Cleveland and the Maria Halpin Affair


 “He Instituted the Ordeal. Can He Stand It Himself?”
  Cartoonist:  Bernhard Gillam
  Source:  Puck
  Date:   August 13, 1884, p. 187

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Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
This cartoon contrasts the character and scandals of the two major-party presidential nominees, Democrat Grover Cleveland and Republican James Blaine. When allegations arose that, in his youth, Cleveland had fathered a child out of wedlock, the Democratic nominee told his campaign managers to "Tell the Truth." Supporters contended that his actions after the indiscretion, and following its revelation in the press in the summer of 1884, were both exemplary. Cleveland stands honorably before a jury of voters, one hand in his coat in a Napoleonic gesture. Uncle Sam, rising under an inscribed quote about mercy, taken from an Alexander Pope poem, demands that Blaine now take the witness stand.

The Republican nominee, however, attempts to sneak away. He is dressed in a garish, checked suit of a confidence-man (swindler), with the pockets stuffed with papers which identify his railroad scandals. The gun on the table, with the tag "Blaine's Substitute Gun-Never Used," refers to criticism of Cleveland for hiring a substitute to fight for him in the Civil War. Blaine served in the Maine state legislature and Congress during the Civil War. Although "Blaine's Private Life" is locked, a scandal would arise concerning his marriage and whether he, too, fathered a child out of wedlock. The cartoonist erroneously blames Blaine himself for breaking the Cleveland scandal to the press.













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