The November 10, 1866 Harper’s Weekly hit newsstands on October 31,
less than a week before the congressional elections on Tuesday, November 6. In
the issue, Nast’s two side-by-side cartoons contrasts a peaceable and scholarly
Horace Greeley (left) as “The Candidate of the Blood-Thirsty Radical Faction in
the Fourth Congressional District” with John Morrissey, a former boxing
champion, a gambling house proprietor, and a rising star in the Tammany Hall
Democratic political machine, as “The Conservative Candidate of the Peace
Democracy in the Fifth Congressional District.” During the Civil War, Democrats
favoring a ceasefire and negotiated settlement with the Confederacy were called
Peace Democrats or, more pejoratively, Copperheads (after the snake of that
name). Here, the image of a serpent biting its own tail reinforces that idea as
well as symbolizes the political “ring” of Tammany Hall and alludes to the
boxing ring. This cartoon was Nast’s first published satire of Tammany Hall.
In heavily Democratic New York City, Greeley lost and Morrissey was elected to
the first of two consecutive terms in the U.S. House of Representatives.