Parties and Platforms

Campaigns and Nominations

What were some notable campaign slogans?

Many memorable presidential campaign slogans can be found in political history. Slogans often express something of the character or platform of the candidate, or they may just be catchy phrases crafted to attract voters. In 1840, presidential hopeful William Henry Harrison and his running mate John Tyler ran for election under one of the catchiest campaign slogans in history, “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too!” In 1844, James K. Polk ran under the slogan “54 degrees, 40 minutes or Fight!” The slogan referred to the latitude parallel of 54 degrees, 40 minutes—the area of the Oregon Territory subject to dispute with Great Britain. This slogan was adopted by those who stood by Polk’s desire to have the United States own this territory, or go to war for it. In 1856, western explorer and national hero John Frémont won the first Republican presidential nomination with the slogan, “Free Soil, Free Men, Frémont,” which referred to the antislavery platform of Freémont and the Republicans.

During his reelection campaign of 1864, when the country was divided by war and party, Lincoln encouraged voters, “Don’t swap horses in the middle of the stream.” In 1869, during the era of Reconstruction, Ulysses S. Grant ran on the slogan “Let Us Have Peace.” In 1896, “Patriotism, Protection, and Prosperity” were the key words for William McKinley. In 1924, Calvin Coolidge and his supporters touted “Keep Cool with Coolidge,” a slogan that reflected the public’s sense of optimism over the economy. In 1928, Herbert Hoover promised “A Chicken in Every Pot, and a Car in Every Garage.” Harry S. Truman ran under the slogan “Give ‘em Hell, Harry!” for his 1948 campaign, a phrase with which he was forever associated. In 1952, voters liked the catchy “I Like Ike” slogan that Dwight D. Eisenhower adopted.

Late twentieth-century slogans have tended to discuss the concept of a new America. In 1980, Ronald Reagan implored voters, “Let’s Make America Great Again.” In 1988, George Bush promised “A Kinder, Gentler Nation.” In 1996, Bill Clinton promised he was, “Building a Bridge to the 21st Century.” George W. Bush’s campaign slogan of “Compassionate Conservatism” also became a catchphrase for his first administration.


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