Hancock's Uphill Battle


 “Up-Hill Work”
  Cartoonist:  Thure de Thulstrup
  Source:  Harper's Weekly
  Date:   September 4, 1880, p. 561

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Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
As 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 shirt").

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 government property.

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.













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