Essay Project #2
Political Cartoon Analysis
carefully the brief overview below. Then
choose one of the four political cartoons to analyze. The term “Analyze” is defined as the examination
of components or elements in a cartoon in an effort to determine a relation to
an event or person. After you have
analyzed the cartoon of your choice write an essay on your findings. The guidelines for the essay are located on
the cover sheet distributed.
Political Cartoon Overview-
First & foremost understand the
purpose of a political cartoon. A
“Political Cartoon,” as it is written in World Book 2002, is an attempt
to accomplish, in pictures, what editorials do in words. A political cartoon encourages a reader to
develop an opinion about someone or something prominent in the news. Most of these cartoons appear as single
panels on the editorial pages of newspapers.
Some have captions or titles.
Others consist only of a drawing.
Political cartoons may support an editorial of the day, or they may deal
with a news event. Many editorial
cartoonists use an exaggerated form of drawing called a caricature to poke fun at
The four political cartoons to follow are
all related to the United States’ eighth president, Martin Van
Buren. Martin Van Buren gained political
notoriety (fame) in the state of New York as a leader of the Democratic
Party. Born in Kinderhook, New York, Martin Van Buren is considered by many
historians to be the “brains” behind the creation of the image of Andrew
Jackson as the people’s president from 1828-1836. He was Jackson’s Secretary of State from 1828-32 and his
Vice-President from 1832-1836. As a
result of his ability to manipulate elections, he was nicknamed, at the state
level, “Old Kinderhook” or “The Kinderhook Fox” and at the national level he was nick
named the “Little Magician.” Van Buren
was thrust into the US Presidency, with the help of Andrew Jackson in 1836, but
hard economic times (Depression of 1837) led to his eventual defeat. "Martin Van Ruin," as the Whigs
referred to him as, used “Log Cabin Politics” and “hard cider campaigning” to win the election
of 1840. Van Buren lost reelection to a
Whig candidate, William Henry Harrison, who was portrayed by the Whig Party in
the very image of Andrew Jackson which was master minded by Van Buren in the
Devastated after leaving the White House,
Van Buren ran for the presidency again in 1844, but he was denied the
Democratic nomination, and in 1848 as the nominee of the Free-Soil Party which
was opposed to the extension of slavery. His third-party candidacy paved the way for a
second Whig, Zachary Taylor, to win the presidential office-a poor outcome for
This is a political
cartoon from the 1836 US Presidential Election Campaign.
Martin Van Buren (seated on the left) and William Henry Harrison (seated on the
right) play cards. Jackson is peeking at William Henry Harrison's
cards to cheat on behalf of Van Buren and Richard Johnson (Van Buren's running
mate) is standing near Martin Van Buren in an effort to assist him to victory.
The title of the cartoon reads “All Fours- Important State of the Game- The
Knave About to be Lost.” The term “knave” means; a boy servant; a male
servant; a man of humble birth or position; a tricky deceitful fellow. Van Buren won this election, but lost four years
later in 1840 to the same Whig candidate, Harrison. Explain the meaning of this cartoon in
relation to what the title is attempting to get across to the public.
This woodcut is a parody
(caricature or exaggeration) of Democratic efforts in 1840 to re-elect
incumbent Martin Van Buren in the face of broad popular support for Whig candidate William Henry Harrison. Note in this cartoon that Martin Van Buren
appears locked up in a “log cabin” and that Andrew Jackson attempts to pry him
out with a “hickory stick.” Additionally,
names of states appear on the log cabin and the fulcrum for Jackson’s hickory stick is a pile of “NG” which
means “no go.” Recall, from the overview
presented, that Van Buren lost his bid for reelection in 1840. Explain this political cartoon and how it
relates to the outcome of the US Presidential election of 1840.
This political cartoon
was created for the US Presidential election of 1840. The title
reads “A Hard Road To Hoe! Or, the White House Turnpike, macadamized by the North Benders.” Please note in the cartoon the parallels to
“hard road” & “hard cider” (which is the alcohol that was many times
distributed by Whigs at their political party functions to those people that
attended). The term “macadamized” means
to construct or complete a road using a solid foundation. This cartoon is a crude
satire on the obstacles facing Van Buren's reelection effort in 1840. Weighed
down by a large bundle labeled "Sub Treasury," Van Buren follows the
lead of Andrew Jackson toward the White House. His way is blocked by barrels of
"Hard Cider" and log cabins, symbolizing the popular appeal of Harrison's
candidacy. In the right distance the Capitol is visible, and in the left
distance Van Buren's home at Kinderhook. A mischievous youth stands behind Van
Buren thumbing his nose. It also features "OK" which was
coined after Martin Van Buren -- "Old Kinderhook." Explain why, after being the US President for a term (4 years), Van
Buren would need guidance to get reelected as this cartoon suggests.
Keep in mind the economic troubles of 1837 as explained in the overview.
The title of this 1844
political cartoon is “The Little Magician Invoked." – It depicts Martin
Van Buren summoning spirits to help his party in the 1844 election. Martin Van Buren is seated in the middle, to
his left is Andrew Jackson, and to his right is the Democratic Party
presidential candidate in 1844. James K.
Polk, the Democratic Presidential candidate from Tennessee, stands in front of
his vice-presidential candidate, George Mifflin Dallas from Pennsylvania,
urging on Van Buren and his magic. Explain the content of this cartoon and why
its author would place two former US Presidents, Andrew Jackson & Martin
Van Buren, in it to help Polk win in 1844.
For further help on this cartoon click here… http://loc.harpweek.com/LCPoliticalCartoons/DisplayCartoonMedium.asp?MaxID=&UniqueID=41&Year=1844&YearMark=
ALL IMAGES COURTESY OF
World Book 2002