Bloody Shirt and Bloody Chasm


 Grantís First and Last Vote
  Cartoonist:  Matt Morgan
  Source:  Leslie's Illustrated
  Date:   September 14, 1872, pp. 8-9

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Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
Appearing in the same issue as the cover, "Too Thin, Massa Grant," this cartoon is another response to the Republican waving of the "bloody shirt." It is based on Ulysses S. Grant's vote for Democrat James Buchanan in the 1856 presidential election, and thereby tries to associate Grant with slavery. Of slovenly attire and dimwitted countenance, Grant casts his ballot for "Buchanan and Extension of Slavery," while his slave sits upon a cord of wood. At the time, the racist catch-phrase "the Nigger in the woodpile" referred to a surprising secret that was kept hidden from others; in this case, Grant's voting record.

Grant had married into a slaveowning, Democratic family, and his wife, Julia Dent, owned four house servants until the couple moved to Illinois in 1860. Grant was opposed to slavery on principle, but worried about the divisive nature of the abolitionist movement. In his youth, he had been a strong supporter of the Whig party in the 1840s, then became, like many, a party drifter in the politically volatile 1850s. In 1856 he cast his ballot for Buchanan over the Republican John Fremont because he thought the Democrat's victory would postpone possible secession and war.

It was "Grant's First and Last Vote" because in 1860 he failed to meet Illinois' residency requirement, in 1864 he was too involved in the war to cast a ballot, and in 1868 he declined to vote for himself. He came to regret his vote, as the dithering of President Buchanan during "secession winter" of 1860-1861 infuriated him. Contrary to the quote falsely attributed to him in the caption, Grant was an early and firm backer of the Union cause and during Reconstruction eventually cooperated with the Radical Republicans against President Andrew Johnson, a Democrat.












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