Electoral College Controversy: Looking for Votes


 A Jewel Among Swine
  Cartoonist:  Thomas Nast
  Source:  Harper's Weekly
  Date:   February 24, 1877, p. 141

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Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
This cover cartoon by Thomas Nast aptly represents the corruption related to the disputed electoral votes in Louisiana as a pigsty. The head of that state's returning board, J. M. Wells, tried to bribe both parties. He sent Colonel John T. Pickett to offer Abram Hewitt, national chairman of the Democratic party, Louisiana's votes in exchange for $1,000,000 (note the sign behind the standing pig), but Hewitt declined. Pickett also negotiated, without Wells' knowledge, with other Democrats.

This cartoon reveals that, according to Pickett, New York City politico John Morrissey bragged that he could buy the Louisiana electors like he could buy pigs. Morrissey, the former gambling-house proprietor, wears emblems of playing cards: the cloverleaf of clubs (also symbolizing the Irish) on his lapel, a heart cufflink, and an oversized diamond stud-long associated with Tammany Hall-on his shirt. His formal attire-top hat and tails-is that of the pro-Tilden, anti-Kelly faction that would become known as the Irving Hall Democrats (or "Swallowtails," named after the coat).

The $6,000,000 on the flag and poster (right) allude to the estimated amount the Tweed Ring stole from the New York City treasury. David Dudley Field was defense lawyer for the Tweed Ring and the Erie Railroad Ring. The two mentions of Oregon (lower-left and top-center) refer to the one disputed elector there.













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