Fig. 3. This cartoon pictures William Henry Harrison, Martin Van Buren, Hugh Lawson White, and Daniel Webster as horses in the 1836 presidential election. Each is ridden by a jockey emblematic of the candidate’s background, with “Old Tippecanoe” bearing a rugged frontiersman on his way to victory over Van Buren’s ties with lame duck Andrew Jackson, followed by the Southern gentleman White and the proper New Englander Webster. The title of the cartoon furthers the metaphor, referring to the election as part of the “Fall Races” at the “Union Track.” Racing events were clustered into biannual week-long race meetings, one in the spring and one in the fall. “Political Race Course—Union Track—Fall Races 1836,” lithograph, engraved by H.R. Robinson (29.3 x 44.3 cm.), New York, 1836. Courtesy of the Political Cartoon Collection, American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Massachusetts. Click on image to enlarge in new window.


Welcome to Commonplace, a destination for exploring and exchanging ideas about early American history and culture. A bit less formal than a scholarly journal, a bit more scholarly than a popular magazine, Commonplace speaks—and listens—to scholars, museum curators, teachers, hobbyists, and just about anyone interested in American history before 1900. It is for all sorts of people to read about all sorts of things relating to early American life—from architecture to literature, from politics to parlor manners. It’s a place to find insightful analysis of early American history as it is discussed in scholarly literature, as it manifests on the evening news, as it is curated in museums, big and small; as it is performed in documentary and dramatic films and as it shows up in everyday life.

In addition to critical evaluations of books and websites (Reviews) and poetic research and fiction (Creative Writing), our articles explore material and visual culture (Objects); pedagogy, the writing of literary scholarship, and the historian’s craft (Teach); and diverse aspects of America’s past and its many peoples (Learn). For more great content, check out our other projects, (Just Teach One) and (Just Teach One African American Print).


How to cite Commonplace articles:

Author, “Title of Article,” Commonplace: the journal of early American life, date accessed, URL.

Sophie White, “Trading Looks Race, Religion and Dress in French America,” Commonplace: the journal of early American life, accessed September 30, 2019, http://commonplace.online/article/trading-looks-race-religion-dress-french-america/


Joshua R. Greenberg, editor


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