1860 - 1880 "Whig's Defeat" Quilt Top

This example of the “Whig’s Defeat” pattern was made in the mid-nineteenth century, probably in Arkansas. The quilter pieced and appliquéd six 25¾-inch blocks, using red and white cottons to make the quilt top. The blocks were set with 3-inch red and white pieced sashing and a 4¼-inch border.
The pattern, “Whig’s Defeat,” has been linked to the victory of Democrat James Polk, over Whig candidate Henry Clay in the 1844 presidential election. Whether the quilter chose the pattern as a political statement or merely for its design is unknown.
The quilt top was part of a donation to the Smithsonian by G. Ruth McHenry in 1961. It may have been in the family of Jane Winter Price, who made a “Carpenter’s Wheel” quilt that is also in the Collection.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
Physical Description
fabric, cotton (overall material)
thread, cotton, silk (overall material)
overall: 104 in x 92 in; 264.16 cm x 233.68 cm
place made
United States: Arkansas
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Textiles
Domestic Furnishings
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Miss G. Ruth McHenry
Additional Media

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