The Weighty Nominee: Grover Cleveland


  Cartoonist:  Bernhard Gillam
  Source:  Judge
  Date:   August 13, 1892, pp. 104-105

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Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
The characters and scene of this cartoon are based on Bret Harte’s poem, “An Idyl of the Road,” but Grover Cleveland’s weight gives it meaning: the presidential nominee is too heavy a burden for the Democratic Party to succeed in 1892. Careening down the steep mountain labeled “Washington,” the Democracy stagecoach tilts perilously toward disaster. The driver is William C. Whitney, Cleveland’s campaign manager, in the guise of “Yuba Bill,” a character in the poem. He cracks his whip to speed forward the mismatched team of the Democratic Donkey (with its head down) and the Mugwump horse (with its head reared back in fright), the white color of which is a sarcastic symbol of good-government reformers’ political “purity.”

Seated beside Whitney and looking concerned is William F. Harrity, the new chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Harrity had been postmaster of Philadelphia during the first Cleveland administration (1885-1889) and ran Robert Pattison’s successful campaign for the Pennsylvania governorship in 1891. Atop the Democracy stagecoach is a very obese Cleveland, who grips the handhold in fright. Publisher Joseph Pulitzer has stopped blowing his New York World trumpet to peer in shock into the chasm. Leaning out the carriage compartment is vice-presidential nominee Adlai Stevenson, who grimaces as his hat tumbles into the cavern. Charles Dana, editor of the New York Sun, takes the form of the poem’s “hawk or some other bird of prey."













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