and was less moderate than the politics of the supporters of Rutherford B. Hayes. Before Charles Guiteau surrendered to authorities he shouted: �I am a Stalwart of the Stalwarts...Arthur is president now!�, which resulted in no lack of further controversy and questioning. As a result, Arthur laid low after the shooting, retiring to his home in New York. He rarely appeared publicly and effectively left the nation fumbling, without a leader, until Garfield�s passing.

Before politics, Arthur practiced law and was a strong supporter of equal rights for blacks. During the Civil War he served as both quartermaster general and inspector general, with the eventual rank of brigadier general. He returned to law after the war and, in 1871, was appointed by President Ulysses Grant as Collector of the Port of New York, a powerful and lucrative position that he served until 1878. After the presidency he returned to New York and died the next year from a cerebral hemorrhage. He was interred at Menands, New York.

Mounting: The flag has been hand-stitched to a background of 100% cotton, black in color, which has been 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. The mount was then placed in a black-painted, hand-gilded and distressed Italian molding. Spacers keep the textile away from the glass, which is u.v. protective.
Inventory Number:


Jeff R. Bridgman American Antiques, llc
Contact   Jeff Bridgman Phone: (717) 502-1281
Period: 19th Century (1801-1900)
Date: 1880
Origin: American
Condition: see description
Measurements: flag: 18" x 30.5", frame: 28.5" x 41.25"
Inventory Other Inventory by this Dealer
Price: SOLD
E-mail: Inquire
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