Williams’ Political Shaving Soap, 1896

As some of y’all are hurtling towards an election, lets examine a political conundrum from the 1896 election

Why do men of all parties vote for Williams’ Shaving Soap? Or at least, why did they one hundred and twenty eight years ago?

Men of all parties, we are told, had for more than half a century voted unanimously for Williams. Which is a claim that makes sense, since Williams claimed to be the oldest real shaving soap.

Williams, we’re told, are voted for because it has absolute purity, rich and creamy lather, as well as soothing and healing qualities. While the last claim may be a little hard to prove, the last Williams’ soap that was manufactured was pretty good soap, at least in my opinion

The advertisement also pokes a little fun at the various parties that fielded candidates in the election. The “sound money men” were Republicans, who wanted to keep the US on the gold standard. “Silverites” refers to the Democrats, who wanted the US of the gold standard. The “Populists” were the People’s Party, a prominent third party advocating agrarianism. And lastly “Prohibitionists” of course refer to the Prohibition Party, who’s major platform was – unsurprisingly – prohibition.

But no matter their political leanings, the advertisement claims, all men voted for Williams’ Shaving Soap… which could be had in several forms. The delightfully perfumed shaving tablet – which seems to be a precursor to the Mug Soap – for 25 cents. The Genuine Yankee cake, yours for ten cent. Shaving sticks for 25 cents a piece. And if you forked over a whooping 40 cents, you got a pound of soap in six individual cakes.

Oh, and the election? Won by William McKinley, who went on to become the third (and second to last) US president to be assassinated.

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