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Presidential Library & Museum

Gold Bug Pin. Worn buy supporters of William McKinley.

When William McKinley ran for president in 1896, one of his platforms was the gold standard. He believed that every US dollar should be backed up by 100 cents worth of gold. His opponent, William Jennings Bryan, campaigned on the free coinage of silver in a 16 to 1 ratio. McKinley supporters became known as Gold Bugs because of this central campaign issue. Some even wore lapel pins in the shape of bugs to signify their support for McKinley. These pins usually did not even have the word McKinley written on them. Contemporaries would have been well-versed in the positions of the presidential candidates, so they would have recognized the gold bug symbol right away. The Museum’s collection includes a handful of these interesting pieces of campaign memorabilia. We’re always looking to add to our collection, so please let us know if you ever find one!