Grover Cleveland
Grover Cleveland
James G. Blaine

Grover Cleveland, by Anders Zorn (1860-1920)
(public domain)
The Great American Game of Public Office for Private Gain


The Issue of Protection to American Labor


Reform was the central issue of the 1884 campaign and the reason for the break from the Republican party of a splinter group, the Mugwumps, or Independent Republicans. Spurred by the nomination of James G. Blaine, whose political record was marred by a railroad bond scandal, the Mugwumps rallied to support reform. Blaine was attacked mercilessly by Nast, first as the plumed knight, then as "magnetic Blaine" attracting scandal and controversy ( 25A-106700125B-106700225C-106700325D-1067004). And then, by cartoonists in Puck as the tattooed man, tattooed with evidence of all his political misdeeds ( 25E-106700525F-1067006). 

The Democrats nominated a reform candidate, Grover Cleveland, whose political record was clean, though a scandal from his personal life was dug up, and cartoonists seized the opportunity to parody this situation. This cartoon from Puck was an early intimation that there was more to Cleveland's past than met the eye (25G-1067007). Ten years earlier, an affair with Maria Halpin had resulted in a son whom Cleveland acknowledged and provided for (25H-1067008). Evidently, as depicted in this cartoon, the voters found Cleveland's honesty refreshing after Blaine's attempts to cover up, and Cleveland was elected by a slim margin (25I-1067009)

This election was the second to feature a woman running for president; Belva Lockwood ran on an Equal Rights ticket. Here a parade of costumed men attempts to ridicule her candidacy, but they come in for ridicule themselves (25J-1067010).