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The Making of a Senator.

TitleThe Making of a Senator.
Artist/MakerJ. Ottmann Lith. Co.
after Joseph Keppler, Jr.
MediumLithograph, colored
Dimensions h. 18.50 x  w. 11.50 in. ( h. 46.99 x  w. 29.21 cm)
Credit LineU.S. Senate Collection
Accession Number38.00624.001

  • Object Description
  • The "people" were at the bottom of the pile when it came to electing U.S. senators, when Joseph Keppler, Jr.’s cartoon, "The Making of a Senator, " appeared in Puck on November 15, 1905. Voters elected the state legislatures, which in turn elected senators. Keppler depicted two more tiers between state legislatures and senators: political bosses and corporate interests. Most notably, he drew John D. Rockefeller, Sr., head of the Standard Oil Corporation, perched on moneybags, on the left side of the "big interests. "

    This cartoon appeared while muckraking magazine writers such as Ida Tarbell and David Graham Phillips were accusing business of having corrupted American politics. The muckrakers charged senators with being financially beholden to the special interests. Reformers wanted the people to throw off the tiers between them and directly elect their senators–which was finally achieved with ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment in 1913.