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 Republicans and Democrats

 


 "The Political Gymnasium"
  Cartoonist:  Louis Maurer (?)
  Source:  Library of Congress
  Date:  c1860

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Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
A general parody on the field of presidential candidates and their supporters in the 1860 campaign. At the far left stands Constitutional Union party vice presidential candidate Edward Everett, as a muscle man holding aloft a barbell on which rests running mate John Bell. Everett boasts, "There is nothing like having the Constitution, to give us strength to put up this Bell successfully." Bell states, "I have perfect confidence in Mr. Everett's ability to uphold me." Though holding second place on the ticket, the former senator from Massachusetts Everett was much more popular in the Northeast than Tennessean Bell.

To the right of Bell and Everett is "Tribune" editor Horace Greeley. His political ambitions are mocked by the artist who shows him vainly attempting to climb up on a horizontal bar labeled "Nomination for Governor." Greeley complains, "I've been practising at it a long time, but can never get up muscle enough to get astride of this bar." Abraham Lincoln (center), who has successfully mounted a balance beam constructed of wooden rails, advises Greeley, "You must do as I did Greely, get somebody to give you a boost, I'm sure I never could have got up here by my own efforts." His cross bar, labeled "For President," represents the Republican nomination, which Lincoln won largely through Greeley's powerful support.

Occupying the foreground is James Watson Webb of the New York "Courier," who tries a backward somersault. His wager here, "I'll bet a quarter I can beat any man in the party at turning political Summersets," is a swipe at Webb's mid-1850s conversion from Whig to Republican.

At far right stands Lincoln's former competitor for the Republican nomination, William H. Seward, on crutches and with bandaged feet. He warns Lincoln, "You'd better be careful friend, that you don't tumble off; as I did before I was fairly on, for if you do you'll be as badly crippled as I am." (For a similar reference to political cripples in this campaign, see ""Taking the Stump" or Stephen in Search of His Mother," no. 1860-36.)

Near Seward the two sectional Democratic candidates compete in a boxing match. Stephen A. Douglas, the regular Democratic nominee, faces southern Democrat John C. Breckinridge. Douglas taunts his opponent, "Come at me Breck, and after you cry enough, I'll take a round with the rest of them." In response Breckinridge asserts, "If I can do nothing else I can at least prevent you from pulling Lincoln down."

Source: American Political Prints, 1766 - 1876: A Catalog of the Collections in the Library of Congress, 1991, by Bernard F. Reilly, Jr.
 

 

 

 
 

 

     
 

 

 
     
 

 

 
     
 

 

 

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