A woman standing in a blue dress with a gold chest plate that has the words "I Will" and winged head piece on a white background. Red text above and below one the edge of the button.
BUTTONS MADE BY
THE WHITEHEAD & HOAG CO
NEWARK, N.J., U.S.A.
PAT. APRIL 14, 1836
JULY 21, 1896
COPYRIGHTED 1901 THE INTER-OCEAN PUB CO.
“I Will” was an allegorical goddess symbolizing the City of Chicago analogous how Uncle Sam symbolizes America. The Chicago Inter Ocean sponsored a contest for “a figure typical of Chicago’s spirit” to represent the city, sort of Chicago’s own Uncle Sam. Charles Holloway designed a goddess suited for battle with a phoenix on her helmet and “I Will” on her breastplate. He won the contest, and the Inter Ocean used “I Will” in their advertising for the 1893 World’s Fair. After the fair, “I Will” (both the goddess and the phrase) were used in Chicago marketing.
This button is probably from the Baptist Young People’s Union Convention in Chicago in 1901. For an identical button containing it’s BYPU ribbon, see CH0060 “B.Y.P.U. of America 1901” https://www.buttonmuseum.org/buttons/bypu-america-1901. For a slightly later version of “I Will,” see CH0059 “World’s Greatest Convention City” https://www.buttonmuseum.org/buttons/worlds-greatest-convention-city.
Neil Gale, P. (2020). Chicago's "I Will" Motto and "Y" Municipal Device History.. Drloihjournal.blogspot.com. Retrieved from https://drloihjournal.blogspot.com/2017/05/chicagos-i-will-motto-and-y-m....
Winslow, C. Spaulding., Wilder, R. Everett. (1947). Early Chicago: as seen by a cartoonist. Chicago: Charles S. Winslow.
(1901, August). Baptist Young Person’s Union. The Current Encyclopedia: A Monthly Record of Human Progress(1)2. Chicago: Modern Research Society. Retrieved from https://books.google.com/books?id=q_1HAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA171&dq=baptist+young...'s%20union%20chicago%201901&f=false.