“He Thinks He Can”
  Cartoonist:  Thomas Nast
  Source:  Harper's Weekly
  Date:   August 23, 1884, p. 543

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Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
The 1884 presidential election was accurately predicted to be as close as the 1880 contest had been. The narrow margin of victory enhanced the importance of minor parties, like the Prohibition party, which drew most of its voters from Republican ranks. Republican presidential nominee James Blaine of Maine did not want to alienate either temperance advocates or their opponents, many of whom were from German or Irish immigrant families. Therefore, he and other Republicans insisted that prohibition was a local issue. When a proposed state constitutional amendment prohibiting the sale of alcohol appeared on the ballot in Maine's state election in September 1884, Blaine did not vote on the issue.

In 1884, the Prohibition party ran its most well-known candidate ever, John St. John, the former governor of Kansas. Republican operatives tried to convince St. John to drop out of the race. When he refused, they engaged in a smear campaign against him, accusing him of wife abuse and other dreadful deeds. In retaliation, a furious St. John concentrated his efforts in upstate New York, an area of the key electoral state where Blaine was vulnerable on the prohibition issue. The Democratic party secretly funded the Prohibition party's campaign there. In the end, the Prohibition vote in New York proved to be one of the leading factors in Blaine's electoral defeat by Democrat Grover Cleveland. This Harper's Weekly cover conveys the dilemma facing Blaine: whether he can satisfy both sides on the Prohibition question. Blaine's peddler's bag advertises the message "20 Years a Tee-Totaler" (i.e., non-drinker of alcohol), but it is qualified by the underlined phrase "in Maine." When it comes to drinking water from the well, the candidate proves unfit for the task.













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