With the 2012 presidential campaign in full swing, the Print and Picture Collection would like to pay homage to all the witty cartoons used to illustrate the United States’ whole political system. Cartoonists express their opinions and ideas so effectively. Whether rallying for or railing against the system, they make strong statements about the political machine.
Curated by Aurora Deshauteurs and Ted Cavanagh, with picture research from Matthew Ducmanas and Marie Roujansky.
Click on Table of Content above to navigate through the various sections.
In this chaotic print, Zion represents the 1776 Constitution of Pennsylvania. The cartoon illustrates Zion being attacked by enemies from all walks of life: politicians, demons, beasts, bankers, etc. Caricatures of Robert Morris, Dr. Benjamin Rush, Thomas Paine, Alexander Hamilton and others are also featured in this cartoon.
Source: MADE IN AMERICA; PRINTMAKING 1760-1860. An Exhibition of Original Prints from the Collections of The Library Company of Philadelphia and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania April - June, 1973.
"Backgammon boards and billiard tables were popular among the wealthy by the 1770s, and the lower sorts, at least the men, could indulge in such recreations at the ubiquitous public taverns and coffeehouses. Writing of his New England in 1761, John Adams said, "In most country towns you will find almost every other house with a sign of entertainment before it." As early as 1722, a Charlestown, Massachusetts, tavern owner advertised tables for all who "had a Mind to Recreate themselves with a Game of Billiards.'"
Source: © 2012 The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
In this humorous pro-federalist political cartoon Thomas Jefferson and his political followers are portrayed as an unruly mob. Some of the members depicted are; Governor DeWitt Clinton, Commodore Livingston, French Minister Edmond Genet and Philadelphian David Rittenhouse.
Rep. Roger Griszold of Connecticut, a Federalist, attacked a politcal opponent, Rep. Matthew Lyon, a Republican of Vermont, with a walking stick. Lyon to defend himself, seized the fire tongs. The two felt that personal honor was at issue.
(A pugilist is a fist-fighter, a boxer).
From Nevins & Weitenkampf's A Century of Political Cartoons:
"This cartoon shows three prominent figures on the losing side, John Quincy Adams, his Secretary of State Henry Clay, and editor John Binns, while it hits off the discreditable campaign episode for which Binns was responsible. The editor of the Philadelphia Democratic Press believed that Andrew Jackson was an irresponsible tyrant. Early in the campaign he widely circulated his famous "coffin handbills," pictures of eight coffins bearing names of soldiers whom Jackson had commanded shot when they quit service at the end of their enlistments, but while the enemy was still in the field. Binns overshot his mark. A mob attacked his house; his newspaper was discontinued; and the handbills created sympathy for Jackson. Adams, vainly trying to hold on to his Presidential chair, speaks of pet project which Clay had pressed - the sending of American delegates to the Panama Congress of Latin-American States proposed by Bolivar. Clay laments "the people are too much for us." Adams lost to Jackson in the electoral college by 178 to 83, and in the popular vote by about 650,000 to 500,000."
Mellby, J. (2007, November 16). The First campaign mud-slinging? Retrieved from: http://blogs.princeton.edu/graphicarts/2007/11/the_pedlar_and_his_pack_or_the.html
Nevins, A., & Weitenkampf, F. (1944). A Century of political cartoons. New York, NY: Charles Scribner's
TRANSCRIPTION OF TEXT
Hold on Jonny O-, for I find
that the people are too much for
us, and I'm sinking with
Jack and his Coffins!
I must have an extra dose of
Treasury-pap,- or down go the
Coffins Harry, for I feel faint
[John Quincy Adams:]
I'll hang on to the Chair Harry,
in spite of Coffin hand-bills Harris's
letter Panama mission or the wishes
of the People.
From 1813-14 the British incurred a series of naval losses to the Americans' fleet on the Great Lakes. This cartoon satirically references those losses by depicting King George III as a baker/John Bull who is baking a new batch of ships to replace those he lost. He is assisted by a Frenchman and two other figures who remind the King of the heavy naval losses. The King's phrase "another whole fleet" is referencing the capture of a British fleet by the American Commodore Perry a year earlier. The cartoon also references the capture of a British vessel named "The Stranger" by the American ship "The Fox."
Lossing, B. J. (ed.). (1874). The American historical record and reperatory of notes and queries: Concerning the history and antiquities of America and biography of Americans. Volume 3. Philadelphia, PA: John E. Potter and Company. (P. 66-67).
Nevins, A., & Weitenkampf, F. (1944). A Century of political cartoons. New York, NY: Charles Scribner's Sons. (P. 26).
Transcription of Text:
[King George III / John Bull:]
Brother Jonathan taken
another whole fleet on the
Lakes - Must work away work
away - & send some more or
He'll have Canada next-
Begar Mounseer Bull
me no like dis new Alliance-
Dere be one Yankey Man
da call Mac Do-enough
Take your ships by de whole
Fleet- You better try get gim
for I never get Do-enough
made at dis rate!!!
[Man in back:]
Here are more Guns for the
Lake service. If ever they do but
get there- I hear the last you sent were
waylaid by a sly Yankey Fox and the ship
being a Stranger, he has taken her in-
[Man on right:]
I tell you what Master Bull- You
had better keep both your Ships and
Guns at home- If you send all you've
got to the Lakes, it will only make
fun for the Yankeys to take them-
The role of the Second Bank of the United States became a significant issue during the 1832 presidential election between Andrew Jackson and Henry Clay. Some at the time argued that the special position held by the Second Bank conferred undue political power and privilege upon its administrators. Jackson himself had spoke out against the idea of a national bank and was forced to take a more forceful position when his presidential opponent and congressional rivals passed a bill to recharter the Second Bank. As President he vetoed the bill and took a firm stance on the issue. Clay tried to use this veto against Jackson during the 1832 election yet ultimately lost and President Jackson was elected to a second term. This anti-Jackson cartoon presents a lively depiction of this banking struggle that has come to be known as the Bank War. The right side shows the bank's president Nicholas Biddle and the pro-bank contingent standing firm against Jackson and his anti-bank cohorts.
Mintz, S., & McNeil, S. (2012). The Bank War. Digital History. Retrieved (9/7/2012) from: http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/disp_textbook.cfm?smtID=3&psid=303
From the Library of Congress digital collections:
"A satire attacking Andrew Jackson's plan to distribute treasury funds, formerly kept in the Bank of the United States, among "branch banks" in various states. The artist also alleges Vice-President Van Buren's manipulation of administration fiscal policy. Jackson appears as a jack-ass "dancing among the Chickens" (the branch banks) to the alarm of the hen "U.S.Bank." Martin Van Buren, as a fox, and Jack Downing, as a cock, look on. On the left sit five chained dogs, representing the "Albany Argus, Journal of Commerce," and other newspapers sympathetic to Jackson's program. In the left foreground a sow with the head of Jackson advisor Francis Preston Blair lies on a copy of his newspaper, the "Globe." Jack Downing: "Yankee doodle doodle doo!" Jackson: "Sing away Major Downing. This is a capital Experiment by the Eternal!" Dogs: "He looks like a "Lion!" How dignified! What "correct" Steps! in such "good time!" Can any thing equal him! The "greatest" and "best" Ass we ever knew!" Blair: "I feel quite at home on this dung heap." Van Buren: ""Sly" is the word!""
Retrieved from: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2008661756/
The late eighteenth century in England was the first great age of cartooning, and English caricature prints of the period have long been enjoyed for their humor and vitality. Diana Donald presents the first major study of these caricatures, showing that they were a widely disseminated form of political expression and propaganda as subtle and elegant as the written word. -- back cover text