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Classic Covers: Election

Republican Convention


Republican Convention by John Falter from June 19, 1948


Republican Convention
by John Falter
from June 19, 1948

The delegates are ready in this 1948 cover by artist John Falter. If you’re tying to make out the candidate’s face on those signs, save yourself the eyestrain; the image is purposely vague because … it wasn’t decided yet! And if you’re an aficionado of Post literature from this era, note the distinguished white-haired gentleman in the lower right-hand corner. Writer Clarence Budington Kelland was a long-time party leader.


The Great Debate


The Great Debate by Norman Rockwell from October 30, 1948


The Great Debate
by Norman Rockwell
from October 30, 1948

He’s for Dewey; she’s for Truman. The poor kid, the dog and the cat (on the back of her chair) are for peace. The Rockwell classic “was always one of my husband’s favorites,” said Bess Truman who spoke of the original painting that found its home, appropriately, in the Truman Library. “He enjoyed showing it to visitors when toured the library’s museum.”

1948 was not the first time Norman Rockwell showed a couple on either side of the great political divide—see below.


Election Debate


Election Debate by Norman Rockwell from October 9, 1920


Election Debate
by Norman Rockwell
from October 9, 1920

The election of 1920, in the aftermath of World War I, brought Warren G. Harding vs. James M. Cox. This time the wife is for the Republican (Harding) and hubby is sure he is right about Cox.

The newspaper she holds shows Rockwell’s talent for portraiture—that’s his depiction of Harding, not a photograph, as with his depictions of Dewey and Truman above. In later years his political portraits would include Humphrey, Goldwater, and on subsequent Saturday Evening Post covers, candidates Eisenhower and Stevenson in 1956, and Nixon and Kennedy in 1960 (see “Post Presidential Covers”).

As for these two Rockwell covers, it would be, well, impolitic, to point out that the woman was right both times. So we won’t.


Politics by a Potbelly Stove

Politics by a Potbelly Stove by Robert Robinson from November 26, 1910


Politics by a Potbelly Stove
by Robert Robinson
from November 26, 1910

It was politics by a potbellied stove in 1910. Dang that dad-burned Teddy Roosevelt, anyhow. This cover is by Robert Robinson, whom we know little about today, except that he was great at painting old geezers. It shows us one thing: folks will argue about politics even when no one is listening (much as politicians will keep speaking).


Post-Convention Clean-up


Post Convention Clean-up by Constantin Alajalov. from August 18, 1956


Post-Convention Clean-up
by Constantin Alajalov
from August 18, 1956

“Ladies and gentlemen of this great nation, if elected I promise to clean up—and I’ve got the broom to do it!”

This 1956 view of the “after-party” was by Constantin Alajalov. It is a cover that inspires and gives hope: soon this will all be over!


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  • Mr. Neumann’s points are excellent and totally true. My two favorites are also the family/couple divided one’s, and the argument by the potbelly stove; not just artistically, but conceptually.

    Sadly, I suppose, I just can’t even imagine a couple or anyone really, arguing over candidates today, or even the past few decades. Most Presidencies within my lifetime have ranged from tragic (age 6 1/2) to failed in one manner or another. This, coupled with the average American just trying to survive, not feeling that we even matter at all, has left most of us feeling for years now no President is going to come along on a white horse and ‘save the day’. So quiet, brief opinion have largely replaced the depictions seen in these wonderful charming covers.

  • Charles Neumann

    Some excellent Post covers on elections. I loved the Rockwell family divided ones, but the two at the conventions were really interesting. In those days, the conventions would often decide the nominee, today that is long since determined. That is one reason the conventions are not as important as they once were.