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How Two 1950s Kids Playing on the Railroad Tracks Found a National Treasure

Posted by Jean-Yves on Feb 14, 2020

In 1959, the Smithsonian Institution received a letter from Mrs. James “Shirley C.” Wade offering to sell a linen banner bearing an ink portrait of the third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson. An eagle carried the Jefferson portrait victoriously aloft framed in a halo of seven-pointed stars. From the bird’s beak streamed a ribbon proclaiming: “T. Jefferson President of the United States. John Adams is No More.”

The imagery was crafted in the foment of a bitter campaign that was barely resolved by a voting system so flawed (a problem later clarified by the 12th amendment) that it required congressional intervention to deliver Jefferson’s victory.

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