The Irish Question


 “He Has a Family Portrait Painted”
  Cartoonist:  Unknown
  Source:  Harper's Weekly
  Date:   September 6, 1884, p. 585

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Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
This cartoon pokes fun at Republican presidential nominee James Blaine's strategy of seeking the Irish-American vote, particularly the tactic of revealing his Irish-Catholic heritage (on his mother's side). New York Tribune editor Whitelaw Reid unveils the portrait he has painted of Blaine. To viewers in 1884 the image would be instantly recognizable as that of an Irishman (the shamrock, the hat, etc.). The candidate, dressed in the livery of the stereotypical Irish-American man, praises the artistry and accuracy of the picture, but wonders if Reid could "get a little German into that nose?" In other words, can the editor/artist make the candidate more attractive to the large bloc of German-American voters by transforming him into one of them. Underneath the easel, Congressman William Walter Phelps of New Jersey mixes "Chinese White" paint, as similar cans line the shelf on the wall. Behind Blaine stands his vice-presidential running-mate, John Logan, unnaturally thin and short, and also attired in the costume of a male servant or cabdriver. This cartoon expresses the common anti-Blaine theme of the Republican nominee's deceptively malleable character.












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