The Republican Nomination


 "Crafty Old Tar from Maine"
  Cartoonist:  William Allen Rogers
  Source:  Harper's Weekly
  Date:   June 18, 1887, p. 448

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Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
The “Crafty Old Tar [i.e., sailor] from Maine” in this cartoon is James G. Blaine, the Republican presidential nominee in 1884 and the party’s frontrunner for the 1888 nomination. The former congressman, senator, and secretary of state left for a 14-month European vacation in June 1887, about the time this cartoon was published. He told loyalists not to work toward his presidential nomination, but expectations of his candidacy continued unabated during his overseas travels, even though he made two public statements that his name would not be placed in nomination.

Here, Blaine sails from New York Harbor under the gigantic figure of an Irishman (wearing stereotypical groomsman’s livery) and through a narrow opening between opposing seawalls representing two sides on the Irish Question. The “Parnell-O’Brien Party” (left) refers to Charles Parnell, an Irish Protestant member of British Parliament, and William O’Brien, the Catholic editor of Parnell’s newspaper, United Ireland. They were leaders of the Home Rule movement, which sought political autonomy for all of Ireland on domestic matters while remaining within the British Empire. “The McGlynn-George Party” (right) denotes the Rev. Dr. Edward McGlynn, a Catholic priest from New York City, and Henry George, a popular economic theorist and unsuccessful New York mayoral candidate in 1886. They advocated complete political independence for Ireland and the nationalization of its lands.

During the 1884 presidential campaign, Blaine had tried to win over Irish-Catholic voters, who constituted an important bloc in the Democratic Party, by criticizing British policies toward Ireland and explaining how the tariff supposedly helped the working class. Meanwhile, some of his supporters emphasized the fact that Blaine’s mother was Irish-Catholic and spread rumors that his Democratic rival, Grover Cleveland, was an anti-Catholic bigot. This cartoon suggests that divisions over the future of Ireland will make a replay of Blaine’s 1884 strategy more difficult in 1888. As the sail in this cartoon predicts, he did return in 1888, but in August, after the Republican National Convention had nominated Benjamin Harrison for president. Following the election, President Harrison appointed Blaine secretary of state.













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