The Old Print Shop

Keeping the Money Where it will do the Most Good.

  • ARTIST: Thomas Nast

  • PUBLISHER: Published in Harper's Weekly. October 11, 1873.

  • MEDIUM: Wood engraving,

    DATE: 1873.

  • EDITION SIZE: Image size 10 3/4 x 9 1/8" (274 x 233 mm) plus masthead.

  • DESCRIPTION: The Panic of 1873 had a devastating affect on Wall Street. Problems with the economy, including the failure of numerous railroad companies that had been heavily invested in, led to a financial crises. Many banking and investment firms closed or suspended services in September that year. Brokers and businessmen urged President Grant to increase the printing of greenbacks (paper money), while bankers urged him not to. Greenbacks would increase inflation, which would only help in the short term. Grant agreed with the bankers, who favored the gold standard. This cartoon suggests his decision was favored by the country at the time. Grant's methods would ease the Panic, but the worst had yet to come. The Long Depression (called the Great Depression until the 1930s) would follow on its coattails and remain until the end of the decade. <br><br> In this cartoon President Grant is depicted as a bulldog, guarding the United States Treasury. His leash is that of the law. Uncle Sam sits on the stoop, whittling a piece of wood, advising the Wall Street brokers not to provoke him. The reference to Caesar in the title plays on Grant's thoughts of running for a third term. At the time there were no laws regarding how many terms an individual could serve as president, but the concept caused an uproar and would later damaged the Republican party. The artist, Thomas Nast, would produce several cartoons regarding the matter in 1874, when the name calling became. <br><br> On the right is a broker holding a paper reading, "We want to borrow the U.S. Treasury reserve ($44,000,000) for the relief of the suffering of the 'Street.'" This refers to Wall Street's wish for a federal bailout. In the background is a building labeled "Wall Street gambling house." Above it flies a flag containing the dollar sign as an emblem. Trinity Church, in iconic building in the Wall Street area, stands beside it. A poster on the column above Grant reads, "Notice. You can violate the law, the banks may violate the law and will be sustained in doing so, but the President of the United States cannot violate the law. U.S. Grant." This references the bailout. In a meeting with Wall Street Grant asked the brokers to tell him which law allowed the president to use public money to assist them after their failed investments. They could not provide one, and insisted that given the potential disaster on the country, he should put law aside and assist them. He refused. A short article about the matter is printed on the back of this engraving.


  • CONDITION: Good condition.