The Republican Defeat


 “The Weakness of the Republican Party”
  Cartoonist:  Victor Gillam
  Source:  Judge
  Date:   December 10, 1892, p. 413

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Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
In a post-election analysis, this Judge cartoon blames the Republican loss of the White House in 1892 on old issues and old candidates (Benjamin Harrison was 59). The Young Republican argues to an angry Republican Party, “We are sick of being led by old fossils on war issues, and the time has come when young Republicans must be recognized.” Earlier that summer, several delegates had wanted to replace President Harrison at the top of the ticket with the younger governor of Ohio, William McKinley. But the popular 49-year-old Midwesterner would have to wait another four years.

In the cartoon caption, veterans’ pensions are singled out in the first sentence as being already sufficiently provided by Congress so that the issue is no longer relevant. But “war issues” may also suggest that the longstanding Republican campaign tactic of “waving the bloody shirt” (i.e., associating Democrats with the Confederate rebellion) is no longer effective. Another intriguing possibility is subtle criticism of the reliance on protective tariffs as a winning issue. Dating high-tariff policy to the Civil War, critics often dismissed it as the “War Tariff.” Also, the caged-bird caricature of trade protection in Judge’s post-election cartoon, “Benjamin ‘Where Am I At,” by Bernhard Gillam (brother of Victor) may have been meant to portray the issue as the extinct dodo. Whether or not that was the intention in either cartoon, high tariffs became the cornerstone of the McKinley presidential campaign in 1896.













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