Current Exhibitions :: Running for Governor

Monday, January 1, 2007 - Monday, January 15, 2007
West Hall Corridor

Portrait of Governor Dewitt Clinton

De Witt Clinton
Attributed to John Wesley Jarvis (1770-1840)
Oil on Canvas

Since 1777, more than 300 individuals have thrown their hat in the ring to become governor of New York State. Every election, from that of George Clinton to Eliot Spitzer, can be seen as a snapshot of personal aspiration and public opinion.

Election campaigns reflect the human history of the time. Along the campaign trail, candidates discuss, champion, and debate important social issues, economic conditions, and political movements. The issues examined in the Empire State—including contemporary hot topics such as taxes, environment, and education; ongoing issues such as transportation and penal law; and historic issues such as civil rights, suffrage, abolition, and prohibition—have, at times, spurred discussion on a national level. Artifacts from these campaigns, as well as historic objects relating to New York’s governors, help bring the history of earlier eras alive.

The New York State Museum, the New York State Library, and the New York State Archives each hold collections relating to gubernatorial elections from the first in 1777 to the most recent in 2006. The Bill Winnewisser Collection of New York State gubernatorial election memorabilia—a recent addition to these collections—documents all of the state’s gubernatorial campaigns. The several thousand artifacts include manuscripts, photographs, rare broadsides, early campaign buttons, election leaflets and banners, documenting major candidates as well as third parties, reflecting more than two centuries of state politics and social history.

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