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Political Cartoons- Period W

"What's In A Name!" - Harper's Weekly, 1886
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What's In A Name is a cartoon in the Gilded Age that represents the goals of labor unions. This is because it is about the Haymarket affair, one of the most important rallies of the time period. This then led to the downfall of the Knights Of Labor and the rise of later labor unions.

Thomas Nast is the cartoonist of What's In a Name. He is a prominent cartoonist in the Gilded Age that made many cartoons such as The American River Ganges, The "Brains" and The Usual Irish Way of Doing Things. He became known as a cartoonist after making cartoons against Boss Tweed, the Tammany Hall leader. After cartooning against Boss Tweed, he played a key role in politics by influencing voters with cartoons and criticism against political candidates.

During the time of the publishing of What's In a Name, Thomas Nast was working for Harper's Weekly. Many people knew Thomas Nast for attacking Boss Tweed with cartoons at that time. What's In a Name was published in the Harper's Weekly in April 1886, which was when the Knights Of Labor was getting much publicity. This cartoon was made after the Haymarket affair, which is what the cartoon is about. [1]

The audience of this cartoon was to mainly big business owners, since the cartoon is against the Knights of Labor, one of the biggest labor unions at that time. This is because the Haymarket affair resulted in the death of 6 police officers, 60 police officers wounded, and many other rally supporters harmed also. This happened by someone throwing a makeshift bomb in the direction of the police officers trying to break up the rally. [2] Thomas Nast made this cartoon to urge the Knights of Labor to take non-violent measures to get changes for jobs. The writing right of Terrence V. Powderly, the leader of the Knights Of Labor, shows this by saying “Arbitration instead of strikes and boycotts”.

Other than Thomas Nast advocating arbitration instead of strikes and boycotts, there are many other elements in this cartoon. First, there is a newspaper sitting on Terrence Powderly’s leg that says “The Knights Of Labor Of America” and “T.V. Powderly”. This represents the media attention about the Knights of Labor, which contributed to their downfall. On the very right of the screen, there is a soldier, which is a reference to the officers that were killed and injured in the Haymarket Square Bombing. Terrence Powderly is also holding red-hot irons, which is referencing the railroads, which the Knights Of Labor were against. Lastly, the title of the cartoon is What's In a Name, which is referring to the gunpowder keg and the Haymarket Square Bombing. They are referring to this because Terrence Powderly’s name has the word “Powder” in it.

The significance of this cartoon is that it shows that the Knights of Labor affected the Gilded Age a lot, and many things were affected. For example, they made big changes to the railroads. Also, they allowed other Labor Groups to follow in their footsteps, once they were disbanded. In conclusion, the Knights of Labor left its mark on America in the Gilded Age and everything was affected.

"Always Kiling the Goose that Lays the Golden Eggs"
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"Always Killing the Goose that Lays the Golden Eggs"- Thomas Nast. Harper's Weekly, 1888

Thomas Nast’s “Always Killing the Goose that Lays the Golden Eggs”, portrays a common discontent for the formation of unions as a reaction to the Railroad Strike of 1877. During the time of the Industrial Revolution, factories began to spring up in America and many joined the work force of factory employees. Many times these factories were owned by large companies who monopolized the industry in which they were involved in. Workers often were in terrible conditions and desire more pay than what they were receiving. Back in Europe, changes and depressions were hitting many countries at full force. This had an effect on America and eventually led to a panic in the United States. The panic caused wages to be cut and for industrial workers which caused quite an uproar. Because of Asian influence and the introduction of communism and Marxist ideology, unions began to form and become popular in America. A group of laborers decided to have a strike against the railroads in 1877. This strike was the beginning of many more like it and sparked the creation of other labor unions as well.

There were many political cartoons during this time in response to all the changes and political differences. This particular cartoon from the period was created to keep people from joining unions and to encourage them to think about what affects unions might have on the economy and the country itself. The idea of the cartoon came from an old folk tale about a couple who has a goose who lays a golden egg for them every day. The couple becomes so greedy that they decide to kill the goose so they can get more eggs directly from inside the goose. Once they do this, they realize that there are not any eggs in the goose’s stomach at all and now they no longer have a source to get the eggs because they killed it. Thomas Nast’s idea was that the couple was the unions and the workers who wanted more benefits and higher wages. They became greedy and if they try to end the capitalist system and replace it with a more communistic one, they will find that what they are looking for is not there at all. The goose that lays the golden eggs is the big businesses and once they are killed, or ended, the unions will have no way of earning any money. The one who kills the goose is represented as a “communistic salesman”. This distinction is important because it shows the different mindsets towards unions and communism. The depiction of the unions was somewhat sympathetic in the cartoon, but the communistic salesman is pictured much harsher and unforgiving. Nast and those who helped him with the cartoon were trying to give across the idea that even the unions wouldn’t be happy under a communistic system and that the livelihood of all Americans would be ruined under such a government. By destroying big businesses through unions, they will be destroying any change they had at prosperity. People who supported this cartoon knew that unions would be detrimental to the economy and society of America, and could potentially influence the government and end the freedoms that Americans enjoyed through capitalism.

"What The Gold Bugs Are Doing For Uncle Sam" - W. Heston, in Coxey's Sound Money, 1895

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The political cartoon “What the Gold Bugs are Doing for Uncle Sam” was created in response to the economic and political circumstances of the late Gilded Age. This cartoon was created in 1895, during the third year of a four year economic depression. The depression was the worst in United States history up to that time. The cartoon was created by Watson Heston and published in Coxey’s Sound Money. Heston drew mainly religious cartoons and poked fun at Christianity. Because of this, his authorship of the cartoon has little bearing on its meaning. However, Coxey was an outspoken advocate for the working class, and during 1894, in the midst of the depression, he led a group of the unemployed on a march on Washington. The purpose of the march was to get paper money into circulation. This aim is consistent with Populist ideology. During this period the Populist Party was growing in influence and power and this cartoon is drawn from a Populist point of view. Due to the Populist perspective of this cartoon, the audience for this cartoon is mainly comprised of supporters of the Populist Party. The provocation that spurred Heston and Coxey to create and publish this cartoon was the bond controversy of the 1890s. The Cleveland administration was producing and selling bonds to foreign investors in exchange for gold. Cleveland was doing this in order to bolster the United States dwindling gold reserves. However, the Populists viewed this as an act of favoritism shown towards foreign investors at the expense of the average citizen. The Populists pitted themselves against the sale of bonds to foreigners because of their contrasting belief that a floating bond or currency would benefit the common people through inflation. This cartoon depicts Grover Cleveland and John Carlisle and John Sherman, two members of Cleveland’s administration, auctioning off Uncle Sam, who represents the interests of the common people, to a man who represents British gold. The cartoon is trying to convey the bias that the United States government is showing in favor of the foreign investors and the wealthy, who are in favor of hard money, at the expense of the average citizen. This cartoon is important because it is an accurate and colorful representation of the continued and growing outcry of the lower class for soft money and the party’s increased political prowess and societal involvement.

