American Invention for Blowing Up Bosses.

Item Description

D.K. Chromolithograph. Puck. November 16, 1881.
During the crooked political environment of the Gilded Age, voters were often coerced into voting for a particular party, either by money or brute force. Additionally, political bosses frequently gained voters using promises of improvement, such as food and shelter. Contrary to their promises, the election of political bosses to office often resulted in the rundown of the officiated region, including unsanitary conditions and poorly built roads. As a result, the cartoonist of this caricature calls for the American public to realize the counterproductive effects of the political machine, change its perspective, and exercise its right to the free ballot. The idea of a necessary change in public opinion is embodied by the inverted compass which lies on the chimney – a symbolic representation of a need for “redirection” in public common sense.
The caricature further suggests that, upon making this change, many corrupt officials, such as the politician John Kelly, would be removed from office. In fact, Kelly’s name is specifically mentioned in the cartoon, placed clearly on a ballot slip! Kelly was responsible for reviving Tammany Hall, as depicted in the cartoon John Kelly Galvanizes the Corpse of Tammany.