Stephen Douglas and the Democrats


 “Ho! For Salt River!”
  Cartoonist:  Thee Jones
  Source:  The Rail Splitter (Cincinnati)
  Date:   August 29, 1860, p. 3

Click to see a large version of this cartoon...

Click to see a large version of this cartoon

Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
This cartoon from the Cincinnati Rail Splitter focuses on the burden that the Supreme Court’s Dred Scott ruling (1857) placed on Stephen Douglas’s presidential candidacy in 1860. Douglas argued that territorial voters should decide, without federal interference, whether to legalize slavery (“popular sovereignty”). In Dred Scott, the Supreme Court had ruled that slavery could not be banned from the territories, thereby blocking the possibility that territorial voters could outlaw the institution. The cartoonist was apparently not convinced by Douglas's claim in the wake of the Dred Scott decision that territories could refuse to pass laws protecting the institution ("slave codes") and, consequently, slavery would not take root there. The “Salt River” is a metaphor for political defeat or oblivion.













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