s the campaign heated up in the fall of 1880, the Harper's Weekly art
department presented the chances of the Democratic presidential nominee Winfield
Hancock as an uphill struggle, despite the actual closeness of the race. In this
cover cartoon, Hancock must bear the heavy load of the Democratic party, which
can be summarized as corruption and sympathy with the Confederate cause (the
latter was the standard Republican tactic of "waving the bloody
The corruption includes: "Naturalization Frauds" (giving citizenship
to newly arrived immigrants, who then vote Democratic); "Cipher
Dispatches" (the attempt to buy electoral votes in the 1876 electoral
college controversy); "Tweed Ring Frauds" (under Tammany Hall bosses
William M. Tweed and John Kelly); "Tissue Ballots" (vote fraud by
stuffing ballot boxes); and "SJT 1876 JK" (the false allegation of
collusion between Samuel Tilden and John Kelly).
The pro-Confederate or White Supremacist sympathy includes: "Ku Klux
Klan" (the violence anti-black paramilitary group); "State
Sovereignty" (often a justification for federal noninterference with the
state institution of slavery); "Rebellion" (secession and the
Confederate war effort); "Slavery" (the enslavement of blacks); "Copperheadism"
(the derisive term, named after the poisonous snake, for the Civil War movement
of Peace Democrats); "Peace at Any Price" (the supposed policy of the
Northern Peace Democrats during the Civil War); and "New York Riots"
(the bloody anti-draft riots in New York City, which targeted blacks and federal
The only allusion to a current issue are faint references to monetary policy:
"Repudiation" and "Fiat Money"; that is, Democratic
opposition to the gold standard and support for government-printed currency
("greenbacks") not backed by gold. (See "Monetary Policy" in Issues).
Notice that the sweating Hancock is slowly trying to make his way to the Capitol
building, not the White House. In 19th century American politics, Congress was
considered the dominant and most important branch of government, so the Capitol
building was often used as a visual symbol for the entire federal government.