American Political Buttons

Election  of  1968


In early January 1968, it appeared the United States was in position to win the Vietnam War, but by late January, the Viet Cong unleashed a coordinated attack across the entire country which became known as the Tet Offensive. By spring, the U.S. was suffering its worst political and social upheaval since the Civil War. Young men were burning their draft cards, and young women were burning their bras. Blacks were becoming more disenchanted with their status in American society, and young people were wearing dirty jeans, tie dyed shirts, sandals, and long hair in protest against the older generations.

Johnson cello Nixon - Agnew Cello
From the collection of Ernie Wentrcek

Doves and Hawks
The country was splitting into two groups, the doves and the hawks.

  • The doves opposed the Vietnam War and sought political and social changes in America.
  • The hawks supported the war effort and wished to maintain the nation's traditional values.

President Johnson's Stunning Announcement
On March 31, Lyndon Johnson shocked the nation when he announced he would not seek re-election in 1968. The announcement threw the Democratic Party into a frenzy with Hubert Humphrey, Eugene McCarthy, and Robert Kennedy seeking to fill the void left by Johnson. In addition, Governor George Wallace of Alabama entered the race on the American Independent Party ticket, with Air Force General Curtis LeMay as his running mate. A few days later, Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, and rioting broke out in black communities across the country.

Goldwater - Miller cello Humphrey - Muskie Cello
From the collection of Ernie Wentrcek

Another Kennedy Assassinated
On June 5, Robert Kennedy had just won a close victory over McCarthy in the California primary. An hour later, he was dead - killed by an assassin's bullet to the head. Kennedy's supporters rejected McCarthy and threw their support to Senator George McGovern of South Dakota.

Wallace cello Wallace Cello
From the collection of Ernie Wentrcek

The Conventions
In early August, the Republican Party held their convention in Miami, Florida, where Richard Nixon was expected to be nominated. He faced some early competition from Governor Nelson Rockefeller of New York and Governor Ronald Reagan of California, but easily won the nomination. Governor Spiro Agnew of Maryland was selected as Nixon's running mate.

In late August, the Democrats met in Chicago. Their convention turned into an ugly brawl inside and outside of the hall.

  • Police attacked and beat anti-war protesters camped on the convention grounds.
  • Lyndon Johnson manipulated the convention agenda to assure the nomination of Hubert Humphrey, who had not won a single election during the primaries.

The Fall Campaign
During the fall campaign Nixon, Humphrey, and Wallace faced disruptive crowds.

  • Nixon's staff attempted to keep the hippies away from his events and often used physical force to rough them up.
  • Wallace got into shouting matches with the hecklers and threatened violence against them.
  • Humphrey, without much luck, tried to reason with the protesters.

By late October, Humphrey was gaining on Nixon while Wallace was falling to a distant third. Nixon, anticipating Johnson would try to boost Humphrey's chances by starting peace talks with North Vietnam, went into action.

  • He used secret, back-channel contacts to inform the South Vietnamese leader, President Nguyen Van Thieu, that he would receive better results if he waited for a Nixon victory.
  • In late October, the North Vietnamese agreed to start peace talks, and on November 2, Humphrey passed Nixon in the polls.
  • But later that day, Thieu, following Nixon's lead, scuttled the peace talks.

Election Results
On November 5, Americans went to the polls. As the results trickled in, Humphrey and Nixon took turns holding the lead. The race was so close that Nixon was not declared the winner until noon the next day. Humphrey received 42.7 percent of the popular vote to Nixon's 43.4 percent and Wallace's 13.5 percent. But in the electoral college, Nixon swept to 301 votes to Humphrey's 191. Wallace was a distant third with 46 electoral votes. In Nixon's acceptance speech, he promised to bring the divided nation back together.


