Greeley's Early Candidacy


 "Uncle Sam in Danger; Or, National Garroters At Work"
  Cartoonist:  Matt Morgan
  Source:  Leslie's Illustrated
  Date:   May 4, 1872, p. 113

Click to see a large version of this cartoon...

Click to see a large version of this cartoon

Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
In print on April 24, this issue editorialized that the leading candidates for the Liberal Republican presidential nomination "in point of strength, ability and influence" were Horace Greeley, David Davis, Charles Sumner, Lyman Trumbull, and Carl Schurz. The opinion of Leslie's editors concerning Greeley's candidacy was, however, the minority view. Most observers pegged Charles Francis Adams (conspicuously absent from Leslie's list) and David Davis as the top candidates. Greeley was not generally considered a viable presidential candidate, particularly because of his trade-protectionist stance, although he was thought to be a possible vice-presidential nominee.

Matt Morgan's cover cartoon reflects Leslie's editorial promotion of Greeley's presidential candidacy. The Tribune editor is the lead police officer, wielding his "Cincinnati" billy-club (a reference to the upcoming Liberal Republican convention), who will save Uncle Sam from the clutches of the Republican thieves. He is assisted by Senator Carl Schurz, perhaps being touted here for the second spot on the Liberal Republican ticket. President Grant and his senatorial henchmen (l-r)-Oliver Morton, Simon Cameron, and Roscoe Conkling-are "garroters" (19th-century slang for street thieves, who today are called "muggers"; to garrote means to strangle the robbery victim).

Grant steals "Rights of the States" from one of Uncle Sam's pockets, while Conkling grabs "Congressional Independence" from the other. The New York senator has already pocketed the "N[ew]. Y[ork]. Custom House," the top prize in the nation's patronage system. "Constitutional Safeguards" have fallen to the ground, while the "U.S. Treasury" is exposed for the taking. Senator Morton garrotes Uncle Sam, whose pleas are muffled by a "press gag." The boxed quote from Senator Lyman Trumbull (upper-right) warns of the Grant administration's alleged centralization of governmental power at the national level.












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