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"The Flag Is Still There"

Topic:
Gold Democrats
Source:
Harper's Weekly
Cartoonist:
William Allen Rogers
Date:
November 7, 1896, p. 1089
Click for image enlargement and complete HarpWeek explanation >
The postdated cover of the last issue before the November 3 election confidently portrays Republican presidential nominee William McKinley nailing up the American flag again. The military scene, with naval uniforms and bombs bursting in air, visually interprets the War of 1812 inspiration for the national anthem. To make that point clear, the caption is a phrase from “The Star Spangled Banner.” The illustration reinforces the journal’s contention that the survival of the republic was at stake in the presidential election of 1896. Instead of invasion by a foreign army (the British) in 1812, this time it was an invasion of foreign ideas—socialism, nihilism, and anarchism. The motto on the flag—“For National Honor”—refers to retaining the gold standard, which would presumably uphold the financial credit of the United States in world markets. It also implies that voters will choose to be true to traditional American political principles rather than opt for the alleged radicalism of the Democratic platform. That message is bolstered by the background image of the American eagle having captured the snake of “Anarchy.”

Click for image enlargement and complete HarpWeek explanation >

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