Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Thomas Nast’s Greeley Lampoons

by E.M. Sanchez-Saavedra

TWO cartoons from Harper’s Weekly by Thomas Nast from the 1872 presidential election, when poor old Horace ran against incumbent U.S. Grant.

Nast always lampooned Horace Greeley as an insufferable know-it-all, his pockets jammed with pamphlets entitled ‘WHAT I KNOW ABOUT…’ His running mate was a nonentity named Benjamin Gratz Brown, who is always portrayed as a tag pinned to Greeley’s coat tails, or a small boy running after him with a small placard.

[1872] Harper’s Weekly cartoon by Thomas Nast, ‘We are on the home stretch,’ with parodied Tribune logo, November 2.
One cartoon parodies the likely front page of Greeley’s New-York Tribune for the day after Election Day, November 5, 1872. (It appeared a few days earlier.) The played-out candidate is being carried home on a litter by two of his less-respectable Tammany supporters. The masthead contrasts a prosperous Republican economy under Grant with a barren desert (a lampoon on Greeley’s ‘Go west, young man…’) of Democratic ruins.

The cartoon was eerily prophetic — worn out by the arduous campaign, Greeley would die on November 29.

[1872] Harper’s Weekly cartoon by Thomas Nast, ‘Let us clasp hands over the bloody chasm,’ September 21.
The picture in the other cartoon shows Greeley attempting to ‘clasp hands over the bloody chasm,’ a phrase that came back to haunt him. In his coat pocket is a pamphlet entitled “WHAT I KNOW ABOUT SHAKING HANDS OVER THE BLOODIEST OF CHASMS BY H.G.” This stark image of Andersonville Prison inflamed the anti-reconciliation sentiments of Grant’s supporters (who ‘waved the bloody shirt’) and ridiculed Greeley’s efforts to forgive the former Confederate states.


1 comment:

  1. I read somewhere that Nast could not find a picture of Benjamin Gratz Brown, and that's why he portrayed Brown as a placard.