The Weighty Nominee: Grover Cleveland


 “The Day Before Waterloo”
  Cartoonist:  Bernhard Gillam
  Source:  Judge
  Date:   October 29, 1892, p. 279

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Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
Published shortly before the November 1892 presidential election, this illustration is based on Hippolyte-Paul Delaroche’s well-known painting (1840) of “Napoleon at Fontainebleau.” The cartoon compares Grover Cleveland to Emperor Napoleon I of France, who considered himself a man of destiny, but met defeat in the harsh winter battlefields of Russia in 1814 and the next year at Waterloo. Delaroche’s painting is set in Fontainbleu, France, where Napoleon had retreated from Russia and soon abdicated the throne on April 6, 1814. He was exiled to the island of Elba, but raised an army and returned the next year to the mainland, where he was defeated at Waterloo and then exiled permanently to the island of St. Helena.

Cartoonist Gillam combines Napoleon’s two defeats into one for the Democratic nominee through the scene depicting Fontainbleu and the caption referring to Waterloo. Cleveland is surrounded by papers declaring “Tammany Demands,” “Appeal Against the Nomination of Cleveland,” his inability to win the election, and criticisms of his record. On the wall in the background, a painting shows President Benjamin Harrison and Republicans advancing in battle under the banner of trade protection, while Cleveland and the Democrats flee carrying a free-trade flag. The wall painting ostensibly portrays the results of the 1888 election when Harrison defeated Cleveland. However, it also alludes to the two candidates’ behavior in the Civil War, when Harrison fought for the Union and Cleveland hired a substitute.













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