“I feed you all”-Lithograph by American Oleograph Co., Milwaukee, 1875.
I feed you all!
I feed you all!

The artist of “I feed you all!” was a lithographer for the American Oleograph Company. It was created in 1875 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The cartoon shows a farmer in the middle with a caption saying “I feed you all”. Around the farmer are people of other professions doing their jobs and saying what they do for everyone. The point of this cartoon is to emphasize the importance of the farmer to the rest of the country. Although all the other workers help the country in some way they all rely on the work of the farmer to survive. The audience that the cartoon was intended for were western farmers.
The cartoon was released during the Granger movement. The Granger movement was the Granger laws were being passed. The Granger laws were laws that limited the power of railroads so that the owners would not be able to charge the farmers large amount of money. The granger laws were put into place to prevent the railroad owners from taking advantage of the farmers. The cartoon is showing how the farmers should be in control not the railroad owners. The cartoon is showing the farmers that the railroad owners rely heavily on the food they grow, while the farmers don’t really as heavily on the railroads.

1."The Sacrilegious Candidate," G. Hamilton, Judge, 1896
1."The Sacrilegious Candidate," G. Hamilton, Judge, 1896

This political cartoon depicting presidential candidate William J. Bryan was published on September 19, 1896. It shows Bryan holding the cross and is entitled “The Sacrilegious Candidate.” Bryan was known as a huge advocate of separation of church and state. He was a member of the Democratic Party. He also gave public speeches out of the back of railroad cars, which was very uncommon in that time. He received criticism and praise for this. This cartoon targets republican and Gold Democrats, both of whom were rivals of Bryan.

The point that this cartoon is trying to portray is that, Bryan is disrespecting the cross by being so against the joining of church and state. His most memorable speech was without a doubt the “Cross of Gold” speech in which Bryan calls to attention the silver and gold issue brought up by all the new silver and gold ore being mined and the decision whether or not to make a floating currency, or one based on the gold standard. What made this speech infamous was Bryan’s heavy reliance on religious symbolism. Many saw this as sacrilegious because many truly believed that politics was the trade of cheats and liars, both wholly unholy things.

"Who Stole the People's Money?" T. Nast, Harper's Weekly, 1871
"Who Stole the People's Money?" T. Nast, Harper's Weekly, 1871

“Who Stole the People’s Money”, devised by Thomas Nast, focuses on the corruption of political machines and their affects upon New York. In particular, this cartoon identifies the misconduct of the Tweed Ring, with their leader William “Boss” Tweed, in New York during Reconstruction. The cartoon was published on August 19, 1871, which was soon after the Civil War and therefore when the Tweed Ring was operating in its entirety. Thomas Nast composed a few anti-Tweed cartoons as well as news stories that disclosed information about the Tweed Ring’s corruptive actions. The Tweed Ring even attempted to bribe Nast, without success, into going on a trip to Europe. This would displace Nast from New York and therefore his writings in the New York Times would cease. However, Nast would not take the offer and he continued to pursue Tammany Hall with his cartoons. Thomas Nast’s articles and cartoons were directed towards those affected by the political machines, referring specifically William M. Tweed of Tammany Hall. This political machine stole large amounts of the public’s money using furtive strategies, which explains why this cartoon is appropriately named “Who Stole the People’s Money”.

In this cartoon, Tweed and all of his associates are standing in a circle- the Tweed ‘Ring’- with the question posed: “Who Stole the People’s Money?”. Each member is pointing to the one next to him, showing that each one is denying any blame. The four leaders of Tammany Hall, in Nast’s opinion, are pictured front and center. They were (from left to right): Tweed, Sweeny, Connolly, and Hall. The cartoon depicts the utmost corruption within political machines, as it clearly exhibits the refusal to accept responsibility for the actions taken by the Tweed Ring. This source is important because it points out that political machines were corrupt and irresponsible when it came to taking the blame for their actions. Nast’s cartoon evidently had an effect upon the community since eventually the Tweed Ring lost power and became a forgotten impact upon New York’s society.

"The Protectors of our Industries" Gillam, Puck, 1883

This political cartoon (“The protectors of our Industries”) was created to show wealthy business men compared to the workers and how the business men needed the workers to make their businesses survive and also how the workers were being treated. The author of it is Bernhard Gillam in 1883. Gillam was a Republican who originally was interested in studying law but moved on to be a portrait painter which lead to him being a cartoonist. By looking at the cartoon it is easy to see that Gillam was against big business. The cartoon was published by Keppler & Schwarzmann in the Puck magazine. The people depicted in the cartoon are Cyrus Field, Jay Gould, Cornelius Vanderbilt, and Russell Sage, all of whom were very wealthy when they lived. In the cartoon you can see that the workers are carrying what appears to be a ship with businessmen who I named previously on it. The business men are all dressed up in quality clothing while the workers appear to be poor. There are different section that groups are carrying. One section of the boat is for the cloth workers, one for linens, one for limber, and one for paper workers. Each section also has how much each gets paid a week. They range from $6 to $11. It is ironic because the businessmen are sitting on bags that say a million on them while some workers don’t make more than $24 a month. In my opinion, the cartoon was created to show the difference between the workers of a company and the owners. What Gillam was most likely trying to say in the cartoon was that the business men were to greedy and taking too much money while the workers were treated with no respect and made no money but the businesses relied on these workers to function.


"Looking Backwards" Puck, January 11th 1893


The author to the political cartoon Looking Backwards is Joseph Keppler. Joseph Keppler is the founder of Puck magazine and is originally from Vienna. This cartoon was published on January 11th, 1893 in New York City.

The cartoon shows five men with their hands out telling the immigrant crossing the bridge to stop. These five men also have shadows, which portray there past life as former immigrants or relatives of an immigrant. The five men’s shadows also resemble the new immigrant. The five men standing there are wealthy looking and represent the American dream, yet they are denying a fellow immigrant access to America. Joseph Keppler uses this cartoon to display how hypocritical they were being because they were immigrants themselves.

The cartoon was created to show old immigrants how hypocritical they were being towards new immigrants in denying them the chance at the American dream. The old immigrants were now apart of American society and some had become wealthy in America. They blamed the poor city conditions on the new immigrants. The new immigrants would work for a low wage and had high birth rates; this caused any labor strike to be anti productive. The American Protective association sprang up in result of the immigrants working for low wages. The association tried to put an end to immigration. This is around the time the cartoon was published and the cartoon tries to show those people how hypocritical they were being. The significance of this cartoon is that it displays the movement in restricting immigration when the people trying to restrict it are former or ancestors of immigrants and some of them have lived the American dream. Many old immigrants are successful businessmen and politicians and it is only fair if new immigrants would get the same opportunity.


