he Democratic Tiger originated as a symbol of the Tammany Hall Democrats of New
York City, but Thomas Nast also used it to represent the national Democratic
party. In this Harper's Weekly cover cartoon, Nast makes two main points.
First, in the foreground he emphasizes the contradictory positions on monetary
policy held by the Democratic ticket. Nast accomplishes this by drawing the
nominees as a two-headed tiger, Tilden (l), the hard-money
"Contraction," and Hendricks (r), the soft-money
"Inflation." Resembling PushMe-PullMe in Hugh Lofting's The Voyages of
Doctor Doolittle (1923), the two-headed Democratic Tiger cannot go anywhere or
get anything done.
Second, the artist associates Tilden (and the Democrats in general) with the
corruption of New York City's Tammany Hall. John Morrissey, representing Tammany
Hall, is a gambler fixing the presidential race by buying votes. The choice of
the tiger symbol also links the national Democrats with Tammany Hall. The signs
on the wall (upper right) parody Tilden's reputation as a reformer. The
"soft soap" in front is another reference, like the Rag Baby, to
inflationist or soft-money policies.