DescriptionIncredibly Important War of 1812-Era Bandana, Picturing James Madison, James Monroe, and Henry Clay. Without a doubt one of the rarest and most significant presidential textiles we have ever handled! Made in 1815 to celebrate America's victory in the War of 1812, it has content that is nothing short of remarkable! In the central device, the American leaders line up and face off against their British counterparts. Featured on the American side are President James Madison, Secretary of State (and, of course, president-in-waiting) James Monroe, as well as George M. Dallas (later to be Polk's vice president), and John Gaillard, prominent U.S. Senator. Dallas served at this time as secretary to the Minister to Russia Albert Gallatin, one of the principal negotiators of the peace.
Behind them, a standard-bearer hoists a banner dealing with the issue of "Sailors Rights," which had provoked the War, and listing conquests by American warships over British ones, ending with the boast "One thousand three hundred and thirty-two (British sailors) we have captured. 31 Dec. 1814." Britain had claimed the right to stop American ships on the high seas and "impress" its crew into British service, the practice that had sparked the war.
In the center, a disheartened John Bull holds up an American flag, while the figure of Britannia extends her hand to the Goddess of Liberty, who sits on the "rock of American Independence." Below, the American eagle crows victoriously, while the British lion adopts a sad and disgruntled expression. The British figures on the opposite side are Castlereagh, the Prince Regent (de facto English monarch as George III was permanently incapacitated- later became George IV), Liverpool, and Sidmouth. The elaborate border vignettes deal with the defeat and deposing of Napoleon in 1814-15, except for one, which depicts the signing of the Treaty of Ghent (which ended the War of 1812), featuring U.S. negotiators Gallatin and Henry Clay (future towering political figure and several-time presidential nominee). Condition on this bandana is almost as remarkable as its content, for a textile of this era. It has suffered absolutely no damage, and is essentially near mint but for the slightest degree of completely even age toning.
War of 1812 cloth is actively collected in itself, as this is a diverse genre. But to the presidential/political collector, this item has monumental importance. In Threads of History, Herbert Collins' definitive reference work on such textiles, he lists NO cloth items for either Madison or Monroe. Here we have BOTH depicted in a marvelously evocative context (and with the added bonus of Henry Clay as well)!
We have certainly never seen this unlisted item before, and it may quite possibly be the only known example, considering the general rarity of historical cloth for this era. This could be the ONLY OPPORTUNITY collectors and institutions may ever have to obtain a period textile picturing either Madison or Monroe! Measures an impressive 33" x 30".
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