till in active direction of the Tribune editorial page in July and
August 1871, Greeley was naturally upset that The New York Times
published the secret Tammany accounts of flagrant theft from the city treasury
before the Tribune could get ahold of them. In a July 21 editorial,
Greeley urged Mayor Oakey Hall and City Comptroller Richard Connelly to prove
their innocence of the charges leveled by suing The Times for libel.
Nast addressed the hissing match between the Tribune and Times
in the August 2 issue of Harper’s Weekly. In the cartoon “Not a Bailable
Case,” “Mare” (Mayor) Hall lies bloated and gravely ill in an ornate marble
stall embellished with the initials “WT” (for “William Tweed”). Greeley stands
nearby, while behind him the heads of Peter “Brains” Sweeny and “Boss” Tweed
appear barely visible over the elegantly carved partition (itself a slam at
Tweed Ring extravagance in matters of building and ornamentation). The
cartoonist intended his audience to associate Hall’s illness with a “horse
plague” that broke out in New York City in mid-June, causing chaos in the
horse-reliant transportation system.
In this cartoon, Greeley is “The Great American Farmer Troubled with the Milk
of Human Kindness Again.” The papers in his pocket assert “N. Y. Times
Secret/Accounts” and “N. Y. Tribune/Every Body Lies Except H. G.” Comptroller
Connolly is on his knees trying to comfort the afflicted “mare” with a “City
Fan/Cost $10,000.” The tart allusion to “A Bailable Case” serves forcibly to
remind readers of Greeley’s controversial action in May 1867 to help guarantee
the security of a bond for the release from federal custody of Jefferson Davis,
the former president of the Confederacy.