Jack and the Wall Street Giants.

Item Description

Joseph Keppler. Chromolithograph. Punch. January 13, 1904.

This Gilded Age satirical piece by Joseph Keppler depicts prominent businessmen such as JP Morgan and Rockefeller as giants squaring off against Theodore Roosevelt. The size of the corporate bosses relative to Roosevelt implies that America was ruled by the men on Wall Street rather than the government. In fact, in the Gilded Age, these men and their corporations were allowed to grow uncontrollably due to a lack of regulation.
In the light of the 1904 presidential election, Theodore Roosevelt campaigned to take on these “Wall Street Giants” to fight for the rights of the common men who were exploited by these corporate giants. The sword he carries represents the public service he intends to perform by protecting both workers and consumers from big business practices. The expressions of the giants show that Roosevelt is unwelcome; however, the posture and demeanor of Roosevelt’s stance show that he will not be deterred from his goal. The glistening Trinity Church at the end of the street serves as a symbol for a moral standard towards which Joseph Keppler wishes Wall Street would strive but does not. From satirizing robber barons to calling for the better treatment of lower class Americans, this caricature touches on many of the issues discussed in this exhibit.