Superb Hancock and Awful Democrats


 “The Democratic Trojan Horse”
  Cartoonist:  A. B. Frost
  Source:  Harper's Weekly
  Date:   July 31, 1880, p. 481

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

Click to see a large version of this cartoon

Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
Cartoonist A. B. Frost adapts the story of the Trojan Horse to the 1880 presidential election. According to myth, Paris, the king of Troy, sparked the Trojan War by abducting Helen, the daughter the Greek god, Zeus, by his wife, Leda. After laying siege to Troy for 10 years, the Greeks constructed a gigantic horse with a secret interior room into which Greek soldiers were placed. The rest of the Greeks feigned retreat while the Trojan Horse was delivered to the gates of the city. Accepting the gift, the Trojan soldiers celebrated their good fortune with a night of drunken revelry. With the inebriated Troy soldiers unconscious or stupefied, their Greek counterparts emerged from the wooden beast to capture and burn the city.

Here, the cartoonist warns the public not to be fooled by the stature of General Winfield Hancock. The presidential nominee is a Trojan Horse, an empty vessel who will allow the deceitful Democratic party to take over the American government. They will use national office not for the public good, but for their own personal gain and wild schemes.

In the lower-left stand the symbols of the Southern and Northern wings of the Democratic party, the former Confederate soldier and the urban shoulder-hitter (see the explanation for "Miss Columbia (to General H_____)"). The Southern Democrat holds a staff reading "Rag Money," a reference to the inflationist "soft-money" position (see "Monetary Policy" in Issues). The Northern Democrat grasps a staff reading "Spoils," meaning political patronage, on which perches a vulture. In the lower-right is Henry Watterson, editor of the Louisville Courier-Journal, which marches beside him. During the crisis over the disputed 1876 electoral college returns, Watterson threatened that "100,000 men" would march on the Capitol if Democrat Samuel Tilden was not declared the presidential victor.

In this cartoon, an uncomfortable Tilden is being hoisted to the top of the horse, as he clutches his barrel of money. His "Cipher nephew," Colonel William Pelton climbs up the ladder beside him. On the rung below him, Senator Daniel Voorhees of Indiana wields his sword aloft. In the box atop the horse sits a sullen Speaker of the House Samuel J. Randall of Pennsylvania, who lost the nomination to Hancock. Randall is flanked by the 1868 Democratic ticket; bald-headed presidential nominee Horatio Seymour on the left and vice-presidential nominee Frank Blair on the right. In a position to guide the entire operation from the forehead of the nominee is Tammany boss John Kelly. The ferocious emblem on the front of the Trojan Horse seems to be a combination of a tiger, symbolizing Tammany Hall and, with guilt by association, the national Democratic party, along with perhaps a bloodthirsty bat or a nocturnal owl.













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