Liberal Republican Movement


 “Children Cry For It”
  Cartoonist:  Thomas Nast
  Source:  Harper's Weekly
  Date:   February 3, 1872, p. 109

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Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
Undeterred by Curtis's plea for prudence (see "What I Know About Horace Greeley"), Nast moved directly to challenge Morgan's portrait of Grant as the uncomfortable schoolboy. In "Children Cry For It," President Grant is feeding a steaming bowl of "Civil Service Reform" gruel to a group of unreceptive Liberal Republicans, with Grant remarking, "If You Can Stand It I Can." The lower caption is excerpted from Grant's annual message to Congress of the previous December, in which the president endorsed civil service reform.

Behind the steaming bowl of "Civil Service Reform" stand the perplexed duo of George Wilkes (l), editor of Spirit of the Times, and Horace Greeley (r), editor of the New York Tribune. In line on the front-right are (l-r): Senator Carl Schurz, Senator Charles Sumner, Senator Lyman Trumbull, Senator Reuben Fenton. Behind Sumner's shoulder is Congressman Nathaniel Banks; partially obscured behind the heads of Trumbull and Fenton is Senator John Logan; and behind Banks, wearing glasses, is Congressman James Brooks. The picture on the left wall recalls Grant's Civil War service as Union military commander.

Editor Curtis again privately complained to Nast about his pictorial attack on the anti-Grant liberals, but the artist's assault not only continued, but intensified. Curtis was not alone in his assessment. Throughout the year a great deal of ink was devoted to criticism of the work of the two major national cartoonists, Nast and Matt Morgan. Their special discipline of caricature, the portraiture of distortion as a vehicle for personal attack, struck many editors as particularly wanton. As early as May 12, the Boston Gazette warned readers about the excesses of "Caricature In The Canvass," and how it was throwing all caution and restraint to the wind: "The Presidential campaign of 1872 is likely to be memorable for the pictorial features of its warfare. … There is an outrage upon propriety … which it is the duty of journalism to rebuke in no uncertain tone." As the campaign wore on, the Brooklyn Eagle, the Washington Daily Patriot, the Chicago Inter-Ocean, Atlantic Monthly, and other periodicals joined in the condemnation.













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