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"Tidal Waves"

Topic:
State Elections
Source:
Harper's Weekly
Cartoonist:
Thomas Nast
Date:
October 17, 1868, p. 672
Click for image enlargement and complete HarpWeek explanation >
This unsigned Thomas Nast cartoon portrays Democratic presidential nominee Horatio Seymour as Mrs. Partington sweeping back the sea. According to newspaper reports, in 1824 an English woman named Mrs. Partington tried to sweep back (or mop up) a torrent of sea-water that a gale was driving into her house. She did not give up until the deepening water forced her to seek shelter on the second story. In 1831 opponents of the Reform Bill in the British House of Lords were compared to Mrs. Partington vainly attempting to sweep back the sea. Variants of the phrase "Dame Partington and her mop" became a metaphor used against those who try to fight progress. Here, the tidal waves making the old woman's (i.e., the candidate's) efforts futile are the results of the fall state elections. Republicans won eight of nine state elections in September and October 1868, including the major states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana.
Click for image enlargement and complete HarpWeek explanation >

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