Item #7807 A “Dodge” That Wont Work. John Cameron, after.

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Cameron, John (after).

A “Dodge” That Wont Work.

New York: Currier & Ives, 1872. Lithograph, 12.375” x 16.625”. CONDITION: Very good, expert extension of margins.

A very scarce Currier & Ives print highlighting the hypocrisy of recruiting African American support for Horace Greeley’s widely reviled 1872 presidential bid.

This print stages a conversation between Horace Greeley and two African American voters, “Sam” and “Caesar.” Greeley extends a beckoning hand, while one of the Black men crosses his arms. Peering out from behind Greeley’s shoulder is the gaunt figure of Jefferson Davis, clutching shackles and a whip. The exchange goes like this:

— “Of course Sam and Caesar, you’ll vote for me your old friend Horace Greeley?”

— “No Mr. Greeley we cant vote for you, for behind you we see Jeff Davis and behind him is the old lash and bondage.”

— “We vote, as all true hearted colored men will vote; for Mr. Lincoln’s friend General Grant who conquered the rebellion & secured our freedom.”

Before the Civil War, Greeley had been a vocal opponent of slavery and its expansion, and as the secession crisis intensified, he remained staunchly opposed to any slavery related concessions. When the war began, he threw his weight behind the radical anti-slavery faction of the Republican party, exhorting his vast readership in the New York Tribune “Forward to Richmond!” In the war’s aftermath, however, eager for North and South to “clasp hands across the bloody chasm,” Greeley became frustrated with the Grant administration for its continued enforcement of Reconstruction, and was criticized for being too eager to adopt reconciliation measures. Public disapproval intensified when, acting on his belief in “mercy to the vanquished,” Greeley recommended Jefferson Davis be released from prison, organized several prominent Northern sponsors, and in 1867 personally paid a quarter of Davis’s $100,000 bond. In a letter “Relative to the Bailing of Jefferson Davis,” Greeley addressed a group of New York Union League Club members with characteristic vigor: “You evidently regard me as a weak sentimentalist, misled by a maudlin philosophy. I arraign you as narrow-minded blockheads, who would like to be useful to a great and good cause, but don’t know how…I tell you here, that, out of a life earnestly devoted to the good of human kind, your children will select my going to Richmond and signing that bail-bond as the wisest act…”

When Greeley was nominated by Democrats and Liberal Republicans to challenge Grant in the 1872 presidential election, the abuse was so vicious and unabated that he remarked later “that he sometimes doubted whether he was running for the presidency or the penitentiary” (DAB). Although it had initially seemed possible that Black voters would support Greeley on the strength of his long-held anti-slavery views, the 1872 National Colored Convention in New Orleans—at which Frederick Douglass was a leading voice—cemented African American support for Grant, “as all roads out of the Republican party lead into the Democratic camp. From this time until the election, Douglass’s famous aphorism—‘the Republican party is the ship and all else is the sea’—became the watchword” for most African American voters (McPherson).

OCLC records just two copies, at the Clements Library and the Library of Congress.

A vivid illustration of Horace Greeley’s position in the eyes of Black America during the 1872 presidential election.

REFERENCES: McPherson, James M. “Grant or Greeley? The Abolitionist Dilemma in the Election of 1872,” The American Historical Review, Vol. 71, No. 1 (1965), p. 50; “Horace Greeley,” Dictionary of American Biography, p. 533.

Item #7807

Price: $2,750.00

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