The Republican Nomination


 "The Only Presidential Syrup-Fountain"
  Cartoonist:  William Allen Rogers
  Source:  Harper's Weekly
  Date:   July 9, 1887, p. 496

Click to see a large version of this cartoon...

Click to see a large version of this cartoon

Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
This cartoon satirizes Senator John Sherman for allegedly flip-flopping on major defense and domestic issues. Pictured as a soda jerk, Sherman’s syrups are a menu of policy opposites—sectional reconciliation and animosity, war and peace, labor and capital, etc.—“the greatest variety in the country” from the same man. The emblem above the soda fountain shows him as the two-faced Roman god, Janus, blowing “hot and cold” air, a slang phrase for changing opinions frequently. In the scene on the soda fountain’s front, the artist attributes Sherman’s contradictory positions to the senator’s bid for the White House in 1888.

In reality, Sherman was one of the most experienced, talented, and respected politicians of the late-nineteenth century, yet he failed three times to win the Republican presidential nomination during the 1880s. He had been a congressman (1855-1861), senator (1861-1877), and secretary of the treasury (1877-1881) before being elected to the first of three more Senate terms in 1881 (he later served as secretary of state, 1897-1898).

In 1880, Sherman initially placed a distant third at the Republican National Convention to Ulysses S. Grant, the former president who was seeking a third term, and Senator James G. Blaine. The deadlocked convention turned eventually to Sherman’s campaign manager, James Garfield, for the nomination. Sherman fared even worse at the 1884 Republican National Convention, placing fifth on the first ballot and losing to his rival, Blaine. Reelected to the Senate in 1886, the Ohio senator believed that Republican delegates would finally be receptive to his candidacy at the next national convention. Among the crowded field of candidates in 1888, Sherman’s first-ballot tally was more than twice that of his nearest challenger, but just over half the total needed to win the nomination. His candidacy then stalled, and delegates began migrating to the banner of Benjamin Harrison of Indiana, who won the nomination on the eighth ballot.













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