Democratic National Convention


 “Bringing The Thing Home”
  Cartoonist:  Thomas Nast
  Source:  Harper's Weekly
  Date:   July 13, 1872, p. 548

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Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
The issue of Harper's Weekly in which this cartoon appears hit the newsstands on July 3, almost a week before the start of the Democratic National Convention in Baltimore. It was clearly intended to exert a maximum divisive effect on Southern delegates coming to the convention. The New York Tribune quickly pointed out (on the first day of the convention) that the caption beneath the picture had not appeared in Greeley's newspaper on the given date, and implied that Harper's Weekly had committed an intentional forgery. Two weeks later an editorial in Harper's Weekly (dated July 27) noted that the quotation had been taken from the Tribune of May 1, 1861, three weeks after Fort Sumter had been fired upon, rather than the incorrect date set under the cartoon.

Although there is no direct evidence, it seems likely that Nast availed himself of the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee's file of Greeley's speeches and writings. Organized by Senators James Edmunds and Zachariah Chandler, up to 300 staff members and $30,000 were given the task of searching through 30 years of Greeley materials to find the former editor's inflammatory statements and frequent self-contradictions. The Edmunds-Chandler task force adopted the technique of the modern press agent, publishing a monthly magazine and a pamphlet called "The Greeley Record," as well as distributing a "clip sheet" of damning information to newspapers across the country.

Here, Nast's harsh, malicious image depicts Horace Greeley smirking over the anticipated miseries of defeated Confederate soldiers returning home after losing the Civil War. They find their land devastated, their homes destroyed, and their families suffering in abject poverty and despair. Undeterred by the cartoon's message, desperate Democrats swallowed the entire Cincinnati platform at their own convention, which Greeley could view with guarded satisfaction as a necessary step forward. Nast, however, perceived this coalition as a cynical repudiation of virtually everything for which the Tribune editor had stood previously.

Nast's picture figured in at least two large broadsides (posters) during the 1872 campaign. The Republican State Central Committee of Georgia issued one, accompanied by numerous Tribune editorial extracts on a variety of inflammatory subjects. The Republican National Committee distributed 1½-million copies of another single-sheet piece of campaign literature, particularly targeting the South, in the final weeks of the campaign. It consisted of Nast's wood engraving on one side and 25 excerpts from Tribune editorials and Greeley's other writings and speeches on the other side. The cartoonist later concluded that this satire of Horace Greeley gloating over the devastation of the post-war South was one of the most effective he had ever drawn.













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