United States Senate
 GO
United States Senate Senators HomeCommittees HomeLegislation & Records HomeArt & History HomeVisitor Center HomeReference Home
United States Senate
People
Origins & Development
Historical Minutes
Exhibits
Special Collections Highlights
Paintings
Sculpture
Graphic Arts
Oral History


  
 
 
   
 A Harmless Explosion. 
A Harmless Explosion.
by Mayer, Merkel & Ottmann Lithog. 
after Joseph Keppler
Puck
Lithograph, colored, 1881-05-25
Image with text measurement
      Height: 11.5 inches  (29.21 cm)
      Width:  18.25 inches  (46.355 cm)
Cat. no. 38.00521.002
 
 
 
 
 

A great patronage battle came to a head in 1881 when President James Garfield nominated William Robertson to become collector of the Port of New York. Senator Roscoe Conkling, Republican of New York, had depended on that patronage-rich post to maintain his political machine and saw Robertson as an opponent. As arrogant as he was handsome, Conkling resigned from the Senate on May 16 and convinced his quieter New York colleague, Republican Thomas Platt, to follow his lead. Their resignations swung the majority to the Democrats. Conkling expected the state legislature to reelect him and Platt as a rebuke to Garfield and Robertson. In fact, the legislature rebelled and elected neither man.

In this cartoon, which appeared in Puck on May 25, 1881, artist Joseph Keppler rejoiced in the resignation of Conkling, whom he portrayed as a balloon that has burst harmlessly, to the merriment of senators who dance below.

 
 
 
  

Senate Art

Explore the Senate's Art with the Office of the Senate Curator.


E-mail a Senate curator

Have questions about Senate art?  Email the curator.

Go

Capitol Virtual Tour

Take a look inside the Capitol with our 360 degree virtual tour!

Go