Stephen Douglas and the Democrats


 "Little Stephen A. Trying to Climb A Very High Chair"
  Cartoonist:  Unknown
  Source:  Vanity Fair
  Date:   July 14, 1860, p. 30

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Caption: Little Stephen A. trying to climb into a very high chair.

Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
This Vanity Fair cartoon ridicules Stephen Douglas's diminutive stature (5' 4") by presenting him as a young boy trying to reach his (presidential) high chair. To attain that goal, he teeters on a footstool marked “Kanzaz,” which stands atop the back of a black boy. That image refers to Douglas's Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, which repealed the 1820 Missouri Compromise ban on slavery in the Western territories north of the 36º 30' line of latitude. The cartoon's message is that while the Northern Democratic nominee hopes his stance on the slavery issue will help elevate him into the White House, it will prove to be more of an obstacle. The depiction of Douglas as a child may also refer to his campaign tour through New England, which he excused by claiming that he was on the way to visit his mother.












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