The Democratic "Chicago" Platform


 "Compromise with the South"
  Cartoonist:  Thomas Nast
  Source:  Harper's Weekly
  Date:   September 3, 1864, p. 572

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

Click to see a large version of this cartoon

Caption: Dedicated to the Chicago Convention

Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
This is one of Thomas Nastís most powerful and effective political cartoons, and one of his personal favorites. The timing of its publication coincided with major Union victories: General William Tecumseh Sherman in Atlanta, General Philip Sheridan in the Shenandoah Valley, and Admiral David Farragut in Mobile Bay. President Abraham Lincolnís campaign managers blanketed the country with posters made from the cartoon. It was widely considered to be a significant propaganda factor in turning the tide of the - campaign toward Lincolnís reelection.

The cartoon is a harsh criticism of the Democratsí peace plank in their party platform, adopted at their national convention in Chicago in August 1864. The proposed cease-fire and negotiated settlement is here viewed as a betrayal of everything for which Union soldiers had fought and a betrayal of black Americans. On the left, a defeated and disabled Union soldier, his face hidden in shame, extends a feeble hand of surrender to a triumphant Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy. Davis stands with one boot disrespectfully on the grave of another Union soldier, while Columbia kneels mournfully. In the upper-left, the American flag is hung upside down as a sign of distress. Nastís message is clear: if compromise with the Confederacy is pursued, then Union servicemen will have sacrificed their limbs and their lives in vain, and black Americans will be returned to slavery.

Source consulted: Draper Hill, "Nastís Top 100 Cartoons," HarpWeek.













Website design © 2001-2008 HarpWeek, LLC
All Content © 1998-2008 HarpWeek, LLC
Please submit questions to