Sunday, February 2, 2014

"A National Game that is Played Out"

This cartoon appeared in Harper's Weekly in December 23, 1876, just nine days after the "home invasion" of the Gillette home near Waterford. 

One of the fascinating things about history is context between the past and present. This cartoon by well-known 19th century artist, Thomas Nast, offers such context on two levels.

On one level, Nast's cartoon was intended as a visual lampoon on the bitterly contested US Presidential election of 1876 between NY Governor Samuel J. Tilden and his Republican challenger, Ohio Governor, Rutherford B. Hayes. There were disputed election returns from the states of Louisiana, South Carolina, and Florida - hence Nast's portrayal of the ballot box as a football. Presidential shenanigans have a long and inglorious history. To read more about the election in the nation's centennial year of 1876 follow this link to HarpWeek, which is a wonderful source:

On another level, Nast's rendition of a ballot box being kicked around like a football provides a bit of appropriate sports context to Super Bowl XLVIII. Here is the complete HarpWeek explanation:

"The disputed presidential election returns from South Carolina, Florida, and Louisiana, are here represented by a sports analogy to American football, which evolved out of English rugby. In 1876 Harvard, Princeton, and Columbia established the Intercollegiate Football Association, with Yale also participating. Until rule changes in 1881, the ball was not passed, but kicked or carried (it took four carried touchdowns to equal one kicked goal)."

File:President Rutherford Hayes 1870 - 1880 Restored.jpg
Rutherford B. Hayes, Ohio Governor
Sameul J. Tilden, NYS Governor

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