Chase's Candidacy


 "A Wild-Goose Chase"
  Cartoonist:  Thomas Nast
  Source:  Harper's Weekly
  Date:   July 4, 1868, p. 432

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"Washington, May 25, 1868.

"My Dear Sir, - You are right in believing that I 'shall never abandon the great principles for the success of which I have given my entire life.' I adhere to my 'old creed of equal rights,' without one jot or tittle of abatement. I shall be glad if the new professors of that creed adhere to it as faithfully. * * * It would, however, gratify me exceedingly, if the Democratic Party would take ground which would assure the party against all attempts to subvert the principle of universal suffrage established in eight, and to be established in all, of the Southern contitutions. Then, I think, the future of the great cause - for which I have labored so long - would be secure, and I should not regret my absence from political labors. Salmon P. Chase"

Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase had long sought the presidency, first as a potential Republican rival to President Abraham Lincoln in 1864, then as a Democrat in 1868. A former abolitionist, Chase insisted that the Democratic party endorse voting rights for black men-depicted as "universal suffrage salt" (salt preserves and enhances). The unlikelihood of either the Democratic party or Chase changing positions on the issue inspired Thomas Nast to characterize the justice's candidacy with a pun on his name: "a wild-goose chase." The elusive nature of the nomination to Chase is reinforced by incorporating the folklore that one must place salt on the tail of a bird-here, the Democratic goose-in order to catch it. The blackbird sitting in the tree represents black men or black manhood suffrage.












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