Grant and the Republicans


 “Grand Larceny vs. Petty Larceny …”
  Cartoonist:  Matt Morgan
  Source:  Leslie's Illustrated
  Date:   September 28, 1872, pp. 40-41

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Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
This cartoon takes the perspective that the amount of money stolen by the Tweed Ring from the New York City treasury ($12 million) pales in comparison with the money "stolen" by the Grant administration ($168 million). Cartoonist Matt Morgan has arrived at the latter figure by calculating the increased debt of Southern states due to the Reconstruction policies of the national and state Republican administrations. In the artist's view, the aim of the expenditures is not the public good, but sustaining President Grant and other Republicans in power. The message is reinforced by a spurious quote attributed to Grant.

To the left of the Tweed Ring chalkboard stands city treasurer Peter Sweeny, stuffing money into his pocket, while financier “Diamond Jim” Fisk peeks out from under the board. Police Chief James Kelso taps Tweed on the shoulder, as prosecuting attorney Charles O’Conor ponders a paper by the judge’s bench. (In 1872, O’Conor was the vice-presidential nominee of a small faction of the Democratic party opposed to the Greeley-Brown ticket.)

On the right, a haughty Grant, arms akimbo, casts his eyes down on the crown of “Perpetual President” offered by Senator Roscoe Conkling of New York. The Liberal-Republican and Democratic platforms called for a one-term presidency, to which their nominee, Horace Greeley, committed himself. The reform was part of the movement to curtail the corruption allegedly emanating from the patronage system, with which the artist here associates Grant and the Republicans. On either side of Conkling, (possibly) Senator John Sherman of Ohio (l) and Senator Simon Cameron (r) of Pennsylvania beg Grant for political “spoils” (i.e., patronage). Behind them are (l-r): Secretary of State Hamilton Fish (peering out from behind the Grant chalkboard), Vice President Schuyler Colfax, (possibly) Secretary of War William Belknap (holding the Grant bulldog aloft), Senator Oliver P. Morton, Representative James Garfield of Ohio, and Senator Matthew Carpenter of Wisconsin. In front, a kneeling Senator Zachariah Chandler of Michigan, Grant’s campaign manager, offers the president gifts of an alcoholic drink and a house.













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