Reid and Phelps


 “Glorying In Their Shame”
  Cartoonist:  Thomas Nast.
  Source:  Harper's Weekly
  Date:   October 11, 1884, p. 674

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Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
Here, cartoonist Thomas Nast condemns Republican presidential nominee James Blaine and his most vocal advocates, New York Tribune editor Whitelaw Reid (left) and Congressman William Walter Phelps of New Jersey (right), for being shameless. Blaine is a thick-skinned rhinoceros, impervious to ethical understanding, criticism, or ridicule, as he lumbers about in the circus-ring (a common metaphor for politics). Reid and Phelps are shameless for endlessly justifying their candidate's every moral misstep. The title is taken from St. Paul's letter to the Philippians, chapter 3, verse 19, in which he condemns those "who set their minds on earthly things."

By using the phrase "going around the circle," Nast manages to compare Blaine to Andrew Johnson, the unpopular former president, who was also considered by his political foes (like Nast) to be stubborn and sinister. In 1866, President Johnson took a disastrous campaign tour, commonly known as the "swing 'round the circle." Blaine was on a campaign tour when this cartoon was published. Finally, Nast jabs Greenback-Labor presidential nominee Benjamin Butler by presenting him as a clown sitting on the wall of the circus ring.













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