My mother-in-law Toby passed away nearly a year ago and had apparently asked that I receive these buttons, most of which are Norman Thomas campaign offerings. But there are a few mysteries, and I know there are a few lefties around here who may have some insight.
I think you can make the jpeg pretty large after two clicks, which helps cut through some of the clear plastic glare from the scanner.
The buttons originally belonged to my wife’s grandfather, Joseph Glass, who was a labor attorney who ran for various NY offices on the Socialist ticket, but I don’t have any buttons from his campaigns unfortunately. The first button is probably the oldest or the second oldest, as James Mauer was his running mate in 28 and 32. We’ve already located one online sale of an identical button for $75.00. It’s probably the most valuable, though I have no intention of selling any of them in my lifetime. My kids can decide what to do with them when I’m gone.
But the “No AEF” button may be older. I can’t think of anything it stands for other than American Expeditionary Forces, presumably those which were sent into the Soviet Union just after WWI. Does anybody have any other ideas?
I am assuming that the Don’t join Jim Crow Army button (two of them in the bunch) was associated with the effort led by A. Phillip Randolph to desegregate the military, and may have been generated for the intended March on Washington?
The lower right corner button is difficult to read. It reads “Unite May Day for Peace and Security.” Security? Post-war, during, or pre-war? The other May Day (1937) button reads “unite labor against reaction.” I know the political definition of “reaction,” but I’m wondering about the specific context.
Opposition to the New Deal?
I don’t know who Thomas Nelson was, but I have one of his campaign buttons.
Oh, there’s one which opposed Roosevelt’s third term put out by a group calling itself “the Constitutionalists.” But I’m not familiar with any applicable Constitutional provisions to prohibit a third term at the time. Presumably the button was associated with the 1940 Thomas campaign (with running mate Maynard Krueger), but it probably could have been generated by Republicans as well as
The “Keep the US out of war – boycott Japanese goods” also has me curious as to the timing and the precise meaning. It doesn’t say “the war,” and I don’t know how long we were trading with Japan before we were attacked. And I’m not certain how the boycott would keep us out of war. Seems like it would make war
with Japan more likely. But I don’t know the context. Did it have something to do with “cash and carry” policies?
And I have no clue as to what the “Ford Drive” was or what was meant by “my dollar is paid.” The button contains the year dates 1937 and 1938. Was it a labor drive?
The button in the lower left corner reads “there’s a U (you) in the United Nations.” The left doesn’t celebrate the UN anymore really. Was the SP gung-ho about it at the time?
I would be grateful for any information about these buttons. If anyone can point me to anything written by or about Joseph Glass, who died in the early 80s, I would also be grateful for that.
Thanks to John Rogers for scanning them for me. I was having problems.