The Democratic Nomination


  Cartoonist:  Charles G. Bush
  Source:  Harper's Weekly
  Date:   February 18, 1888, p. 124

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

Click to see a large version of this cartoon

Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
This cartoon continues the theme of Governor David B. Hill’s failure to produce interest in his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. The gubernatorial plant of his horticulturalist companion, Roswell P. Flower, suffers from the same stunted growth. Flower was a former congressman who lost New York’s Democratic gubernatorial nomination to Grover Cleveland in 1882. Two years later, Tammany Hall backed Flower as the favorite-son candidate who could wreck Cleveland’s bandwagon for the party’s presidential nomination, but the governor defeated his Tammany rival to win the crucial support of the state delegation to Democratic National Convention. When Hill was nominated in 1885 for governor (having gained the position after Cleveland’s election as president), Flower was nominated for lieutenant governor, but declined for personal and business reasons. Although Flower’s candidacy for governor did not materialize in 1888, he was reelected to Congress that year. In 1891, he was finally elected governor of New York, but decided not to seek reelection three years later.

The references in the cartoon to “Esoterics” may simply imply that the campaigns of Hill and Flower are difficult to understand, or it may (also) be a reference to a mystical philosophy that held to the possibility of creating new plant life by thinking it into existence. The box of seed in the lower-right corner is labeled “Peanut Politics,” a common American slang term meaning cheap, petty, small-time, or mediocre politics. The September 1, 1888 issue of Harper's Weekly editorialized about Hill’s “‘peanut politics’ and his general lack of the qualities which befit the great office that he now holds…” The inverted alcohol glasses used as miniature greenhouses are likely a way to undermine the character of the two Democrats in the estimation of temperance-minded voters.













Website design © 2001-2008 HarpWeek, LLC
All Content © 1998-2008 HarpWeek, LLC
Please submit questions to