John Kelly Galvanizes Tammany.

Item Description

Friedrich Graetz. Chromolithograph. Puck. May 31, 1882.

The Gilded Age is often characterized by the spoils system and illegal political practices which both John Kelly Galvanizes Tammany and American Invention for Blowing up Bosses satirize.
John Kelly Galvanizes Tammany mocks the hypothetical rebirth of Tammany Hall, a Democratic Party political machine that had power over the elections in New York throughout the Gilded Age with the use of corrupt practices such as patronage—a system of giving out benefits for political allegiance that was used extensively on newly migrated immigrants. John Kelly, the figure dressed in western attire in the caricature, came to power in the mid-1870s. Known as “Honest” Kelly, he rid Tammany Hall of Boss Tweed’s men after Tweed’s long running corrupt leadership and subsequent arrest.
Tammany Hall itself is portrayed as a Native American due to the origins of the name that comes from a leader of the Lenape. John Kelly tries to revive Tammany Hall in the caricature following their loss to the Republican candidate in 1879. Kelly is portrayed as having “made a deal with the Republican Party” because his run for election split the Democrat vote. The celebratory feel of the caricature with the champagne bottles and smiling faces could be perceived as contextually ironic. The caricaturist might be acclaiming the loss of the election and thus mocking Kelly's futile attempt to revitalize Tammany who is already in a coffin.