“Boodle” Blaine: Public Office for Private Gain


 “The ‘Great American’ Game of Public Office for Private Gain”
  Cartoonist:  Thomas Nast
  Source:  Harper's Weekly
  Date:   August 9, 1884, p. 523

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Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
One of cartoonist Thomas Nast's main contentions was that Republican presidential nominee James Blaine had spent his public career seeking personal gain, not the good of his constituents or the nation. Here, the artist plays on Blaine's nickname of "Plumed Knight" to make the former senator a knight who runs in his fake-horse costume to procure a bag of public money with his lance. To underline Blaine's alleged tendency for public larceny, Nast dubs the lance "real steel" (i.e., steal), and the breastplate "real brass" (for his brash personality), upon which appears a bag of money with "TAKE" written across it. The track is labeled "R. R. Ring," an allusion to Blaine's shady involvement with railroad companies. The sarcastic use of "Great American" in the caption refers to an honorary term bestowed upon Blaine by his enthusiastic supporters. The second line of the caption exposes the nominee's emphasis on the need for protective tariffs as yet another ploy for personal gain: "'Free Trade' with the people's money." Uncle Sam (left) and Columbia (right) look on from the box in the background.












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