Home > 1856 Campaign, 1856-1892 Campaigns > 1856–Pro-Fillmore Cartoon–Dan Hawvermale

1856–Pro-Fillmore Cartoon–Dan Hawvermale

I choose to discuss this cartoon because it was one of the few pieces of presidential rhetoric that actually favored Fillmore in the presidential campaigning of 1856. Although he only received 1/5 of the overall vote Fillmore played an important role in the election stealing votes from both candidates thus making it a much closer race. At the time of the 1856 election the Whig party had fallen apart and Fillmore had no formal party to run for since he refused to join the Republican Party. With little options he chooses to run for the “Know Nothing Party” with Andrew Jackson Donelson as his vice president, who was the nephew of former president Andrew Jackson. Even though I stated earlier that Fillmore only accomplished receiving 20% of the vote, it was one of the most impressive showings from a third party candidate in history. It should also be noted that Fillmore was attempting to be nominated for a second, nonconsecutive term. This feat has only been accomplished by one president in history sir, Grover Cleveland., and is by no means an easy task.

In the cartoon I choose we see Fillmore with a much more optimistic view on the presidential race than the 205 he actually received in the end. In the cartoon Fillmore is in the leading carriage uttering the words “Founded by Washington the only sure Line to Washington is the American Express,” while his driver concurs, “We’ve got a sure thing on this race.” This is ironic considering the final outcome of the election, but the real comedy in the cartoon lies in its depiction of the other candidates.

The cartoon depicts Fillmore’s opponent James Buchanan and his incumbent predecessor Franklin as tag teaming the horse race. As a metaphor to Franklin’s endorsement of Buchannan’s running for president, he is seen carrying piggyback style during the race. Buchanon voices his worries to Pierce saying “Frank, I am afraid we aint got legs enough to beat Fillmore, but its some comfort to see old Greelys team stuck in the mud.” This is Buchanan voicing his concerns about the fact the Fraklin Peircee couldn’t even win his own re-nomination for the party.

Buchanan also refers to “Greelys team”, which is John C. Fermont’s campaign who is stuck in pool of mud labeled “Abolition Cess Pool.” Leading his carriage is New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley who is trying to pull the “nag” out of the mud with the carriage. The “nag” is a symbol for abolitionist all over the country and represents Fremont being lead blindly by abolitionist promoters. Abolitionist preacher Henry Ward Beecher tries to force the back wheel using a rifle as a lever. As he attempts to pry the carriage free he yells to Horace Greenly “Brother Horace jerk his [i.e., the nag’s] head up once more and Shriek for Kansas, and I’ll give the wheel a pry with my rifle.” The reference is to Republican attempts to exploit the Kansas violence as an election issue, and also to Beecher’s arming of antislavery settlers in Kansas. Horace greenly replies to Beecher “It’s no use crying Kansas any more it don’t Prick his Ears a bit–I guess we’re about used up.” Fremont hears the two of them bickering and exclaims “Oh that I had kept the road & not tried to wade through this dirty ditch, but these fellows persuaded me, it was a shorter Way–and so I’ve gone it blind.” This shows his disappointment about choosing to support anti-slavery measures and making it a part of his campaign.

Bcuhanan himself in the cartoon expresses his concern regarding his ability to carry the party with which Franklin Pierce replies with his own concerns about not being re-nominated for the party, exclaiming “I don’t see how my party expect me to carry this old platform in, a winner, when they thought I had’nt legs enough to run for myself.” A by stander in the crowd mocks Pierce carrying Buchanan saying “I say Pierce aint that platform heavy?” The other members of the crowd are yelling as well. It is also worthy to note that this cartoon was aired in the newspaper Nathaniel Currier, in a few months prior to the 1856 election.




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