Democratic Nomination


 “An Independent Victory”
  Cartoonist:  Thomas Nast
  Source:  Harper's Weekly
  Date:   July 19, 1884, p. 465

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Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
This cartoon celebrates the Democratic National Convention's nomination of Governor Grover Cleveland of New York for president. The cover of this issue of Harper's Weekly is a full-page portrait of the nominee, and the second page carries an official endorsement in the lead editorial, written by George William Curtis. The quote prominent at the top of this cartoon was taken from a seconding speech for Cleveland, delivered at the convention by General Edward Bragg of Wisconsin. The "enemies" refers to spoilsmen and machine politicians in general, but primarily to John Kelly and his Tammany Hall followers.

Standing tall and erect, Cleveland is portrayed as a "clean" politician, who has the backbone to stand up to disreputable pols like Kelly. Cleveland's nomination is not presented as a victory for the Democratic party, but for independent voters of any partisan affiliation. Nast may also be giving credit (largely undue) to Independent Republicans like himself for influencing the Democratic selection process. "Boss" Kelly is pictured as a disgruntled Indian chief, considering whether to stab Cleveland in the back. A forlorn Benjamin Butler, who had desired the Democratic nomination for himself, sits on the ground in the shadows between Cleveland and Kelly.

Thomas Nast and Harper's Weekly were long-time enemies of Tammany Hall, the leading Democratic political machine in New York City. Nast's cartoons had been instrumental in arousing public opposition in the early 1870s to the corruption of Tammany Hall's notorious Tweed Ring. Kelly, William Tweed's successor, was depicted similarly over the years by Nast as a corrupt spoilsman. As governor, Cleveland refused to allocate patronage to Tammany Hall, thus provoking their enmity, but the Democratic governor did support the Democratic machines in Brooklyn and New York county. To Nast and other reformers, however, Cleveland's repudiation of Tammany Hall and his support of reform legislation was enough to generate their enthusiastic support.













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