Prohibition and the Tariff Question


 "The Republican Drag: Free Whiskey"
  Cartoonist:  William Allen Rogers
  Source:  Harper's Weekly
  Date:   September 15, 1888, p. 692

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Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
Benjamin Harrison, the Republican presidential nominee and a devout Presbyterian, drives his campaign carriage topped by mostly proper-looking gentlemen as a plumed trumpeter blares the party’s message of “Temperance and Morality.” The riders’ tranquility is interrupted by James Blaine, who is dressed in the garish attire of a “confidence man” (con artist) and acts as a circus barker. His shout from the sidewalk reveals the true nature of the Republican vehicle: it is a whiskey jug on wheels traveling down Old Rye Road. The cartoon reflects the Democratic strategy to win Prohibitionist votes by associating Republicans with “free whiskey” because of the GOP platform call for an end to all internal taxes, including on alcohol. It also reinforces the assumption that Blaine would set policy in any Harrison administration.

The expectation that the presidential election of 1888 would be very close (as it was) provoked the two major parties to fight for support from third party and independent voters. The Prohibition Party held their 1888 national convention in Harrison’s hometown of Indianapolis, Indiana, where delegates nominated Clinton B. Fisk of New Jersey for president. He was a wealthy financier, railroad executive, and former Union general and assistant commissioner of the Freedmen’s Bureau after whom Fisk University (Nashville, Tennessee) is named. He left the Republican Party in 1884 (when Blaine was the presidential nominee) to back Prohibitionist candidate John St. John. In 1886, Fisk earned nearly 20,000 votes in a losing effort to become the Prohibitionist governor of New Jersey, and in 1888 he won just under 250,000 (2.2%) of the popular vote for president.













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