I came across this interesting depiction of Joseph Roswell Hawley today. I have not begun writing yet, but things are progressing readily enough with the research, literature review, and other aspects of the biography. This card was part of the 1888 Duke Honest Long Cut “Presidential Possibilities” series. Tobacco cards were not just for baseball players; Duke (the American Tobacco Company after a series of mergers in 1890) and its competitors manufactured cards for all types of events and programs for decades, well into the twentieth century. All told there were twenty-five cards in the 1888 set, which is probably a good ten to fifteen more candidates than was realistic. Every election usually starts off with ten to twelve hopefuls who then drop out along the way. They probably created so many to appeal to customers–and everyone smoked in this era–across the nation. That said, the selections are heavily skewed to candidates from the North, West, and Civil War border states. The Deep South is not represented at all.
In 1888 Hawley himself had already been in the Senate for seven years and was at the height of his powers. What I find interesting about the list are the other potential candidates. There was incumbent Grover Cleveland, eventual winner (but popular vote loser) Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley (the 1896 winner), John Sherman (brother of William Tecumseh and Senate colleague of Joseph R.), Gilded Age powerbroker and seemingly perennial candidate James Blaine (Ha!), Benjamin Butler, and even Robert Todd Lincoln (probably added for the cachet of his last name). The list speaks volumes about the influence of the Civil War generation decades after the war’s end, and are wonderful pieces of Americana.