Hancock's Uphill Battle


 “A Campaign of ‘Changes’”
  Cartoonist:  William Allen Rogers
  Source:  Harper's Weekly
  Date:   November 6, 1880, p. 713

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

Click to see a large version of this cartoon

Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
This cartoon appeared in the last issue of Harper's Weekly to hit the newsstands (on October 27) before the presidential election. Taking as his inspiration the Democratic call for a change of the party in power, cartoonist W. A. Rogers shows the Democratic campaign banner being adversely altered by none other than the presidential nominee himself, Winfield Hancock, and by a personification of Southern Democrats, a former Confederate soldier.

The Democratic platform had endorsed a tariff for revenue only, and a segment of the party supported outright free trade. Late in the campaign, however, Hancock told a New Jersey newspaper that the tariff issue was a local one. His politically inept statement was used against him by Republicans. Here, the Democratic nominee writes on the banner that the Democratic position "is folly." In the left-foreground an angry James Randall, Democratic speaker of the house, gestures emphatically at the marred banner, while a perplexed John Kelly, political boss of Tammany Hall, scratches his head. (For more information on Hancock's tariff gaffe, see the explanation for "A Local Question" or the 1880 Overview to this website.)

William English, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee, had been an ardent War Democrat during the Civil War, so his candidacy was not popular with Southern Democrats. English, a wealthy Indianapolis banker, was also very reviled in his home state. Rushing (in the center of the picture) to repaint the banner is Louisville Courier-Journal editor Henry Watterson, who was a leading advocate of the tariff-for-revenue-only position. On the sidewalk (right), an amused Uncle Sam, with an American-Eagle-headed umbrella, watches the chaotic scene.













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