The National Party Conventions


 “In Despair”
  Cartoonist:  Grant Hamilton
  Source:  Judge
  Date:   July 2, 1892, p. 1

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

Click to see a large version of this cartoon

Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
Cartoonist Grant Hamilton portrays the Democratic and Mugwump press as being out of political gunpowder for the 1892 presidential election. Comparing political campaigns to military ones was a common analogy used by nineteenth-century editorial cartoonists. This image is particularly similar to an 1880 Harper’s Weekly cartoon by William A. Rogers, "Now or Never—The White House or ‘Bust’ ! ,” in which that year’s Democratic presidential nominee, General Winfield S. Hancock, and his Democratic “officers” stand aboard a sinking raft, firing a dilapidated cannon at the Republican White House.

On this 1892 cover, Judge endorses the Republican President Benjamin Harrison for another term. The image praises the administration’s dual policy of supporting high tariffs to protect American industry while pursuing reciprocal trade treaties with individual nations for the mutual benefit of both. The anti-Harrison press is depicted as “Free Traders,” though most actually called only for lowering tariffs, not eliminating them. The free-trade gunpowder has been depleted by the previous battle of 1888, when Harrison defeated Democrat Grover Cleveland, leaving no ammunition for the 1892 Harrison-Cleveland rematch.

In the left foreground sits Henry Watterson, editor of the Louisville Courier-Journal and one of the Democratic Party’s leading tariff reformers. In the center foreground, with both hands on an empty barrel, is James Wilmot Scott, publisher of the Chicago Herald and a founder of United Press, a newsgathering syndicate rivaling the Associated Press. The Herald had been a Republican paper until it joined the Mugwump revolt in 1884 to endorse Democrat Grover Cleveland over Republican James Blaine. In the right foreground is Charles A. Dana, publisher of the New York Sun. In 1884, Dana had objected to Cleveland’s nomination and backed Greenback-Labor nominee Benjamin Butler. By the early 1890s, however, the Sun had migrated from a pro-labor to a pro-business editorial stance, and endorsed Cleveland for president in 1892.

In the left background stands Joseph Pulitzer, owner of the Democratic New York World who later established the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for excellence in journalism and the arts. In 1890, poor health had forced him to place the World under the management of an executive board, although he continued to influence its editorial positions. In the center background is George William Curtis, editor of Harper’s Weekly, who had also broken with the Republican Party to endorse Cleveland in 1884. Curtis’s almost 30-year editorship ended in the summer of 1892 when he became fatally ill before dying on August 31. On the right, behind Dana, stands John R. McLean, publisher of the Cincinnati Enquirer and the party “boss” of Ohio Democrats. In later years, McLean was the unsuccessful Democratic nominee for governor in 1899; he purchased the Washington Post in 1905.













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