Cleve and Steve: The Democratic Ticket


 “…Adlai’s Phrenological Chart…”
  Cartoonist:  Victor Gillam
  Source:  Judge
  Date:   September 10, 1892, p. 165

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Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
Phrenology was based on the theories of Franz Joseph Gall (1758-1828), an Austrian physician. He argued that the brain was divided into several distinct areas that performed particular mental or emotional tasks. The strength or weakness of those brain sections could be discerned by studying the shape of human skulls to provide an understanding of each person’s inclinations and abilities. In the 1830s, the theory was introduced to the United States, where brothers Orson and Lorenzo Fowler popularized it by “reading” people’s heads for a price. Many imitators took up the practice, and it remained popular in America throughout the nineteenth century. Phrenology sometimes merged with theories of biological determinism that depicted certain races and classes as mentally or morally inferior, although that was not the position taken by most practitioners.

Based on a newspaper report that Democratic vice-presidential nominee Adlai Stevenson had recently visited a phrenologist, this cartoon divides his brain into sections representing various undesirable qualities. In the front row are scenes depicting (left-right): support of inflationary paper currency called “greenbacks”; hiring a substitute after being drafted into the Union Army; and, opposition to national banks. In the back row are scenes showing (left-right): the vice-presidential tail on the elephantine Grover Cleveland; dispenser of political patronage while assistant postmaster general; supposedly delivering an anti-Lincoln speech in 1864; and (falsely) being a Confederate sympathizer (“Copperhead”) during the Civil War.













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