1852–Campaign Cartoon Rhetoric–Lucas Mills
The 1852 Campaign between Winfield Scott and Franklin Pierce focused on the personalities and characteristics between the two gentlemen and stories from their pasts. Although Pierce won in a landslide, the rhetoric was still profound between the two candidates, trading jabs about their masculinity and military background.
An example of the rhetoric used by the whig party was a political cartoon The Gamecock and the Goose. This cartoon was published at the Office of Yankee Notions in New York. The two candidates are racing on gamecock and goose in front of bystanders. Scott is dressed in his patented military uniform riding the gamecock, leading Pierce who is riding the goose. The goose was considered to be an unflattering symbol. Scott turns to look back at Pierce and exclaims “What’s the matter, Pierce? feel Faint? ha! ha! ha! lord what a Goose! don’t you wish you had my Cock? well good bye, Pierce, good bye.”
The reference that Scott is trying to make by saying that he may feel faint, is about the Battle of Churubusco in the Mexico-America War. It was rumored in this battle that Pierce collapsed and had to be carried off of the battlefield. The whig party attempted to label Pierce as a coward for this act.
Pierce replies back “O dear me! I shall Faint, I know I shall Faint, its Constitutional!” Perhaps playing a pun on the slavery issue.
A piercing piece of loco foco hocus pocus was a cartoon that was more than likely published shortly after the whig party convention in which Winfield Scott was nominated as the whig candidate for president. Traditionally, the whig party was partial to nominating candidates with military backgrounds. The cartoon paints Scott centered in between whig presidential candidates Daniel Webster and Millard Fillmore. Scott stands on the platform of “whig platform of soup fuss and fathers.” Old fuss and feathers was Scott’s nickname which he earned due to him being obsessed with his military rank and image. A bowl of soup sits on Scott’s head for the following reason: In a letter written to the Secretary of War William Marcy during the Mexico-America War, Scott wrote complaining about the division of command between he and General Taylor. He wrote “..as I sit down to a hasty plate of soup,” this sentence was published by the Polk administration who wished to damage Scott’s reputation. It ultimated was used against Scott during his future political life.
Scott is seen holding out oyster shells to the other candidates saying:
“My dear fellows you neither of you got the oyster because you couldn’t agree and you have never smelt powder.–The whig party is essentually chivalric, and they must have a military man at their head, and, of course, chose me–To be sure Harrison was a granny, and so was Taylor, but I am a Granny dear I present you each a shell as as a proof of my regard!–But hulloh! where’s the oyster? Was it a vision!”
Franklin Pierce is standing in the far left of the picture on top of the democratic platform, the platform is also labeled underneath the constitution and the union. Pierce says to Scott, “You will have to go without your soup this time General I’ve go the Oyster by sleight of hand, and a good fat one it is, a real old Blue pointer. I shall pickle it and keep it for four years!” I thought this was clever language used by the author, alluding to winning the presidency while making fun of Scott’s soup comment.
Another cartoon titled Gas and glory, focused on Pierce’s alleged ineptness on the battlefield of the Mexico-America War. There are two scenes in this cartoon, one based in New Hampshire and one in Mexico. In New Hampshire, Pierce is confidently leading his troops to victory saying, “Forward! my brave Compatriots preserve but that undaunted front, and victory is ours.” In Mexico, Pierce is sluggishly lagging behind his troops, holding his stomach and appearing timid. Pierce says to his men, “Oh! how bad I feel, and every Step I go forward, I feel worse. I got such a pain in the abdomen I must resign my Command and go home.” A soldier replies, “Come along Gineral Pierce! heres them ere enemies you used to talk about on trainin down East: Hurry up and lick em.”
I thought it was interesting that the main rhetoric that was used by the two parties in this campaign was also portrayed in a cartoon medium. In the past two cartoons Pierce and Scott were illustrated with negative characteristics that was said about them during the campaign.