Bryan Spreading the Word


 “The Voice of the Siren”
  Cartoonist:  Edward Windsor Kemble
  Source:  Harper's Weekly
  Date:   September 12, 1908, pp. 18-19

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Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
After the Democratic National Convention in July, presidential nominee William Jennings Bryan appointed Louisville Courier-Journal editor Henry Watterson as his press agent. The August 22, 1908 issue of Harper’s Weekly reported that “Marse Henry” was upset because “for the first time in history, the Democratic candidate has not a single supporter among the newspapers published in New York [City].” In this Harper’s Weekly cartoon, Watterson is a mythological sea nymph (“siren”) trying to seduce a group of reluctant journals to endorse Bryan. The nominee’s face appears on the editor’s harp, while his political platform sinks in a sea of mud.

Dressed in swimming attire, the journalists resisting Watterson’s siren song are (left-right): Peter F. Collier, publisher of Collier’s Weekly; perhaps Oswald Garrison Villard, publisher of the New York Evening Post and the Nation; James Gordon Bennett Jr., publisher of the New York Herald; the winged cherub symbol of Life held by its publisher, John Ames Mitchell; and Joseph Pulitzer, publisher of the New York World. On the right are the personifications of Judge and Puck magazines. Life, a comic weekly published from 1883 to 1918, was not associated with Henry Luce’s later photojournalistic magazine of the same name.

In the background (left) appears John Calvin Hemphill, editor of the Charleston Courier and News. After the Democratic National Convention, he appealed daily to his readers for donations to fund Bryan’s campaign in South Carolina. In its August 1 issue, Harper’s Weekly humorously noted that the only response so far was one Hong Kong gander and a Plymouth Rock hen. In this cartoon, Hemphill’s fishing for campaign contributions has hooked only the gander.













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