The Republican Presidential Field


 “Cross-Country Run of the Favorite Sons—The Last Obstacle”
  Cartoonist:  Edward Windsor Kemble
  Source:  Harper's Weekly
  Date:   May 30, 1908, pp. 18-19

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Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
This cartoon reflects the fact that on May 17 William Howard Taft had 584 delegates pledged to vote for him at the Republican National Convention in mid-June. The total was 103 votes higher than the majority required for the presidential nomination. Here, he easily outdistances his rival candidates in the cross-country race. Those caught in the rear fence are (left-right): Vice President Charles Fairbanks; Speaker of the House Joseph Cannon of Illinois (bottom rail); Governor Robert La Follette of Wisconsin; Governor Charles Evans Hughes of New York; and Attorney General Philander Knox of Pennsylvania. The fence is covered with advertisements, which poke fun at the candidates: buttermilk highball for straitlaced Fairbanks; “Appalachian Bitters” for North Carolina-born Cannon; a hair tonic (“Whiskerine”) for La Follette and Hughes; and, wood pulp for Knox.

Upended with his “Brownsville Serenade” drum is Senator Joseph Foraker of Ohio. The title on his instrument refers to an August 1906 incident in Brownsville, Texas, in which 12 black soldiers from a nearby army base were accused of a shooting rampage that left one townsman dead. Two investigations produced no formal charges, but President Theodore Roosevelt dishonorably discharged 167 black soldiers for insubordination after none of them admitted guilt or any knowledge of the event. Foraker vigorously condemned Roosevelt’s response and lobbied unsuccessfully for Congress to remedy the injustice (the discharges were finally changed to honorable in 1972). The senator’s action provoked the president to intensify his support of Taft, who was also from Ohio. The cartoonist’s choice of a drum refers to Foraker’s criticism in 1887, while governor of Ohio, of President Grover Cleveland for agreeing, at the urging of Adjutant General Richard C. Drum, to return Confederate battle flags to their home states.













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