Republican Presidential Candidates


 “The Plumed Knight”
  Cartoonist:  Thomas Nast
  Source:  Harper's Weekly
  Date:   June 5, 1880, p. 353

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Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
At the 1876 Republican National Convention, Robert Ingersoll nominated James Blaine for president in a rousing speech in which the renowned orator referred to the former speaker of the house and new senator as the "Plumed Knight." The term was a compliment to Blaine's legislative skill and patriotism, as "a man who has preserved in Congress what our soldiers won upon the field." Cartoonist Thomas Nast, however, used the epithet to mercilessly taunt Blaine.

In this cartoon, appearing just before the 1880 Republican National Convention convened, the plumes in the senator's hat emphasize "gush," "bluster and brag," and, incomprehensibly, "communists." Blaine wears a "bloody shirt" to indicate that his chief tactic is smearing the Democratic opposition as sympathetic to the former Confederate cause. The campaign posters surrounding the candidate are meant either as jabs at Blaine's ego or his alleged corruption. The shadow he casts resembles an insect and hides the ominous warning of "defeat sure" in the general election if the Maine senator is nominated by the Republicans.













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