In 1900, New York Journal political cartoonist Homer Davenport published a collection of his work titled The Dollar or the Man? The Issue of To Day. The cartoons focused on themes of government corruption and the threat that corporate power posed to America. These themes are with us today and will influence many of the votes cast in next week’s mid-term elections.
Davenport’s cartoons mark the beginning of the Progressive Era, a time when many believed that corporations sought to overthrow the government.
In this cartoon, a Trust figure and Republican politcal operative Mark Hanna stand next to the Liberty Bell, a symbol of American Independence.
During the Revolutionary War the bell was used in Philadelphia to summon lawmakers to legislative sessions and to notify citizens of meetings, proclamations or civic dangers. In the 1830s, the bell was adopted as a symbol by abolitionist groups who gave it the name "Liberty Bell."
Oddly, the legend of the Liberty Bell relies more on fiction than fact. In 1847 a popular short story described an event in which the bell was rung to celebrate the Second Continental Congress’ vote for independence on July 4, 1776. While historical events do not support the story (bells were rung on July 8th to announce the reading of the Declaration of Independence), it was widely accepted as fact.
In 1885, the city of Philadelphia allowed the bell to tour the United States. It attracted large crowds, but the rigors of its journies caused additional cracking and viewers would sometimes chip away pieces of the bell as souvenirs. It’s last tour ended in 1915
The Trust figure wistfully muses about appropriating the bell – and all it represents – for the purposes of the Standard Oil Company.
— David Donihue, GreatCaricatures.com