The Dewey Presidential Boom and Bust


  Cartoonist:  Grant Hamilton
  Source:  Judge
  Date:  April 28, 1900

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Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
Like Harper’s Weekly, Judge magazine also put George Dewey on the cover of its April 28, 1900 issue. Here, cartoonist Grant Hamilton questions the admiral’s judgment and fitness for the presidency by criticizing the transfer to his new wife of a mansion given in honor of his military leadership during the Spanish-American War.

Dewey had returned from the Philippines in the spring of 1899 to a hero’s welcome, which included parades, honorary dinners, babies christened “Dewey,” lyrics praising his war leadership (“Oh, dewy was the morning/ Upon the first of May/ And Dewey was the Admiral/ Down in Manila Bay”), and products bearing his name (e.g., “Dewey Chewies” chewing gum and “The ‘Salt’ of Salts” laxative) or image (e.g., ties, hats, dishes, and shaving mugs). Several months later, he was given a house in Washington, D. C., which had been purchased with donations from thousands of grateful Americans. The four-story brownstone sat upon land where Rhode Island Avenue, Connecticut Avenue, and M Street merge. The location was described in the November 4, 1899 issue of Harper’s Weekly as “unsurpassed” for “social accessibility and general convenience.”

On October 29, 1899, Dewey, a widower, had become engaged to a prominent Washington socialite, Mildred McLean Hazen, widow of General William B. Hazen. The couple married secretly two weeks later. There was a public outcry when it was revealed that Dewey had given the house to his wife as a wedding gift. She was considered a social climber and politically ambitious for her husband, but underlying much of the criticism was the fact that the new Mrs. Dewey was a Roman Catholic. In the December 2, 1899 issue of Harper’s Weekly, columnist E. S. Martin defended the admiral’s action, noting that his wife had accepted the mansion only with the stipulation that Dewey’s son by his first marriage would eventually inherit it. Nevertheless, the situation tarnished the admiral’s public reputation and remained a popular subject in political cartoons when he announced his presidential candidacy in April 1900.













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