Whig Rose

November, 2008

Whig Rose

Probably made by Del Patterson
Whig Rose

Circa 1895-1905
Lincoln County, Tennessee
Ardis and Robert James Collection, 1997.007.0261

The Whig Rose quilt pattern is often linked to the American Whig party formed in the winter of 1833-1834 by former National Republicans such as Henry Clay and John Quincy Adams. The Whigs were active on the political scene until 1856. They protested against the policies of President Andrew Jackson and the Democratic Party.

The name was chosen because "Whig" was a widely recognized label during the American Revolution for people opposed to autocratic rule and later became a label for those opposed to a dominant political party system.

No evidence exists, however, that 19th-century quilters called this popular pattern Whig Rose, though many, many quilts of this design were made after 1860. The first published source, identified in the Encyclopedia of Appliqué Design by Barbara Brackman, was in the magazine "Household Journal" in 1912.

Today we are left to wonder if quilts in this popular pattern were truly a political statement or simply a pattern that reflected the fashion of their time.