Harper’s Weekly – August 17, 1872

This cartoon featured all three of Nast’s symbols: Gratz Brown’s tag on Horace Greeley’s white coat, and the paper sticking out of his pocket which read “What I Know About Myself.”

During the campaign, Nast took occasional pot shots at Greeley for his consistent inconsistency. Using Greeley’s close friendship with Phineas T. Barnum as his fulcrum, “What is It?” referred to an 1859 humbug exhibit at Barnum’s American Museum. The candidate’s white coat served as a billboard for his coalition’s conflicting views on trade, temperance and the Ku Klux Klan.

The principal issue dividing Greeley from his fellow Liberal Republicans was his Protectionism vs. their Free Trade. Carl Schurz, Lyman Trumbull and David Davis insisted on that plank in their platform. No compromise position was possible so they punted: “Discussion of the subject was remitted to the people in their Congressional Districts and the decision of Congress, wholly free from Executive interference or dictation.”