The Hill and Tammany Machines


 “The Political Grave-Digger”
  Cartoonist:  Victor Gillam
  Source:  Judge
  Date:   July 2, 1892, p. 16

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Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
This cartoon warns Democrats that support by Tammany Hall, the party’s political machine in New York City, is the kiss of death. Tammany “Boss” Richard Croker motions a startled group of party leaders toward a grave marked “1892,” while behind him is a cemetery for failed Democrat candidates of the past who had Tammany endorsements. Most obvious is the sepulcher for Senator David B. Hill of New York, who Tammany Hall delegates backed for the presidential nomination at the 1892 Democratic National Convention over the ultimately victorious Grover Cleveland. Other graves include those of Samuel J. Tilden and Winfield S. Hancock, the 1876 and 1880 presidential nominees, respectively. The resting place of maverick Benjamin Butler refers to rumors that he had Tammany support for the 1884 Democratic nomination. In fact, the political machine (under Boss John Kelly) threw its support to Congressman Roswell Flower in an unsuccessful attempt to stop Cleveland’s first presidential nomination.

The former Democratic president himself lies buried outside the Tammany cemetery beneath a stone denoting his 1888 defeat to Republican Benjamin Harrison. Croker offers a newly dug grave to party notables (left-right): Roswell Flower, then governor of New York; William C. Whitney, Cleveland’s campaign manager; Senator Arthur Pue Gorman of Maryland; Henry Watterson, editor of the Louisville Courier-Journal; and Senator John Carlisle of Kentucky. It was only on September 8, ten weeks after the Democratic National Convention ended, that Cleveland’s campaign manager William C. Whitney convinced the nominee and Croker to meet and lay aside their differences for the duration of the campaign.













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