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NH Published First Illustrated Newspaper in 1839

Whip_and_Spur cartoon Presents 
Historic Portsmouth #431

I know the drawing is crude, but bear with me. It shows a member of the Whig Party riding a keg of hard cider during a political rally for candidate William Henry Harrison in 1840. I cleaned it up as best I could in PhotoShop because you should see this important sketch. It appeared on the front page of THE WHIP & SPUR published in Newport, NH.  (Continued below)


The copy given to me by a reader was delivered to a Portsmouth subscriber over 170 years ago. If you think the Obama-Romney presidential campaign is tough, you should read the newspapers back then. President Martin Van Buren had inherited a nation on the brink of financial disaster with high inflation and unemployment. The president, a Democrat, failed to take corrective action in the Panic of 1837 when 618 banks failed. Fearful of losing the White House, the Democrats depicted the Whigs as a drunken rabble (seen here) and suggested that Harrison would rather have a barrel of hard cider than be president. The attack backfired when the Whigs characterized their candidate as a homespun log cabin-type guy with whom voters could have a beer. Although he was not that guy, Harrison won the election. (One sign here reads: “Take care of the rich, and they will take care of the poor.”)

The 1840 campaign was a game-changer for the American political system, proving voters were susceptible to “image-making” and public relations. Americans appeared more interested in emotions and the candidate’s personality than in issues and politics. Especially intriguing here are the drawings that were used to influence readers. NH editor Henry Baldwin created original cartoons for the head of each weekly issue. While Wikipedia lists The Illustrated London News as the world’s first illustrated newspaper, the WHIP & SPUR was already doing it in 1839. (Courtesy

Whip and Spur cartoon about the Whig Party in 1840





(c) 2012 by / J. Dennis Robinson



I have seen your story in the October 4, 2012 Portsmouth Herald. I am a member of the NewportN.H.Historical Society and I am on the Museum Committee. Thank you for helping to get the word out about the Whip & Spur. Have you seen the article in the January 1906 Granite State Monthly? We have about 38 issues, but are missing many and are always trying to complete the collection. Reading them is a lesson in history. I was reading an 1852 issue when Franklin Pierce was running against Scott. It said that three were running. I looked it up and found that Senator John P. Hale from New Hampshire was also on the ticket. (His daughter was engaged to John Wilkes Booth, READ MORE.) Another NewportN.H. subject you may want to look into is Eugene Belknap. Wheelers History of Newport is on line and it gives a great account of the man. Also some great information about him in some of the Granite Monthly back issues. Then of course Sarah J. (Buell) Hale was born in Newport in 1788. Info on her can also be found in Wheeler. Ebenizer Allen is another great story about a man fromNewport. Born in Newport in 1826, I believe, graduated from Dartmouth, came back to Newport to study law, moved to Maine. Moved to Texas and was the Secretary of State for the Country of Texas. Helped Texas to become a state. Avocated Texas leave the Union over States Rights for the Civil War. The city of Allen Texas is named for him.
Dr. Thacher was born in Newport and invented the "modern" glass bottle. NewportN.H. has a really rich history. Good luck in paying that mortgage.
Respectfully, Larry Cote




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