The Democratic "Chicago" Platform


 "Platforms Illustrated"
  Cartoonist:  Unknown
  Source:  Library of Congress
  Date:  c1864

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

Click to see a large version of this cartoon

Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
Probably published by Louis Prang & Co., Boston, 1864

In this print the Democratic National Convention in Chicago is unfavorably compared to the Republican convention in Baltimore in June of the same year. The artist is especially critical of prominent New York Peace Democrats Horatio Seymour and Fernando Wood. The partyís espousal of a truce with the South is presented here as advantageous to the Confederacy and to Great Britain.

The cartoon is divided into two panels: "Baltimore" (left) and "Chicago" (right). In Baltimore, Liberty says to the seated Lincoln, "My fate I trust in your hands to and do your Duty!" she is accompanied by the American Eagle. Lincoln holds his Emancipation Proclamation. His platform is upheld by supporters (left to right): U.S. Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts, Union General Ulysses S. Grant, and Union Admiral David Farragut. Behind them are a soldier and a man wearing a labor cap.

At right, a dwarfish Democratic presidential nominee, George B. McClellan, is thrust onto a tiny round platform made of cheese by Copperhead leader Clement Vallandigham. The reluctant McClellan entreats, "No Val: it is too bad, such a frail slippery box, Iíll certainly break my neck!" Vallandigham tries to reassure him, saying "Donít be afraid little Mac, Iíll support you." The platform is supported by snakes, representing the Copperheads or Peace Democrats, one holding a Confederate flag of "Separation."

Nearby a shoulder-hitter (political henchman), smoking a cigar, shakes his fist and says, "Damín the Niggers," while an Irishman with a clay pipe observes, "Be jabbers what a select Company, ould Jonny Bull and all!" John Bull, the central figure, reads a pro-McClellan and Davis issue of the London Times.

At lower-left New York Governor Horatio Seymour holds a plague reading, "All ye desiring peace come one, come all. The War proved to be a failure." On the right New York Congressman Fernando Wood extends his hand to the viewer with the invitation "All true friends of slaves and their Masters should join our Company."

Source: American Political Prints, 1766 - 1876: A Catalog of the Collections in the Library of Congress, 1991, by Bernard F. Reilly, Jr.












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