Sham Reform


 "Tilden And ____"
  Cartoonist:  Thomas Nast
  Source:  Harper's Weekly
  Date:   July 22, 1876, p. 604

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

Click to see a large version of this cartoon

Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
Democratic presidential nominee Samuel Tilden appears in the costume and with the queue of a Chinese man beating a "Reform" gong. At his feet lies a Chinese puzzle, consisting of the political rings that he has broken; to the Tammany and Canal rings, Nast adds a Sheriff's Ring to remind viewers of Tweed's prison break during Tilden's gubernatorial term. (See comments on "A Call for Tweed.") The cartoon's message is the supposedly false claim of Tilden to the reform banner.

The cartoon also exposes popular prejudices and concerns about the Chinese and Chinese immigrants. The Burlingame Treaty of 1868 had allowed a free flow of immigration between China and the United States. The Chinese population in the United States, located primarily on the West coast, remained tiny, but racial prejudice and economic competition roused intense and sometimes bloody reaction against them.

During the 1870s several measures were introduced into Congress to limit or prohibit Chinese immigration. The 1876 Republican platform called on Congress "to investigate the immigration and importation of Mongolians on the moral and material interests of the country." Finally, in 1882 Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act which banned all Chinese immigration to the United States for ten years (extended by subsequent laws). For more information, visit HarpWeek's site on "The Chinese American Experience, 1857-1892."













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