“Cold Water Comfort”
  Cartoonist:  Thomas Nast
  Source:  Harper's Weekly
  Date:   October 25, 1884, p. 707

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Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
As the presidential campaign heated up, three Thomas Nast cartoons in Harper’s Weekly featured Republican nominee James Blaine and National Prohibition party nominee John St. John. The Prohibition party drew votes away mainly from the Republican party, and was thus a serious threat in the close election of 1884. Blaine tried not to alienate voters on either side of the controversial question by calling it a local question.

In “The Teetotal Dodger,” Nast points out that the Prohibition party is, after all, a national organization, so Blaine’s local claim is suspect. The cartoonist’s emphasis is on Blaine’s cowardice in dodging the issue.

In “At His Old Tricks Again Out West,” Blaine (right) appears as a magician trying a sleight-of-hand trick to turn beer into water, or vice versa. “Out West” refers to Blaine’s campaign speaking tour through the Midwest in the fall. In his stump speeches, he emphasized the tariff issue and did not discuss prohibition. St. John watches from a box seat draped with an American flag.

On the shelves behind Blaine are symbols of the campaign. A representation of Charles Dana’s New York Sun appears in front of its candidate, Greenback-Labor nominee Benjamin Butler, who is a jack-in-the-box. The lion hanging by its nailed tail refers to Blaine’s anti-British remarks, make in hopes of luring Irish-American voters away from the Democratic party. Also hanging on the wall are tobacco pipes of Irish and German (Blaine appealed for votes from German-Americans, too). Other items (bank, bonds, stock shares, railroad) refer to Blaine’s railroad scandal.

“Cold Water Comfort” illustrates the Republican unsuccessful attempt to persuade St. John to drop out of the race, and the Prohibition nominee’s frank reaction.

(See "He Thinks He Can," for a more complete explanation of Blaine and prohibition.)













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