Liberal Republican Movement


 "The Cincinnati Convention, In a Pickwickian Sense"
  Cartoonist:  Thomas Nast
  Source:  Harper's Weekly
  Date:   April 13, 1872, p. 284

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Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
In this cartoon Thomas Nast presents a careful parody of illustrator Robert Seymour's celebrated initial plate to Charles Dickens' landmark novel The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club. Better known as The Pickwick Papers, this book appeared serially in 1836-1837. The tale begins as Mr. Samuel Pickwick, Esq., "mounted into the Windsor Chair on which he had previously been seated, and addressed the club he himself had founded."

Here, Greeley is in the title role, and in place of the fifteen individuals represented in Seymour's steel-plate etching, Nast's Greeley-Pickwick is surrounded by an ill-matched group of Liberal Republicans, Democrats, and mavericks, each with his own agenda. The banner overhead aptly begins, "Extremes Meet Here." This satire, "The Cincinnati Convention, In A Pickwickian Sense", bore the subtitle: "Horace Pickwick. 'Men and Brethren! A new leaf must be turned over, or there are breakers ahead. The Cincinnati Convention may prove a fiasco, or it may name the next President.'" This line is taken verbatim from Greeley's Tribune editorial of January 29.

The placards on the walls range from "The Millennium Has Come" to "After This-Peace" (on the drapery valence), a reference to Greeley's appeal for universal amnesty of former Confederates. The hypocrisy of the Liberal Republican Convention is emphasized by juxtaposing signs proclaiming liberal highmindedness-"The Liberal Infallibles" (an allusion to the recent decree of Papal infallibility)-with signs promoting political expediency-"Anything to Beat Grant"; and by signs pointing out the contradictory nature of the convention-goers: free-traders and protectionists, Democratic Republicans and Republican Democrats. Although this cartoon features Greeley, the poster on the left-back wall, reading (in part) "For Vice Pres. A Protectionist," places Nast in line with most political observers who expected Greeley, a trade protectionist, to be selected as the convention's vice-presidential nominee.

The "club" members are (clockwise from the editor's left): Frank Blair, 1868 Democratic vice-presidential nominee; Senator Carl Schurz, organizer of the Liberal Republicans of Missouri; Governor B. Gratz Brown of Missouri, of whom the cartoonist obviously had no portrait; former Confederate president Jefferson Davis; Horatio Seymour, 1868 Democratic nominee for president; former president Andrew Johnson; Fernando Wood, Democratic congressman and former mayor of New York City; Senator Thomas Tipton of Nebraska; Supreme Court justice David Davis, nominated for president in February by the Labor Reform Convention at Columbus, and understood to be available for both the Liberal Republican and Democratic nominations; George Francis Train, eccentric author, lecturer, and quasi-politician; as well as Liberal Republican senators Reuben Fenton of New York and Lyman Trumbull of Illinois. Notice that in contrast to the others, the temperance-minded Greeley has a glass of water to drink.













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