St. Mary’s College of Maryland professor Kenneth Cohen looks at politicking in the early American Republic. Unlike today, candidates for elected office did not run public campaigns. Instead, they relied on their supporters to make the case for them, using newspaper articles, pamphlets and cartoons either to praise the candidate or disparage the opponent. Some of the earliest forms of this style of politicking used the public’s knowledge of theater to associate the candidates with well-know heroes or villains. Later, cartoons depicted political campaigns as sporting events, often using the imagery of horse racing or boxing.
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