What Was the "Log Cabin and Hard Cider" Campaign?

The "Log Cabin and Hard Cider" campaign is the nickname given to William Henry Harrison's 1840 presidential campaign. Democrats characterized him as a man who preferred to sit in his log cabin and drink hard cider than run a country.

Rather than deny the allegations that their candidate had little interest in the White House, the Whigs embraced it, calling Harrison the country's "hard cider candidate." Philadelphia distiller E.C. Booz allegedly handed out hard cider at some of Harrison's campaign rallies. The Whig party created campaign posters that celebrated Harrison as a hometown hero, though he was anything but that. He may have enjoyed hard cider, but his lavish lifestyle often left him in debt.

Voters didn't care, if they even knew. They wanted a president who seemed more like them, and the Whigs gave them who they wanted. While Van Buren steered debate toward issues that the country faced, Harrison appealed to the heart of the American people, a better strategy given the current depression. The American people loved it, and Harrison trounced incumbent Martin Van Buren.

Historians credit this campaign as the first decided by remaking a candidate's public image, and as the first that used slogans and songs. The "Log Cabin and Hard Cider" campaign changed American politics, though Harrison wouldn't be around long enough to enjoy it. He died of pneumonia 30 days after taking office.