"Can He Do It?"

The setting of this cartoon is a circus tent labeled "The Political Arena." On the floor a tight rope is set up, which is labeled "Senatorial Courtesy." President James Garfield walks on the tight rope with a balancing pole. "Senatorial courtesy" was a common practice that allowed senators (as opposed to the president) to choose federal officials in their own states. During his presidency, Garfield openly opposed the wishes of Roscoe Conkling when he insisted on making his own appointment choices, particularly with his choice of the New York customs collector. This explains the label on the balancing pole, which reads "Executive Prerogative." Conkling and his fellow New York senator Thomas Platt both resigned, hoping to be reelected very soon. But their plan backfired, and neither was reelected.

May 07, 1881
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