Bits & Pieces... by David Sundman

Fremont’s Tokens

Fremont's Tokens

Tokens were used extensively in the 19th century political campaigns to raise interest and promote candidates and their causes. You may be surprised to know that John C. Fremont, (1813-1890) explorer and mapmaker of the American West, (shown on the token at left) was the first Republican presidential candidate in 1856. I had always believed Lincoln was the first in 1860, but the Republicans met first in 1856 in Philadelphia. Lincoln was considered, but not chosen as Fremont's vice-presidential running mate. The new GOP party adopted “Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Speech, Free Man, Fremont” as its rallying cry – but the political token shown above only had room for “Free Soil, Free Speech.” The “31 S.” notation on the back refers to the 31 States in the Union, California being the last admitted in 1850. Fremont lost to James Buchanan, the Democrat on November 4, 1856 capturing about a third of the votes.