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"The American Ganges" Nast, Thomas, September 30, 1871
The American River Ganges is an informative political cartoon that was published on September 30, 1871 in Harper’s Weekly by Thomas Nast . This cartoon is suggesting that immigration and the refusal to assimilate to have corrupted the school systems in New York. With the increase in Irish immigration, Roman Catholic schools started to show up all around New York during the 1870’s. Many Catholics dropped out of the mostly protestant public school system to attend these newly founded Roman Catholic schools, usually founded by the Irish themselves. However, when a powerful political machine located in New York City, which was based in Tammy Hall, forced the democratic legislation to pass a law that provided government funding for Irish Catholic schools, the Harper’s Weekly acted. The Harper’s Weekly closely associated itself with the Republican Party so it is acceptable to suggest this cartoon would go against a piece of Democratic legislation. In response to this law, Nast and Harper’s Weekly posted this political cartoon. It shows Tammy Hall politicians lowering children from a destroyed public school with the universal distress symbol over it (The American flag upside down) into the “American River Ganges” which is full of crocodiles dressed as Bishops. The crocodiles dressed as Bishops, as well as the Tammy Hall Politicians, represented the Catholics taking children away from the public school system and forcing them into Catholic schools. This was significant at the time because of the tension between Protestants and Catholics especially in the school systems and between the Irish and Americans.


This cartoon was written for Puck Magazine in 1890 and was creatively written by Joseph Keppler who made this cartoon out of ideas from Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven . During the time in which this cartoon was drawn, elections were getting ready to begin, and one of the people running in the election was Benjamin Harrison, grandson of William Henry Harrison. Although Benjamin was a great man, he was not America’s most influential president. While Benjamin was president, one of the main things he did was raised the debt to one billion dollars. Odviously, Benjamin was not an exact image of William Henry Harrison because he was not as strong as him. Therefore, this cartoon is depicting the fact that Benjamin was not the right president for the state of the country, at that particular time, our country would have greatly benefitted from a stronger president.
In this cartoon, Benjamin is wearing an oversized hat, and is being glared at by the so-called “raven” (who is James G. Blaine, the former secretary of state) from above. The significance of Benjamin wearing the oversized hat is to show how different he is from his grandfather, former president William Henry Harrison. Benjamin was very weak and not a good leader for America, therefore he is being engulfed by the problems he has to fight while being president. The hat symbolizes this by being much too big. James G. Blaine is the raven figure looking down at Benjamin from above because he does not think he is being a good president for America and thinks he himself would be a better president.
The main idea of this cartoon is to effect the Republican party during this specific election time. Keppler wanted the Republicans to be negatively effected by this so that Benjamin would not be reelected in the returning election. He did not want Benjamin to be reelected because of the decisions that they were making. The republicans supported the McKinley tariff which supported the larger companies over the smaller companies, therefore making the people very upset. Overall, the main idea of this cartoon was to basically get people to not vote for the Republican party.

Political Cartoons--Period 5

external image 102088l.jpg "The Trustworthy Beast." W. Rogers, Harper's Weekly, 1888.

In the late 1880’s, trusts and monopolies of big businesses such as oil and steel became a widely common idea so much to inspire the cartoon, “The Trustworthy Beast.” The comic depicts Uncle Sam staring skeptically at a monster next to Andrew Carnegie with a warm inviting look on his face. The monster has six heads, each labeled ‘coal trust’, ‘sugar trust’, ‘oil trust’, ‘steel trust’, ‘lumber trust’ and ‘salt trust.’ Underneath the illustration, a quote from Carnegie that says, “The public may regard trusts or combinations with serene confidence.” The main message of this cartoon is that while the tycoons of big business want the public to accept trusts and monopolies, in reality the trusts could only hurt consumer interest.

During the Gilded Age, monopolizing big businesses and limiting competition were common practices of business tycoons like Andrew Carnegie, who often used the process of vertical integration in his steel companies. This cartoon was published on October 20th, 1888 in Harper’s Weekly, 2 years before the Anti- Trust Act was established and at the height of big business. Trusts were started as a process to limit competition and to maximize profit but they ended up hurting the public by rising prices of necessities. Because of this, many middle-class Americans had harbored resentments against these tycoons, not unlike the artist, William A. Rogers. Rogers grew up in Springfield, Ohio and later moved to New York at age 19 to become a cartoonish for the New York Times. He was an example of ‘the common man’, who would be affected by consolidations between big business competitors. The reason Rogers would have been inspired to draw this cartoon was that big business was rising and influencing everything around them with the growth of industrialization. Many people were worried about this sudden change and resented the businessmen as they took advantage of the consumer with high prices and trusts. This cartoon is significant in this time period because the entire message was that the tycoons did not care about the public interest and only wanted to make a profit and if the American people accept the consolidations, it will only cause more power to be given to tycoons.

In Danger. Puck: “What are you going to do about it?”

Joseph Keppler’s famous cartoon: In Danger “What are you going to do about it?” was featured in Puck magazine in 1881. Keppler used a political cartoon to raise awareness about the overbearing power business monopolies have over the U.S. capitol, and the senate in particular. Keppler founded Puck, and often made cartoons portraying the foolish amount of power businessmen and monopolies had in politics. The snake in the cartoon conveys monopolies involving senators, and has influential businessmen written on the stripes on its’ tail. The snake has its’ tail curled around the capitol, representing the monopoly’s control over decisions made in the U.S. Capitol, and Puck asks Uncle Sam “What are you going to do about it?”.

A business monopoly is when one single company dominates and controls a specific industry. Monopolies are often created illegally through horizontal integration, which is when one powerful company buys out all other competing companies in their particular industry. John D. Rockefeller’s oil industry is an example of a business that thrived due to horizontal integration. Monopolies were harmful because they had complete control of an industry and caused economic instability through unpractical prices. Joseph Keppler’s cartoons that focused on the control monopolies had in politics were a key contribution to the passage of the Sherman Anit-Trust Act in 1890. The Sherman Anti-Trust Act outlawed monopolies. This comic was created for people in America against the power big businesses had in politics, specifically farmers and industrial workers, or the “Uncle Sam” followers. Like many of his other cartoons, Joseph Keppler created this cartoon to conduct morale against the powers of monopolies. His opinion may be biased, and he chose to portray a monopoly as a sneaky snake to convey its dangers. This article was created to show the dangers of overbearing monopolies, and how they did not have the common people in mind, only the powerful large-scale businessmen. The snake in the cartoon with a tail covered in powerful businessmen’s names coiled around the U.S. Capitol, representing the monopolies control in politics. The snake is threatening, and puck asks Uncle Sam, who portrays the common workingman, “What are you going to do about it?”. This cartoon was significant in the fact that it contributed to the eventual passage of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act by sparking ideas and causing controversy. This eventually outlawed monopolies, and that is what the supporters of this cartoon wanted.


