This week’s Friday Freebie is appropriately patriotic, and comes with a bonus (very short) history lesson. The story goes that in 1844, a relative unknown named James Polk ran in the Presidential election against Henry Clay, a powerful man with an illustrious career. Yet Polk won the election, thanks in large part to a blood-stirring campaign slogan…54-40 or fight!
54-40 was the latitude line marking the northern reach of the proposed Oregon territory, a line that was in dispute with the British government at the time. Polk won the election on his platform of holding out for the US to claim all of Oregon, but once elected he compromised with the British and the dividing line between the western US and Canada became the 49th parallel, where it is today. I should note that this story is in some dispute; the slogan may have appeared in popular use after the election when the time to decide on a boundary neared. History is hard to nail down!
This quilt block design was already known and in use before the 1840s. Patterns had already been published in women’s magazines, and during this era one of them decided to name a quilt with this block after the popular slogan and a piece of quilting history was born. Many 54-40 or Fight quilts have been made in the over 150 years since.
So on to the free quilt pattern! Our version of 54-40 or Fight is a lap quilt pattern with eight 12″ blocks set on point to give a firecracker effect. There is a bit of template piecing, but the quilt goes together quickly and would make a gorgeous gift for a veteran or member of the Armed Services.
Download the FREE 54-40 or Fight lap quilt pattern now…it’s a Friday FREEbie. And happy 4th of July weekend!
Need more red, white, and blue (or any other color) for your fabric stash? Keepsake Quilting is having a Firecracker of a Sale through July 5. Click the image to shop!