The Republican Nomination


 "The Poster In Politics: A Suggestion"
  Cartoonist:  William Allen Rogers
  Source:  Harper's Weekly
  Date:   February 29, 1896, p. 216

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Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
This fanciful cartoon presents Senator Matthew Quay of Pennsylvania as a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination. On the issues of the day, he was known primarily as a high-tariff advocate, eager to protect the industry of his home state. This cartoon, however, manifests fears that the Republican Party in 1896 would weaken or jettison its stance in favor of the gold standard. Quay is shown blowing soap bubbles, a visual metaphor for the “soft money” inflationist schemes of “free silver” or (in earlier years) greenbacks. The idea behind the symbol was that soft-soap bubble blowing was a childish game, the inflated result of which soon bursts into nothing.

After serving in local and state positions, including treasurer of Pennsylvania (1885-1887), Quay was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1887. The next year, he served as chairman of the Republican National Committee and manager of Benjamin Harrison’s successful presidential campaign. Quay already had such a bad reputation for corruption, including rumors of embezzlement, that Harrison placed businessman John Wanamaker in charge of campaign finances instead of the senator. Quay later became so disappointed with the lack of patronage from the Harrison administration that he joined with Thomas Platt, party boss of New York Republicans, and key members of the Republican National Committee to promote the presidential candidacy of Secretary of State James Blaine in 1892. They were unsuccessful (Harrison secured renomination), but the party discord helped Democrats carry the White House that year.

As early as July 1894, the London Times reported there was a movement in Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey to make Quay the Republican presidential nominee two years later. When Pennsylvania Republicans were preparing in the spring of 1896 to select the senator as their favorite-son candidate, Harper's Weekly editor Carl Schurz denounced Quay as “one of the most disreputable politicians in our history.” The leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, Governor William McKinley of Ohio, rejected the initial advice of his campaign manager, businessman Mark Hanna, to seek the support of Quay, and instead ran under the banner of “The People Against the Bosses.” At the Republican National Convention that June, Quay finished a distant third in the vote tally behind Congressman Thomas Reed of Maine and McKinley, who won the nomination on the first ballot.













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