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Primary Source of the Month
"A TruceNot a Compromise" by Thomas Nast. Harper's Weekly, 1877 Feb. 17, p. 132. Courtesy of the Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-93672.
This political cartoon by Thomas Nast appeared in the February 17, 1877 issue of the American political magazine Harper's Weekly. The cartoon is in response to the Compromise of 1877 that ended the bitterly contested election of 1876 between Republican Rutherford B. Hayes and Democrat Samuel J. Tilden. The hard feelings of Reconstruction carried over into the election. Many Democrats were southerners who strongly believed in state's rights, whereas the Republicans supported a strong federal government that could enforce policies in the southern states, such as equal rights for African Americans. After 20 of the Electoral College votes were contested and both sides accused the other of cheating, Hayes was finally declared the winner by a specially-formed Electoral Commission. To keep peace with the Democrats, some of whom threatened violence, filibustering, and other impediments to his inauguration, Hayes struck a compromise. He would remove the federaltroops from the southern states that were still occupied, give a cabinet position to a southern Democrat, and throw his support behind a southern transcontinental railroad.
The caption says "A truce—not a compromise, but a chance for high-toned men to retire gracefully from their very civil declarations of war." Under Hayes and Tilden's hands are fliers calling for civil war if Tilden is not elected. Behind their hands are posters stating that "We the People are tired of. . . fraud, brag and bluster," and "Have we not had enough?"