"Caught Napping," Sackett, Judge, 1885
"Caught Napping," Sackett, Judge, 1885

In October of 1885, Sackett drew a cartoon for Judge magazine entitled “Caught Napping.” The picture, which is set in Richmond, Virginia, features a distracted Jay Gould about to be hit with a stick with the words “Powderly’s Speech” on it. The cartoon represents Terence Powderly and the Knights of Labor’s triumph over the powerful and wealthy Jay Gould, with the help of politician Henry George, who is peaking his head in the back of the picture. This was significant at the time because labor unions were not making much progress in what they aimed to do. Powderly’s victory over a big businessman was very unusual, and therefore monumental enough to be featured in a cartoon. Sackett showed in this image that the robber barons were distracted by their monopolies and successes and felt that they do not have anything to worry about, but the labor unions posed a legitimate threat. Powderly caught Gould “napping” and, in the quote at the bottom of the cartoon, ousted him for being a criminal. This foiled Gould’s plans of creating a railroad monopoly and marked a win for the labor unions defending their rights. Sackett displayed to his audience of those wanting laws in favor of public interest that there was still hope in this cause.

"The Public Be Damned"- Frederick Opper. Puck. 1882

Frederick Opper’s cartoon “The Public Be Damned” shows the tremendous amount of control that monopolies had during the Gilded Age; they were controlling the congress, the legislature, and the American people. The cartoon was created by Frederick Burr Opper in 1882 and was published on the front page of Puck magazine in New York City. The cartoon was created during a time when the nation was dominated by big businesses and business titans like William Vanderbilt and Andrew Carnegie. Frederick Opper was a well known cartoonist, and he drew political cartoons, comic strips, and panel cartoons. Opper drew many effective political cartoons against trusts and monopolies.

The cartoon shows railroad titan, William Vanderbilt, stepping on an eagle and holding two dogs on chains with the names Congress and Legislature. The eagle is representing the American people and Vanderbilt stepping on the eagle shows the amount of power that monopolies have over the American people. The chained Congress dog and the Legislature dog show that the monopolies were able to control the government and the government’s willingness to help big businesses. During the Gilded Age, many of the industries were controlled by monopolies. The government believed in laissez faire so the monopolies could do whatever they wanted and were able to control the people and the government. This cartoon was created for all the common people in America. This was created to show that monopolies had too much power over the American government and the people. This was created to draw attention to the power of the monopolies and to show the need for regulations to regulate the amount of power that monopolies have. The cartoon is important and accurate because it shows the huge amount of control that big business had over everything in America.

Too heavy a load for the trade unions : the competent workman must support the incompetent.

“Too Heavy a Load for the Trade-Unions,” a cartoon published by Thomas Nast in May of 1886 in Harper’s Weekly, depicts the heavy burden that “agitators” put on the common working man. Agitators are defined as someone who pressures others to rebel by protesting. They were known for causing trouble and not doing their jobs. This cartoon was created for the common man because it clearly shows one-sidedness towards the working man by showing how he is hampered by the agitator. Thomas Nast was most well-known for creating multiple post Civil War cartoons that were published in Harper's Weekly during the Gilded Age. Many of his cartoons portrayed Boss Tweed, a corrupt politician in the political machine, Tammany Hall. In this particular cartoon, Nast is putting the attention on the Labor Unions of Chicago and also the Haymarket Square Riot. The Haymarket Riot in 1886 started as a controlled rally with the goal of creating an eight hour work day. The riot soon became chaotic when anarchists bombed the rally, killing 11 people. These anarchists are represented in Nast’s cartoon by the agitator on the working man’s back.

“Uncle Sam Walks the Plank—The Trusts as Pirates”

external image UncleSamonship-Verdict-22May1899.jpg?qlt=100&wid=650&fmt=jpg__"One Sees His Finish Unless Good Government Retakes the Ship,"__ C. G. Moffat, The Verdict, 1899

C. Gordon Moffat’s cartoon, ”Uncle Sam Walks The Plank—The Trusts as Pirates”, depicts a corrupted society where the government is weak and overrun by wealthy, ambitious business owners. This cartoon was created on May 22, 1899, during the Gilded Age, in which the society was built like a plutocracy where the few wealthy dominated government. Published in The Verdict, this cartoon is very accurate of how people felt because it was drawn during the Gilded Age and is not an estimation of how people felt. This cartoon appropriately portrays the Gilded Age, because gilded means something that is covered with gold but is of little worth on the inside. Similarly the US was very wealthy and as producing a lot of supply however the true economy was depraved and corrupt. Moffat obviously felt that business owners were unethical, cruel, and were destroying America.

Because of the Industrial Revolution during the 19th century, big businesses including steel, oil, and railroad companies rose. These big businesses prospered and became the world’s wealthiest economy for many reasons: including a laissez-faire government and apathetic attitude towards public interest. Business owners started trusts that limited competition. These trusts were often only to the businesses’ advantage and rarely for the public’s needs. For example, many companies used interlocking directorates where companies would put their own employers onto the board of directorates to make decisions that would favor their company. The government tried to stop these trusts by passing the Interstate Commerce Act(ICA) in 1887 however it was rarely and poorly enforced. Later in 1890, the government tried to enforce the Sherman-Anti Trust Act, which had the same purpose as the ICA, however it was pointless as well. This lack of control made the government useless and the business owners easily pushed the government aside. In the cartoon, one of the pirates is pushing Uncle Sam, the icon of America, off the plank. This shows how easily the business owners could overthrow the government at the time. The pirates, or business owners, in the cartoon are raising a flag that has “trusts” and a skull with “labor” written on it. Because big business owners wanted to become as wealthy as possible, they carelessly used human workforce. Laborers were forced to work for long hours for minimum wage in dangerous and filthy conditions without many benefits. Many started unions including the American Federation of Labor and the Knights of Labor, however they hardly made a difference. This cartoon is mainly directed towards factory workers and people who felt oppressed by business owner authority. The main idea of this cartoon is to portray an ill-managed country during the Gilded Age that was being run by ignorant, self-seeking business owners who had no concern for public interest.

"Welcome to All" -J. Keppler, 1880
"Welcome to All" -J. Keppler, 1880

The cartoon Welcome to All! expresses new immigrants' positive outlook on starting a new life in America, and it depicts the country as a land of freedom and opportunity. In the image, Uncle Sam, a representative of America, welcomes people from various nations with open arms. He and the U.S. Ark of Refuge mirror Noah and the ark. Uncle Sam is shown leading the immigrants away from the darkness of their home countries and into the "U.S. Ark of Refuge." The author of the cartoon, Austrian-born Joseph Keppler, was an immigrant himself. Upon arriving to the United States, he founded Puck, America's first successful humor magazine, which became wildly popular with a large audience. Keppler became highly influential. His personal success allowed him to view the American Dream in a positive way, which is indicated in the cartoon. Welcome to All! was published in Puck in 1880, around the time when the country witnessed a tremendous wave of immigrants from southern and eastern Europe. There were several reasons for immigrants wanting to come to America, including persecution and widespread poverty in their mother country. Although most immigrants faced grim reality and a hard new life, this cartoon focuses on conveying the initial optimistic beliefs of new immigrants wanting to begin a new life in the U.S.


