Grant and the Republicans


 “Right vs. Might”
  Cartoonist:  Matt Morgan
  Source:  Leslie's Illustrated
  Date:   October 19, 1872, pp. 88-89

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Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
Here, Cartoonist Matt Morgan depicts President Ulysses Grant and the Republicans as corrupt politicians who steal from the public treasury, bribe voters, stuff ballot boxes, and reward patronage positions to political cronies. Some of the Republicans wear the striped uniforms of prison inmates, while William Tweed, the corrupt Democratic political boss of Tammany Hall, is erroneously associated with the Grant forces.

The artist communicates Grant's alleged alcoholism and will to power by combining a derelict's dazed, gruff demeanor and Napoleonic attire, stamped with "One Man Power." The Republican nominee sits atop moneybags from the U.S. Treasury, as he is conveyed imperially on the shoulders of supporters. Signs remind viewers of the unfolding Credit Mobilier scandal and of Grant's failed attempt to annex Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic today). The conjunction of Grant's expansionist foreign policy, purported nepotism, and eagerness in seeking a second term led his political opponents to charge him with the dictatorial intentions of a Napoleon or Caesar.

Other prominent figures standing in front on the Republican side are (l-r): Hamilton Fish, secretary of state; George Robeson, secretary of the navy; Schuyler Colfax, vice president; William Tweed (a Democrat), Tammany Hall leader; [unknown]; Senator Roscoe Conkling; and Senator Zachariah Chandler, Grant’s campaign manager, waving voting ballots in Senator Charles Sumner’s face. Scrambling on the ground for money and votes are (l-r): Senator Oliver P. Morgan; Senator Henry Wilson, the Republican vice-presidential nominee; and Senator Simon Cameron.

On the right stands a gigantic Horace Greeley, whose stature connotes a character placing him above the heads of ordinary men. The Liberal-Republican/Democratic presidential nominee thrusts the scroll of “Honest Government” before the face of spoilsman Zachariah Chandler. Banners behind the candidate support civil service reform, equal rights (i.e., voting rights for black men), sectional reconciliation (i.e., the end of Reconstruction), and a one-term presidency. In front of Greeley is a protective buffer of Liberal advocates (l-r): Senator Charles Sumner; [unknown]; Governor Henry Clay Warmoth of Louisiana; Senator Carl Schurz; and [unknown]. The imagined dialogue under the caption reinforces the message of Grant’s corruption and Greeley’s honesty.













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