Popular Politics

William Henry Harrison, born into an elite Virginia family, was the son of a signer of the Declaration of Independence.  Though he did not live in a log cabin, the Whig Party’s “log cabin” campaign of 1840 mythologized him as a straightforward westerner who could be content living in a log cabin, drinking hard cider. Whigs had learned something from the popular appeal of Andrew Jackson, a Tennessee Democrat whose career fostered a political culture dedicated to democratic equality among white men. Popular entertainments, including songs and festive public gatherings, were central to political campaigning in 1840.