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"The Cat's-Paw. - Any Thing to Get Chestnuts"

Topic:
Fables and Myths
Source:
Harper's Weekly
Cartoonist:
Thomas Nast
Date:
August 10, 1872, p. 624
Click for image enlargement and complete HarpWeek explanation >
In this cartoon, Thomas Nast emphasizes Horace Greeley's control by Tammany Hall, the influential Democratic political machine in New York City. The cartoonist portrays the presidential candidate as a "Cat's-Paw"-someone who does the dirty work of another, in this case, the corrupt Tammany boss, William Tweed. The term originated in the fable of a monkey who uses a cat's paw to retrieve roasted chestnuts from hot ashes. Here, Tweed-the-monkey looks on hungrily as he steers Greeley-the-cat's paw toward the desired "chestnuts" of federal patronage in cabinet departments, custom houses, and other agencies. On the back of the stove, the "Liberal War" teakettle lets off steam. A concerned Columbia peers inside through the window.
Click for image enlargement and complete HarpWeek explanation >

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