In the nineteenth century, it was common for political groups to organize marching clubs. Men would parade in military style uniforms with capes and helmets and carry flaming torches. In Montgomery County, probably no such group was as large and well known as the Republican Invincibles. Founded in 1880, the club was primarily interested in presidential and gubernatorial elections. In between, it was mainly a social club of the kind of which nineteenth-century Americans couldn’t get enough. It’s annual dinner was required the largest hall in Norristown.
We have two remnants of the Republican Invincibles in our collection. This is a ribbon that would have been worn by a member at an event like the annual dinner.
The ribbon below is from the first year of the Invincibles, 1880. It has photographs of the Republican candidates, James A. Garfield and Chester A. Arthur.
Until the election of 1880, Montgomery County had been solidly Democratic. Fans of Montgomery County history will know that the Democratic candidate in 1880 was our own Winfield Scott Hancock. Despite a highly respected career in the Civil War and a very close popular vote, Hancock lost his home county by one vote. Perhaps the Republican Invincibles played a role.