Blaine’s Scandal Sheet


 “Selections from Blaine Cartoons Published in Harper’s Weekly from March 8, 1879, to May 13, 1882,”
  Cartoonist:  Thomas Nast
  Source:  Harper's Weekly
  Date:   July 26, 1884, pp. 490-491

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Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
Lest the public forget the record of Republican presidential nominee James Blaine, Thomas Nast fills two pages of Harper's Weekly with his past anti-Blaine cartoons, published over a three-year period.

Several of the images mark the fact that, as senator, Blaine was a leading proponent of Chinese exclusion, which banned Chinese from immigrating to the United States and barred those already resident from getting American citizenship. In the upper-left, he shelters a caricatured black man, while shunning a Chinese man; in the upper-center, an "intelligent workman" rejects Blaine's promotion of Chinese exclusion as a pro-labor measure; in the lower-left, a Chinese man mocks Blaine's involvement with Maine's state election in early 1880 (also the subject of the cartoon in the center-left); and, in the lower-right, Chinese figures (the one on the far-right is Blaine) are included in two small cartoons regarding Blaine's failed 1880 bid for the Republican nomination.

Two other cartoons deal with his 1880 candidacy. In the upper-right, Nast emphasizes Blaine's bloody-shirt oratory by drawing a bloody-shirt on the senator, and his braggart nature by placing ornate plumes in his hat. (In his 1876 nominating speech, Robert Ingersoll proudly labeled Blaine a "Plumed Knight," which quickly became a term of derision.) In the center-right, Nast pokes fun at Blaine's reputation for having a "magnetic" (charismatic) personality, by sketching the senator literally as a magnet, which has attracted an assortment of scandals and controversial stands on the issues.

Blaine's allegedly bellicose views and activities in foreign affairs are the topic of two cartoons in the lower-center and lower-right. In the former, his brief tenure as secretary of state is depicted as akin to a bull in a China shop, and contrasted unfavorably with the peaceful and sensible administration of his state department successor, Frederick Frelinghuysen.

In the latter cartoon, Blaine is presented as an angry, obstinate rhinoceros being "badgered" by Democratic Congressman Perry Belmont of New York. The War of the Pacific between Chile and Peru occurred partly during Blaine's brief tenure as secretary of state (May-December 1881). Blaine blamed Great Britain for arming and agitating Chile, and urged the U.S. to provide financial aid to Peru. Critics charged that Blaine was motivated by personal interest, having secret investments in Peruvian guano and nitrates. In 1882, Belmont chaired a Foreign Affairs subcommittee investigation, but was unable to prove the charges against Blaine.













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