Republicans and Democrats


 “The Irrepressible Conflict! The Presidential Prize-Fight!”
  Cartoonist:  Hoyt
  Source:  Campaign Plain Dealer
  Date:   June 30, 1860, p. 3

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

Click to see a large version of this cartoon

Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
The Campaign Plain Dealer was published by the Cleveland Plain Dealer to support the presidential candidacy of Stephen Douglas. This cartoon applies the common visual analogy of boxing to the 1860 presidential campaign, showing Democrat Douglas bringing Republican Abraham Lincoln to his knees with a chokehold (boxing rules against wrestling were not introduced to America until after the Civil War). In Douglas’s corner flies the flag of “Popular Sovereignty,” denoting the proposal that voters in the West should decide the fate of slavery in their territory without federal interference. In Lincoln’s corner flies the flag of “Irrepressible Conflict,” referring to a term coined by Senator William Henry Seward of New York to characterize the clash between slavery and free labor.

Oddly, the cartoonist placed three prominent Republican journalists on the popular sovereignty side (left-right): Thurlow Weed, former editor of the New York Evening Journal, who backed the unsuccessful Seward for the Republican presidential nomination; Henry Raymond, editor of The New York Times; and editor Horace Greeley of the New York Tribune, a key figure in Lincoln’s nomination. Seward himself stands in front of the “Irrepressible Conflict” flag, and states concerning Lincoln’s role in the fight, “I could have done better myself.” Cheering Douglas from the center is the senior editor of the Campaign Plain Dealer, Joseph William Gray, who founded the Cleveland Plain Dealer in 1842 with his brother, Nelson. (Douglas’s last name was originally spelled as printed in the middle dialogue bubble.) The newspaper’s explanation of the cartoon ends with a line spoken by the title character of Shakespeare’s Macbeth before he attacks (and is killed by) Macduff.













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