Republican Presidential Candidates


 "General Grantís Sedan ____?"
  Cartoonist:  Thomas Nast
  Source:  Harper's Weekly
  Date:   May 1, 1880, p. 273

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Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
After three years of retirement, including two spent on a widely-reported and well-received world tour, former president Ulysses S. Grant (1869-1877) was ready to return to the White House. Grant remained popular with many Americans, but his attempt at an unprecedented third term incited a backlash, with opponents charging him with "Caesarism" (i.e., hunger for power, even dictatorship). Since no president (to that time) had ever served more than two terms, and with reformers seeking to limit the presidency constitutionally to one-term (voluntarily heeded by the current president, Rutherford B. Hayes), Grant's desire for a third-term seemed undemocratic to many Americans.

Cartoonist Thomas Nast, who himself had emigrated as a child from Landau, Bavaria (in 1880, part of a unified Germany), emphasizes the opposition to Grant's candidacy by a group of German-Americans. Their spokesman is Jacob Mueller, an ethnic German who had fled Tsarist Russia for the United States, where he became lieutenant-governor of Ohio (1872-1874). Like Mueller, many German immigrants had left oppressive governments in Europe to seek the democratic freedoms which America offered, an experience that heightened their sensitivity to any hint of the tyrannical consolidation of political power. Notice that Grant's mode of transportation to the nomination is a sedan, a conveyance for the royal and the rich which is borne on the shoulders of servants or slaves.

Furthermore, many German-Americans, such as Interior Secretary Carl Schurz (1877-1881), emphatically endorsed civil service reform, which Grant's Stalwart wing of the Republican party opposed. In 1880, most Ohio Republicans were supporting either Treasury Secretary John Sherman of Ohio or Senator James Blaine of Maine. At the Republican convention, Grant would be the leading vote-getter on 35 ballots before losing to compromise candidate James Garfield of Ohio.













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