Forty-four years ago, Massachusetts was represented on both the Republican and Democratic presidential tickets. These porcelain mugs depicting Richard M. Nixon and Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. (of Massachusetts) date from the 1960 election, in which Nixon and Lodge were defeated by John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts, and his running mate Lyndon B. Johnson. Although the popular vote was close (out of nearly 69,000,000 votes cast, only 118,000 votes separated the two candidates), Kennedy and Johnson won the Electoral College vote 303 to 219.
The 1960 contest was the first in which television played a major (some might say, deciding) role. On 26 September 1960, more than 70,000,000 viewers tuned in to see the first-ever televised presidential debate. Perhaps, however, it was these mugs that influenced the result of the election. The handles are elephants' trunks, turned downward - a sure sign of bad luck. Richard B. Wigglesworth, the Massachusetts Republican who owned the mugs, died a few weeks before the election, never knowing the outcome.
Richard Bowditch Wigglesworth served Massachusetts in the United States House of Representatives from 1928 to 1958. From 1959 until his death in 1960, he served as ambassador to Canada. Wigglesworth's family presented the Nixon and Lodge mugs to the MHS, along with a very large collection of his personal and political papers.
While most of the political artifacts in the MHS collection are campaign buttons and bumper stickers, there are unusual pieces including a brass "Long live the President" button, dating from Washington's 1789 inauguration, a John Adams cuff-link, a cake of soap manufactured in 1840 for the Harrison/Tyler campaign, and ferrotype tokens from Abraham Lincoln's 1860 and 1864 campaigns. For the modern era there is an FDR necktie from 1940, a substantial collection of political ephemera for Leverett Saltonstall's long political career, and, in addition to the Nixon-Lodge mugs, a bronzed hot dog presented to Henry Cabot Lodge in 1960.
Whether you have a "Click with Dick" clicker from the 1960 election or political memorabilia or papers from any era, the Historical Society welcomes donations of historical materials from Republicans, Democrats, third-party members, and political independents alike.