Harper’s Weekly – January 9, 1875

Benjamin Bristow became Treasury Secretary in June 1874. He worked closely with Ohio Senator John Sherman to craft the Specie Payment Resumption Act which would allow greenbacks to be redeemed for gold. Grant called for its approval in his December message to Congress, and it passed on January 14, 1875. By restoring the gold standard, effective four years later, and further contracting the nation’s money supply, its objective was to slowly restore the nation’s finances to the stability they had prior to the Panic of 1873. It worked and the economy finally rebounded in 1879.

Nast couldn’t resist a final shot at the bill’s leading opponents. Harper’s cover featured the President as Captain of the Ark of State steering a straight course towards resumption. A dove of peace flew overhead as a message to the insurgents to return to the fold, as they struggled to stay afloat. Ben Butler, Oliver Morton and John Logan were most prominent, while Matthew Carpenter, Simon Cameron and William (Pig Iron) Kelley were also in the picture.