Tag Archives: kings

Civil War Sampler: #1 White House

As promised, here is the first of my Civil War Sampler quilt blocks.

This square is called White House (read story, view pattern and other examples on Barbara Brackman’s blog). It is the first square in the book (though not so on the blog), and I am doing them in book-order.

White House, completed June 30, 2018

White House, completed June 30, 2018

As I mentioned in my previous post, I made my first two blocks before actually reading the stories that went along with them. I was too excited to start sewing to bother with any non-essential reading! Therefore, this first block is done in purple and gold simply because I love purple. I had given no thought to the title of the block or the story when choosing the colors. (If I had, I imagine I likely would have gone with something literal, involving white—although the flower print is on white—or something red, white, and blue.)

I did give special extra thought to figuring out how to do the gold pieces as single rectangles instead of the two-squares method shown in the pattern, because I wanted to use that striped fabric and not have the stripes line-up wrong. Silly me, it didn’t occur to me until I was all done that maybe I should have done the same thing with the purple flowered print as well; oh well, it’s not as obvious or bothersome in the print as it would have been in the stripes.

Something I just thought of while writing these blog posts is that, if you think about it, you could say that the colors of purple and gold were good choices for a block strongly tied to the leader of the nation.

For one thing, the color purple has long been associated with royalty because it was a very expensive color to make, and only the richest could afford it. (More on purple as royal from History.com.) And gold would go along with that, because obviously gold is expensive as well. (I picked it because it looks good with purple…probably because of that whole color-wheel thing.)

And then, using the “royal purple” as a segue: there have been many comparisons between United States Presidents and kings, usually in a negative way from opponents.

The first one I thought of was “King Andy” – Andrew Johnson, who was Lincoln’s vice president and of course then became president after Lincoln was assassinated.

“King Andy, How He Will Look And What He Will Do,” cartoon by Thomas Nast, Harper’s Weekly, 1866 Nov 3. (Image via NewYorkTimes.com)

In looking for the above cartoon online (I had seen it before a long time ago), Google searches for “King Andy political cartoon” promptly returned first and foremost a caricature of of President Andrew Jackson from 1833.

Then, I thought, I bet somebody at some point claimed that Abraham Lincoln himself was behaving like a king and made a comic about it. *googles that* Sure enough, I found this one:

“King Abraham before and after issuing the Emancipation Proclamation,” Southern Illustrated News, 1862. (Image via Lehrman Institute, “Abraham Lincoln’s Classroom”)

The Lincoln cartoon doesn’t make much sense (or fit the royal theme) without its caption: “King Abraham before and after issuing the Emancipation Proclamation.” For more on the symbolism in this cartoon, I highly recommend checking out the Lehrman Institute’s “Abraham Lincoln’s Classroom” site where I found it.

Though I’m sure just about every president has probably been negatively equated with a “king” at some point or another by somebody, a few other examples come to mind, not necessarily negative ones.

The first president George Washington is sometimes referred to as “the man who would not be king” (such as in this 1992 PBS documentary by the same title), alluding that he could have been king (Americans were used to having a king, they just didn’t want George III anymore, right?), but that he did not wish it to be that way.

I also think of a couple of 20th century presidents and something I remember Dr. Ed Haas talking about in an undergrad Modern American History course. President Franklin D. Roosevelt (Democrat) was elected to FOUR terms as president (though he didn’t serve much of the 4th term because he died). That is a long damn time to have the same president, am I right?

(Ronald Reagan was president for most of my early childhood, and I think at the time I just assumed that’s how the world was. I wonder if kids in the 1930s and early ’40s thought this about FDR?…but I digress.)

Consequently, in 1947, a Republican-majority Congress, miffed about the whole 14+ years of Democratic presidents thing, created the 22nd Amendment, limiting presidents to two terms in office. Ratification was complete in 1951. (More on FDR & the 22nd Amendment from the National Constitution Center.)

A couple years later, it sort of bit them on the ass when Republican Dwight Eisenhower became president, winning two terms quite handily over his opponents and (according to my professor) might have served even longer with popular support, but we’ll never know now, will we?

Boy, for not giving a lot of symbolic thought to the color and fabric choices in this first block before I made it (beyond, you know, “oooh purple!”), I guess I’ve sure given it a lot of thought in hindsight…

Until next time!