Democratic National Convention


 “The New Organ”
  Cartoonist:  Thomas Nast
  Source:  Harper's Weekly
  Date:   June 8, 1872, p. 448

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

Click to see a large version of this cartoon

Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
This provocative Nast cartoon presents Horace Greeley as dupe of the Liberal Republicans, especially of his former assistant, Whitelaw Reid. A sub-head underneath the caption quotes a February 1871 issue of the New York Tribune, which identifies former Confederates as the dominant force in the national Democratic party. Nast's use of Greeley's own words against him was a powerful shot across the bow of the whole anti-Grant movement, intended to alienate regular Democrats who were preparing to adopt Greeley as their candidate during their national convention at Baltimore on July 9-10. It was also meant to underscore allegations that intransigent Southern Democrats were in control of the Liberal Republican coalition.

On May 15, shortly after his nomination by the Liberal Republicans, Greeley turned over editorial control of his newspaper to Whitelaw Reid for the duration of the campaign. An announcement was made that the Tribune would cease to be a party organ, but, in fact, the journal continued to promote the Greeley candidacy. The prospect of an organ that was alleged not to be an organ was naturally irresistible fodder for Nast. This would lend itself directly to a picture of acting editor Whitelaw Reid as the operator of the hurdy-gurdy who is trolling for votes in front of Democratic Head-Quarters and using Greeley as his trained monkey. The organ's repertoire consists of "The Bonny Blue Flag," a Confederate war song (adapted from the Texas War for Independence), and "Erin Go Brach," an Irish song of rebellion against the British. Behind Reid, the hitching-post features the head of the Democratic Donkey, and, at a distance, Liberal Republican senators Reuben Fenton (l) and Carl Schurz (r) confer.

The attitudes of the assembled Democrats range from indifference to perplexity to concern. The phrase “New Departure” (in the caption) was in wide use by “progressive” Democrats anxious to move beyond the sectional animosities of the Civil War. The trio immediately in front of the Greeley monkey consists of (left-right) August Belmont, National Democratic Committee chairman, and the 1868 Democratic presidential and vice-presidential nominees, Horatio Seymour and Frank Blair. On the porch are past and present New York City powerbrokers (left-right): businessman Cornelius Vanderbilt, Congressman James Brooks, lawyer David Dudley Field, Judge George Barnard, Police Commission President Hank Smith, State Senator Tom Fields, Congressman Robert Roosevelt (uncle of Theodore Roosevelt), Peter Sweeny of the former Tweed Ring, New York Governor John Hoffman, William “Boss” Tweed, Richard Connolly of the former Tweed Ring, Mayor Oakey Hall, journalist Benjamin Wood, and Congressman Fernando Wood. To the right of the porch stands Police Superintendent James Kelso.

In the left window are (left-right): ex-President Andrew Johnson, former Confederate President Jefferson Davis, and former Confederate Admiral Raphael Semmes. In the front row of the right window are (left-right): editor Manton Marble of the New York World; George Pendleton, the 1864 Democratic vice-presidential nominee; and Thomas Hendricks, Democratic nominee for governor of Indiana. Barely visible behind Hendricks are the Pope’s miter and the bishop’s hat of John McCloskey of New York. The figure behind Marble may be Senator James Doolittle of Wisconsin.













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