Harper’s Weekly – November 12, 1864

This post-dated cartoon was available to Harper’s readers six days before the upcoming Presidential election on November 8. The cover story described forging of military votes, including accounts of Copperheads — Confederate sympathizers in the North — copying the names of dead Union soldiers from their graves and filling in the blank ballots with them, as well as changing and destroying military ballots. The conspiracy was documented by Republican undercover investigators prior to the election, utilizing infiltration and intercepted mail. This was Nast’s maiden effort on fraudulent voting, which would become a recurring topic for him over the next two decades.

As Harper’s cover story also detailed, every state in the Union had to pass legislation to allow its absentee soldiers to vote. Copperheads “made Patriotism a crime” by blocking permission in New York when Governor Horatio Seymour vetoed the legislature’s bill; a state constitutional amendment overruled him. Another constitutional amendment in Pennsylvania, and a state Supreme Court decision in Ohio, enabled their soldiers to vote, while Copperheads prevailed in Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, Indiana and Illinois.