Whig’s Defeat or Democratic Victory

Whig’s Defeat or Democratic Victory

Artist: Made by Mariah Aikman Trayler
Type: Pieced and appliqued cotton, linen
Year: circa 1850
Size/Dimensions: 79 ¼ x 67 ½ in.
Origin: Gift of Dula Mariah Wood Hook
Accession Number: 95.76

The “Whig’s Defeat” pattern, also called “Democratic Victory,” is tied to the victory of Jacksonian Democrat James Polk against Whig candidate Henry Clay during the presidential election of 1844. Created to combat the Jacksonian Democrats during the 1830’s and 1840s, the American Whig party gained a considerable following in Arkansas in 1844. The quilt pattern may have evolved following the defeat of Henry Clay. The explosiveness of American politics during the period inspired American women to give their quilts such patriotic names as Democrat Rose, Clay’s Choice, Lincoln’s platform, and one of the earliest, Whig’s Defeat.

The genius of Mariah Aikman Trayler’s quilt lies in her use of negative space. Upon closer examination, it is evident that Trayler began her quilt with 10 individually pieced squares (plus two half-squares), each consisting of blue-and-white diamond borders, and four pink petals augmenting the corners. Each pieced square was then appliquéd to the quilt top, to form an overall circular design. Trayler quilted the whitework with the finest and most intricate stitches.

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Whig’s Defeat or Democratic Victory