"The Bosses of the Senate," J. Keppler, Puck, 1889

During the era of the gilded age, one of the main ways of criticizing current events was in political cartoons. These drawings were often caricatures that would point out problems with the way that things worked. The drawings were despised by the people portrayed because they had the potential to reach even the illiterate with their negative light. These cartoons were very influential in the gilded age because they drew the corruptions and flaws of society into the light and sought to bring the perpetrators of this corruption to justice. This particular cartoon is titled “The Bosses of the Senate” by Joseph Keppler. It depicts the big businessmen of this era looming over the senators in the Senate. This is very accurate because during this time, the government had a predominantly lasses-faire attitude towards the businesses. The point of this cartoon is to show the corruption of the political system because of the dominating figures in business and their power over the country.

Joseph Keppler was an Austrian immigrant who came to America in the mid nineteenth-century. He was a satirical artist who wanted to show the corruption of the political system in this time. He depicted the businessmen in this cartoon as looming over the Senate because that is exactly what they did. They used their power and influence to bribe congressmen to get laws passed that would help them. The people were left by the wayside because the government was mainly focused on helping the businesses. This cartoon was made in the middle of the gilded age, where those with money ran politics. These are the people who are towering in the background of the picture. This is very important to the meaning of the cartoon because it is clear that the artist is against the plutocracy of this time period. It is of note that the main figures are titled “bosses” in the cartoon. This is an allusion to the bosses of the famous political machines like Boss Tweed in New York City, as well as the business titans of the age like Vanderbilt, Carnegie, and Rockefeller. This shows the balance of power between a select few who had it. This power was obtained by either large amounts of money or votes for favors. The audience for this cartoon is everyone. The key factor about the cartoons was that even the illiterate could understand what was going on. It was the political cartoons that brought down the political machine of Boss Tweed, because they could expose him to his supporters, who were mostly illiterate. The reason the cartoon was created was to expose these political giants in their corruption to the American people.

This cartoon is very important because it shows the across-the-board corruption in American politics at this time. This was a key theme of this era, and it is the reason that this time period is called the gilded age; it is the bad under the golden coat of success. The corruption and dominance of the few elites characterized this era, which hurt the average people most of all. The overall point of this cartoon was to point out the corruption of the American political system, try to encourage the common man to take a stand against it, and try to make America a better place for everyone

G. Hamilton, Judge, 1891
G. Hamilton, Judge, 1891

The political cartoon “Where the Blame Lies” by Grant E .Hamilton is an illustration of the view of immigrants that many American citizens in the late 19th century held. It was originally published in Judge on April 4th 1891 in New York. The author, Grant E. Hamilton was one of the most well known cartoon artists of the time period. “Where the Blame Lies” shows Uncle Sam looking down disapprovingly upon recently arriving Immigrants to America. Uncle Sam represents the whole of America as a personification of American values. The cartoon maker obviously believes that the values of America would not be upheld by many of these immigrants that he portrays in his cartoon. He attempts to provide what he believes is a view of immigrants that is shared by the average man.
In the late 19th century, the number of immigrants to America reached new heights. These new immigrants were different from previous immigrants. The previous immigrants had been from the more traditionally democratic states of Western Europe while the numerous new immigrants were mainly from Eastern Europe. They came from Eastern European countries, ones who generally had a history of being either a dictatorship or a socialist regime. Their political views were at many times contrary to many of the American people and this scared the Americans because they believed it could be possible that the sheer number of immigrants could eventually overwhelm them. This is the reason that in the cartoon one of the men is labeled German Socialist and another is labeled Russian anarchist. Not only does the cartoon illustrate the fear felt by the common man toward political ends, but also toward his fear for his job. Many of the immigrants were severally poor and therefore willing to work for much lower wages. This threatened the job security of many of these Americans and eventually became part of the leading charge for advocates of immigration reform. This cartoon advocates for immigration reform because it paints a picture of the immigrants that would be left out in a reformation as criminals or paupers or people with extremely different political beliefs. Hamilton’s charge against immigration is mainly intended for the common man, and seeks to make him think that immigrants are different from him in both political and moral forms and also that they are dangerous to him because they undermine his job security. It is a very important cartoon because it provides a glimpse into the ideology behind the beginning of immigration reform. The name “Where the Blame Lies” implies that the blame of many issues lies directly upon the back of the many newly arrived immigrants to the American continent.

“Every Dog (No Distinction of Color) Has His Day,” T. Nast, Harper’s Weekly, 1879
“Every Dog (No Distinction of Color) Has His Day,” T. Nast, Harper’s Weekly, 1879

This cartoon was written by Thomas Nast, a renowned cartoonist most famous for his successful attacks on Boss Tweed and Tammany Hall. Published in 1879, this cartoon addressed the rising negativity from Americans towards Chinese immigrants. During the economic downturn of the 1870s, Chinese immigrants had driven wages down by virtue of their willingness to work for lower wages on projects such as the building of the First Transcontinental Railroad. This led to blame for the entire economic downturn by people such as Denis Kearney, which was off the mark. Eventually, this philosophy culminated in the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.

In the cartoon, a Native American and a Chinese man are examining anti-Chinese posters on a wall. The top poster depicts American industry moving westward and displacing the Native American. The train stands for American industry. Below, a Chinese man is moving eastward and displacing downtrodden American industry, pictured as a broken train. This was the fear of the time, as represented by the dialogue at the bottom; the Chinese might overtake the white Americans in superiority just as the white Americans ruled supreme over the Indians. This is where the title of the cartoon becomes relevant. Each race must experience a term of dominance; hence, “Every dog has his day.” As a bonus that references a consequence of the Civil War and following Reconstruction efforts, Nash included a black man to the left dressed in a suit. He slyly says, “My day is coming,” implying a potential period of black dominance.

Thomas Nash intended to mock nativist philosophy with this cartoon. He makes them out to be somewhat paranoid, as if they saw an influx of immigrants as the apocalypse. At the time, nativism was a prevailing sentiment among Americans. Nash addresses them through this cartoon, satirically telling them to relax.


"The Ride to Ruin" - Frank Henry Temple Bellew,The Daily Graphic, April 2, 1873

During the late 19th century, the United States underwent a change in its entire base of operation. Its economy made the transition from a typical agrarian nation, to making most of its money off of the new industrial business. Frank Henry Temple Bellew first earned his stripes when he produced the first portrayal of Uncle Sam (a nickname for the United States) in human form in a comic of his that was published in the New York Lantern circa 1852.

