Campaign Parade Torch

The successful presidential campaign of Republican Abraham Lincoln perfected the nighttime torchlight parade as an entertainment of unprecedented scale that attracted the attention of men, women, and children. The concept originated in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1858, and was revived for Lincoln’s campaign by the city’s young Republicans. Tailored oil-resistant enameled cloth capes distinguished the marchers, some of whom were too young to vote. Their example spread from Hartford to cities in the northeastern United States, which contributed traveling companies totaling some ten thousand uniformed men with torches to a Grand Procession in New York City on October 3, 1860. The martial spectacle—including fireworks, Lincoln “Wide Awake” transparencies, and floats—created envy among the city’s Democrats, and panic among southern sympathizers who regarded the torch-lit parade as a provocation.
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
gray (overall color)
overall: 10 1/2 in x 3 1/4 in; 26.67 cm x 8.255 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Political Campaigns
See more items in
Political History: Political History, Campaign Collection
Government, Politics, and Reform
American Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History