The County Election

7-B George Caleb Bingham, The County Election, 1852 George Caleb Bingham (1811–1879), The County Election, 1852. Oil on canvas, 38 x 52 in. (96.5 x 132.1 cm.). Saint Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, Mo., Gift of Bank of America.

Some Background:

Missouri artist George Caleb Bingham grew up in Arrow Rock, a small town on the Missouri River. He is known for his paintings of Missouri river life and politics. This painting, which is one of three in Bingham’s Election Series, shows the voting process in Missouri before the Civil War. The artist shows a large crowd of men casting their votes. Clues in the painting reveal that in Bingham’s time, only landowning, white males were allowed to vote (apparently even if they were drunk!) and that ballots were cast by voice and recorded (not always accurately or honestly) by a scribe seated nearby. Bingham was influenced by personal experience in politics, holding various offices himself and serving in the Missouri legislature. In Bingham’s time, men sometimes came to the polls drunk.
• Voters in Bingham’s time spoke their vote aloud and had it written down by a recorder nearby.
• The candidate was allowed to confront voters at the last minute.


Artist Connection

Historical Connection

Literary Connection


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