UNCLE SAM'S POSITION. "OPEN YOUR MOUTH AND SHUT YOUR EYES, AND SEE WHAT IT WILL BEING YOU."

image91657

Thomas Nast

Artist's Biography

Uncle Sam's Position. "Open your mouth and shut your eyes, and see what it will being you."

Wood engraving, 1877.
Image size 13 1/4 x 8 7/8" (33.7 x 22.6 cm).
Good condition, save a small pinhole to the left of Uncle Sam, and scattered foxing.
LOCATION: New York City

Inventory Number: 91657
Price: $75.00
Publisher : Published by Harper's Weekly. February 10, 1877.
This political cartoon references Samuel Tilden. The presidential elections had taken place in November of 1876. Rutherford Hayes had beaten Tilden by a single vote, but intense electoral fraud and disputes throughout the South led Congress on a multi-month effort to discern the true victor. The issue raged almost to the day of inauguration. This cartoon was published in February, so the problem was still very much on the public's mind.

Uncle Sam is shown with his eyes shut and mouth open in a loud holler. This might be a reference to how Tilden cried for reform and the end of corruption, but was guilty of the deeds himself. In a sense he was turning a blind eye to his own history in attempt to gain recognition with his mouth (modern actions). One of the banners behind him reads, "The statue of limitations on Tilden's R.R. suits, on his income tax, on his presidential." These refer to his history. After earning his legal license in the 1840s, Tilden made a fortune working for the Railroad industry, which was notorious for corruption and embezzlement. He'd also come under fire in 1876 for not paying the proper amount of taxes in 1862. Both incidents had occurred more than a decade prior, however, so the statue of limitations prevented prosecution.

Another sign reads "If the president of the Senate had been a democrat we would have been 'saved' from all the trouble." An indication that the Senate would have intentionally miscounted the ballots to let Tilden win had the Democrats been in charge.

Other signs include "The still hunt still aggressive" likely referring to Tilden's slow method of capturing corrupt officials and organizations. "Bets are on again at the reform pools"; "The gamblers campaign nearly over"; "Give poor old usufruct a chance" (Nast has referred to Tilden as a 'usufruct' in numerous cartoons); "Old usufruct to have another chance in the presidential lottery" (referring to the electoral re-count); and "The State of Oregon has a Grover and a Cronin form of government. This is democratic 'state rights.' We the Democratic House must and shall guarantee a Democratic form of government in all Republican states. This is democratic state right."
18th-19th Century Subjects , Caricatures and Satirical , Political

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