1968 Campaign Items From the collection of Ernie Wentrcek - Click on the images to see a larger photo and description.
Richard M. Nixon and Spiro T. Agnew - Republican Party
1968/Nixon-Agnew ~ 1.5 inch jugate cello
1968/nixon-agnew-cello-1
1968/nixon-agnew-cello-2
1968/Nixon-Agnew ~ 1.25 inch jugate cello
1968/nixon-cello-1
1968/nixon-agnew-cello-3
1968/nixon-agnew-cello-4
1968/Nixon-Agnew ~ 15/16 inch jugate cello
1968/Nixon's the One ~ 3 inch cello button
1968/Nixon-Agnew 1.75 inch jugate cello
1968/nixon-cello-2
1968/Nixon ~ Agnew 1.5 inch cello jugate button
1968/nixon-cello-3
1968/Nixon ~ 1.5 inch jugate cello
1968/Nixon ~ 1.25 inch jugate cello
1968/Nixon ~ 1.75 inch jugate cello
1968/Nixon ~ 1.5 inch jugate cello
1968/Nixon ~ 2 1/8 inch jugate cello
1968/Nixon ~ 1.75 inch jugate cello
1968/Nixon ~ 1.75 inch jugate cello

Hubert H. Humphrey and Edmund S. Muskie - Democratic Party
1968/Hubert Humphrey brochure
1968/hhh-cello-1
1968/hhh-cello-2
1968/Humphrey-Muskie ~ 1.5 inch jugate cello
1968/hhh-cello-3
1968/hhh-cello-4
1968/hhh-cello-5
1968/Cardboard Fan from the 1956 Democratic National Convention
1968/hhh-muskie-cello-1
1968/Hubert Humphrey ~ 2 1/8 inch cello button
1968/hhh-muskie-cello-2
1968/hhh-muskie-cello-3
1968/hhh-muskie-doorhanger-1
1968/hhh-muskie-litho-1
1968/Hubert Humphrey sticker
1968/Humphrey-Muskie ~ 2.75 inch jugate cello
1968/Hubert Humphrey ~ 7/8 inch jugate cello button
1968/Hubert Humphrey for U.S. Senator ~ 1.5 inch litho button
1968/Hubert Humphrey ~ 2.25 inch cello button
1968/Humphrey-Muskie Texas Citizens Card
1968/Humphrey-Muskie 1.25 inch jugate cello button
1968/Humphrey-Muskie 1.25 inch jugate cello button
1968/Humphrey-Muskie 1.25 inch Labor jugate cello button
1968/Humphrey-Muskie ~ 15/16 inch jugate cello

George C. Wallace and Curtis E. LeMay - American Independent Party
1968/Wallace cello
1968/George Wallace Texas Campaign Poster
1968/Wallace cello
1968/Wallace and LeMay 1. 5 inch jugate cello button
1968/Wallace cello
1968/Wallace cello
1968/George Wallace - Amarillo, Texas card
1968/Wallace cello
1968/George Wallace - Kirbyville, Texas BBQ Fund Raising Ticket
1968/Wallace cello
1968/Wallace cello
1968/Wallace cello
1968/Wallace cello
1968/Wallace litho
1968/Wallace-LeMay Jugate Cello Button
1968/George Wallace brochure

Robert F. Kennedy - Democratic Party - Assassinated in June 1968
1968/rfk-cello-1
1968/rfk-cello-2
1968/rfk-cello-3
1968/Robert F. Kennedy 8.5 inch x 11 inch poster
1968/rfk-cello-4
1968/rfk-cello-5
1968/rfk-litho-1

Henning A. Blomen and George Taylor - Socialist Labor Party
1968/Blomen and Taylor ~ 1.5 inch jugate cello button

Dick Gregory and Mark Lane or Dr. Spock- Freedom & Peace Party (Write-in Candidate)
1968/Gregory and Lane ~ 1.25 inch cello button
1968/Gregory and Spock ~ 1.25 inch jugate cello button

Fred Halstead and Paul Boutelle - Socialist Workers Party
1968/Halstead and Boutelle ~ 1.25 inch cello jugate button

Eldridge Cleaver and Judith Mage - Freedom & Peace Party (Regular Candidate)
1968/Eldridge Cleaver ~ 1.75 inch cello button

Eugene McCarthy - Independent
1968/mccarthy-cello-1
1968/Eugene McCarthy ~ 1.75 inch cello button
1968/Eugene McCarthy 1.25 inch cello
1968/Eugene McCarthy ~ 1.25 inch cello button
1968/Eugene McCarthy ~ 1.75 inch cello button
1968/mccarthy-cello-2

Charlene Mitchell and Michael Zagarell - Communist Party USA
1968/Mitchell and Zagarell ~ 1.5 inch cello jugate button

