“Another Feather In His Cap”
  Cartoonist:  Thomas Nast
  Source:  Harper's Weekly
  Date:   September 20, 1884, p. 623

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Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
Cartoonist Thomas Nast addresses Republican presidential nominee James Blaine's refusal to vote on a proposed prohibition amendment to his home state's constitution. The issue was a difficult one for Blaine and the Republicans, who did not want to anger voters on either side of the question in such a close election. (See "He Thinks He Can" for a more complete explanation.) In not voting, Blaine claims in a public letter (excerpted on the wall, upper-right) that prohibition is a local issue, not a national one. The candidate's main advocate in the press, New York Tribune editor Whitelaw Reid, praises his decision as statesmanlike and manly (wall, center-right). Long-time temperance agitator Neal Dow of Maine, however, insists that the Republican nominee does support the amendment (wall, lower-right).

To Nast, Blaine is simply a coward for "dodging" an important issue. The candidate's "feather in his cap" (accomplishment) is white, the color of a chicken and of surrender. The plumed hat pokes fun at Blaine's nickname, the Plumed Knight, bestowed on him by Robert Ingersoll in 1876. Nast also sneaks in a reference to Blaine's railroad scandal (the Mulligan letters), and implicitly compares the nominee with Tammany Hall's former corrupt boss, William Tweed. "What are you going to do about it?" was a catch-phrase Nast used against Tweed in 1871-1872 to attack the political boss's arrogance of power.













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