Stephen Douglas and the Democrats


 “The Little Giant as the Modern Gulliver…”
  Cartoonist:  Frank Bellew
  Source:  The Comic Monthly
  Date:   June 1, 1860, p. 7

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Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
This cartoon from The Comic Monthly depicts Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois, nicknamed “the Little Giant,” as Gulliver attempting to escape with the White House, which is occupied by the Lilliputians of the James Buchanan administration. President Buchanan topples out of the White House upside down, the third figure from the top. Buchanan and Douglas had clashed over the issue of slavery in Kansas when the senator opposed the administration’s backing of the proposed state constitution, which would have legalized the institution. As a result of their dispute, the president opposed Douglas’s presidential candidacy. The small figure wearing a top hat and looking down in the left foreground is probably New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley. In the right foreground is the equestrian statue of Andrew Jackson.

In April 1860, Douglas received a simple majority of delegates at the Democratic National Convention, but was unable to secure the necessary two-thirds majority for the presidential nomination. The convention ended with the party split largely along a North-South regional line over whether to endorse a federal slave code for the territories (most Northerners opposed it). In mid-June, after this cartoon was published, Douglas was nominated as the presidential candidate of the Northern Democrats and Vice President John Breckinridge as the presidential candidate of the Southern Democrats.

This cartoon’s theme of presenting a presidential candidate as Gulliver was used in later years by Harper’s Weekly cartoonists. In 1868, Republican Ulysses S. Grant appeared as Gulliver among the Lilliputians of the Democratic press. In 1880, Democrat Winfield S. Hancock was drawn as Gulliver tied down by the Lilliputians of his party’s leadership and, in another cartoon, in the hands of the giant Brobdingnagian Southern Democrats.













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