E. Harold Munn and Rolland Fisher - Prohibition Party
1968/Munn and Fisher ~ 1.25 inch cello jugate button

Presidential Candidate Vice Presidential Candidate Party Popular Vote Electoral Vote
Richard M. Nixon Spiro T. Agnew Republican 31,785,480 301
Hubert H. Humphrey Edmund S. Muskie Democratic 31,275,166 191
George C. Wallace Curtis E. LeMay American Independent 9,906,473 46
Henning A. Blomen George Taylor Socialist Labor 52,588 0
Dick Gregory Mark Lane or Dr. Spock Freedom & Peace (Write-in Candidate) 47,138 0
Fred Halstead Paul Boutelle Socialist Workers 41,388 0
Eldridge Cleaver Judith Mage Peace & Freedom 36,563 0
Eugene J. McCarthy Independent 25,552 0
E. Harold Munn Rolland Fisher Prohibition 15,123 0
Charlene Mitchell Michael Zagarell Communist Party USA 1,075 0

Source:  Historical Statistics of the United States, Colonial Times to 1970, By United States. Bureau Of The Census, Series Y 79-83.


Texas Political Items From the collection of Ernie Wentrcek - Click on the images to see a larger photo and description.
George H. W. Bush ~ Republican Party ~ Served in U.S. Congress from Texas' 7th District (1967-1971). Lost his 1964 and 1970 bids for U.S. Senate.
George Bush for U.S. Senate ~ 1.25 inch cello button
George Bush ~ tab
George Bush for U.S. Senate ~ Brochure
George Bush ~ 1.75 inch Bush Belles cello button
George Bush ~ Bush Belles pin
George Bush for U.S. Senate ~ Brochure
George Bush for U.S. Congress ~ Brochure
George Bush ~ 7/8 inch litho button
George Bush ~ 7/8 inch litho button
George Bush for U.S. Senate ~ Letterhead
George Bush ~ 7/8 inch litho button
George Bush ~ 7/8 inch cello button
George Bush ~ 7/8 inch cello button
George Bush for U.S. Senate ~ Postcard
George Bush ~ 7/8 inch litho button
George Bush for U.S. Senate ~ Brochure
George Bush for U.S. Senate ~ Wooden Nickel
Bush Family ~ Three Generations Postcard

Preston Smith ~ Democratic Party ~ Elected to Texas House of Representatives in 1944, and then to the Texas Senate in 1956. Served as Texas' Lieutenant Governor (1963-69). Elected Texas' 40th Governor in 1968 and again in 1970. Both times he defeated Paul W. Eggers. He then lost his attempt for a third term when he was defeated by Dolph Briscoe in the Democratic primary of 1972.
Preston Smith for Governor ~ 1.25 inch cello button
Preston Smith for Lieutenant Governor ~ Campaign Brochure
Preston Smith for Governor ~ 2.25 inch cello button
Preston Smith for Governor ~ Campaign Brochure
Preston Smith for Governor ~ 1.75 inch cello button
Preston Smith for Governor ~ 1.25 inch cello button
Preston Smith for Governor ~ 1.75 inch cello button
Preston Smith for Governor ~ Campaign Postcard
Preston Smith for Governor ~ 3.5 inch cello button
Preston Smith for Governor ~ Campaign Card
Preston Smith for Governor ~ 2.5 inch cloth button
Preston Smith for Governor ~ 1.75 inch cello button

Paul W. Eggers ~ Republican Party ~ He lost to Preston Smith in the 1968 and 1970 Texas governor races. These were his only two attempts to win public office at any level. Eggers was a close ally of John Tower.
Paul Eggers for Governor ~ 2.25 inch cello button
Paul Eggers for Governor ~ 1 3/8 inch litho button
Paul Eggers for Governor ~ Campaign Brochure
Paul Eggers for Governor ~ 2.25 inch cello button
Paul Eggers for Governor ~ Campaign Brochure
Paul Eggers for Governor ~ 1 3/8 inch litho button
Paul Eggers for Governor ~ 5/8 inch cello button
Paul Eggers for Governor ~ 2.25 inch cello button

John Hill ~ Democratic Party ~ He lost his 1968 Democratic primary bid for governor. In the 1978 Democratic primary he defeated Dolph Briscoe, but lost the general election for governor to the Republican - Bill Clements.
John Hill for Governor ~ Campaign Card
John Hill for Governor ~ 2.25 inch cello button
John Hill for Governor ~ Campaign Brochure