Gold Democrats


 "Not for Them"
  Cartoonist:  William Allen Rogers
  Source:  Harper's Weekly
  Date:   August 8, 1896, p. 769

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Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
This cartoon takes its theme from Carl Schurz’s commentary from the previous issue, in which the editor praised gold standard Democrats for rejecting the results of the Democratic National Convention. Here, Senator James K. Jones of Arkansas, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, offers campaign uniforms to “Life-Long Democrat[s],” a group including the stereotypical laboring man (right, in white cap). All of them sternly refuse the uniforms with outstretched arms. In this August 8 issue, Schurz asserts that it is the duty of “patriotic sound-money Democrats” to work for the election of Republican William McKinley. The editor stresses that far more is at stake than monetary policy since the Democratic platform and new leadership are turning the party toward socialism.

Cartoonist W. A. Rogers and other defenders of the gold standard believed that abandoning it would destroy what they considered to be the intrinsic value of money and replace it with an arbitrary measurement of worth. It is not surprising, therefore, that three of the Democratic uniform’s accessories in this cartoon are associated with deceit. Symbolic of the free coinage of silver, the “bunco-dollar hats” allude to a con game and offer potential wearers no protection from rain or sun. The fake beards of populism suggest disguises worn by spies, and are lengthy in mimicry of the chin whiskers of Populist Senator William Peffer of Kansas. The “Repudiation” coats represent leaving the gold standard and are garishly checked like the suit worn by the era’s stereotypical confidence man (con artist). More threatening, the torch used in political parades is labeled “anarchy,” the dangerous fire of radicalism associated with the 1896 Democratic platform.













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