Democratic Prospects and Pitfalls


 “He Made It All By Himself”
  Cartoonist:  William Allen Rogers
  Source:  Harper's Weekly
  Date:   August 11, 1900, p. 737

Click to see a large version of this cartoon...

Click to see a large version of this cartoon

Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
In 1896, cartoonist William Allen Rogers often portrayed William Jennings Bryan as a boy in order to underline the Democratic candidate’s political inexperience (only four years in Congress) and youth (at 36, the youngest presidential nominee ever). Rogers returned to that theme in this 1900 cover for Harper’s Weekly. Here, the renominated Bryan is an impish boy, hammer in hand, who has cobbled together the Democratic Donkey, the Tammany Tiger, and the Populist Ostrich into “The Fierce DEMOPOPTAM from Kansas City” (site of the National Democratic Convention in early July).

The strange, hybrid creature grasps the crown of “imperialism” upside-down in its claws, symbolizing the candidate’s vocal opposition to the Republicans’ expansionist foreign policy. The large, broken wheel—“bunco dollar”—and the numbers “16” and “1” on Bryan’s pants indicate his continued support of inflationary free silver even though by 1900 national prosperity had returned without it. The term “bunco” means “sham” or “false,” referring to the depreciated value of the silver coins; 16-to-1 was the proposed ratio of silver to gold coin that the federal government would set. The frazzled “I am a Dem” feather tied to the tiger’s tail alludes to David B. Hill, the gold-standard Democrat who was outflanked by Tammany and Bryan pro-silver forces at the Democratic National Convention. Meanwhile, a dapper Uncle Sam and the American Eagle on his walking stick both smirk at Bryan and his malformed campaign contraption.













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