Twenty-one years later, his political cartoon “The Ride to Ruin” graced the front page of the New York City newspaper entitled The Daily Graphic: An Illustrated Evening Newspaper. On April 2, 1873 his work was shown to the public of the most industrial and diverse city in the United States. Everyone could see it, from the most profound businessmen to the lowest of factory workers. The illustration clearly addressed the surfacing problem of the rampant railroad companies and their corrupt association with the federal government. In the lower right hand corner are the words NATIONAL BANKRUPTCY, and three trains are portrayed as out of control monsters that are about to fall off of a cliff.

Ulysses S. Grant was in his second term as president during this time, but his ineptitude to run such a powerful country and sneaky business between politicians and greedy railroad company owners was increasing day by day. The government worked with the railroad companies, offering them land grants and loans for them to build upon. While there were many good aspects of the railroads in that they boosted the United States’ economy extraordinary amounts throughout the Gilded Age, the railroad companies were too fast-paced and disorderly to maintain a stable and harmonious nation.

At this time, the United States relied solely on the railroad companies to keep up with its wealth. Therefore, if the railroads went bankrupt, the nation would go down with it, stripping it of all its worth. Bellew’s cartoon showed his fear of this and intended to alert many others who might not foresee their beloved nation crumbling to its demise.

"The Ignorant Vote-Honors are Easy

The cartoon document in titled “The Ignorant Vote, Honors are easy” was made by Thomas Nast and published in Harper’s Weekly. Thomas Nast is on of the most well known cartoonists of his time. His nickname is “The Father of American Cartoon.” He has multiple pieces of cartoon that are very well known and have a strong message about his political beliefs. Some of his many different creations include the Republican Party Elephant, the Democratic Party Donkey and the image of Santa Clause. “The Ignorant Vote” was published in the Harper’s Weekly on December 9, 1876.

The year 1876 was right around the end of Reconstruction. This cartoon is about certain political events during this time period. This time period is also known as the start of the Gilded Age. There was a large amount of dislike and tension between the republicans south and the democrats in the north. There was also a lot of corruption in politics during this time. Wealthy businessmen bought politicians. This caused even more tension because it led to both sides accusing the other side of being corrupt. This was especially popular between the Republic African Americans in the south and the Irish Catholics in the North. Both accused the others of being corrupt when it came to elections and political figures. In the end, both sides were eventually convicted of fraud. All of this led to Thomas Nast’s drawing of this cartoon.

This cartoon shows two figures sitting of opposite sides of an old fashion weight scale. The figure that is on the right side of the scale is under the north sign and it depicted and labeled as being white. The figure of the left side is under the south side and is depicted and labeled as being black. The figures have distinct human characteristics but at the same time have the face of some sort of ape like animal. The scale shows the two figures being on the same level.

The figure on the right represents the Irish Catholics in the north, while the figure of the left represents the black republicans of the South. They appear to have animal characteristics because it represents the corruption, fraud and harsh tactics of each side during this time period. The fact that they are on the same level shows that they are both equally low and have the same amount of fraud and corruption. This cartoon was viewed across America and showed peopled that both sides are corrupt and need to change.

"King of the World"
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In 1901 a political cartoon was created entitled “King of the World” would become one of the most famous political cartoons of the Gilded Era. While it is not known who drew the cartoon, we can see some of his political views in the drawing. The artist appears to be against the monopolies and thought that the owners of these monopolies didn’t care about anything except making money. This cartoon depicts John D. Rockefeller is virtually king of the world with his oil monopoly and powerful railroads at his disposal. The cartoon was published in 1901 for Puck Magazine, a magazine full of satire and political cartoons about events that were happening at the time. For the most part Puck Magazine was nonpartisan and criticized anyone they wanted to. Since it was mostly nonpartisan, many people read it and at the time the publication was widely popular. At the time John D. Rockefeller was one of the most powerful men in the world and had a monopoly on the oil market. Depicted in the cartoon, Rockefeller is sitting on top of a platform labeled Standard Oil, which was the name of his oil monopoly. Rockefeller is dressed in king’s attire with money signs all in his robe. He also is depicted with a very stern look on his face implying that this is all business. The huge crown is the most important part of the cartoon. The first four levels on his crown depict the railroads transporting oil. The railroads are the Reading R.R, Jersey Central R.R, St. Paul R.R and Lehigh Valley R.R, all of which he owned and used them to carry his monopolized oil to the markets. On the top of the crown is the large oil holding tanks and oil derricks and at the very top of the crown is a dollar sign, the sign that Rockefeller is obsessed with according to the satirical drawing. In the background is the ruin and destruction is depicted that Rockefeller caused due to his companies and cares little about the effect of the landscape of the nation. The reason it was produced is to label all the large company and monopoly owners as not caring about the shape of the country, but the increase of their profits and power.

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The political cartoon “Hopelessly Bound to the Stake” is an accurate representation of the working class’ struggle with the overwhelming power and wealth of the big businesses and monopolies.
The author of the illustration “Hopelessly Bound to the Stake” is Bernhard Gillam. Gillam was born in England, but he moved to New York at the age of 10. Gillam started off studying to be a lawyer, but found that his true passion lay with drawing political cartoons for big names like The New York Post and The New York Times.
Before analyzing “Hopelessly Bound to the Stake”, it is important to discuss all of the different components of the picture. The man labeled “workman” basically represents the working class or the laborers of that time. A monopoly is “the exclusive possession or control of a supply or trade in a commodity or service” (Dictionary Entry). Upon further investigation, some of the faces in the “woodpile” were identified as businessmen such as William H. Vanderbilt, Jay Gould, and Russell Sage. These men were very involved in the railroad business, and they gained much profit from their work in this field.
All these components tie together to create this image, of the working class being brought down and destroyed by the monopolies of big businesses, and big businessmen and investors, such as Vanderbilt and Gould, were only helping with the destruction of the working class. Monopoles were helping out the big businesses/big businessmen, but the common man was getting slighted—all the profit from the monopolies went to the businessmen, and the laborers got nothing.
This illustration was created for the common “workman” who makes up a majority of the population. This cartoon is most likely reliable because the target group for the illustration is the common man, or the working class. There are far more members of the working class than there are big business men, so it is far more likely that the a normal working citizen created this as an accurate representation of business (accurate in the sense that there isn’t some big business mogul behind all of this trying to justify his cruel actions towards the working class).
This cartoon was created at the time it was because at that time, there was a lot of uproar amongst the workmen that they were doing all of the work and the big businessmen were reaping all the rewards. These hard-working men were being forced to live in poverty while there were a few wealthy individuals who had more money than they knew what to do with. This illustration was important because it drew attention to how big businesses and monopolies were only helping a few, but really hurting the people as a whole. From this document, you can infer that the illustrator sympathized with the workman of the situation, and really wanted to find some way to draw attention to this situation so that the workingmen could be helped.

