Tilden and Hendricks


 "A Hard Summer for the Soft Rag Baby"
  Cartoonist:  Thomas Nast
  Source:  Harper's Weekly
  Date:   August 26, 1876, p. 689

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Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
In this cover sequel to "Hen(dricks)-Pecked," Tilden and Hendricks again appear as a married couple. They are pleased that their inflation Rag Baby has fallen asleep (passed out) after imbibing high bock beer (a strong, dark brew) when the Congress Water proved insufficient. While the latter item signifies the U.S. Congress, it was actually a popular brand of mineral water, purportedly with medicinal qualities, from the health resort town of Saratoga Springs, New York.

This same issue of Harper's Weekly reports that the Democratically-controlled House of Representatives had repealed the fixed date for the resumption of specie payments (January 1, 1879). The hard-money Tilden had recently endorsed the date-repeal as a compromise with the inflationists. He claimed that it removed a hindrance to resumption, but he did not explain how. The confusion over Tilden's policy is reflected in the Rag Baby inebriation and thumbing of its nose.

The design on Tilden's fan blends allusions to government "red tape" (allegedly caused by the patronage system) and his position as one of the nation's most successful and richest corporation lawyers, who specialized in railroad law. Because he directed several mergers of railroad companies, critics called him a "train wrecker" and sang the campaign ditty, "Sly Sam, the Railroad Thief."

The hands on the clock stand at the eleventh hour: the last possible moment for accomplishing a given task. The portraits on the wall highlight Tilden's connection with Tammany Hall. On the left, the escaped William "Boss" Tweed runs away in a sailor's suit. (See comments on "A Call for Tweed.") On the right, former-prizefighter John Morrissey is, according to Harper's Weekly, the new political boss in control of the ring. (See comments on "The Democratic Team.")













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