Harper’s Weekly – March 16, 1872

Ulysses Grant was Thomas Nast’s all-time hero, appearing in more than 100 cartoons; only one — dealing with a scandalous appointment — was negative. After Nast’s dominant role in bringing down Boss Tweed, Grant and his key associates recruited Nast for his 1872 reelection campaign.

A group of five Liberal Republican Senators opposed Grant: Carl Schurz (MO); Charles Sumner (MA); Reuben Fenton (NY); Lyman Trumbull (IL) and Thomas Tipton (NE). Horace Greeley, publisher of the New York Tribune, became their candidate, a nomination that was questionable from the start.

In his cartoon demeaning The “Liberal” Conspirators (Who, You All Know, Are Honorable Men), Nast quoted from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, comparing Grant to Caesar; not coincidentally, it was published just before the Ides of March, the day Caesar was assassinated.

Greeley was not yet a candidate but, clad in a toga, was reading his Tribune with a “What I Know About Bolting” paper in his pocket, while strolling past the White House. He was cast as Cicero, the Roman senator and enemy of Caesar, whom the other conspirators left out of the plot in Shakespeare’s play. Ringleader Schurz, playing Brutus, disdained Greeley’s potential candidacy.