n one of his most spectacular designs, Thomas Nast ventures an elaborate, grotesque overview of the 1872 presidential election. In
it, President Ulysses S. Grant, triumphantly returned to office for a second
term, politely "clasps hands" with Uncle Sam, as the chasm closes to
doom Greeley's misbegotten coalition to an eternity of torment and disfavor.
Note Uncle Sam's deep bow of respect and perhaps relief, as opposed to the
Grant's more restrained gesture. Tranquillity has returned to the scene (above
ground), with the republic safe for at least four more years.
Horace Greeley hangs at the zenith of this underworld, caught by the usual Gratz
Brown tag on the tail of his coat. His pockets disgorge literature as before:
"What I Know About Running for President," "What I Know About
Oblivion," and "What I Know About Chasm." Immediately below,
Whitelaw Reid sprawls as if suffering from a hangover. His hand-organ that
"Is Not An Organ" carries his unfortunate editorial prediction of six
weeks earlier: "We Are On the Home Stretch."
As in earlier instances, it is fair to surmise that Nast's "Bloodless (Sar)c(h)asm"
was well under way before the election of November 5. The cartoonist's principal
impulse may have come from a pair of apocalyptic designs by his Greeleyite
rival, Matt Morgan of Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper. In the issue
post-dated November 2, a sweeping Morgan double-page cartoon shows
the nation menaced by a dark horde of Republican villains. Columbia is holding
the tatters of an American flag as she indicates to a group of departed national
leaders (including Washington and Lincoln) the corrupt danger rising from the
A second tortured image by Morgan on the cover of the following issue portrays
"The Republic on the Brink.," Miss Columbia stands
disconsolate and barefoot at the brink of another yawning chasm. A cigar-puffing
"King Grant," apparently intoxicated, commands such Republican
accomplices as Senators Conkling, Morton, and Cameron to "Push her off,
boys. I'll kick this thing over. We must have things our way." Nast would
simply turn this notion around, point it in the opposite direction, and
elaborate it infinitely.