Political Cartoon in Judge (“The Silver Candle and the Moths"), 25 July 1896

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Document Description:

Political cartoons, like the one shown above, provide an interesting and often humorous slant on major issues of the day.  During his reelection campaign for governor in 1892, Ben Tillman presented himself as a populist reformer in his party, and he tried to distance himself from the Democratic presidential nominee, Grover Cleveland.  Tillman advocated the coinage of silver, an issue embraced by reformists.  Tillman attacked Cleveland in his speeches, calling him a “bag of beef” and threatening to the stick him with a pitchfork.  The cartoon shows that Cleveland and others were eventually “burned” by their opposition to “free silver.”


“THE SILVER CANDLE AND THE MOTHS.” Judge, New York, N.Y. July 25, 1896. See Rebecca Edwards and Sarah DeFeo, "1896: The Presidential Campaign. Cartoons & Commentary." Vassar College Website, accessed 4/3/06.

Correlating SC Social Studies Academic Standards:

Standard USHC 5: The student will demonstrate an understanding of major social, political, and economic developments that took place in the United States during the second half of the nineteenth century.

Indicator USHC-5.3 Explain the transformation of America from an agrarian to an industrial economy, including the effects of mechanized farming, the role of American farmers in facing economic problems, and the rise of the Populist movement.

Indicator USHC-5.7 Compare the accomplishments and limitations of the progressive movement in effecting social and political reforms in America, including the roles of Theodore Roosevelt, Jane Addams, W. E. B. DuBois, and Booker T. Washington.

Lessons Using this Document:

Ben Tillman and Political Reform in South Carolina - 11th Grade