he message of this cartoon is that the Democratic party is aiding and abetting the survival of the Confederate cause. Specifically, it is another critique of the Democratic party’s Chicago Platform which endorsed a cease-fire and negotiated settlement with the Confederacy. By the fall of 1864, hope for a Union military victory was bolstered by major victories over Confederate forces: General William Tecumseh Sherman in Atlanta; Admiral David Farragut in Mobile Bay; and General Philip Sheridan in the Shenandoah Valley.
Harper’s Weekly describes “the wreck of the great pirate ship Secession. She is dashed upon the rocks, and is rapidly going to pieces in the terrible storm of Patriotism which beats upon her. Smitten by the fatal thunder-bolts of Lincoln, Grant, Sherman, Farragut, and Sheridan, she lies a helpless hulk amidst the waves. One ray of hope--[Confederate Vice President Alexander] Stephens’s ‘Hail, holy light!’—shines to cheer her from the Chicago Light-house, on whose summit blows the national flag, union down [a nautical sign of distress]. But the foundation of the Light-house itself is fast crumbling away, dashed to pieces by the irresistible waves of popular indignation.
Meanwhile the copper-bound boat, Peace-at-any-Price, is launched by the famous Chicago wreckers, [Horatio] Seymour, [August] Belmont, [Clement] Vallandigham, [Fernando] Wood, [S. S.] Cox, and [Daniel] Voorhees, while [George] Pendleton strains at the stern to shove her off, and a gentleman [George McClellan] in a Major-General’s uniform upon a prancing war-horse—that seems to recoil in disgust—cheers them and waves them on. Among the crowd the most conspicuous wrecker carries under his arm a huge plank—Immediate Cessation of Hostilities—over which they hope the pirate crew may safely escape, to ship for another voyage. But the storm is overwhelming. Escape is impossible; and the ship Secession, ‘built in the eclipse, and rigged with the curses dark,’ is going down forever.”