Republicans and Democrats


 "The Story of the Five Little Pigs"
  Cartoonist:  Unknown
  Source:  Vanity Fair
  Date:   June 16, 1860, p. 392

Click to see a large version of this cartoon...

Click to see a large version of this cartoon

Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
This Vanity Fair cartoon is based on the children’s nursery rhyme of the same name. The artist presents Stephen Douglas as the pig who goes to market, repeating the Charleston Market metaphor of an earlier Vanity Fair cartoon ("Dancing for Eels…," April 21, 1860). Horace Greeley’s role at the Chicago Republican convention is criticized by declaring him the pig who should have stayed home. Abraham Lincoln is the pig who gets roast beef, that is, the Republican presidential nomination, while the losing candidate William Henry Seward is the pig who gets none. New York politico Thurlow Weed is sketched as a weed. James Buchanan is the pig who cried all the way home because of the investigation by Congressman John Covode, seen as Old Mother Hubbard.

The Covode investigation refers to a Congressional probe initiated by John Covode, a Pennsylvania Republican, into possible wrongdoing committed by the Buchanan administration. The Covode investigation was a clear attempt to embarrass the president and the Democratic party during the campaign season. The Covode Committee’s majority report was released in June 1860 and Republicans blanketed the country with 100,000 copies of it. The evidence produced, however, was legitimate and it painted a shocking picture of an extremely corrupt administration. Among the findings, government printing contracts had been awarded to secure support from newspaper editors, while patronage and monetary bribes had been wielded in an attempt to gain passage of the Lecompton Constitution. Later in June the House of Representatives voted to censure President Buchanan and Navy Secretary Isaac Toucey for their part in the misdeeds.

Sources consulted: Mark W. Summers, The Plundering Generation: Corruption and the Crisis of the Union, 1849-1861; Elbert B. Smith, The Presidency of James Buchanan.













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