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In 1880 our country was once again faced with the prospect of electing a new president. In this rather forgettable election, the Republican nominee was James Garfield and the Democrat was Winfield Hancock. The widely renowned cartoon artist Joseph Keppler, who at the time was the most prominent cartoonist for the magazine Puck, took the side of the republicans in this election. He created this cartoon, featuring Winfield Scott Hancock, to poke fun at the Democratic party and at Hancock himself.

The cartoon depicts Mr. Hancock standing in a rather strange shop, filled with things the Democratic party has done in the past. In one corner hangs a sign reading "fugitive slave act". In another stands a whipping post: a reminder of slavery. In the center of the floor is the strangest item of all: a donkey with no head and two back ends. One is labeled "North" and the other "South", but the word "democrats" stretches across the donkey's entire flank. Hancock is reeling back in shock, and exclaiming "Great scott! Am I to be the Head of that?". What the author means here is that Hancock is faced with a very great challenge: if he is to succeed in the election, he must unite the split democratic party. Currently, it is as two back ends of a donkey- it provides power but no leadership. In order to win Hancock must become the leader of the Democrats. Leading the Democrats would come with the added bonus of the democrats' bad reputation, as evidenced by all the other items in the room.

This cartoon was most likely created to lessen Hancock's chances of winning. It reminds people of all of the past failures of the Democrats with its background, and has a rather gloomy overall appearance. Hancock himself looks slightly foolish, and the cartoon makes him appear more overweight than most photos show. By casting Hancock in such an appalling light, Keppler hoped to help swing the presidency towards Garfield.

The Slave-Market of To-Day
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Bernhard Gillam created this illustration in 1884. He titled it as “The slave-market of to-day.” The cartoon was published in the Puck, a cartoon magazine. This cartoon is important because the illustration try’s to convey to the public what really is going on in the current work force, especially the workers. It expresses concern over the issue of too much power in the business hands. The cartoon was also published in New York where many big “Robber Barons” and industries were located at the time. New York was also the deciding factor in the election of 1884. This cartoon was most likely used to sway voters away from the Republicans and big businesses. This cartoon is also important because the main thing the cartoon looks on is the morality of the “Robber Barons” and other large businessmen.

The first thing we can see is that there is an auction going on that looks a lot like the slave trade that was happening in the early days of the colonies. On the left we see the average worker being auctioned off to the “Robber Barons” and other big industrial and manufacturer owners during the Gilded Age. One of the workers is also chained by the high tariff. The current worker that is being auctioned off is standing on a block labeled “Trade Unions” by a person labeled as the “Protectionist Statesman.”

From this illustration we can infer a lot of things. The main message that the cartoonist is trying to convey is that the current average workers are as powerless as slaves were from their white masters as they are currently from the big businesses they work for. It also conveys the message that even though there are trade unions in place, the organizations do not give any more leverage to the workers over the big businesses than what they already have, which at this point is close to none. This is evident by “Trade Unions” being labeled on a block, a thing that can not help the workers. The price that is already set is $7 a week or $364 a year which also shows that the workers often had to work at the terms of the owners. This was mainly because the average worker had no upper hand over the industries. Many workers had to sign “yellow dog contracts” or “ironclad oaths” which were contracts forbidding the signatory to join any labor unions. Immigrants or “scabs” were also usually used to curb strikes and take the place of the workers that participated. The cartoonist is also mad that many of the politicians are helping the businesses more than they are helping the workers. This is evident by the seller being labeled as the “Protectionist Statesman.” This is accurate of the time period because many of the politicians at the time were on the payrolls of many big businesses. At the time, many politicians did not care about the average person and how their decisions affected them, but rather on how much they would get paid as a bribe to vote one way or another. The chain that is labeled as “High tariff” also expresses the view that the high tariff, especially the Tariff of 1883, was one of the factors that increased the farmer’s expense thus cutting down their profits. The new technological innovations in farming that increased the amount of food produce which drove down crop prices did not help their cause either. Ultimately, the tariff and other factors drove the farmers out of business and into the action ring.


"The Tammany Tiger Loose"
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Thomas Nast will forever be known as one of the best cartoonist to ever live. Nast was a bright young man from Landua, Germany, whose passion for art was able to get him a comfortable life in New York City, something most immigrants never got to experience. Nast is famous for popularizing the Democratic Donkey and Republican Elephant symbols, but is especially remembered for his “Tammany Tiger Loose” cartoon that he made in 1871 for Harper’s Weekly in New York City. The cartoon features a tiger on top of a dead or dying woman in the middle of a Roman Coliseum with an emperor and other audience members observing. The woman is Colombia who represents the American Republic and all that is good in the Republic. She is being attacked by the Tammany Tiger which is Tweed’s political machine or also a representation of the corruption in the government that is destroying the republic and that must be put to a stop. The emperor in the stands and the men surrounding him are William Magear “Boss” Tweed and his Democratic allies whom are responsible for the corruption. The look that the reader receives from the tiger seems to indicate that if the reader and others do not act soon and oust Tweed, then they too will fall to the corruption that is destroying the republic.

In order for the cartoon to have the impact Nast wanted it to have, it was important that he address the right audience. He chose to address the common people of New York, and he was trying to convey the message that if they didn’t oust Tweed soon, then they would be his next target. Nast’s cartoon couldn’t have had better timing because the citizens of New York were already angry and wanted to take action. The people were quickly convinced by this cartoon as it was one the leading forces that eventually led to Tweed’s removal from power. Nast’s cartoon was extremely important to the growth of America because it showed how the people could rise up and fight off these political machines that had begun to plague the United States during the previous few years after the civil war. This cartoon shows that Thomas Nast was most likely trying to convey a message saying if the readers didn’t take action to try and stop these evil men, then who would?


“What a funny little government” - The Verdict, January 22, 1900. New York Public Library.

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Following the Civil War to the end of the 19th Century, the U.S. experienced a second industrial revolution. With the rise of industry in America followed big businesses such as the Standard Oil Company. Horace Taylor illustrated, The trust giant’s point of view, “What a funny little government” in 1899, which later would be published on January 22, 1900, in the democratic magazine The Verdict. The Verdict was an independent magazine that pushed against trusts and capitalism. Taylor drew many illustrations for this magazine. Taylor along with other democrats felt the government wasn’t doing a good job regulating these businesses as they grew and took control of many aspects regarding the U.S. This was seen as much so that these capitalists controlling their great monopolies had more authority than the government itself, as many were extremely wealthy and either directly or indirectly a part of the government. Capitalists such as Rockefeller controlled almost the entirety of their business. The Standard Oil Company controlled close to all the refineries during the time. These business men took the majority of their profits to rise in power. “What a funny little government” was published in the Verdict so that the common people will see how the white house and government are not controlling the power of capitalism in America as they should be. Too many trusts were being formed and the capitalist empires were booming. Taylor wants the common man to be opposed of reelecting McKinley to a second term as president because in his first the majority that he did was raise tariffs and did little in regulating big business. McKinley saw things from a republican spectrum as the Verdict wanted to promote the Democratic Party just before the election of 1900. The illustration shows Rockefeller looking down on the white house and the President himself. Taylor wanted to show how capitalists rule the U.S. in most aspects through their wealth. These big named business men were multimillionaires. Behind Rockefeller is the capital building with smoke stacks rising from it. The author portrays the government as being run by industrialism and capitalism. Taylor along with other democrats were seeking change in the government to prevent trusts along with big businesses because they were poorly regulating to help the workers as they were being paid very low wages for their work. The significance of the illustration is that big businesses ruled in economic and political power during the latter part of the 19th century. As the common man struggled, democrats wanted to see change through their power involving the government.

