Harper’s Weekly – June 14, 1884

In 1884, James Blaine finally won the Republican nomination on the fourth ballot, beating President Chester Arthur whom Nast favored for a second term. (He had succeeded James Garfield who was assassinated in 1881). Nast, the Harpers, and The New York Times refused to back Blaine and supported Democrat Grover Cleveland, calling themselves Mugwumps, an Independents party. It turned out to be a costly decision, causing Harper’s Weekly to lose thousands of angry and disgusted Republican subscribers, and Nast to lose many of his fans and friends.

The Republican Convention began on June 3, 1884, in Chicago. Anticipating the result, Nast’s prepared-in-advance and post-dated cartoon was available about the time the Convention was over. Blaine’s magnet was crushing the Republican Party Elephant’s back and tearing its Civil Service Reform plank.

Blaine’s charisma was acclaimed as his magnetic personality which attracted followers and votes. Nast turned that upside down by portraying him as a magnet with the Mulligan Letters and other scandals, corruption and controversial issues sticking to him. In this cartoon, Civil Service Reform would have limited Blaine’s (along with other politicians’) extensive use of patronage.