Presidential Campaigns:
A Cartoon History 1789-1976
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1848

Candidate
Popular
Electoral
Zachary Taylor
Whig
1,361,393
163
Lewis Cass
Democrat
1,223,460
127
Martin Van Buren
Free Soil
291,501
0

Zachary Taylor (public domain)

The Mexican War during Polk's administration and the increasing sectionalism became the issues of the campaign of 1848. The platform of the Democratic candidate, Lewis Cass, praised the Mexican War and opposed the Wilmot Proviso, which would have forbidden slavery in any new territory received from Mexico.

Cass is pictured as a "War President" and as an imperialist (16A-1066530). He was also called a "doughface," a nickname for Northerners with Southern views on slavery (16B-1066531).

Here we see "The Slighted Spinsters" passed over by Cass's nomination (16C-1066532). The Whigs nominated Zachary Taylor instead of Henry Clay, who had lost the nomination for a second time. Here in a parody of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, we see the "political assassination" of Clay (16D-1066533). This conflict between Taylor and Clay split the Whig party (16E-1066534).

As in Jackson's campaign of 1828, cartoonists focused on the war records of the candidates. Here they caricatured Taylor's career in the Mexican War as that of a ruthless leader (16F-1066535).

Since neither party made slavery an issue, the Free Soil Party was formed by abolitionist factions, nominating Martin Van Buren, who was reluctant to champion this issue (16G-1066536). He was also pictured by cartoonists as trying, unsuccessfully, to bridge the gap between Whig and Democratic platforms on the issue of slavery (16H-1066537).

Many cartoons predicted Van Buren's victory (16I-1066538, 16J-1066539, 16K-1066540). But this cartoon predicted correctly (16L-1066541). Taylor caught the biggest fish: the presidency.

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16A-1066530 Artist unknown, "A War President," cartoon, 1848, Peter Smith, pub., reprinted from the collections of the New York Historical Society.

16B-1066531 Artist unknown, cartoon, Peter Smith, pub., reprinted from The American Past, by Roger Butterfield (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1947) 122.

16C-1066532 Hinckley, "The Slighted Spinsters," cartoon, 1848, reprinted from John Donkey, 10 June 1848.

16D-1066533 Artist unknown, "The Assassination of the Sage of Ashland," cartoon, 1848, H. R. Robinson, pub., reprinted from the collections of the New York Historical Society.

16E-1066534 Artist unknown, "Whig Harmony," cartoon, 1848, J. Baillie, pub., reprinted from the collections of the Library of Congress.

16F-1066535 Artist unknown, "An Available Candidate, The One Qualification of a Whig President," cartoon, 1848, Currier and Ives, pub., reprinted from The Image of America in Caricature and Cartoon, by the Amon Carter Museum of Western Art (Fort Worth: Amon Carter Museum of Western Art, 1975) 40.

16G-1066536 Artist unknown, "Marriage of the Free Soil and Liberty Parties," cartoon, 1848, Peter Smith, pub., reprinted from Political Cartoons in the 1848 Election Campaign by Anne Marie Serio (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1972) 11.

16H-1066537 Artist unknown, "The Modern Colossus, Eighth Wonder of the World," cartoon, 1848, Peter Smith, pub., reprinted from the collections of the Library of Congress.

16I-1066538 Artist unknown, "Fording Salt River," cartoon, 1848, J. Baillie, pub., reprinted from Political Cartoons in the 1848 Election Campaign by Anne Marie Serio (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1972) 18.

16J-1066539 Artist unknown, "The Buffalo Hunt," cartoon, 1848, H. R. Robinson, pub., reprinted from Political Cartoons in the 1848 Election Campaign by Anne Marie Serio (Washington, D. C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1972) 14.

16K-1066540 Artist unknown, "The Strife Between an Old Hunker, a Barnburner, and a No-Party Man," cartoon, 1848, H. R. Robinson, pub., reprinted from Political Cartoons in the 1848 Election Campaign by Anne Marie Serio (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1972) 15.

16L-1066541 Artist unknown, "The Presidential Fishing Party of 1848," cartoon, 1848, Peter Smith, pub., reprinted from Political Cartoons in the 1848 Election Campaign by Anne Marie Serio (Washington, D. C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1972) 18.


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16K-1066540 cartoon thumbnail 16L-1066541