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"A Sudden Awakening," W. Rogers, Harper's Weekly, 1901

My cartoon was featured in a magazine called Harpers Weekly, which is based in New York.. Harpers weekly was started in 1857 and ran until 1916. It included all things from foreign and domestic news to fiction to essays on a number of topics. Some of it’s best known cartoons were done by famous cartoonist Thomas Nast. The cartoon that I am focusing on was published on June 22, 1901. The artist of the Cartoon, William Rogers, was not a fan of big business and had portrayed large corporations as evil entities that are destroying America and making a profit doing it. The cartoon is titled “A Sudden awakening”, and at first glance it looks to be a cartoon showing the growth of the American steel business shocking European steel giants. The audience of this cartoon would have been mostly Republicans at the time because the newspaper leaned to the Republican side. They had influence in the election of President Grant and many others, as well as a campaign against corrupt New York politician Boss Tweed. However Harpers weekly was not completely stratified to one political party and tried to not be over biased. The main idea that the cartoon is trying to convey deals with the founding of The American Steel Company in 1901. The cartoon shows a monster with a train and a head and a bridge with “American Steel” written on it as the torso. Then, in a bed, sits John Bull and other European steel leaders shocked to see the American monster. Rogers is trying to say that the rapid growth of American steel has the potential to take over the European market and dominate the worlds steel industry. This cartoon and time period is significant because of the ASC took control of 60% of U.S. steel and later grew to have a larger gross income than the U.S. government. The U.S. is a world superpower and for one company to have a larger income than them, the ASC had to be massive. This put fear into the Europeans and it is rightly portrayed in this cartoon.

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Udo Keppler created the “Next!” cartoon about the standard oil octopus. Udo Keppler was the son of Joseph Keppler, who was also a political cartoonist. Joseph Keppler co-founded Puck magazine, which Udo Keppler would later work for. Udo Keppler was the honorary chief of the Seneca nation and was a huge Indian activist. Udo Keppler fought hard for Indians, getting railroad rates discounted for the Indians of New York. His most famous cartoon, “Next!”, appeared in Puck magazine in 1904. Puck probably did not influence the style of the cartoon. However, 1904 was a time associated with big business and corrupted government, and this was the whole motive and meaning of the cartoon. This cartoon was intended for the common citizen, encouraging him to unionize and put up no longer with this oil dominance. In its intentions to persuade citizens to disapprove of oil dominance, this cartoon most likely exaggerated the circumstances of the situations at that time. This cartoon portrayed oil companies as power thirsty dictators, like an octopus, with so many tentacles it was capable of securing every angle their success. This cartoon played a huge role in encouraging citizens to disapprove of this unfair economy.

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The political cartoon “The Only One Barred Out” was created in the late 1800’s in response to the Chinese Exclusion Act during the Gilded Age. This cartoon was created in 1882 by an anonymous source and was published in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, a literary and news magazine founded in New York in 1852. Not much is known about the author who created this source, but his viewpoint on the Chinese Exclusion Act is clearly depicted. The author depicts a stereotypical Chinese man being seated outside the Golden Gate of Liberty. The caption reads, “We must draw the line somewhere you know.” Another sign says that admittance to hoodlums, communists, nihilists, socialists, and fenians who bring havoc and catastrophe are free to enter the United States, while the Chinese men who bring industry, peace, and order are not permitted to enter. The author shows through this cartoon that with the Chinese Exclusion Act the US will also be barring out peace, sobriety, increase of industry, and order.

The Chinese Exclusion Act was signed into law in May of 1882. This law was written for the US to ban Chinese Immigration due to the influx of Chinese due to the California Gold Rush in the 1850’s and continued with subsequent large labor projects, like the building of the First Transcontinental Railroad. During the early years of the gold rush, the Chinese and other immigrants were well received and tolerated, but as time progressed and gold became harder to find, the tolerance for these immigrants decreased significantly. Many anti-Chinese organizations were formed and blamed the Chinese for the Chinese for depressing wage levels since they were willing to work for many hours with low pay.

This cartoon was created by its author to show to anyone opposed to the immigration of the Chinese the injustice that these immigrants had to face because they wanted the jobs nobody else wanted to do. This cartoon was created by an American who was not opposed to foreign immigration, therefore could have potential bias, just because the US banned the Chinese from immigrating does not necessarily mean that peace and order cease to exist just because there are no Chinese immigrants. This cartoon is significant during this period in time because it mocks the legislation for barring out the Chinese even though they bring potential benefits with them.


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Thomas Nast was one of the noblest cartoonists during the Gilded Age, roughly 1870-1900. He was considered to be the “Father of the American Cartoon,” and he had a very successful career as a caricaturist for Harper’s Weekly, where “The Brains” was produced. Nast, throughout the Civil War was a faithful and devoted adversary to slavery and a tremendous supporter of black civil rights. During this period, social classes were deviating from each other and there were now extreme poor and the very wealthy with the rapid growth of urbanization and the rise of cities. Differences in social classes as well as the industrial revolution influenced the fraudulent problems of America under the outer layer and how power was envied for many.

With this political cartoon, “The Brains” published on October 21st, 1871, Thomas Nast depicted a businessman with a thirst for power and wealth. He did this by replacing the man’s head with a bag of money. At the time of this cartoon, the Gilded Age had just begun and was already uncovering many flaws under the gold covered outer shell. Corruption was beginning to spread throughout America. The man in the cartoon is Boss Tweed and we know this because of the reference to the Tammany Hall scandal. Boss Tweed, after rising up the social ladder, was elected to head Tammany Hall, where he could have a great impact on many high-ranking jobs. He abused this power and got much money for his own use out of the scandals. Thomas Nast helped inform the people about Boss Tweed’s crimes by means of his cartoon and many of Tweed’s colleagues in Tammany Hall turned him in to stop his crimes. The bag of money on the man’s head reveals how selfish and wealth hungry some of the people were during this time. This also shows what was driving the minds and brains of the men in charge: selfish thirst for money. This source was created for the people of America, and to uncover how some innocent people were being cheated. Even though gilded means covered in gold, problems and corruption were spreading throughout America under the surface of prosperity.